Bogotá Conference Special 

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 2017 Bogota Conference Information
Personal Stories of the Bogota Conference
Institutional Member News


Message from the President

At this moment many of us are preparing for the 23rd annual conference organised by the School of Management of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. We are looking forward to this very much. Their professors have a strong track record of research in combining the ecological and social fairness agenda aiming at achieving human well-being. Colombia is very much a cross-road of the North and the South, and of Anglo-Saxon pragmatism and Latin-American temperament. And most importantly, it is an inspiring environment of post-conflict recovery, aiming to achieve progress by marching towards the signpost of hope, which the  twin integral ecological and societal fairness agenda of inclusive sustainable development is. In the Colombian context this concept has a special meaning.  

It may also place our discussions in a historical perspective. This year it has been 30 years ago that the World Commission on Development, chaired by Gro Brundtland, published the report “Our Common Future”. The message is still echoing. Some might say ‘nothing happened’, others may be more optimistic, looking at a wide array of technological developments, the wide implementation of a diversity of sustainability tools and methods. However, on one observation we will all agree: we are still far away from our end goals. The recent specification of 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations gives us a signpost in the future, which is very much needed. These SDGs stress the integrated challenge of sustainable development as a twin integral ecological and societal fairness agenda. Or in other words: it is about planet, people and prosperity.  

At this moment, the society is preparing plans to move to a next phase, in which we can serve as a hub of the very large number of global sustainable development research activities, fora, platforms and more.  Our recent member survey confirmed the need for this and also indicated that a larger number of scholars are willing to contribute to this. We will discuss this in Bogota, and inform you in more detail in the next newsletter. 

Dr. Walter J. V. Vermeulen 

President of the International Sustainable Development Research Society


Nomination for Board Membership

If you have been an ISDRS Green Member for two consecutive years, you are eligible to nominate yourself for the position of ISDRS board member. All nominations will need to be approved by the current board, and subsequently all ISDRS Green (+) members will cast the deciding vote on the applications.

If you are eligible and interested, please send an email to as soon as possible.


ISDRS 2017 Bogotá Conference Information


Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to have a very interesting list of keynote speakers at the ISDRS 2017 Bogota Conference. For the extensive overview please visit the webpage of the Bogota conference here.

Conference Programme

For the detailed conference programme, please visit the following webpage here.


Personal Stories - ISDRS 2017 Bogotá Conference

In this section, four PhD students tell their personal stories about their research, their experience and their reason for participating in the conference.


Vanessa Prieto Sandoval, PhD Student Industrial Management Department, Universidad de Nevarra (Spain)           
I'm Vanessa Prieto Sandoval, proudly from Bogotá, Colombia. I'm studying a Ph.D. in Applied Engineering at the University of Navarra (Spain), which is focused on the Circular Economy Implementation in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). I want to participate at the ISDRS conference because I think that the research communities have to work together to really “do something” and create useful knowledge to help our companies to implement eco-innovative ways of production, to encourage the sustainable consumption and to propose political solutions for the environmental challenge that we currently live.

As Colombian, I had the privilege to grow up in rich and biodiverse landscapes, in contrast to cities like Bogotá with a fast industrial and economic progress based on the resources depletion. This is local example of how the current economy has forgotten the fact that infinite growth is not possible. Therefore, if we don’t keep safe the only earth we have, the exploration of new planets we become a need, not an option.

I'm convinced that we need a change of paradigm from the anthropocentric sociological view to ecocentrism. As follows, the circular economy clearly represents the most advanced and recent manifestation of this paradigm shift. Consequently, in this conference, I will present two papers: The first one is titled “Key strategies to implement circular economy in SMEs”. This study proposes a kit of strategies that could help SMEs to mature and orient their corporate strategy towards the circular economy and build a competitive advantage in the market. Moreover, this study proposes a group of internal and external factors that should support the implementation of the kit of strategies. Finally, some useful dynamic capabilities are defined to undertake the circular economy in the business performance. The second one is titled  “The growing acceptance of eco-labelling: an empirical analysis in Spain”. In this study, we argue that an ecolabel is the visible manifestation of a voluntary eco-innovation process. In this process, consumers’ environmental expectations are met; firms increase their created and captured value and enhance their sustainability, and governments and institutions foster sustainable production and consumption. Thus, the aim of this study is to assess the EU Label growing acceptance in the European Union and, more specifically in Spain by product categories and by geographical regions. Both studies may contribute as an important guidance for policy makers and firms to trigger sustainable practices and the transition to a circular economy in Spain and other regions with cultural proximity, like Ibero-America.

