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Advancing Sustainable Solutions

Author: IIIEE | Lund University

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Welcome to the podcast 'Advancing Sustainable Solutions', produced by the IIIEE at Lund University. The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) is an interdisciplinary research and education institute located in Lund, Sweden with activities focusing on the transition to low-carbon and resource efficient economies.

In this podcast, we will share ongoing research and activities through engaging conversation that is relatable and applicable to our daily lives. In essence, we wish to support listeners in their journey towards sustainability. Look for a new episode monthly!
32 Episodes
Businesses are an essential driver for sustainability, yet managers struggle to make decisions about their business model that actually improve their sustainability performance. In this episode, we meet Florian Lüdeke-Freund, Henning Breuer, and Lorenzo Massa, authors of the new book called ‘Sustainable Business Model Design’. They introduce the concept of sustainable business model patterns, to support practitioners eager to make sustainability work in their business context. A sustainable business model pattern is knowledge based on experience, which includes a statement of a challenge, and a suggestion for a solution to address this challenge, with the deliberate aim of creating sustainable value. Thus, patterns represent templates to be adapted from one context to another to support creativity and experimentation. We provide several examples of patterns, as well as ways that practitioners may use patterns in their context. This episode is the final episode of our fourth season – we will be back in September 2022 with a new episode every month! Until then!
There is a clear and urgent need to accelerate the implementation of sustainability solutions. We must move beyond simple conceptual understanding of solutions, instead experimenting with collaborators in contexts in order to improve effectiveness, share learnings with others, and avoid future mistakes that waste time. In this episode, we discuss nature-based solutions as a holistic approach addressing the why, what, who, and how to achieve sustainability through integrating nature in cities. PhD Student Björn Wickenberg shares his latest research on implementing nature-based solutions, including his three strategies for urban planners. Finally, we discuss skills – collaboration, experimentation, evaluation, and learning – in order to support implementation in the right configurations in the right context, as well as to minimize any rebound effects.
Today, more than half of the world’s population live in cities, and by mid-century it is predicted that more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. This sees cities at the forefront of sustainability, needing to meet social needs within our ecological boundaries. An overarching guiding roadmap to consider sustainability is the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals - the SDGs. These 17 goals cover all aspects of sustainable development, and cities have an important role to play as more than half of the targets will need engagement from local and regional authorities in order to be achieved. How then are these international goals integrated into local city planning and development? In today’s episode we address this question, and explore how academia and cities may support each other in this endeavour. We talk to Roland Zinkernagel, a municipal PhD student who shares his unique experiences from working with sustainable urban planning in the Swedish city of Malmö, while also researching how the SDGs can be applied in a local city context.
Artificial intelligence - AI - is being applied throughout society to a wide array of sustainability-related challenges, where it can help to effectivize and optimize systems to save both energy and resources. AI can also be used to analyse enormous amounts of data, faster than any human ever could. However, AI is very energy demanding, and comes with ethical concerns as it may require sensitive data, as it may reinforce biases and prejudices, and as is it may also be used to mislead or misinform citizens. So, let’s ask ourselves the question: what is the role of artificial intelligence in helping to advance sustainable solutions? To answer this question, we must explore the potential of artificial intelligence as well as any trade-offs associated with energy consumption, ownership of data and code, as well as privacy and other ethical concerns. In this episode we are joined by Sonja Aits, Associate Senior Lecturer at the Department of Experimental Medical Science, and Sergio Rico, a PhD researcher at the Computer Science Department at Lund University, to help us further explore the opportunities and responsibilities that come with using AI.
Every year, the world adds more renewable energy production capacity than the year before. But, looking historically, is this growth enough to achieve our climate targets? According to a recent publication in ‘Nature Energy’, the short answer is “no” – to meet the climate goals requires decades of growth in renewables at rates higher than those observed historically in most countries. In this episode, we chat with two of the co-authors – Jessica Jewell and Aleh Cherp – about their research, which examined historical data among 60 countries, and modeled an average maximum growth rate of wind and solar of approximately 1% per year. However, this growth rate has not been sustained over time in any country at the levels needed to meet many of the climate mitigation scenarios. To understand the implications of their research, we learn about the technology adoption lifecycle and the technology diffusion process. Finally, we discuss why technological learning may not speed up future growth, as countries lagging behind adoption of renewable energy may have less favorable conditions compared to early adopters. Learn more about their research at
Degrowth is a critique of infinite economic growth, recognising continued consumption of scarce resources will inevitably result in exhausting them completely. In this episode, we present the challenges of living within an economic system governed by infinite growth on a planet with finite resources. We discuss key vocabulary to understand degrowth, and its three goals: 1) reduce environmental impact; 2) redistribute income and wealth equitably; 3) transition from a materialistic to an inclusive society. And, as this concept often evokes passionate debate, we acknowledge some of the critiques and implications surrounding the degrowth concept. Later in the episode, we are joined by Logan Strenchock, an alumnus of the IIIEE. Logan shares his journey exploring and experimenting with degrowth-inspired actions, including contributing to the organic farm Zsamboki Biokert and the sustainable urban transportation hub Cargonomia, located in Budapest, Hungary. Throughout the episode, we highlight additional resources for listeners to continue to explore the concept of degrowth!
