​Helene Ahlborg, researcher in environmental systems analysis, introduces the workshop on Chalmers and the global sustainability goals.

The global issues are crucial to our relevance

Chalmers has a strong profile in relation to the sustainability issues that Sweden and other wealthy countries are facing, but there is huge potential for development from a global perspective. The end of May marked the starting point for Chalmers-wide work towards the UN's global development goals, with a focus on the third world.

Throughout the different organisations making up Chalmers, there are individuals working with sustainability research in developing countries or from a global perspective. In order to create a network and develop a common vision and plan for how Chalmers can become stronger in globally-oriented sustainability research, Chalmers Initiative for Innovation and Sustainability Transitions (CIIST) organised a collaborative workshop at the end of May.

More than seventy people from different parts of Chalmers, University of Gothenburg, Sida, student organisations, companies and civil society gathered for the workshop. Organiser Helene Ahlborg, researcher in environmental systems analysis and active member of CIIST, is very pleased with the turnout.

“The level of participation shows that these are issues that many are passionate about. We see the global issues as crucial to our relevance and attractiveness as a university, and we found that we have the skills needed to further develop Chalmers' work in this area,” says Helene Ahlborg.

For her, it is obvious that Chalmers has a lot to gain from becoming stronger in global sustainability research.

“The biggest challenges we face require us to take them on with a global perspective. We also have a lot to learn from being present in poorer parts of the world, since many new innovations, ideas and solutions of the future will emerge in these contexts.”

But, it is also about becoming an attractive university in the eyes of students. Many committed students want to take part and solve the world's problems; in response Chalmers must be able to offer them the right education.

Helene Ahlborg's next step will be to create working groups that build on the work from the workshop to formulate a strategic vision and action plan this autumn.

“The ball will then keep rolling over the next year and we will follow up on suggestions and drive them forward in different ways. We want to take advantage of the energy that exists and all of the initiatives already taking place within different organisations and create a collective arena and benefit in relation to these,” she says.

The workshop was funded by the Energy and Building Futures Areas of Advance, as well as the Department of Energy and Environment.

Text: Ingela Roos

Published: Tue 13 Jun 2017.