Notes from “Sustainability May Day” @ Finland’s Aalto University Campus

FinnishNews attended Aalto Universities Sustainability MayDay in May 2018 that was organised on their campus. Then head of this organisation, Ms. Minna Halme, Director of Aalto Sustainability Hub spoke about how to tackle the complex sustainability challenges by co-creating disruptive innovations. The university has collected together for the first time over 300 researchers from diverse fields of study like art, science, societal impact to take on these long-term challenges.

Ms. Halme announced “Today we get rid of what we want to keep, by producing what we don’t want…”  

She see that increasing social inequality is like having high blood pressure patient getting worse. So change is necessary and systemic solutions for all resources are necessary which means that actionable solutions require big changes in business. We need disruptive innovations from powerful diversity – there is no single solution but a waterfall of solutions and procreation. The measure we use for progress cannot be GDP but this must be replaced by a Wellbeing index of Humanity and Nature…

Dr. Janez Potočnik, a former European Commissioner for Environment, and a pioneer of EU’s circular economy policy was the next most impressive speaker.

He says “Although we have seen a great acceleration of humanity in the 20th century, we have  failed to make sufficient progress…”

He listed out the huge threats that our global population in 2050 will be 9.7 billion… half of world’s assets are owned by 1% of population.”

He spoke about the need for “Africa First”,  and pointed out that there are just not enough global resources for development of the emerging markets! The developed world has to show by example.

There is a huge imbalance between our 3 assets:

  1. Financial is Overvalued
  2. Human endeavour is Undervalued
  3. Natural is Not Valued

Taxation and other incentives are needed to rebalance the above because we are now taxing the health system and the next generation who are and will be paying for these disastrous  externalities, We are walking in the wrong direction by privatising the profits and socialising the costs.

He mentions the 17 goals sustainable consumption and production studies by Ellen MacArthur

in here work on the circular economy. Carbon management cannot be solved by energy management, we need sustainable development of land, water and materials. Urban systems are the most important. Global cooperation is needed, and that means sharing sovereignty.

Ilkka Herlin, Chairman of Cargotec corporation, Co-founder of Baltic Sea Action Group talked about the disruptive combined to new, regenerative paradigm: a killer combination. He commented that markets always come too late with innovations… we cannot wait for the markets to save the planet… basic research is needed but even this cannot be disruptive. We need solutions driven outsiders and values for saving the world. We need to accept the freedom to fail and try again and create innovations that are scalable. he spoke about one of his companies called  Qvidja Kraft.

Finally Peter Lund, Professor of New Energy Technologies, spoke about “Are disruptions paving the way towards energy & climate sustainability?”. He said that the 3 biggest change factors are Climate change, Globalisation, Technology. But he says that change is now too fast so we have Trumps because people cannot cope. His plan is for no CO2 by 2050. Injustice is a global tragedy – the same theme as income inequality came up agains and the West Developed countries have to show by example. His key point was that hope because of technological growth is exponential. We need closed energy cycles like nature – nature does not need to produce and collect rubbish is is perfectly circular when left alone! Nobody can monopolise solar energy, and with 70% emissions come from cities that is where we must concentrate resources. He is pleased that investments in renewable energy many time greater now but a 40% reduction of CO2 is not enough… we need more.

Here is the website of the Aalto University’s Sustainability Day with some more material.

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