ISDRS NEWSLETTER, Volume 2016, Issue 3

Editors: Olawale Olayide, Volker Mauerhofer and Pontus Cerin.

Dear reader,

We hereby like to bring you the latest information about recent activities and news about our Society and direct your attention to interesting developments and up-coming events.



Message from the President
ISDRS News - Bogota 2017
Lisbon Conference Recap
SD in African Context
Institutional Members
General Announcements


Message from the President


Where can you see the full scope of the sustainable development challenges at best? Looking through our windows in our prestigious university offices?  Or by looking at how peer-to-peer sharing economy platforms are resulting into better social contacts in western welfare neighborhoods where people hardly know each other (calling this ‘social sustainability’), like one of our students just did in her master thesis? I am sitting here, thinking about these questions in the airport lounge of Lagos Murtala Mohammed International Airport after an inspiring week in Nigeria.

Well, go to Nigeria!! Three things came to the mind by most people whom I told about my visit before I travelled over here. You can easily guess what: Boko Haram, corruption and fraudster emails promising you the winning of $ 5,0000,000 but mostly likely ripping you when you click…. Why would you want to go over there??

Yes indeed, it is not paradise: sustainable development scholars may look it up in there literature sources: Nigeria scoring the low 152nd position on the 188 countries 2015 HDI ranking, scoring a 136 rank out 175 on the Corruption Index of Transparency International, and we can easily add more.  To see how this country with about 182 million people, more than 500 ethnic groups, equally many languages, with 3 common African languages apart from English, 4 cities with over 1 million people, and its oil issue, is dealing with it’s challenges.

Well, dr. Owale (Wale) Olayide, Vice-Dean of the Centre for SD of the University of Ibadan (CESDEV) invited me (already for the 2nd time) to bring a keynote at their 7th Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit.  I met Wale for the first time at our 19th ISDRS conference in Stellenbosch and we worked together on various topics already. And he actively contributes to the ISDRS, as you may know. So, yes, I said, I will come.

One-week in Ibadan, Nigeria, 160 km inland from Lagos, 3 crazy traffic hours. It gives you positive energy. CESDEV was set up in 2010 in the worldwide network of Development Practice Masters, with now nearly 30 comparable programs all over the world. It has been an amazing experience to see how one can set up such an effective Sustainable Development research institute in such short time and create quality research and local outreach. It helps that the University of Ibadan is amongst the best in Africa, ranking 14th on the 2016 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.  At the 7th Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit some 140 African researchers convened mostly from Nigeria, but also from countries, like Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Africa, and only three non-Africans. It was a superb source for inside insights. 

Apart from case studies on agriculture, eco-tourism, housing and the like, I enjoyed quite a lot of very good papers addressing the crucial structural causes behind the extreme poverty, inequality, violence in this country, where different ethnic groups and religions have a long history of living together and respecting each other. The CESDEV developed a practice of combining academic quality with a strong practice oriented outreach. I would advise any sustainable development scholar to pay them a visit: they do organise their summit every year in the 3rd week of August, so take you opportunity next year (we will announce it again in the ISDRS communications).

From this week I take various follow-ups with me: CESDEV is part of the African Sustainable Development Network (ASUDNET), linking a large number of scholars in African countries. We will partner and work towards having ASUDNET as the African chapter of the ISDRS.  We also will work towards connecting the MDP students  (see web), JMiSD students (see web) and other SD students (graduate and post graduates) in a global network, together with our other partner WSCSD (see ISDRS Newsletter nr. 2, 2016).

In Ibadan I also met Prof. dr. Pierluigi Bozzi, the coordinator of the IUNCBD (, connecting a large number of universities, also in developing countries around the world, engaging in implementation of cultural and biological diversity practices, closely related to the teaching and research activities. We will also create a partnership of ISDRS and IUNCBD.

Our fellow scholars in Africa have a hard time getting their messages out in the global academic sustainable development arena. With the organiser we selected the best papers and we will work towards a Special Issue in Sustainable Development on the structural causes behind Nigeria’s poverty.

We will make the voices be better heard!

Thanks CESDEV for inviting me! 

