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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - KOSMOS CONFERENCE

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | KOSMOS Conference | Program | Schedule and Formats | Topical Sessions in Expert Forum and Poster Session

Topical Sessions in Expert Forum and Poster Session

1. Publics and ethics of sustainability

In different publics, various response options to sustainability challenges are debated, including, e.g., taxation, regulation, or consumer education. Such instruments imply different modes of sustainability transformation – and thus different understandings of “sustainability”. For better understanding the implications of alternative solution options, we first invite presentations of concrete solution options, explicating their implicit understanding of sustainability. Second, we aim to reflect on implications of the alternative solution options from (e.g., non-ideal) justice and ethics perspectives. This also includes papers on legitimate inter- and transdisciplinary deliberation about the desirability of policy alternatives. (Meta-)criteria of sustainability might evolve out of this discussion.


2. Democracy, governance, and societal conflicts in a globalized world

We are looking back to decades were pressing sustainability problems are already well-known. Textbooks are full with policy instruments that, if introduced, would solve those problems effectively and possibly even in an efficient and just way. Yet, many of the most severe environmental problems have not sufficiently been resolved. Some people call for more strict top-down governance, while others request more participatory approaches, and even others conceive unresolved sustainability problems as a threat to democracy.  We thus welcome contributions that study the interplay of governance mechanisms, opportunities for and barriers to an effective, just and equitable implementation of the sustainable development goals.


3. Economies beyond unlimited growth

After a plateau in in the mid-2010s, yearly greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise again. Despite rapid technological progress, emissions have failed to decouple from economic growth. Hence, we are as close as never before to miss the ambitious climate targets set out in Paris in 2015. Does that mean that we have to deliberately slow down economic growth or even reduce economic activity? Proponents of such a degrowth strategy argue that the goal of achieving SDG 13 on climate action is incompatible with economic growth. Opponents, however, emphasize the benefits of economic growth for other Sustainable Development Goals, such as SDG 1 on lifting people out of poverty. Recent contributions aim to reconcile these opposing paradigms by adopting a broader welfare diagnostics rather than a narrow focus on economic growth. In this topic stream we welcome contributions that help us to further the debate and develop a better understanding of the solutions space for well-being within planetary boundaries.


4. Limited land - a local to global perspective

Land systems are the result of human interactions with the natural environment. Understanding the drivers, state, trends and impacts of different land systems on social and natural processes helps to reveal how changes in the land system affect the functioning of the socio-ecological system and the tradeoff these changes may represent.

This session accordingly welcomes contributions to land systems science with a focus on limitations in land-based resources. We specifically invite oral presentations and posters that deepen our insights on

  • land scarcity, either relating to certain land functions or landbased resources, in a specific world region or from a global perspective
  • how land limitations connect across scales or between different regions of the world, including e.g. displacement
  • how to improve modeling of land systems across scales
  • advances in remote sensing for quantifying limitations in land resources


5. Urban and rural: a necessary partnership

Since the rise of the first cities 5,000 years ago, there has always been a very strong connection between cities and rural areas, with intense flows of people, goods, capital and information. Thus, rural-urban partnership is not a new feature. However, opposing dynamics between the urban and the rural, e.g. lifestyles, demographic and economic or ecological developments, trends on the (urban) consumption side and the (rural) production side may lead to a perception of an increasing divide. Such opposing trends could be intensification and extensification up to abandonment with multiple implications for the sustainability of urban and rural areas. We invite papers that (1) explore phenomena of urban-rural interlinkages and its implications for sustainability, (2) develop methods to understand such interlinked phenomena and (3) develop tools that support a sustainable development for urban-rural partnerships.


6. Water and biosphere: preconditions of survival

Freshwater comprises a very small fraction of the global water pool yet it is the foundation of life in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. It is predicted that climate change together with a growing imbalance among freshwater availability and supply and consumption will alter water resources dramatically. The increasing demands on freshwater resources require an urgent need to link research with sustainable management strategies. This session invites contributions which increase our understanding by studying freshwaters and related ecosystems through monitoring and modelling at different spatio-temporal scales. We also welcome examples of linking research with policies and management of ecosystems.