“Universities have the potential to engage and connect people at all scales with the ‘everyday’ consequences of a warming world”

Lund University launches Sustainability Week as part of its year-long 350-year celebration. It is a poignant time to highlight sustainability, particularly given the growing political precariousness surrounding the science of climate change.  As highlighted in the most recent Editorial of Nature Climate Change ‘..the environment has probably never been more in need of championing even if we need to think carefully about how that is done.’ I would add that future societies also need championing. The cross-cutting societal, economic and ecological dimensions of climate change matter more than ever.

While linkages between climate change and sustainability are now well established in policy contexts (e.g. Sustainable Development Goals, SDG:s and Paris Agreement in 2015) and in global sustainability science, we still have work to do. The past 20-years of work, education and scholarship has to a large extent normalised sustainability across sectors, groups and actors. A lot has been done. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to continue to inform the big leaps that need to be made on the relational and systems dimensions of environmental change, and to engage critical thinking on politics, arts, culture, development and business.

Universities have the potential to engage and connect people at all scales with the ‘everyday’ consequences of a warming world. This week LUCSUS scientists will be sharing stories to inspire connections and actions participating in conversations on food prints (e.g. food losses and waste), climate change and food production, and engaging with the public through Global Goals Café discussions to explore how the SDGs can create a sustainable future that tackle big questions of poverty, inequality and climate change. These conversations importantly involve local government, non-governmental organisations, businesses, and the public.

Thinking toward the future, within university sustainability centres such as LUCSUS, it will be important to realise the outcomes of the past work and look forward to where the next big sustainability ideas are. Here we can look to our current and former students. The finale of this week will be the celebration of the 20-years of the LUMES programme on 18-19 May, when former Alumni students will be visiting us. This will be an exciting chance to hear stories from those who were once at LU and are now championing the environment at the critical future of sustainability activism, scholarship and leadership around the world.

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