Monday, April 22, 2013

7th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns

A Green and socially responsible economy: a solution in times of crisis

Nearly 1000 registered participants gathered up in Geneva to hear and to discuss if the sustainable Europe could be created through green and socially responsible economy. UBC Commission on Environment participated the conference by facilitating a session on future sustainability management.

Basis of any economy will always lay on natural resources, but what else would a shift to green and socially responsible economy require?

Firstly, the plenary speakers concluded that we have to admit that currently our economy is socially and environmentally irresponsible leading us to vicious circles of unsustainability. Also, there is a need to clarify what are the reasons of the current economic crisis and what are the consequences and make sure that we do not mix them. Unfortunately, there was no time for discussion but obviously there was certain disagreement in the audience regarding the reasons and consequences expressed by the panelists.

In the same moment when the new Community-Led Local Development initiative was introduced, it became clear that the European Commission has acknowledged that the local authorities play a key role on a shift to new economy. One of the urgent tasks listed for the local authorities to start working with was that sustainable investments should be included in the investment portfolio of local authorities.

Between the plenary sessions, discussions in several parallel sessions were getting hot along with the weather outside. Finally, the participants were allowed to see the sun while entering the multiple excursions demonstrating the existing sustainable practices in the beautiful City of Geneva.

On the way to hotel my head was filled with questions: Are the cities able to make the necessary changes or will everything continue as it has always been? Are the cities able to reorganize their resources to be able to respond to the current challenges instead of the challenges of the 20th century? Are there enough initiatives for this change? Is there enough information and support available for the right decisions and can we communicate that information properly.

Text by our rapporteur in Geneva, Switzerland, Pekka Salminen.
7th European conference on sustainable cities & towns

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