Anxiety is a natural emotional response to stress, fear, or danger. Then, it is no wonder why some are experiencing anxiety in the face of the climate crisis. Although not a clinical diagnosis, climate anxiety – and related terms like eco-anxiety, ecological grief, and solastalgia – describes the distress, grief, or anger caused by environmental destruction occurring now, or presumed to occur in the future. In this episode, we explore this phenomenon further. We chat with Frida Hylander, a licensed psychologist, who meets with clients and works with young people experiencing climate anxiety. Also, we hear from staff and students at the IIIEE about their experiences with climate anxiety. Through our conversations and research, we provide some suggestions to cope with climate anxiety – find a community, take an authentic action, focus on what you can control, take time for self care, ask for help when needed, and remember you are not alone. <3
The sharing economy is not sustainable by default – search for images of bikesharing graveyards. But, with careful design of the business models that facilitate access over ownership, the sharing economy can increase intensity of use and material efficiency, contributing to sustainable consumption. In this episode, co-host Steven Curtis shares with us his research on sharing economy business models for sustainability. We chat with Oksana Mont, Professor of Sustainable Consumption Governance and principal investigator of the Urban Sharing research programme. Antony Upward – sustainability business architect and a self-proclaimed pracademic – also joins the podcast to discuss strongly sustainable and future-fit business models. This episode is littered with good examples and tangible suggestions for businesses and consumers to design and use the sharing economy sustainably.
All kinds of public policies are being proposed to address our climate and sustainability challenges, for example, emission standards, substance bans, aviation taxes, energy efficiency labels, and even communication campaigns. However, global carbon dioxide emissions keep going up! Are these policies working? Under what circumstance? And, at what cost to other systems in society? To answer these questions, we need policy evaluations to learn, to adapt, and to hold governments and organisations accountable to meet our sustainability goals. In this episode, we discuss policy evaluation for a sustainability transition, and how evaluators (and citizens) can think more holistically and integrate learnings across public policies. This is the second episode as part of a trilogy, highlighting the contributions of graduating PhD students at the IIIEE. We are joined by PhD Student Sofie Sandin, co-founder and previous co-host of the podcast! She defends her doctoral thesis on transformative policy evaluations in May. Sofie is also joined by Per Mickwitz, the previous director of the IIIEE, and currently the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research, Sustainability, and Campus Development at Lund University.
What happens when you take a bunch of people from different cultural and geographical backgrounds, ask them to integrate under one discipline or department, and share a profound and life-changing experience? In this episode, we unpack some of these stories as we look at the journey of a PhD Student at Lund University. We interview our colleagues Emma Johnson, who is at the start of her PhD journey, and Lucie Enochsson, who is about to graduate and defends her thesis in June. We also discuss with Martin Tunér, the Associate Dean at Lund University’s Faculty of Engineering responsible for PhD Studies. Finally, we share some tips to help existing and future PhD students navigate academic life. And, if you take away anything, we hope to convey the importance of PhD education in contributing to some of the latest breakthroughs in science and technology, especially to advance sustainable solutions!
Sustainable finance, non-financial disclosures, ESG, oh my! The world of sustainable finance may seem dark and scary. But, in this episode, we introduce many key concepts through dialogue as well as discuss how sustainable finance contributes to wider sustainability objectives. The finance sector is playing an ever growing role in supporting the transition to a Paris-aligned world by incorporating sustainability into their financial analysis and investment portfolios. We discuss these important trends within the sector, and share tips on how individuals may incorporate sustainable finance criteria into their portfolios, specifically, pension funds. We are joined by Emelia Holdaway, Policy Program Director at the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and by Mike Toulch, alumni of the IIIEE and a senior analyst in the Shareholder Engagement and Policy team at the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE). While we highlight research and findings about sustainable finance, it is of course important to conduct your own research when making decisions about your personal finances.
If we want to imagine a more sustainable future, we need to be emotionally connected with that vision. Providing the latest facts and figures alone won’t do the trick. We suggest storytelling can be a great way to convey these facts in a compelling way to envision and connect with a possible future. Stories are an effective narrative device, because they activate areas of the brain responsible for memories, emotions, and critical thinking. As such, stories can be a powerful tool to engage, inspire, and imagine. In this episode, we consider the why, what, and how of storytelling. Why do we need storytelling? What makes an effective story? And, how may we implement storytelling in our own contexts? To help imagine how we can tell our own stories, we discuss with Per Grankvist – Chief Storyteller at Viable Cities – and Ludwig Bengtsson Sonesson – project leader at Lund University involved in examples ‘Carbon Ruins’ and ‘Rough Planet Guide – Notterdam’. We hope to inspire the storyteller in all of us – to speak from our hearts while using our brains for the facts and figures.
