31 October 2016

Utrecht University Sustainability Conference 2016: a well-seasoned melting pot

Every seat in the Winkel van Sinkel was occupied during the opening of the Utrecht University Sustainability Conference 2016. With fascinating keynote speakers, interactive parallel sessions, impressive posters and a very diverse audience, we can look back on a successful event with pride. 

It was still dark outside when Rector Magnificus Bert van der Zwaan and Programme Director Sierd Cloetingh opened the conference. But inside, everyone listened with rapt attention, and not a single chair remained unoccupied. Keynote speakers Andreas Tilche from the European Commission and Rick van der Ploeg, Guest Professor at Utrecht University and Research Director at the University of Oxford followed with their own visions of sustainability and how to reverse the accelerated pace of global warming.

It was still dark outside when Rector Magnificus Bert van der Zwaan and Programme Director Sierd Cloetingh opened the conference.

Diverse and comprehensive

During the first break for coffee, it was immediately clear that sustainability is a diverse, but comprehensive concept. People from different faculties, institutes and departments from Utrecht and other institutions stood around the tables discussing the environment, energy, climate, social aspects and how we can work together to solve the problems.

In depth

During the parallel sessions, the participants discussed three sub-topics pertaining to sustainability in greater detail. What is the status of the ice caps? When will we be able to switch completely to clean energy, and what sources of energy will we use? And how can we design major cities so that people can live in a sustainable and healthy manner?

Sustainable lunch

The sustainable lunch that followed provided an ideal opportunity to walk around and take in the more than 40 posters on display. After lunch, a second series of parallel discussions provided more depth to the three sustainability themes: How should we treat our ground water, soil and nature? How can the field of Chemistry help us to create sustainable fuels? And how can we bring together science, society and government to realise the ideal healthy city?

The sustainable lunch that followed provided an ideal opportunity to walk around and take in the more than 40 posters on display.

Food for thought

During the afternoon session, the last three keynote speakers – Derek Elsworth (Pennsylvania State University), Steve Evans (University of Cambridge) and Sybil Seitzinger (University of Victoria) – provided food for thought about the fields of energy and sustainable industry, and what we often overlook when we talk about climate and sustainable development.

Award winners

The conference concluded with the presentation of the poster awards. Renowned experts from the Sustainability International Advisory Board selected the three best posters for the sustainability subtopics Water, Climate and Ecosystems, Future Energy and Resources, and Urban Sustainability and Environmental Security. Physicist Yang Liu, geoscientist Mathilde Hagens and environmental researcher Geert Litjens took home the three prizes. 

Sustainability at Utrecht University

By combining its expertise in the field of sustainability, Utrecht University develops integrated solutions for sustainability issues contributing to a better future for following generations. This theme connects Utrecht’s excellent sustainability research from the humanities, sciences and social sciences with a focus on water, energy and a healthy environment. Sustainability is one of the four strategic research themes at Utrecht University.

More information on the research theme Sustainability