Inter- and transdisciplinary approach plays a key role in finding sustainable development solutions and achieving Sustainable Development Goals indicated by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The BUP acts as a valuable means of streamlining current research findings and innovative ideas, which, at our multidisciplinary and international events, gain momentum and a far-reaching, cross-field impact. It is therefore only for the sake of clarity that we distinguish 10 Themes that work as an organising principle of the BUP events and information it distributes.
You can find educational material on the themes on this website, as well as on our YouTube channel.
1. Climate Change
Climate change refers to changes happening to the climate system due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. By signing The Paris Agreement, almost 190 countries have agreed to prevent the global temperature from increasing more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. It is, above all, renewable energy that plays a crucial role in the transition to a zero-emission society, as it enables us to gradually abandon fossil fuels. To achieve this goal, we need to implement new technologies and accomplish a number of societal changes. Science plays a key role in the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change and in the transfer to renewable energy production.
2. Renewable Energy
In dealing with climate change, renewable energy represents our biggest hope. As climate change is essentially a set of changes that have been happening to the climate system due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, we need to aim at transitioning to a zero-emission society. It is by adopting renewable sources of energy that we can gradually abandon fossil fuels. To be able to do so, we need to implement new technologies and accomplish a number of societal changes. Hence, there is a deep need for the research in the area of renewable energy and for the new findings and innovative solutions it brings.
3. Sustainable Societies
Social factors play a role in our future that is as important as technical innovations. The way new policies are formulated and implemented at the local, regional, and global level, and whether and how they incorporate sustainable development matters, is decisive for what kind of a world we can expect in a several-decades time and tomorrow. Issues such as public involvement and participation, transparency, the access principle, and freedom of speech are seminal for the development of sustainable societies. Research into the workings of a society is crucial for a sustainable outcome of the interplay of the many interests involved in decision-taking, legislation-making, and everyday actions.
4. Sustainable Water Resources
Water is becoming scarce and the way we treat is rapidly gaining importance. It is urgent to examine and map both what human societies need and require regarding water and what the environment needs to continue its life as undisrupted as possible. Then it is possible to identify a balanced state of water usage, an important step toward the sustainability of water resources. Ideally, water resource management planning takes into consideration all the competing demands for water and seeks to allocate water on an equitable basis to satisfy all of them. This is likely to become increasingly more complicated due to climate change, which makes this research field vital.
5. Urban-Rural Development
Urbanisation has, globally, led to urban growth, densification, and uncontrolled sprawl. As a result, the concept of sustainable society has been studied mainly from an urban perspective (sustainable cities, eco-cities), separately from discussions of the development of rural areas, farmlands, and forests. The area of urban-rural interactions has been neglected and left out of planning, which contributed to the fact that cities are now supported with food, natural resources, and energy originating mainly from the global market instead of their immediate surroundings. It is imperative to develop regional and local flows of products and resources (which we call a relocalisation process) and focus on human behavioural patterns (which include, e.g., urban lifestyles).
6. Sustainable Mobility
In all modern societies, people tend to increase their mobility. The total volume of transportation and its different modes is determined by economic, political, and social factors. The main concern of researchers in the area of sustainable mobility is the reduction of adverse effects linked to the increased transportation. One of the employed strategies is the promotion of co-modality, which means an optimal combination of various modes of transport within the same transport chain, particularly regarding freight (cargo transport). Technical innovations and incentivizing a shift towards less polluting and more energy efficient modes of transport, e.g., collective transport, as well as walking and cycling, also plays an important role.
7. Circular Economy
Circular economy refers to an economic system built on circular materials flows, instead of the more conventional economic systems where a product is made, used, and disposed of. In a circular economic system, products are made not only for a one-time use but are later reused, repaired, repurposed, and recycled. A circular economic flow entails lower emissions and leads to a resource use that does not equal a depletion of the environment. The economy, at the same time, continues to flourish unhindered. This system has already been implemented on a small scale in some places and sectors in the Baltic Sea Region but needs to be upscaled to have implications that go beyond the local.
8. Sustainable Tourism
Tourism as a global industry has grown and changed dramatically over the past twenty years, becoming one of the largest resource-consuming industries in the world. This has led to concerns about its environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Apart from placing demands on the environment, it is also the fastest growing industry in terms of the number of employees, and its proportions imply far-reaching consequences for local cultures and communities. Its social sustainability is therefore no lesser concern. This research area takes into consideration the afore-mentioned aspects of travel, explores issues such as destination development, tourist attractions, and accommodation, and seeks to find sustainable solutions for our highly mobile world
9. Education for Sustainable Development
ESD studies transformative learning in formal, non-formal, and informal settings. Since education is perhaps the single most powerful tool for affecting change, we need an efficient and widespread ESD if there is to be a chance that we, not only as individuals, but as a society at large alter our perception of environment and our behaviour. The field of ESD focuses on how to teach about complex issues such as climate change, disaster risk, and overconsumption. The goal is to empower (future) educators by providing them with new skills, the knowledge of participatory teaching methods, and other tools that will foster critical thinking, action competence, and the ability to imagine future scenarios in their students.
10. Sustainable Food Systems
A key challenge of our time is a sustainable management of agricultural land and the development of resilient food systems to feed the growing world population. Agricultural production is increasingly impaired by climate change, degradation of natural resources, and increasing environmental externalities. It is crucial to increase accessibility of food resources while sparing the environment negative fallouts from excessive logistics and environmentally inefficient distribution. We are already able to develop a nearly waste-free production chain, where each by-product could be further used or processed – now we need to promote its implementation. Science and education are some of the most valuable tools to renew peoples’ connection to agriculture and to change conventional patterns of resource management.