Walter J.V. Vermeulen, ISDRS President




23rd ISDRS Conference Bogotá, Colombia - 14th-16th June 2017

We are happy to officially announce the dates of the 23rd ISDRS conference in Bogotá on the 14th to 16th of June 2017. It is surely going to be a very interesting conference, building further on the incredible 22nd ISDRS Conference in Lisbon. Besides the core sustainability themes of the ISDRS, specific interest will go to specialized themes which are, among other things, tailored to the Latin-American context. 

Word by Bogotá Conference Organizers

In a world convulsed by the emergence of new war tensions and the intensification of old conflicts, Colombia rises a flag of hope, showing a different pathway. Last Monday, September 26, 2016 was a historic day: the head leaders of the Colombian Government and the FARC guerrillas signed a peace agreement that, if endorsed by the population, will put an end to a conflict that has lasted more than 50 years, and will open the door to a new era of peace and prosperity.

Colombia, one of the most biodiverse and culturally-rich countries in the planet, is today under the eyes of the international community and what the country decides to do in the near future will make an impact not only on its own future but also on the Latin American region. Bogotá, its capital and most vibrant city, will be the centre where a great debate will now take place, this time without violence, concerning the collective conviction of building a new, different, and forward-looking country, but conciliating an incredible number of different perspectives from a vast number of actors.

The panorama is uncertain but exciting; the challenges to come are huge, as it is the potential for progress and development. Sustainability must be a fundamental guiding principle in the debate; and inclusiveness, in a country where different kinds of exclusion gave birth to the armed internal conflict decades ago, is our bet to steer this process. That is why “Inclusive sustainability for development” is the particular subject of our conference.

We invite you to be part of this transformation! The ISDRS 2017 conference is the ideal place for academics and practitioners from the whole world to learn from and contribute to the Colombian and Latin American experiences. We look forward to meet you in Bogotá.


Reminder to our Green+ Members:
Please cast your vote on the Board Nominees 

This week, all Green+ Members were sent an email with the request to cast a vote on several board nominees. We would like to kindly remind and cordially ask all Green+ Members to let your vote count by filling out the Doodle sent to you.


22nd ISDRS Lisbon Conference Recap 


Word by the Vice President

The 22nd annual ISDRS Conference – Lisbon, Portugal

ISDRS 2016, hosted by the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, was a great experience, both academically and socially.    I had the privilege to make some comments at the closing plenary, on which this text is based.  The conference had a record-breaking attendance (510 delegates from more than 45 countries, gave almost 400 presentations).   A commonly heard response to the talks amongst delegates was ‘diversity’ – roughly in equal measure as a positive sign or a cause of some bemusement.  However, notwithstanding the undoubted diversity of empirical content (global commodity supply chains, business models for material recovery, housing, biodiversity, sustainability education) drawing on case studies from across the world, a striking number of themes emerged.    Most notably all these diverse papers have a common interest in sustainability and a are unpinned by a conviction that improvements can and should be made to people’s lives and/or the environment if certain challenges could be overcome.  Although at a sustainability conference this is hardly surprising, anyone who attends standard discipline-based academic conferences will treasure the opportunity to spend some time surrounded by people who place this conviction at the centre of their research.   The key-note talks expertly illustrated the need for progress towards sustainability in a range of social and ecological settings.  

The challenges to sustainability and sustainability research which emerged from the sessions include: how to frame research in an appropriate academic context when concepts and methods are drawn from a range of disciplines; how to balance ideas and definitions from policy and practice with those from academia? Does research risk losing academic approval to become socially relevant?  There were epistemological challenges: how and from where to collect relevant data?  What it is adequate evidence to support an argument?  Related to that, how to companies and other organisations obtain data for reporting requirements (relevant on many different scales and for different policy purposes).  Indeed, in a global supply chain context, how can companies be certain they are meeting their own sustainability requirements?  Organisational challenges included how organisations can relate to and work with each other?  How can organisations and individuals be persuaded to take an active interest in sustainability agendas, and be prepared to make change to their behaviour accordingly?  And sometimes people’s interest and enthusiasm can take an unexpected path: academics as other relatively privileged groups in society may not have the best understanding of the range of public opinion and the experiences on which those opinions can be based.    

