Published by Oona Morrow on the 9th June 2016.
Last week we attended the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP)’s UnConference in Wuppertal, Germany, to celebrate the CSCP’s 10th anniversary. The UnConference theme ‘The Future of Sustainable Lifestyles, Industry 4.0, and the Circular Economy’ brought together more than 500 people to discuss eco-innovations, the latest trends in sustainable lifestyles and the circular economy, including aspects of food, textiles, sustainable cities, ICT, and more.
The CSCP is an international non-profit organisation that works across business, academic, community and government sectors to promote the uptake of sustainable consumption and production. It emerged in 2005 from a collaboration between the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
The UnConference featured a variety of very well planned, creative and inspired events, from an expert panel in the morning attended by Maryse Gautier, Ministry of Sustainable Development of France; Dr. Helio Mattar, President, Akatu Institute for Conscious Consumption; Johannes Remmel, Minister for Climate Protection, Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Protection of North Rhine-Westphalia; Prof. Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Co-President, Club of Rome. Work Studios were organised for the afternoon located in venues around Wuppertal.
Oona attended a studio on Food Waste at Naba’s café, a social enterprise that generates employment opportunities for people with disabilities and increases food security for neighbourhood residents and school children. The General Manager, Anna Schuetz-Wiebe, explained that thanks to careful menu planning, the food is very affordable and nothing is wasted. Any food scraps are delivered to the local community garden where they are transformed into compost. At the workstudio we also heard from Mirka Stark, from PENNY Markt a German discount grocery chain that is taking innovative approaches to preventing food waste in its sourcing and distribution methods and even providing its customers with helpful tips on lengthening the shelf life of produce at home.
The highlight of the studio was the interactive “market of solution” featuring representatives from Die Tafeln (a local food bank), Gemuese Ackerdemie (a school gardening program), The League of Urban Canners (an urban fruit harvesting and preservation collective), Too Good to Go (the app that connects eaters with reduced price restaurant leftovers), BIO VIZION GbR (a vermiculture and composting enterprise), Lebensmittel Wegwerfen? (food waste prevention), and Foodsharing Wuppertal (part of a nationwide network to share food [online and in Fair-Teiler] rather than throwing it away). We came away from the workstudio excited by the diversity of food sharing and food waste reduction strategies in our midst, questioning the legitimacy of the expiration date label, and wondering how and where we might intervene in the cycle of food production, distribution, and consumption. I also received some free carrot seeds and restaurant leftovers!
Ferne attended the Cities Enabling Sustainability studio held at Utopiastadt, in the former Mirker train station that is now a creative hub and café surrounded by gardens, art, and a cycling track. The session included presentations by notable speakers: Arab Hoballah, Chief Sustainable Lifestyles, Cities and Industry, UNEP; Maryse Gautier, Ministry of Sustainable Development of France and Co-Chair of Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III); Dr. Maria Hohn-Berghom, International Academic Services; and Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind, President and Chief Research Executive, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. Presentations were followed by three-minute pitches from the initiatives: Greenapes, Hammer A Hood!, Thanx, Fusion Community, Demos Helsinki, and Volpi Urbane Urban Planning and Architecture. The session then broke into four working groups to answer the questions: How to create the sUsTOPIACity where all actors are working together to make urban life and work smart, circular, sharing, and sustainable? What are core elements of a plan for implementing and managing the truly sustainable city? Discussion from the ‘European City’ workshop I attended included questions about how all people could be connected across the city to have their voices heard. I raised the practice of food sharing in its various forms (from traditional approaches to modern ICT) and it’s potential for connecting people across a shared table to discuss matters in their community. Other workshops raised themes about overcoming generational gaps and ensuring a gender balance in decision-making processes.
The evening program began in the lush gardens of Villa Media, featured seven futurists – reflecting on the outcomes of their work studios 25 years on, an evening address by Dr. Thomas Grünewald, North Rhine-Westphalia‘s State Secretary in the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research, and local school children sharing their own wishes and plans for sustainability. A ‘Taste the Jeans’ was then celebrated as attendees were led through five rooms filled by art installations, presentations, music and performances, to explore the life cycle of textile and food products and to be inspired by sustainable solutions.
Exhibits included funghi textiles and dyes by Julia Krayer , a 3D cake-making demonstration by Daniel Wilkens, a clothes swap, a room filled by photographs of participants to entice sustainable lifestyle pledges, and more! Each room also featured bowls of delicious themed food including fermented produce by Zaunkoenig, a dish made from rescued food by Mangi Mangi, and Ayurvedic food by Volker Mehl.
For SHARECITY, the event offered a welcoming opportunity to meet people actively involved in front-line sustainable consumption across the business, ICT, community, activist, and academic sectors. We were very impressed by the high standard of the event, by the creativity of the unconference design and structure and with the attention to detail in making this both an informative and enjoyable occasion. The passion and enthusiasm of the organisers and attendees is evident on their social media channels as the unconference progressed throughout the evening. Many thanks to the organizers and CSCP staff for making this a truly memorable event. We will never look at a pair of jeans the same way again.
Oona Morrow and Ferne Edwards, SHARECITY
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