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Wittenborg’s Globalisation Conference Addresses Environmental Challenges

Wittenborg’s Globalisation Conference Addresses Environmental Challenges
by Wittenborg News -
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Wittenborg’s Globalisation Conference Addresses Environmental Challenges

Discussions to Centre on the Impacts of Climate Change as well as Sustainable Solutions

Discussions to Centre on the Impacts of Climate Change as well as Sustainable Solutions

Climate change resulting from human action has impacted our planet in unprecedented ways. While some parts of the world have experienced massive fires, increasing droughts and desertification, others are faced with the rising level of the oceans or a higher incidence of storms and tsunamis. 

The consequences for humanity are evident every day, such as increasing food prices due to the impacts on production and the loss of biodiversity. In light of the seriousness of the climate crisis and its global character, ‘Environmental Challenges’ has been chosen as Theme 5 of Wittenborg’s Globalisation Conference, set to take place from 14 to 16 August in Apeldoorn. 

Scholars, students, policy-makers and industry professionals are welcome to submit their papers and posters on this theme in order to take part in the debate (check the submission guidelines here). General registrations for the conference can be made until 1 August. 

According to Wittenborg Associate Professor Vanessa Menezes, businesses should not only be aware but proactive in facing these issues and developing solutions that are aligned with society’s expectations and global needs. “It is crucial to promote more sustainable consumption behaviours, change packaging materials to more environmentally friendly alternatives and incentivise local suppliers to decrease their use of fuel. These are just some of the initiatives that can be undertaken to address some of the largest contributing factors to climate change. Such actions are also good for the companies since they reduce costs and increase brand awareness.” 

She highlights that while the overall population has become more aware of climate issues, people are still not taking many sustainability-driven actions on a daily basis and the level of awareness varies across the world. 

“Here in Europe, we see that people are concerned, discussing and developing regulations and impactful initiatives. People are trying to guarantee a safer and fairer environment; we see that part of the population is pressing companies to act and most of the companies feel the pressure to fit in these standards. However, what I see is that most companies do not change their behaviour because they believe it is the best thing to do, but rather due to the demands from the customers and other stakeholders. They are afraid of being ‘cancelled’ or having to deal with a boycott.” 

Menezes points out that technology is evolving very fast, and innovations related to environmental sustainability are being implemented all the time. However, the initial adoption of these innovations can be really expensive because it requires companies to invest in research, and not all businesses have the financial resources and expertise to do so. 

As an experienced researcher and lecturer in the fields of hospitality and hotel operations, Menezes explains that hotels use a lot of natural resources. Hotel guests’ expenditure on water and energy, for instance, is three times higher than that of ordinary citizens. Therefore, creating technologies that employ renewable sources is a priority, especially given the constant energy and water crises faced by humanity. 

“An example of how technology can provide interesting solutions is the Peppermill Reno Hotel Resort, located in Reno, Nevada, United States. The resort uses geothermal energy to heat the water for their spa and swimming pools. This consists of obtaining energy from the heat coming from the Earth’s interior. So, it is an energy source that is already available, you just need the right technology to use it.” 

The lecturer adds that sustainability technologies can often be very simple, smart and efficient, which is the case of the solutions devised by Evigence, a North American company that combines sensors with data analytics to monitor the freshness of food in real time. “Food waste is a huge issue worldwide and it is a massive problem in the US, where it is estimated that almost 40 percent of the entire food supply in the country is wasted. So, this company applies different technologies such as sensors and scanners to control all the processes from production to consumption and provide insights that help optimise freshness in supply chains, inventory and even in consumers’ homes.” 

In Menezes’ view, partnerships between the public and private sectors play an essential role in the development of sustainable solutions. Some governments have financed projects, implemented regulations and offered financial incentives to companies that have started social or environmental initiatives. Nevertheless, this is not the case for all countries and regions of the world, and these actions are unevenly distributed.

She concludes by underlining that students, researchers and professionals have plenty of opportunities in the field of environmental sustainability. “They can develop new ideas, apply current technologies to different scenarios, analyse the results from good practices and educate people about how to shift towards a more sustainable planet. Empirical research is always fruitful and providing efficient, simple-to-apply results is crucial. It is worth mentioning that sustainability is about the people, the planet and prosperity, so there are many things to discuss when it comes to working for a better, safer and fairer planet.”

WUP 29/03/2024
by Ulisses Sawczuk
©WUAS Press

869 words