Of course the themes that emerged are fundamental to much of sustainability research – there is clearly still a lot of work to be done both academically and practically and perhaps especially in trying to better articulate the academic and non-academic together.  Nonetheless over the decade that I have been attending ISDRS meetings, progress has been made.  There are global agreements on carbon reductions, and the concept of a circular economy with its concomitant resource efficiencies is feature of policy across an increasing range of nations.  There have also been strong reminders that little can be taken for granted in the political and economic world which we seek to make more sustainable, with financial crises and extreme political instability a feature.  These have contributed to unprecedented levels of migration as people are on the margins of survival – waiting for potential future prosperity to reach them is scarcely a viable option when prosperity is plainly enjoyed elsewhere.  The Issue of equity in sustainability is one that perhaps has not received enough attention, but this will be a key theme of ISDRS 23 in Colombia next year.

On behalf of ISDRS, our sincere thanks and admiration are due to the Lisbon team: Tomas Ramos, Sandra Caeiro, Rui Santos, Antje Disterheft, João Joanaz de Melo and their many colleagues. The conference was a triumph.  We are grateful also to Eduardo Wills Herrera who gave a tantalizing preview of what we can look forward to next year in Bogotá, when ISDRS will make its first visit to Latin America.

Pauline Deutz, Vice President ISDRS


Blog about the 22nd ISDRS Conference

Prof.Dr. Bert de Vries wrote an interesting blog about his experiences and insights at the 22nd ISDRS Conference in Lisbon. If you are interested in reading more, please take a further look at the following webpage
In addition to commenting on the conference as a whole, Prof. Dr. De Vries sheds his light on the best and most remarkable presentations given. Download the full report here.


The story of 'The Youngest Participant of the ISDRS Conference 2016'

By Stella Frangos
Most teens do probably not spend their summer break at a research conference, but I did. My name is Stella Frangos and I’m fourteen years old. This year I did an internship at Chalmers University of Technology at the Environmental Analysis Department with Professor Henrikke Baumann as my supervisor.
While I was doing my internship, Prof. Baumann gave me a task: to do my own Life Cycle Assessment with my own chosen topic. I chose jelly candy. Candy has become such a natural part of our everyday lives, but there hasn't been done much research about it. I picked two kinds of jelly candy and followed their life cycle chain: organic and conventional, that I did a comparison of. I picked out the main ingredients (gelatine, sugar products and oil products) and compared the carbon emissions from conventional to organic.
This Summer, Prof. Baumann was invited to International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal, and I was given the opportunity to follow. She told me that there would be a poster exhibition, and that if I could compose a poster out of my LCA, we could put it up next to the other posters. I had the chance to show my work. I was really excited about it!
We arrived in Lisbon one day before Prof. Baumanns session, and two days before the poster exhibition. When the time came for Prof. Baumanns session, I followed her to the conference. The first impression I got from observing the scientists, was that I thought they were all very social. Everyone was always looking for someone to talk to. The scientists seemed to forget about time and other people when they found someone to talk with. Even I had some great chats. The conference itself was so well done, and so well organized! I got really impressed when I heard that the organizers were students at the university parts of the conference was held who worked voluntarily.  
We got to the exhibition, and with a pounding heart, we put up the poster and two little baskets; one with the organic and one with the conventional candy for people to taste and compare. The reactions I got were even more positive than I had hoped for. The scientists stopped to take a closer look, read, talk with me, try out the candy, take a photo or to write a comment. I was thrilled! This was an amazing experience I will remember and carry with me my whole life. Who knows what I’ll do in the future, but this was maybe a step in the right direction.


Sustainable Development in the African Context

Africa Sustainable Development Summit Recommends People-oriented Development Agenda

Dr. Olawale Olayide, Research Fellow. Centre for Sustainable Development. University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria., +2348035973449

The 7th edition of the annual Ibadan Sustainable Development (ISDS) was held during 21 – 26 August 2016. It was a rally point for scholars, policy makers, students and development practitioners. The summit was organised by the University of Ibadan Centre for sustainable development (CESDEV) in collaboration with the African Sustainable Development Network (ASUDNET) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Nigeria (SDSN-Nigeria).  The theme for the summit was: Making the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Work for People in Africa. The presentations underscored the need to prioritise development agenda, and as such making development people-oriented. The summit addressed various aspects of the SDGs and their targets with emphasis on Africa, and strategies for achieving sustainable development. 

