•  HU Berlin, Bran City Berlin, Prinzessinnengaerten

    17 Goals for the Future

The knowledge portal “humboldts17" presents current research on the subject of sustainability and welcomes open dialogue with the general public. The platform was initiated by the Humboldt–Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin), which implemented the project together with the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI).  

What does urban gardening have to do with sustainability? "The 'edible city' can solve all kinds of problems", says Dr Ina Säumel, geographer and geologist leading the  Edible Cities Network (EdiCitNet) research project at the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys)  at HU Berlin. She and her team are investigating which concepts of an "edible city" are particularly successful. At the same time, they are showing that sustainability can begin right at one's doorstep. “The term 'edible city' does not mean that we're eating concrete or snacking on roofing”, Säumel explains. “It is more about strengthening food production in the city and regionally. This ranges from communal urban gardening and fruit trees in public green spaces to classic allotment gardens." The aim of the project: to establish "edible cities" worldwide with an initial network of 33 cities. These projects will improve the quality of life for city residents, especially those who are disadvantaged, and will increase sustainability in urban areas.

The “edible city” is also an expedition available on the “humboldts17.de” knowledge portal. The online platform initiated by the HU Berlin and developed together with the Hasso Plattner Institute was launched in December 2020. It focuses on the research topic of sustainability, showing just how diverse the work on this topic can be. It also invites the worlds of science, politics, business and society in general to discuss how the 17 sustainability goals of the United Nations might be achieved. "Whether a climate crisis, hunger, poverty or inequality, we want to shed light on and analyse these everyday challenges in the geological age of the Anthropocene and look for solutions together with others, discussing human activity, its effects on nature, and possible correction courses", explains Professor Dr.-Ing. Sabine Kunst, President of HU Berlin

How can we live sustainably?

The „Expeditions“ are at the heart of the humboldts17 platform. These are specific research projects from very different specialist areas. The digital excursions into the world of research were named in memory of Alexander von Humboldt's research trip to America from 1799 to 1804. The scientists featured provide insights into their daily work and also reveal where the shoe pinches when it comes to implementing the sustainability goals. 

Questions from different subject areas come together, such as: "Why do community gardens reduce crime in the city?" ,"Is prosperity only possible if the consumption of resources increases?" or "How will insects participate in the agricultural systems of the future?" They all have one thing in common: the scientists want to find answers to how we can overcome poverty, climate change, species loss and environmental pollution. In short, how we can live sustainably. 

Today the principle of sustainability applies to all areas of society. In essence, it is about not consuming more than can grow back, doing business in a way that remains possible for the long term, and shaping society in such a way that everyone has the same opportunities. In its 2030 Agenda, the United Nations cast these principles into concrete goals: no hunger, no poverty, equal educational opportunities for all people: this is the roadmap for the future of the global community. The agreement signed in 2015 lists a total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are to be implemented by 2030. Sustainable economic growth is on an equal footing with the protection of ecosystems, a secure energy supply, and a peaceful and inclusive society.

Time is getting short

The global community has set itself ambitious goals and time is beginning to run out. It will take courageous ideas, new technologies, and practical solutions to pave the path to a sustainable future.

With texts, videos, graphics and podcasts, humboldts17 sheds light on how varied and extensive the ideas researchers are exploring to overcome what is probably the greatest challenge of the Anthropocene. The podcasts published on the platform for the lecture series "The Green Thread" allow researchers to provide evidence-based reports on climate justice, sustainable nutrition, the loss of biodiversity, and the energy transition. Other topics include how the Humboldt University faces up to its own responsibility for more sustainability, for example with a special course in "Sustainability & Global Justice” or the student-run Sustainability Office.

Without cooperation, the path will lead to a dead end. This is true of every single one of the 17 sustainability goals. That is why humboldts17 is expressly promoting discussion and the exchange of ideas and research projects, using the platform to establish a broad network with other research institutions and partner organisations working to promote the concept of sustainability.

It's about fundamentally changing the world

Ina Säumel is also bringing a wide variety of actors around a single table for her project: local residents, city administrator, and garden enthusiasts.  After all, urban garden projects can only flourish if all those involved work together to resolve the conflicts that will arise, develop ideas together, and collaborate over the long term. "It gets exciting when we apply the knowledge that we produce in biology, ecology, ethnology and sociology to concrete new forms of coexistence in the city in a practical and practical manner", the researcher says. "It is no longer the case that we scientists are merely explaining the world." Now it is about fundamentally changing the world. 


('Humboldts17" is only available in German so far.) 

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