Skip to content Skip to navigation

World Symposium of Climate Change and Sustainable Development Centres

World Symposium of Climate Change and Sustainable Development Centres

Written by Matthew Royle, Research Assistant

I was recently fortunate enough to present some of the work from our CircularChem Centre at the World Symposium of Climate Change and Sustainable Development Centres in Hamburg, 29th-30th June 2023. The symposium aimed to provide the opportunity for climate change and sustainable development centres from across the world to present their work and how they can align with the UN sustainability development goals. The approach taken by many managers and educators at this conference was systematic in nature, with an emphasis on the experiences and lessons learnt from working with experts from various backgrounds.

Figure 1: Matthew Royle presenting Newcastle University’s roadmapping work within CircularChem.  

Throughout the symposium, it was evident the additional impact centres can have when working with their local community, regardless of the different research topics and diverse challenges. A general consensus from the group discussions was there can be no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to sustainability, and decision makers need to consider the unintended consequences of every action they take whilst striving towards sustainability.

At the end of each day, a workshop was hosted by the team at Haw-Hamburg, to ensure that all participants could contribute to the event and drive ideas for future collaboration projects. To add to the collaborative nature of the event, accepted papers from attendees will be published by Springer as part of the world sustainability series in the book ‘fostering sustainable development in practice’, and will be one of the outputs of the symposium.

My circular economy learning was not only limited to the event, as I was able to see first-hand how policy legislation can be successfully integrated to public life specifically when it comes to the deposit return scheme. After enjoying a refreshing cold beverage in Hamburg, I was able to return my bottle to the local supermarket using the deposit bins and receive a small reward for my efforts. The deposit return scheme has been a huge success to increase recycling rates in Germany, with a bottle return rate of 98% occurring across the country. It will be interesting to see if similar numbers are reached in the UK, when a deposit return scheme will return to the UK in 2025. My visit to Hamburg overall enabled me to understand some of the common challenges faced internationally towards achieving a just transition to net zero. It was also a fantastic opportunity to learn the innovative solutions afforded by international collaborations, something which the CircularChem Centre is hoping to drive further.