NetCom Times: Getting serious about sustainability

By | March 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Network | Tags: , , , , ,

Sustainable development… Green growth… Sustainability… The air is packed with sustainable buzzwords and it is hard to open a newspaper these days without finding an article on some sustainability topic. Regardless of the many empty uses ofthe word, it cannot be denied that sustainability is thé challenge of our generation, as was confirmed by over 40% of respondents in the recent AEGEE Survey on sustainability.

Photo by Mathieu Soete

Realising this importance, AEGEE chose Sustainability as one of its policy fields for the term 2012/2013. Within this complex field, focus is put on the subtopics of Education for sustainability and Sustainable entrepreneurship, while also paying attention to making AEGEE more sustainable in its day-to-day activities and projects.

Education for sustainability

An endless sequence of campaigns has had some success in raising people’s awareness about the major global and local sustainability issues. People around the world are familiar with the 2°C rise in global temperature related to climate change, and many know that a lot of our food is being wasted on the way from farm to fork. Any system of Education for sustainability (ESD) with a chance of success, however, should be developed through participation of all stakeholders, including students. This subtopic therefore aims at finding out the perceptions and demands of AEGEEans towards ESD, and its place in their education.Sustainable entrepreneurship

“Sustainable entrepreneurship” generates just over 100 million hits when googled, but what is it exactly? If used without any significant changes to the company policy, it becomes “greenwashing”, not only fooling customers in their search for more sustainable products, but also spreading doubt about the credibility of genuinely sustainable companies.

Map of survey responses

Put simply, a sustainable entrepreneur is an entrepreneur with the explicit objective of improving a social or environmental situation. 42% of respondents agreed that, eventually, all companies will have to become sustainable, so we better get started today. It takes more than just a good idea to build a company though,  and with only 12% reporting any experience with entrepreneurship, there is still much to learn.

This is where both subtopics intersect, providing skills and knowledge training to future entrepreneurs, and surrounding fresh start-ups with the right environment for growth and development. This subtopic looks into existing best practices on education and support of young entrepreneurs around Europe, and discusses possible ways of improvement.

My aim as Policy Officer is to bring the opinion of AEGEE to the policy-makers, while sharing opportunities for learning and action. But for this I need your input of course. So contact me at to share your ideas and questions, or join the mailing list Sustainability-L to start discussing!

Written by: Mathieu Soete, Policy Officer on Sustainability, for the NetCom Times.

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