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Sustainability - From Buzzword to Guiding Principle

This live panel discussion was recorded on February 18, 2021, as part of our ongoing series "Berlin Talks", a cooperation of international short-term study programs FU-BEST (European Studies) and FUBiS (International Summer and Winter University) at Freie Universität Berlin.

The notion or concept of “sustainability”, applied primarily to ecological matters, is not new perhaps, but it has truly acquired widespread usage or application in recent decades, often well beyond ecological or environmental discourse in a narrower sense. Literally used, the word might refer to the ability to exist constantly, to a proper balance of species (esp. humanity) and the resources in its environment. More concretely, it can refer to the necessity of making only such use of natural, renewable resources that people can continue to rely on their yields in the long term. Has the proliferating use of the term sustainability become too inflationary, turning the concept into a buzzword with possibly reduced utility? How can this term be usefully defined and applied? How can it serve as a meaningful guiding principle? Berlin Talks offered a panel discussion focused on these and other questions and considerations, providing perspectives ranging from a more local, institutional context (a university), to the pursuit of business, the perspective of politics and policy-making, and citizen involvement spanning the spectrum from local to European activism.

Panel members:

  • Dr. Dirk Verheyen (moderator): Academic director, FU-BEST
  • Nora Große: Project Coordinator Sustainability in Teaching in the Unit for Sustainability and Energy Management at Freie Universität Berlin
  • Patrizia Heidegger: Director for Global Policies and Sustainability, European Environmental Bureau in Brussels
  • Heike Mewes: FU-BEST instructor of the course “Green Business”
  • Dr. Andrzej Ancygier: FU-BEST and FUBiS instructor on environmental politics and policy