Just around one percent of German companies are not a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). With the necessary skills, SMEs can play a decisive role in shaping Europe’s sustainable future. But, how can they prepare their workforces for this? On 19 and 20 September, 16 project partners from 5 European countries came together in Skopje, North Macedonia, to launch the Catalyst project. The project goal: to make the European workforce fit for the future!

At the the kick-off, the project lead Prof. Angelina Taneva-Veshoska from the North Macedonian Institute for Research in Environment, Civil Engineering and Energy (IECE) stressed the urgent need to embrace sustainable transformation in SMEs all over Europe by upskilling and reskilling their employees and co-creating new business solutions in trans-disciplinary partnerships.

The aim of the project is to provide Vocational Education and Training (VET) learners with the right skills to integrate sustainably into their work and take advantage of new technologies. At the same time, cross-sector and trans-disciplinary partnerships will be encouraged in order to boost mutual learning and best practice exchange. Through these “enable and inspire” components the project partners expect to lead sustainable systems and business transformation all over Europe.

The project will establish Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) that will serve as ‘catalysts’ on a national, regional and European level, enable change and inspire the transformation of individuals and SMEs toward more sustainable systems and societies.

“We do not only want to transfer knowledge and competences for SMEs in the addressed sectors, but above all we want to initiate partnerships in order to create room to try out new things and to move from thinking to implementation”, says CSCP project manager Imke Schmidt.

Together with the German Sustainable Business Association (BNW) and BELLS, the CSCP will establish a Centre of Vocational Excellence in Germany to create an educational offer for tackling personal and organisational development. The centre will target five key sectors of the European Green Deal: food, building, IT and digitalisation, textiles and waste management.

The project is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme.

For further questions, please contact Imke Schmidt.

Alexander Mannweiler has joined the CSCP as Senior Project Manager in the Sustainable Infrastructure, Products, and Services (SIPS) team. Currently, his focus is on promoting awareness for biodiversity in businesses and business associations in Germany as part of the UBi (Business & Biodiversity) project. In this interview, he shares his ideas on how to make positive change happen.

How do you think you can make a positive change as part of the CSCP?

Sustainability is certainly a complex topic, that’s why it often gets ‘stuck’ in many organisations. I believe that with a systematic and holistic approach to sustainability we can create long-term sustainable business opportunities, enable disruptive innovation and add purpose to economic growth. This will inevitably make our societies more resilient as well as help mitigate the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss. The CSCP is a space to come together around purpose and with a clear orientation towards impact. This is that kind of set up that enables changemakers to act.

How does your past experience relate to the work we do at the CSCP?

Throughout my career, I had the opportunity to align consumer expectation and product innovation, creating value for suppliers, the company, and the consumer alike while reducing the environmental impact in the supply chain. Digging into the product development process from initial idea to launch made me aware of the multiple levers we have to create more sustainable products. There is a huge potential if only leverage points are identified in time and made use of properly. The way we work at the CSCP – holistically and collaboratively – offers much room to deploy and advance this experience and knowledge.

From food consumption to transport, what are your favourite sustainable tips?

Actually, a quite simple one: no food waste. Worldwide, almost one third of produced food is wasted. If this stops, it would be a game changer. We need to raise awareness that how we go about food individually has an impact on a global scale. This is why I urge anyone: If you want to make a positive change, start by more food appreciation and less waste.

For further questions, please contact Alexander Mannweiler.

 

For many companies, the environmental and social impact of their supply chains is significantly higher than the impact of their operational business. As of 2023, the German Supply Chain Sourcing Act and the EU Code of Conduct for Responsible Business and Marketing Practices will require companies to take responsibility for their supply chains. Our UBi (Business & Biodiversity) project Digital Dialogue looks into one key question: How can companies use this as a chance to rethink their supply chains from a biodiversity perspective and what is the added value for them?

Supply chains that focus on biodiversity are more resilient to crises and cause less emissions. A strong sustainable profile that is informed by a biodiversity perspective helps companies tick many boxes at once: meet growing regulatory demands, strengthen their employer brand, establish a safer standing in dynamic times, and build solid relationships with suppliers, ensuring resilient and transparent supply chains. Through carrying out biodiversity checks, companies can identify milestones for adaptation in their supply chains and accelerate transformation.

During the two-hour Digital Dialogue, businesses, business associations, policymakers, researchers, civil society representatives, and other relevant actors are invited to discuss the implications that new legislative pieces will have on standards, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and the transformation pathways for companies.

