CREA before CREA
Dear CREA participants,
this is an introduction into our topic – Green future. Some of you have great motivation but haven’t found an idea that you would work on yet. With this introduction we would like to inspire you a bit to generate ideas that would contribute to our common green future. We have also prepared for you some topics linked to selected concept of green future. In the following weeks we will be posting some links, videos and texts on green future related topics on our common closed FB group. So expect loads of inspiring material.
For those of you who already have an idea all these materials can provide some inspiration too – to incorporate a greener approach into the idea you have applied with. And during the Summer academy you can develop your idea in a manner that contributes more to the green future of ours.
Green future or no future
Introductory remarks foreshadowing the theme of the summer academy
The theme of this year’s CREA summer academy is Green Future.And yes, the future will be green or there will be no future.Why is this so urgent?In addition to being affected by the economic and financial crisis, the world is facing huge and complex new challenges:rising prices, the ever-fiercer competition for food, energy, raw materials and water along with increasingly evident climate change.Slovenia’s future prospects, like those of the majority of European countries, are not bright:our self-sufficiency in food is low, we are at Europe’s tail end as regards energy and material efficiency, our population is ageing rapidly, an ever larger part of our families’ budgets is spent on the basic necessities of life – food, energy and transport, whereas unemployment rate is worryingly high.
Welfare measured at the national level is presented using indicators which reflect both the opportunities and challenges contributing to our community’s present welfare, and will also significantly affect our welfare in the future:not only the level of material assets but also their uniform distribution; not simply the number of jobs but also their quality and the work-life balance they allow; decent housing and access to education for everyone willing to learn; health, trusted institutions, safety, access to communication infrastructure and cultural offering; the quality of the air we breathe, access to high-quality drinking water, emergency preparedness, the supply of energy at accessible prices for everyone and long-term sustainable waste management.But can we really have all of this?Yes, we can.But, only on the condition that we join forces in a shared commitment.
Thanks to its natural conditions, Europe has an opportunity to overcome the crisis by promoting a green economy which is more environmentally friendly and socially inclusive, with its competitiveness based on energy and material efficiency.However, the transition to a green economy does not merely reflect environmental concerns,but is a condition for long-term competitiveness, including the existence of companies and jobs.Any manager wanting their company to prosper must think about turning its operations and products green.For that to come true, they do not have to be environmentalists.The environmental goods and services sector in the EU is growing constantly (Eurostat has been monitoring it since 2000).Not only are the market volume and value added on an upward trend but so too is the number of related jobs.This trend did not even halt during the worst years of the crisis.Globally speaking, the number of companies riding the wave of business opportunities flowing from the transition to a green economy has recently been growing at an ever-faster pace.Green products and services are also increasingly demanded by consumers; according to public opinion polls, consumers require accessible, healthy and locally produced food, the supply of high-quality and affordable energy, clothing and other goods which are not detrimental to their health and not the result of labour exploitation.Last but not least, the green economy has recently been a topical political issue, finding its way in several framework documents at the level of the European Union.Creating green jobs is recognised as one of the key strategies for achieving the ambitious aims in the area of employment and, at the same time, for supporting the aims in the fields of innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy.This also (increasingly) implies a supportive environment in the form of subsidies and green investments.
The green economy can be considered a form of synergy addressing complex challenges and bringing complex advantages,ranging from environmental benefits – reduced use of natural resources and less pollution – to the benefits for the quality of living of local communities, less money spent, new jobs, the development of a creative economy and social innovations, preservation of natural and cultural heritage along with strengthening identity, solidarity and social cohesion.Promoters of good practices can be companies of all sizes and shapes, associations, municipalities, regions, non-governmental organisations, ministries – the diversity of their forms is truly inspiring and reflects innovative approaches in recognising opportunities arising from the natural and human capital of our region.
Proposed themes for the summer academy (including some possible orientations to help prepare the guidelines):
- self-sufficiency in food (cultivation techniques, transport and warehousing of food, food processing, supplementary activity (e.g. tourism), clustering of organic farms, innovations in preparing and marketing various products, shortening of the food supply chain, preserving the old, locally adjusted varieties of cultivated plants, urban gardening, agricultural producers associations – co-operatives.Both the market attractiveness and value added of high-quality organic foodstuffs in Slovenia are continuously on the rise.The gap between demand and the mere 20% share of Slovenian products in the overall consumption of organic foodstuffs represents a considerable business opportunity)
- sustainable mobility (urban planning, car-sharing solutions, promotion and awareness-raising campaigns – solutions relating to implementation of an environment-friendly transport policy, a mobility centre, the development of applications facilitating the implementation of sustainable mobility)
- forest-wood chain (raw materials for products, construction and energy utilisation; along with that, forest plays an important role in terms of tourism, training and recreation – development of (tourist, training, recreation) products; establishment of supply chains, designing of products, marketing)
- sustainable tourism (= an industry growing even during crisis-hit periods; decentralised tourism based on indigenous renewable natural resources – forest and wood, renewable energy sources, fertile soil, natural and cultural landscape, pristine nature, rare and protected animal species along with natural and cultural heritage; development of sustainable tourism products; clustering, marketing; certification of products and providers)
- circular economy and sustainable consumption (alternative economies (e.g. free swapping and lending schemes), minimising food waste, ensuring fair conditions for producers, reducing natural resource depletion and the pollution in production procedures, utilisation and disposal)
- sustainable energy (energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, sustainable construction – e.g. the energy-saving renovation of public buildings and the housing fund has many multiplicative impacts:cost cutting, improved quality of living and job creation by reviving the construction sector and wood industry; solutions for eradicating energy poverty; development of highly efficient products such as engines powering bicycles – companies have been recognising niche opportunities created by the global trend of increasing energy efficiency)
Within the framework of developing the green economy, the selected fields have proven to be the most promising and propulsive.
Horizontal and non-substantive:in addressing the above challenges, it is also possible to emphasise the development of technological (e.g. IT) and social innovations along with social enterprises.
Compiled by: Gaja Brecelj, Umanotera
Umanotera, The Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development is a non-profit non-governmental organisation. Umanotera is translating the principles of sustainable development into a way of life by introducing examples of inspiring good practices and increasing the availability of benevolent products. Through its activities Umanotera fosters the values of entrepreneurship, creativity, partnership and quality.