The past few months have proved to be a productive and innovative period in terms of strengthening partnerships and collaboration for UNU-FLORES. Here is a brief recap of the Institute’s progress, and its Director’s activities:
Meeting with the Prime Minister of Saxony
On 04 July, UNU-FLORES met with the Minister President of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer. In this meeting, the UNU-FLORES’ Director detailed the vital work that the Institute conducts, and discussed the future directions intended for the transformative mining projects in the lignite region of Lusatia, specifically the planned Knowledge Academy for the Resource Nexus and the House from Waste. Joining Professor Guenther was Professor Daniel Karthe, the Head of Research Programme – Resource Nexus for Regions in Transformation, and Research Associate and representative for UNU-FLORES in Lusatia, Franziska Stoelzel.
Minister President Kretschmer expressed his full support for UNU-FLORES’ endeavours in the Lusatian region – this political endorsement is much appreciated by the Institute, particularly in light of the social, economic, and environmental relevance of our work in this area.
Strengthened Relationship with Singapore
On 15 July, the UNU-FLORES’ Director met with the Singaporean Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Ms Grace Fu, and members of the Singaporean Embassy in Berlin. This meeting was the latest in a series of highly positive communication with the Singaporean Embassy – the Ambassador for which, Mr Laurence Bay, is a very valued supporter of UNU-FLORES. In Professor Guenther’s discussions with the ministerial representative for sustainability – a position that is rather unique to Singapore – Ms Fu very much shared the UNU-FLORES’ passion for sustainable resource management.
The relationship between UNU-FLORES and Singapore also recently produced an exciting new opportunity for a doctoral study on vertical farming. The study will focus on Vertical Farming for Urban Food Security, and the Social Acceptance and Policy Recommendations for Building Communities – with a particular focus on Singapore, which is a leading country in innovative Urban Agriculture.
Virtual Advisory Committee Meeting takes place
On 27 July, the members of the UNU-FLORES Advisory Committee and the UNU Rector’s Office met with Professor Guenther, Heads of Research Programmes, Professors Daniel Karthe and Kaveh Madani, and Finance Officer, Bastian Nebel, to receive a progress report on the Institute’s efforts to initiate new organizational structures and indicators for performance management, and to advise UNU leadership as to the best ways to further develop their Research Programmes.
As always, UNU-FLORES greatly benefited from the expertise and insights of the Advisory Committee and Management will work to initiate their advice in the lead up to the next meeting scheduled for December.
UNU-FLORES’ Director joins RKW Board of Trustees
The non-profit association, RKW Sachsen e.V. (Rationalisation and Innovation Centre of German Business), is a network operating throughout Saxony that is committed to the sustainable economic success of small and medium-sized enterprises. UNU-FLORES` Director was nominated to join the Board of Trustees earlier this year; this nomination was officially approved by the other Board Members in late July. Professor Guenther met the RWK Managing Director, Dirk Vogel, on August 3 to discuss how sustainability can be best moved forward within the network, and how UNU-FLORES can support the Members to achieve this. This partnership with RKW will provide a great opportunity for UNU-FLORES researchers to familiarise themselves with the Saxon community, and will also act as a platform for the Institute to advocate for sustainable development at the local level.
UNU-FLORES goes to Weisswasser!
On 29 July, the UNU-FLORES Team ‘officially’ made their first visit to the Institute’s highly anticipated new branch in Weisswasser. Led by Weisswasser resident and UNU-FLORES’ on-site expert, Franziska Stoelzel, the Team were lucky enough to receive an insider’s tour of the city, and the aspects that make it so special and worthy of pioneering the German phase-out of lignite coal. Once a thriving city, political upheaval in 1989 saw Weisswasser shrink to a shadow of its former self – from 38,000 inhabitants to 15,000 – with those electing to stay facing a diminished quality of life and lack of services. Fortunately, however, these locals share a fierce love for their home, and are determined to breathe life into it once more – a goal that UNU-FLORES is only too happy to support!
During the excursion, the Team were able to observe an opencast mine, and to meet with project leaders, activists, and stakeholders from across the city who are passionate about rejuvenating their city and creating a sustainable and promising future for the generations to come.
Stay tuned for future updates about our growing presence in this highly significant region!
NEXtra Final Selection
Currently nearing the end of the recruitment process, this week will bring the launch of the very exciting Resource Nexus for Sustainability Transformations (NEXtra) project closer, with a selection meeting being held with academic focal points (including Professor Daniel Karthe and Educational Programme Associate, Daisy Waked) and donors DAAD to finalize the 7 successful Doctoral Researchers who are expected to start their studies in April 2023. These incoming young scientists from different disciplinary backgrounds will work on sustainability transformations using a Resource Nexus perspective with a focus on the interlinkages between environmental resources, and synergies and tradeoffs in their management.
Professor Guenther joins panel on the future of research in Saxony in Leipzig
The Free State of Saxony is proud to be a research area with a network of universities and research institutes in many different disciplines. In the first phase of the project “Research in Saxony White Paper Conference” led by the Saxon State Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, the specific strengths, weaknesses and potentials of Saxony’s science landscape were identified (SWOT analysis). Together with Saxony’s Minister of Science, Sebastian Gemkow, Professor Guenther discussed the results of the analysis and explored the potential for the future of research in Saxony on September 8 in Leipzig.
UNU-FLORES Director speaks on Sustainable Forestry
On September 16, Professor Guenther delivered a keynote lecture at the Celebratory Event of the “Arbeitsgemeinschaft Naturgemäße Waldwirtschaft” (Working Group for Natural Forest Management) in Chorin. As an enthusiastic forest manager herself, Professor Guenther was delighted to share her visions for sustainable forests along with the Nexus research of the Institute pertaining to forestry. The keynote lecture can be viewed here (LINK).
As the weather cools down, the UNU-FLORES team is busily preparing for a number of events including UN Day and the 10th anniversary of the Institute. Professor Guenther will also travel to Paris for the annual meeting of the UNU Directors, and to explore collaborative opportunities with the UN agencies in the region.