Event: Digital Dialog
Date: 26 September 2022
Time: 13:00-15:00
Place: Online
Language: German
Cost: Free of charge

To join the event, please go to the UBi website to register. The Digital Dialogue is hosted by Business in Good Company, an UBi project partner.

The UBi project is funded by The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection and The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. These both are supported by DLR as a project partner.

For further questions, please contact Ellen Land.

For the Argentinian psychologist, Maria Victoria Ortiz understanding social dilemmas and what hinders or propels cooperation in society is an ongoing fascination. Her doctoral research focuses on consumption behaviours and lifestyles and how those could hold the key to counter an aggravating climate crisis. Ortiz, who is a Green Talents awardee, uses an experimental climate game approach to understand the (dis)connection from present to future generations. She chose the CSCP for her Green Talent research stay, engaging closely with our Sustainable Lifestyles (SL) Team.

The research stay abroad is a key element of the Green Talent Programme. How did you come to choose the CSCP?

As part of the programme, I had the chance to discuss with different German experts in the field of sustainability. Exchanges on topics such as eco-design, sufficiency, futurability or female leadership were inspiring, but the talk with CSCP’s Rosa Strube stuck with me. The CSCP is a space that bridges research and practice, working on topics such as behaviour change with a strong international and interdisciplinary approach. That’s why I felt at ‘home’ here.  Since March 2022, I am working with Dr. Imke Schmidt, with whom I defined my current research project on food waste and digitalisation.

You research sustainable consumption in the Argentinian context. Can you explain more?

My current research focuses on sustainable consumption and future generations. The main goal is to understand the most environmentally-costly behaviours in the Argentinian context, for example meat consumption or household energy usage, in order to promote more sustainable choices. Using an experimental game that models the intra- and the intergenerational dilemmas in climate protection, I set out to investigate whether different interventions that activate the connection between present and future generations can increase the willingness to change consumption habits and adapt more sustainable lifestyles.

You take a psychological and behavioural approach – how would you describe its added value?

I am convinced that the greatest challenge that lies ahead is changing our mindset and behaviours, particularly those governed by habit, social norms and the short-term view. We basically do what we are used to do or what others do, not taking into account our impacts in the long run. We need to tackle the problem at its core if we want to really make a change.

Is there any experience you found particularly interesting during your stay in Germany?

I’m not a huge fan of spending time in supermarkets, but in Germany I wander the aisles for “market” study purposes (laughs). Unlike in Argentina, there are many sustainable products and labels and the prices are quite competitive. This is a great incentive for consumers to choose sustainable alternatives. It hurts my eye to see so much plastic packaging, even when entirely unnecessary, but it makes me feel good when I see clear and effective separating cues that can help recycling.

Can you share an inspiring moment you had during your stay?

I had the chance to meet the other Green Talents as well as visit the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Berlin. Discussing with inspiring people who are passionate about mainstreaming sustainability is heart-warming and stimulating. It made me feel even more committed to carry out research that gives valuable information how to reduce inequities while lowering the environmental impact. This is a challenge, certainly, but not impossible. We have to think strategically and connect people and communities – also with the support of digital technologies.

For additional questions, please contact Maria Victoria Ortiz.

The three-year CHORIZO project will take an innovative approach to tackling food loss and waste through gathering insights on social norms in a range of food-related settings and generating effective ways to apply behaviour change techniques in six real-life case study contexts.

Food loss and waste (FLW) is a topic with far-reaching consequences across the spectrum of economic, environmental and social spheres. It’s also a topic that involves a range of different actors from agriculture through to end consumers. While behaviour change around FLW has attracted a lot of attention for a number of years, the CHORIZO project, which stands for Changing practices and Habits through Open, Responsible, and social Innovation towards ZerΟ fοod waste, aims to approach it from a different perspective. The project will look into evidence of what works from the lens of social norms – in other words, the common ways of behaving within particular groups or societies – and how that links to food waste.

At the heart of the project is the gathering of results from relevant social norms and FLW actions, resulting in a database of evidence that will be developed with the use of advanced modelling techniques. The database will generate findings that can be applied to a variety of case studies, from hotels to schools to food banks. Within the project, the CSCP will develop actor-, context- and gender-specific guidance to change social norms as well as provide capacity building for a range of stakeholders on how to use such knowledge impactfully in their work.

