Sustainability research and innovation takes centre stage in Finland

June 17, 2024

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The 2024 edition of the Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress (SRI) held in collaboration with Finland’s Sustainability Science Days (SSD) brought experts, researchers, scientists, policy-makers, businesses and the global community together for an incredible week of explorations and exchanges on sustainable transformation.

As part of the annual congress, our colleagues presented three informative sessions exploring different ways of approaching sustainability and innovation.

The first session was an interactive roundtable on Novel collaborations on the road to Innovate4Cities 2024. Innovate4Cities is a key global gathering of city leaders, scientists, researchers, innovators, academics, youth, and businesses focused on sustainable, climate-friendly, and inclusive decision-making in cities. Executive Director Micheline Ayoub from Sustainability in the Digital Age & Future Earth Canada joined a panel of thought leaders comprising Giles Sioen, Co-lead Research and Innovation for Future Earth; Michael Bossert, Manager, Strategy, Innovation and Outreach for Concordia University Montréal; Siir Kilkiş, Senior Researcher / IPCC WGIII Vice-Chair for The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Türkiye and Davide Cassanmagnago, Senior Manager, Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement for Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM). The panel presented pilot projects and initiated collaborations with the aim to launch a community of practice around urban living labs and explore opportunities for funded activities later in the year.

Micheline Ayoub speaks in front of an audience at the Sustainability Research + Innovation Congress 2024 in Finland.

The next Innovate4Cities conference takes place in Montréal, Canada from 10-12 September, 2024.

The second session at SRI was a multi-stakeholder workshop on Education for Digital Sustainability. Under the Digital Literacy Alliance and as part of CODES (Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability), the workshop focused on the urgency, barriers, and opportunities for education at the intersection of digitalization and sustainability. Participants from 12 countries around the world were led through interactive exercises on literacy for digital sustainability by experts Hsiao-Ting Tseng, Assistant Professor & Director of Career Center for the National Central University; Monika Manolova, Innovations Expert for the Digital National Alliance and Marisa Zalabak, CEO, Founder of Open Channel Culture and by facilitators Micheline Ayoub, Executive Director for Sustainability in the Digital Age & Future Earth Canada; Nilushi Kumarasinghe, Research Associate for Sustainability in the Digital Age & Future Earth Canada and Faye Xiaoxiao Sun, Graduate Student at Concordia University Montréal.

Group photo of the participants for the SRI2024 session on Education for Digital Sustainability.

More consultations designed to collect diverse perspectives around the challenges and opportunities of advancing literacy for digital sustainability are in the works!

Finally, the third SRI session was an open access summit for Future Earth 17 Rooms-X. “17 Rooms-X” is a widely accessible methodology created by the Brookings Institution and The Rockefeller Foundation that “seeks to help communities advance practical next steps toward local priorities for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This includes contexts where priorities align with the underlying economic, social, and environmental challenges of sustainable development, but might not be framed in the policy jargon of the SDGs.”

Future Earth convened a summit after months long virtual conversation about the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The project was centered around the values of action, insights, and community building and was facilitated by Judit Ungvari, Co-Lead, Research & Innovation Portfolio for Future Earth and Santiago Ramirez Said, Sargassum Innovation Project Manager for Future Earth. The goal of the 17 Rooms process was to advance concrete actions by the participants that they can do together over the following 12-18 months. Novel insights were shared by the international group of participants working on common problems sharing their perspectives from different backgrounds, organizations, and sectors. The summit served as the place to share from both within and across Rooms.

Group photo of participants for the Future Earth 17 Rooms-X session at SRI2024.

One of the most important outcomes of the 17 Rooms meetings and the convening was to create and foster a collaborative community.

The Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress continues to be an important global gathering focusing on action-forward, knowledge-based and inclusive approaches to sustainability. The Congress will celebrate its fifth anniversary in Chicago, Illinois, where it will be held from 16-20 June 2025 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk. Save the date in your calendar and subscribe for information on next year’s event!