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Sustainability – what are the current issues?

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

Steffen Jöhncke and Bent Jørgensen | 18 March 2021

The following blog-posts were written by students at the School of Global Studies (SGS). Based on interaction with collaborative partner organizations in public administration, civil society, and industry, ten groups of students in the Global Studies BA program have identified some of the most pertinent sustainability issues in the world today. In ten blog posts they discuss what current scientific research has to say about the problems and challenges identified. They have produced these blog posts as part of their participation in the course “Communicating Sustainability”, which is taught by senior lecturers at SGS Steffen Jöhncke and Bent Jörgensen who are also guest-editors for the blog posts. As part of their work the students will also produce audio-visual presentations in various formats, assisting the partner organizations in communicating sustainability issues to a range of public or internal audiences.

Team 1: Sense of Place - A Pathway to Sustainable Development

What motivates people to act in a more sustainable manner, in order to protect and preserve nature's well-being? We argue that the psychological construction of a sense of place is a way to rebuild the lost relationship between the modern human and the natural environment.

Team 2: The Nexus approach: the way to deal with goal conflicts when implementing the SDGs

Implementing The Sustainable Development Goals in a holistic manner at the local level is proving to be quite challenging. Goal conflicts emerge and different goals are seen as varying in importance, which often leads to trade-offs. A holistic approach, such as the nexus approach, combined with a long-term commitment to implementation are some ways to solve this problem.

Team 3: The invisible emissions - Scope 3 and the will to create transparency within global supply chains

This post will shed light on the concepts of the so called scope 1, 2 and 3 - a way to measure corporate emissions. Furthermore it will focus on scope 3 as this is the most problematic and difficult scope to report. Through this post we will explain what the obstacles are for corporations as they try to unveil the hidden emissions in their scope 3.

Team 4: Prevention of cannabis use: an issue beyond legalization

The global use of cannabis needs to be counteracted. The question is whether the focus should be on legislation or if other preventive measures among young people is what makes a difference? Studies show that the use of cannabis can be prevented from an early age by implementing school based programs.

Team 5: Social sustainability needs to be concretized

The purpose of this article is to inform about the lack of social indicators in sustainable development and explain how these indicators can be developed. The ambiguity regarding the definition and indicators of social development can lead towards the misinterpretation of the concept. We argue that indicators can be developed through the use of Kevin Murphy's framework. Our main goal is to explain that if indicators of social development are coherent, then it becomes easier to take the concept into account.

Team 6: Embrace the social benefits with circular economy!

The circular economy includes more than economic and ecological profits. It implies a good life where people feel united and value our common resources. By recognizing the potentials of social sustainability in a circular economy, the SDG’s can become reality.

Team 7: Citizen dialogue can save us from the climate crisis

This blog post highlights the vital role that civil society plays in producing sustainable solutions to tackle the climate crisis. Citizen dialogue gives people a chance to voice their opinions and knowledge, which is necessary to achieve sustainable ecological development.

Team 8: Workers and the Green Transition: A Struggle for the Unions

This article argues that a green transition cannot compromise on social sustainability and social justice. It will discuss the consequences that workers face in relation to global warming and argues that the role of unions in a Just Transition is paramount.

Team 9: The Global Within the Local - Challenges With the Sustainable Development Goals On a Local Level The UN Sustainable Development Goals as stated in Agenda 2030 all strive towards a more sustainable world. Countries around the globe are now working locally in order to successfully achieve these goals. What are some of the challenges we face when working locally with the global development goals?

Team 10: Just a Drop in the Ocean: How We Move on From an Unsustainable Development

This blog post claims that ecological and social sustainability has to be further integrated in order to achieve real sustainable development. It presents new research on priorities within social-ecological systems, which are as follows: more co-operation between regions and scientists, more focus on long term goals and finally incorporating more power and justice dynamics in the process.


Keywords: #SocialSustainability #SenseOfPlace #NexusApproach #Scope3 #Prevention #CircularEconomy #CitizenDialogue #JustTransition #Agenda2030 #WaterResources


Steffen Jöhncke is a social anthropologist with a particular interest in the professional use of anthropology in practice. Bent Jørgensen is a Peace and Development researcher mainly working in the fields of poverty, governance and health. They are both senior lecturers in the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg.

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