The CHORIZO project is funded under the European Union’s Horizon Europe research programme and will run for three years (2022-2025), led by a consortium of 14 European partners.

Photo by Anton Murygin on Unsplash.

For further questions, please contact Rosalyn Old.

 

Biowaste management practices vary greatly around Europe. As part of our HOOP project, stakeholders from ten European cities and regions visited Münster, Germany and Almere, in the Netherlands to learn more from these two frontrunner cities. The inaugural study tour links to the project’s overall aim to improve urban biowaste management practices, such as separate collection and valorisation.

A central goal of the tour was to foster cross-city learning: “It’s not only really important to develop tools to foster European circular bio-economy, you also have to guarantee that other parties across Europe or worldwide have the opportunity to understand what you are doing to be able to apply it in their own territories,” noted Elisa Gambuzzi, Research & Development Technician at the Environment Department of CETENMA, a HOOP project partner,.

In the study tour, members of the HOOP Network of Cities and Regions as well as other HOOP Lighthouses learned more about how Münster and Almere manage their biowaste.

In Münster, participants took part in a guided tour of the AWM biowaste management facilities to learn how the city processes organic matter – from sorting to anaerobic digestion and composting of the digestate (i.e. the material remaining after anaerobic digestion). They had also a chance to visit Münster’s “Landfill Learning Trail”, exploring guiding principles of a modern and resource-conserving circular economy. Finally, the participants experienced firsthand Münster’s biowaste composting facility and learned how it produced quality-sealed compost from green waste.

In Almere, the highlight was one of the most successful biowaste projects to date in the city’s history, namely the production of green concrete. Participants observed this process directly onsite at CIRWINN’s premises. Green concrete was used to build a 3 kilometer-long bike path in Almere.

A visit to the Floriade Expo 2022 concluded the tour, where participants could experience new bridges built from residual material from old bridges and buildings and other constructions made from organic material.

As a result of the study tour, Münster and Almere received both recognition and constructive suggestions for their waste management innovations and facilities.

For further questions, please contact Carina Diedrich.

Studies suggest that consumers are responsible for as much as 60-70 % of all direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions*, pointing to an urgent need to change consumption habits and endorse more sustainable lifestyles. Through an awareness-raising campaign, our PERETO project is inspiring Kyrgyz citizens as well as international tourists to consume in more sustainable ways.

PERETO, which stands for ‘Promotion of Energy Security and Sustainable Growth Through Increased Energy and Resource Efficiency (ERE) in Tourism SMEs in Kyrgyzstan,‘ aims to support the advancement of sustainable production and consumption (SCP) practices and energy and resource efficiency (ERE) among SMEs in Kyrgyzstan’s tourism sector. To achieve this, PERETO engages not only with SMEs but also their business associations, public authorities, financial institutions, ERE solutions and service providers, as well as universities, tourists and local residents.

In 2021, together with the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Kyrgyzstan, the CSCP launched the SAKTA movement, meaning ‘To Save’. The campaign invited young adults to support domestic tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, switch to more sustainable consumption habits, and engage in protecting and preserving the environment. The campaign includes online and offline activities such as monthly clean-ups near popular sites such as the Issyk-Ata waterfall or the Alamedin gorge. By combining clean-ups with recreational activities, the PERETO project wants to inspire younger generations to rediscover Kyrgyzstan’s natural beauty and take an active role in promoting and preserving it.

In order to reach out to larger audiences, in summer 2022 the CSCP and AUCA launched a social media campaign with easy but efficient sustainable lifestyle hacks targeting Kyrgyz citizens as well as international travellers. Individual hacks are shared on PERETO’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook channels, containing messages that are both relatable to local target groups (in Kyrgyz) as well as international tourists (in English).

The PERETO project works closely with relevant local stakeholders, including consumers, to promote production and consumption practices that lead to a sustainable tourism sector in Kyrgyzstan.

*Druckman & Jackson, 2016

For further questions, please contact Kartika Angraaeni. 

Our world is becoming increasingly digital, most recently also in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Against this backdrop, it is relevant to ask: how can our collective action be steered so that we create more value through digital solutions? The Digital with Purpose Global Summit 2022 is bringing global tech leaders and key actors in one place to strengthen their commitment to innovate and implement solutions for a sustainable and inclusive future.

“We are creating a fast-paced movement to deliver actionable and measurable results in line with the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals – where technology, innovation and collaboration transform the lives of billions of people, sustainably”, says Luis Neves, CEO of Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), the summit host and lead organisation of the Digital with Purpose initiative.