Francesco Gimelli, PhD student School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Monash University
I was fortunate to attend the ISDRS Conference in Lisbon last year, and was deeply impressed by the quality of the scholarship on display from so many top research institutions across the world. I’m looking forward to the intellectual stimulation that the ISDRS Conference offers, and to the opportunity to engage with other doctoral candidates from across the world to learn from our experiences and challenges and become more resilient, capable researchers. I was also excited to find out that this year’s conference would be in Bogotá for various reasons. First, Colombia has a reputation for its beauty, the warmth of its people, and its hospitality. Second, Bogotá and other cities in the country, notably Medellín, have undergone radical transformations in the past few decades from cities marked by the violence of civil conflict and narco-trafficking to cities that have worked hard, and in many cases managed to, transition to more sustainable and equitable modes of operating. As a researcher primarily interested in urban spaces, the opportunity to travel to Colombia to explore this transformation and engage with some of the actors involved in it was too good to pass up!

The research that I will be presenting is one component of my doctoral project, which explores the way that non-state actors negotiate informality to secure urban water services using case studies from three Indian cities. At the conference, I will be presenting on the role of political participation in securing such services. By ‘political’ I do not refer strictly to formal processes such as voting, but more broadly to any form of participation through which the poor gain access to services and any other ways that they try to solve problems. The reason why this topic is so important is because there is a pressing need to acknowledge and understand the ways that urban water services are informally governed in the informal city. Improvements in informal urban settings often happen despite the government, rather than because of it; the capacity of many governments to support the urban poor is simply inadequate. Understanding how residents marginalised by formal structures engage in problem-solving is essential if development initiatives are to consider ways to integrate such processes into approaches that do not strictly seek to ‘formalise’ the city, but rather consider ways to improve the quality of life of all residents regardless of formal status. I look forward to engaging in a discussion with all those interested in these topics at the ISDRS Conference! ¡Nos vemos en Bogotá!

Thomas Macintyre, PhD candidate at Education and Competence Studies Group. Wageningen University, the Netherlands.  
Given its turbulent history, it is a surprising that as this point of time, Colombia stands out as a leading figure of hope and stability in the Americas. From the political turmoil in the United states, to drugs and insecurity in Mexico and central America, and social unrest in Venezuela and Brazil, Colombia with its newly signed peace deal between the FARC and government, is presenting the world an image of unrivaled bio-cultural diversity and openness; as the propaganda states, "the only risk [for the tourist] is wanting to stay."

Although I am highly critical to the idea that development can be sustainable, I was attracted to the ISDRS conference in Bogotá due to its focus on 'inclusivity' involving the engagement of academy, government, communities and business in addressing pressing sustainability concerns. I believe that diversity through inclusivity is a strong catalyzer for societal transformation, and there are few countries more diverse than Colombia. The challenge is how to create intercultural spaces that are generative of learning in a post-accord Colombia – where do ancestral traditions, campesino practices and a rapidly urbanizing population meet? Which challenges bring them together?

Addressing this challenge, the focus of my PhD work is on designing, facilitating and evaluating diálogos de saberes (knowledge encounters) between different stakeholders.  I am the lead investigator in a Colombian case study which is part of an international project called T-Learning, involving 9 countries across 4 continents. This project is exploring the role of radical learning-based strategies (transgressive learning) so as to confront dominant narratives and ingrained ways of 'knowing' and 'being' which maintain the status quo. I will be presenting a talk labeled: Toward ´Transgressive Learning´in Bioregional Transition Labs in Colombia, 08:45 on Friday, 16 June, where I will present my research project, and hope to create some discussion into the different roles of academia and other actors in society transitions towards a more inclusive future.

Andrés Esteban Acero López, PhD student, Department of industrial engineering
I'm interested in this conference because I'm involved in the sustainable development side of the industrial engineering. I consider that we, as engineers and managers, need to think again how to teach and get into touch with the problems outside of the industrial bubble. Therefore, I'm trying to connect the sustainable development thinking with the traditional areas of the industrial engineering curriculum and implementing it on innovative ways. Some of these topic I'm interested are: industrial ecology, sustainable design, circular economy, systemic thinking, among others. However, social and educational perspectives are also included in my research.

The presentation for ISDRS Conference is about the experience of Engineers without Borders Colombia by connecting vulnerable communities and engineering teaching through collaborative problem solving and holistic thinking.




Design for a Sustainable Culture Perspectives, Practices and Education

Edited by Astrid Skjerven and Janne Reitan
Series: Routledge Studies in Culture and Sustainable Development

This book explores the relationship between sustainability, culture and the shaping of human surroundings by asking what is the significance and potential of design as a tool for the creation of a sustainable development. This book will appeal to researchers as well as postgraduate and undergraduate students in design and design literacy, crafts, architecture and environmental planning, but also scholars of sustainability from other disciplines who wish to understand the role and impact of design and culture in sustainable development.

For more information visit: Routledge


Institutional Members News


New Institutional Member

We are happy to announce that the Austrian Marketing University of Applied Sciences
(Wieselburg, Austria) is a new ISDRS Institutional Member.

For more information about the Austrian Marketing University of Applied Sciences, go here.

For more information about institutional memberships, go here.



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Olawale Olayide, Volker Mauerhofer and Pontus Cerin.

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