Sustainability

“Sustainable development seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of the future” [1]

A sustainable society is considered to involve a balanced interplay of three main elements to meet the needs of present generations without compromising the possibilities of future generations to meet their own needs [1]:

 


 



•The environmental boundary conditions that set the limits on resource supply, waste disposal and environmental pollution;
•How the economy balances production and consumption processes within – or currently beyond - the environmental constraints;
•How society politically and culturally decides to manage the social effects of the above constraints given by the short and long term consequences of our activities.

 

Our developing knowledge of our own environmental impact imposes limits on our activities, while our expectations to the quality of life we wish to have requires expansion of activities.

Radically improved efficiency of our technologies are urgently needed in order to reduce both reliance on scarce resources and the long term effects on the environment and the climate, but also to handle the longer term demographic changes and the increase in material wealth in developing economies.

 

Society's growing awareness of the many challenges is causing a gradual but unavoidable change in our perspective on technology, from the traditional optimization of economic cost with the specific technological performance to a much broader view including environmental impact and performance in terms of resource efficiency etc.These considerations are becoming increasingly important in how we direct R&D and assess emerging technologies.

 

Both citizens expectations and policies are evolving with this changing perspective. In 2015 UN formulated 17 Sustainable Development Goals that aims at making a series of important changes to create a more sustainable world over the next 15 year. The many challenges are also targeted with research: The EU Commission states that “Sustainable development will be an overarching objective of Horizon 2020” and allocates 60% of the budget to this [2]. The Danish Forsk2020 has also made the technical challenges in creating a sustainable society an important factor in their scope.

 

Sustainability is hence becoming a core consideration for research and development, both in terms of finding technological solutions to the increasing number of societal challenges, but also as a fundamental requirement to any technology being developed for it to have a place in the future market of a sustainable society.

 

The Sustain Conference at DTU started out in 2014 as a conference where everyone involved in research at DTU from PhD students to Professors could meet to share their knowledge and inspire each other to create the best possible teams and solutions for solving the challenges.

 

The conference is now actively opening to invite researchers and industry to create a yearly recurring forum for sustainable technology in Denmark, and facilitate formation of collaborations between academia and industry.

 

The conference is divided into several parallel sessions, and these broadly speaking cover the main societal challenges on sustainability with regards to technology and the main technology domains at the host DTU and in Denmark.

 


[1] United Nations General Assembly (1987) Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf


[2] “Horizon 2020 - The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation” Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions 30.11.2011.