We use energy in almost every aspect of our lives. Yet, often, we do not know the source of electricity that powers our homes or heats our food. In this episode, we explore energy communities as a form of decentralised and democratic energy production. Community energy sees people coming together to take control of their energy needs, by finding alternative ways to organise and govern the energy system. For example, initiatives may focus on the energy generation via local energy cooperatives, distribution via local smart grids, or energy efficiency projects. But, how may energy communities support the transition to a more sustainable and just energy system? We discuss with researchers Jenny Palm and Daniela Lazoroska. We also share preliminary research findings that point towards gender discrimination throughout our energy system. This, in turn, suggests that greater efforts are needed to increase participation and ensure a more just energy system is achieved.
Missions are being discussed widely within the European Union and beyond as a tool to steer policy, innovation, and research. Similar to other missions – to the moon, to cure cancer, and to eradicate smallpox – the missions-oriented approach seeks to set bold and radical goals to tackle our pressing environmental and social challenges. In this episode, we discuss the missions-oriented approach for innovation and governance, and provide highlights from the City Futures Summit on the same topic, hosted in October 2020 by the IIIEE. We also discuss with Kes McCormick – associate professor at IIIEE and moderator of the Summit – as well as Li Strandberg – IIIEE's new Communications Manager – about the event and the importance of communication and engagement when involving citizens and stakeholders in creating and implementing missions.
Working from home? We have you covered with several tips and tools for teleworking and virtual meetings. Building on decades worth of research and experience in teleworking for sustainability, we share with you some suggestions to make the sudden transition working from home easier. We discuss with Peter Arnfalk and Charlotte Leire their experience advising organisations and individuals on how to transition to working from a distance. For those that are fortunate to transition their work from the office to home, we hope this episode is meaningful to you. We also acknowledge so many others that have lost their jobs or have a position where working from home is not possible, including our healthcare professionals. Our thoughts are with you and our entire podcast community as we overcome the global pandemic together.
Our economic systems are shaken as a result of COVID-19 and the global impact the virus will have on individuals, organisations, and economies. Prior to the global pandemic, we recorded this episode to discuss ongoing research at Lund University about our economic systems to support the Sustainable Development Goals. In this episode, we collaborate with the Lund University Agenda 2030 Graduate School. Coordinator Kristina Jönsson and PhD Student Juan Ocampo join us to highlight the activities and research of the Graduate School to support Agenda 2030. We discuss complementary currencies as a community-tool to incorporate social and environmental values into our economic systems. We also highlight the need for financial inclusion to ensure all communities have access to basic needs. In light of the global pandemic, these discussions are more important now than ever before. As such, we share this episode with you to inspire discussion about the values of our current and future economic systems. In these difficult times, we are sending love and solidarity to our entire podcast community!
What do sheep have to do with intellectual property rights for sustainability? In this episode, we explore the ‘tragedy of the commons’, which often justifies the introduction of property rights to support conservation and reduced environmental impact. However, when it comes to ‘innovations of the mind’, do property rights help or hinder the transition towards more sustainable economies? We sit down with IIIEE researchers Nancy Bocken and Roberto Hernandez to discuss the sustainability implications of closed, semi-open, and open intellectual property models. A fully closed model prevents the diffusion of sustainable solutions while a fully open model disincentivises innovation. So, what can be done to encourage innovation as well as advance sustainable solutions? Find out in our new episode on intellectual property rights for sustainability!
A tree is so much more than just a tree! Trees provide habitat to support biodiversity, remove carbon dioxide and particulate matter from our air, cool our cities during summers, and inspire enjoyment by all. A tree planted deliberately to provide any of these services is considered a nature-based solution. In this episode, we present the concept of nature-based solutions as an approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and manage stormwater in our cities. We meet Associate Professor Kes McCormick and PhD Researcher Björn Wickenberg, who share their research on nature-based solutions. Kes introduces us to a new online course called ‘Urban Nature’ and Björn shares with us his perspective as a previous urban planner in how to invite nature into our cities.
Policies are needed to ensure a circular economy. In the final episode of our mini-series on the circular economy, we explore the role of policy and the need for research to ensure policies like the European Green Deal promote a circular economy for sustainability. We discuss the trade-offs of slowing resource loops and energy efficiency, for example, knowing when to exchange your LED lightbulb for a more energy efficient bulb? We talk to our colleague Carl Dalhammar who explains the policy field of the circular economy today and why policies should regulate the design of our products. Then, we sit down with Jessika Luth Richter, who shares her research on policies for a circular economy. We discuss policies for narrowing, slowing and closing resource loops and answer the question when longer product lifetimes are more or less desirable.
The global population living in cities is expected to reach nearly 70% by 2050. This trend in urbanisation will require massive amounts of infrastructure to be built from concrete and other natural and manufactured materials. In the second episode of our miniseries on the circular economy, we explore the business case for circular resource flows - such as concrete, wood, and glass - in the construction and building sector. We meet Associate Professor Yuliya Voytenko Palgan, who discusses why cities are so important in addressing our sustainability challenges. Then, we invite PhD Candidate Julia Nussholz as well as recent IIIEE Master’s graduate Felicia Gustafsson to join us to discuss their research. We explore examples of closing and slowing resource loops in the construction industry as well as consider how to design circular business models that facilitate customer acceptance. But, are businesses doing enough? And, what is the role of policymakers to promote a circular economy that truly delivers on its sustainability promises?
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