The CSCP is a GeSI board member and Digital with Purpose member supporting the summit. As part of the agenda, the CSCP Executive Director, Michael Kuhndt will host the workshop “Treasure Hunting: How to Find Conscious Digital Purpose in Your Organisation”, delivered in collaboration with HumanityE, a global movement based on the ‘conscious leadership’ perspective.

The expectation to deliver sustainable value to society has never been so high on the agenda. However, what does this truly mean in practice, particularly regarding products and services in the digital sector? When asked to incorporate sustainability into their organisation’s practices, decision-makers are often unsure how to go about it. Finding direction and breaking the journey down into concrete steps can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Using conscious leadership techniques and showcasing concrete strategies on how to improve sustainability practices by taking the viewpoints of a diverse array of relevant stakeholders, the workshop aims to help organisations and businesses to discover more ways to help customers, employees, and society at large, to live and work sustainably.

Date: 27 September 2022
Time: 11:00-13:00
Place: Altice Arena, Lisbon
Cost: Free of charge

For additional information, please visit the Digital with Purpose Summit website. Register for free tickets here with the code#DWP2022!CSCP.

For further questions, please contact Mariana Nicolau.

What are the missing pieces in the puzzle in order to make circularity the norm among consumers in Europe? What can stakeholders such as retailers, city representatives, policymakers, and civil society organisations (CSOs) do to enable circular behaviours among consumers? How can digitalisation play a supporting role in this process? At the #EUCircularTalk Accelerating Circular Behaviours – How Can Digitalisation Help Us? the CSCP will bring together experts and stakeholders to discuss these questions and share ideas on next steps.

Changes in consumption behaviours and lifestyles are increasingly recognised as one of the key levers for enabling the transition to a Circular Economy. Users play an important role in advancing circular solutions to close material loops. Recent data suggests that despite increased efforts to engage consumers, there is still great room for improvement. For example, even though there is increased awareness on environmental and fairness issues in global textile chains, fast fashion companies are still market leaders in Europe.

On 15 September 2022, 10:00-11.30 CEST, as part of the #EUCircularTalks, the CSCP will host a discussion that looks to dive deeper into behavioural challenges that consumers face when it comes to endorsing more circular behaviours and how such challenges can be tackled. The talk will touch upon digitalisation opportunities but also its challenges and limitations, also in view of new digital tools such as the Digital Product Passport, supporting APPs, and the role of Artificial Intelligence. Experts will share their experiences and discuss implications for the future with interested European stakeholders.

The CSCP will host the talk on behalf of the Leadership Group “Enabling Circular Behaviour through Digitalisation” of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP) .

Speakers and panellists:

Date: 15 September 2022
Time: 10:00-11:30 CEST
Place: Online
Language: English

For additional information, please visit the #EUCircularTalks page. To register for the event, please go directly here.

The #EUCircularTalks are an exchange concept organised within the framework of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), to which the CSCP is a Coordination Group member.

For further questions, please contact Mariana Nicolau or Imke Schmidt.

From 12 to 14 September 2022, the international Circular Economy Hotspot will take place in the former mining town and current Innovation City of Bottrop, Germany. On three event days, the topics of circular economy, resource conservation and increasing efficiency will be highlighted in order to accelerate the transformation towards the circular economy and to find innovative solutions. 

On 14 September 2022, the CSCP executive director, Michael Kuhndt will be part of a panel discussion on the topic of „Exploring Enabling Drivers for a Circular Economy Transformation”. The discussion will look into questions such as what are the insights of key enablers of an accelerated transformation towards a Circular Economy. The discussion will also focus on the whole transformation environment, including financing, consumer behaviour, policy regulations, and standards.

Following the panel discussion, CSCP’s Anna Hilger will hold one of the learning lab sessions on the topic of “Digitalisation as an Accelerator of the Circular Economy”. The session will engage participants to discover how digital technologies can support the enablement of circular economy along the value chain. In order to make the learning experience more tangible best practices will be presented and serve as a reference for the active workshop part of the lab.

For further details on the programme, please visit the Circular Economy Hotspot website. To book your ticket, please go here.

Event: Circular Economy Hotspot Bottrop
Date: 14 September 2022
Time: 14:00-16:00
Place: Bottrop, Germany
Language: English

For further questions, please contact Anna Hilger.

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