There were two keynote addresses. The first keynote address was delivered by the Honourable Minister of Environment, Ms Amina J. Mohammed. The second keynote address was delivered by the President of the International Sustainable Development Research Society (ISDRS), Professor Walter J.V. Vermeulen. The two keynote addresses underscored the need for research, adequate financing, appropriate policy framework, and partnerships as catalysts for achieving sustainable development goals in Africa.  There were also six plenary sessions as well as scholarly paper presentations at the technical sessions. The technical sessions featured 142 paper presentations. A Policy Roundtable on Climate Change, Agriculture and Sustainable Developmentwas also organized during the summit.

A total of 267 persons participated at the summit, representing three countries in Africa (Cameroun, Ghana and Nigeria), three countries from Europe (Germany, Italy and Netherlands), and one country from South America (Colombia). The participants came from varied backgrounds including, the academia; United Nations institutions; Government bureaucrats from both State and Federal Ministries Departments and Agencies; local and international NGOs, think-tanks, World Bank, media, and Nigeria's SDGs Office. The summit also featured social events in form of reception cocktail and closing dinner. The participants were satisfied with the quality of paper presentations and discussions at the summit. They expressed their profound gratitude to the organisers. Some of the regular participants observed that the summit has been getting bigger and better each year, compared to previous edition. Certificate of participation was issued to each registered delegate at the end of the summit. 

Read also a nice media report about the Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit Conference here: Stakeholders proffer solutions on climate change, agriculture and sustainable development


Institutional Members 


New Institutional Member

Ibadan University - Centre for Sustainable Development

The ISDRS is happy to announce that the Ibadan University, Centre for Sustainable Development (CESDEV)(Ibadan, Nigeria) has become an ISDRS Institutional Member. Read more about ISDRS Institutional Members here and more about the Ibadan University Centre for Sustainable Development here


Call for Submissions

Interdisciplinary Workshop 'Multilevel Approaches in Climate Change Research
University of Graz.

Interested applicants are encouraged to explore how multilevel approaches may be useful to tackle the challenges of climate change both from a mitigation as well as from an adaptation perspective for industries, energy sector, agriculture and cities.

Applicants may wish to submit original research ideas in the form of an extended abstract (word limit upto 2,000 words) connected to one or more of the following three cross cutting multilevel themes: Policy and Governance, Strategy and Performance, Innovation and Diffusion

Attendance of the workshop will be free of charge. However in order to ensure sufficient contact times among the participants and the mentors to enable high quality feedback, the total number of participants will be limited to a maximum of 20 participants.

New extended deadline for submission: 2nd October, 2016

Intimation of the abstract acceptance: 9th October, 2016

Dates of the workshop : 10th and 11th November, 201

More information can be found here 


General Announcements


Disarm! For a Climate of Peace

30th of September - 03rd of October 2016. Technische Universität Berlin, Germany

The ISDRS is one of the International Supporters of the World Congress 'Disarm! For a Climate of Peace' in Berlin. Read more information about the conference on the following website: 


Norwegian University of Science and Technology - Sustainability Science Conference 2017

Norwegian University of Science and Technology invites you to the NTNU Sustainability Science Conference 2017 – Transitions to Sustainable Systems, 18-20 October 2017, Trondheim, Norway. Abstract submission opens 17 October 2016. The Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science, conferred by NTNU and the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, will be awarded at the Conference. The Award winner will receive NOK 1 million (approximately USD 190,000), a gold medal, and a diploma. See the call for nominations with deadline: 01 December 2016.


18th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production

We would like to inform you that the 18th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production will be held in Skiathos Island, Greece from 1st to 5th of October 2017. The Conference is organized by the National Technical University of Athens.

Authors wishing to submit a paper should send an abstract to the International Scientific Committee ( by 28th of February 2017.


Post-doctoral fellowships at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg Austria

Postdoctoral Fellowships are available at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) for researchers in:
•         Natural and Social Sciences
•         Mathematical Sciences and Modelling
•         Interdisciplinary and Sustainability Sciences
•         Integrated Assessment
•         Management and Policy

IIASA located in Schloss Laxenburg near Vienna, Austria, provides full funding for a number of postdoctoral researchers each year. Scholars conduct their own research on topics closely related to one or more projects on IIASA's agenda. 

Upcoming application deadlines:   
            2016: 1 October            
            2017: 1 April, 1 October

Postdoctoral positions are of up to 2 years’ duration, and can begin up to 6 months after selection.

General Questions:  More info on:



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Olawale Olayide, Volker Mauerhofer and Pontus Cerin.

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