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“A careful use of resources is becoming increasingly urgent”

02.07.2024 Swantje Rahn and Evelyn Markoni are convinced that the transition to a sustainable society requires a systems thinking approach. They explain why in this interview.

Key points at a glance

  • We are too focused on our own needs and therefore not sustainable.
  • Interdisciplinary approaches open up new perspectives on complex challenges.
  • If we want to change the world, we also need to focus on our unsustainable habits.
  • Sustainability must be put into practice by each one of us.

Where does society stand today in terms of sustainability?

Evelyn: We live in an unsustainable society. We will not be able to comply with the 1.5-degree-Celsius global warming threshold with our current consumer behaviour. Furthermore, the sharp decline in biodiversity is worrying, also in Switzerland.

Swantje: Monetary and social factors often compete with ecological sustainability: on the one hand, monetary pressure is increasing due to rising social demands and growing energy and health costs. On the other hand, the careful use of our natural resources is becoming ever more urgent.

More information on the CAS Nachhaltigkeit und Gesellschaft im Wandel

From regional ecosystems to consumption corridors and globalisation: the CAS Nachhaltigkeit und Gesellschaft im Wandel is your first step towards a more sustainable world.

The next online info event for the CAS will take place on 20 August 2024. Participation is possible via this MS Teams link.

To what extent can an interdisciplinary approach support the path to sustainability?

Swantje: Science is the art of developing complex problem-solving scenarios for a seemingly simple question and applying them in a comprehensible way. This is precisely what universities of applied sciences are meant to do. The complexity of sustainability can only be understood through the interaction of different disciplines.

Evelyn: The coordination of various teams of experts is more demanding than an individual approach of work. Even so, the interaction of the various competencies creates increased added value for the participants and teams involved.

Transformation should be relatable, otherwise we don’t feel concerned, let alone responsible.

Swantje Rahn
Swantje Rahn Head of Continuing Education BFH-HAFL

What is the added value of this approach?

Swantje: With an interdisciplinary approach, you can broaden and deepen your field of practice with a well-founded change of perspective.

Evelyn: I agree with that. To solve these complex challenges, we favour a transdisciplinary approach. We therefore co-create solutions with different social stakeholders. Through this bottom-up participation, we create a shared awareness and understanding, a vision that is meaningful for everyone.

Why is it so important to look at our personal values and ways of thinking?

Swantje: Transformation should be relatable, otherwise we humans don’t feel concerned, let alone responsible. That is why we build social awareness in people’s specific environment and field of practice. To look inwards requires motivation.

Evelyn: The Inner Development Goals’ (IDGs) of the non-profit initiative for sustainable development provides a good frame of reference for this, as it is based on the reinforcement of skills for inner development, such as integrity and authenticity. This clearly requires a conscious look at one’s own attitude, values and needs.

We need to be able to see things through different lenses.

Evelyn Markoni
Evelyn Markoni Lecturer in Food sociology

What does it take to promote sustainable change?

Evelyn: We need to be able to see things through different lenses, the goal being to generate new knowledge and to question existing ways of thinking. We must also learn to develop narratives in order to argue and communicate in a fair and targeted manner.

Swantje: If you want to change something, you first need the openness and willingness to see and recognise the need for change. Then you need the factual knowledge and potential solutions that will bring change. Last but not least, it takes courage and steadfastness to endorse change.

Who should enrol on the “CAS Nachhaltigkeit und Gesellschaft im Wandel”?

Swantje: The benefits of this continuing education course on sustainability and the transition to a sustainable society are undeniable for anyone who wants to find out how we as a society deal with natural resources: consultants and implementers of production and recycling processes, but also strategists and decision-makers working for authorities and organisations.

Evelyn: The CAS covers the latest scientific findings and shares creative tools that can be used in life or at work.

Swantje: It is actually aimed at all people who are actively involved in the field of environment and in the sustainable design of our lives and our society.

Our interview partners

Evelyn Markoni is a nutrition and sustainability sociologist at the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (BFH-HAFL). She deals both professionally and privately with societal issues such as a good life for all within planetary boundaries.

Swantje Rahn is an enthusiastic andragogy specialist and the Head of Continuing education at BFH-HAFL.

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