Visegrad for Sustainability

Achieving sustainability is the definitive challenge of the 21st century, but it  is also a unique opportunity for the Visegrad Group and Central Eastern  Europe  to  show leadership  and weigh in on the right side of history. Our forum will bring together key agents of change from  the Czech Republic, Hungary,  Poland, Slovakia and beyond to share on the theme of ’competitive sustainability’.    

The panel discussion “Tapping the opportunities of Sustainability Cooperation in the V4” will be  a moderated panel discussion among the 4 representatives  of the Ministries of all four of the V4 countries responsible  for Sustainable Development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The invited state secretaries and undersecretaries will discuss the interlinkages in the approaches each V4 country takes in order to achieve the goals presented in the 2030 Agenda.     

Parliaments for SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals are a robust framework around which parliaments can base their strategic plans and pursue their own oversight and accountability work. How can our Visegrad Group parliamentarians identify good practices, opportunities and effectively institutionalize the SDGs and mainstream them into the legislative processes?

Our panel discussion “Parliaments for SDGs” will tackle these major issues together with invited MPs from National Parliaments of the V4: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. We can’t wait for their insights! The discussion will be moderated by Jana Soukupová, Founder and CEO of Youth, Speak Up from the Czech Republic.

Gaining from the just transition

The increased global ambition in the field of sustainability creates the potential for creation of a number of jobs as an addition to the transition towards climate resilient economies. What opportunities will the transition of the economy and employment bring? What “green stimulus” could accelerate the energy transition and boost   the economy?

Those are just a few of the questions that our brilliant panelists – climate policy experts – will tackle in the panel discussion “Gaining from the just transition: How can our region turn the European Green Deal to its benefit?”. 

Climate ambitions

Is doing our fair share enough? In terms of climate policy the answer is never simple. Today’s climate challenge requires us to reduce greenhouse gas emission and to prepare populations and infrastructure for the impacts of climate change through adaptation.

During our “Climate ambitions: Is doing our   fair share enough?” panel discussion we will address the topic of current climate policy pathways and projections in the Visegrad Group. The invited panelists are researchers and advisors on governance for emerging climate technologies and approaches from the V4: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Adapting to disruption: integrated governance for an uncertain century

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the wind out   of the world’s sails. In our panel discussion “Adapting to disruption: integrated governance for an uncertain century” we will debate on lessons from the coronavirus pandemic. In the era of climate change and unsustainability, the world is turning less predictable. We need to recognise that we can only tackle these crises through governance that embraces complexity and flexibility. The responsibility does not only fall on one sector: business, civil society and academia must realize soon that the only way forward is together.

The hidden cost of food

The global food system, which encompasses production, post-farm process and distribution is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emission and   a great source of risk for biodiversity. Responding   to these emerging challenges will be one of our greatest challenges in the coming decades. 

Our panel discussion “The hidden cost of food: How can we design sustainable and competitive agriculture while protecting biodiversity?” will look   at how can we achieve a healthy food environment while maintaining economic profitability. We will  also deliberate about the future of small holders and community solutions in the shadow of  industrial agriculture. Our speakers will exchange their visions and share their experiences they gained from various sectors of this field, providing us the opportunity to take a closer look of the hidden cost  of food from multiple angles. .

Glocal Greenvestment

The idea of socially responsible or ethical investing (SRI) may date back to the Quakers, who way back in the 18th century prohibited members from participating in the slave trade. Nowadays, the  fossil fuel divestment movement is a prime example of how  investors can use their choices as a force  for social change — both by shunning offending companies and by directing money towards positive sectors, such as clean energy. But  how can we connect socially conscious investing that takes  place at different levels – globally and locally? Join  us for our “Glocal Greenvestment: Financing the green transition from the individual to the global level” panel discussion for a talk about   sustainability and finance both at local levels and around the globe.  

Outsmarting pollution

In January 2020 Warsaw had particulate levels two or three times above Poland’s  official recommended maximum air pollution thresholds  – Poland continues to be a European air pollution hotspot. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we manage our urban spaces and their living conditions.

Our panel discussion “Outsmarting pollution: Smart city solutions for improved air quality”  will bring together smart city experts, urban planners and innovation design managers to discuss the cities we live in and the air we breathe: and how to better them. The debate will be moderated by Viktor Jósa.

People power

We vividly remember how in September 2019, millions of young people took to the streets to march in climate protests, demanding urgent action to tackle global heating. A year later, together with activists and NGO representatives from Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia we  will meet in Budapest for a panel discussion “People power: Building sustainability activism beyond protest”.

We’ll talk about coordinated transnational activism and how we can take it to the next level in our civil societies, channelling the protest energy into activism beyond marching and beyond public media presence – into actual impact in the environmental policies.

Bridging the urban-rural divide

The UN projects that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities. In the age of rapid urbanisation, the divide between cities and rural areas seems to deepen; nonetheless, their partnership is essential in creating a sustainable future. So how can cities and rural areas work together?

Our panel discussion “Bridging the urban-rural divide” will entertain ideas for development in  rural areas, urbanisation and cultivating sustainable spaces. Among our panelists you will find leading academics in the field of economics and rural policy-making, discussing the latest ideas on the subject.

Generation innovation

How do you equip a generation of sustainability champions with the tools    and knowledge they need? Education for sustainable development and global citizenship education are increasingly important in raising a generation of  informed and proactive citizens. To solve  the most complex challenges of society, we need educational reforms that encourage new ideas and provide space for fruitful discussions. 

Unconventional alliances

The use of fossil fuels is climate change activists’ biggest headache. With industries built around unsustainable resource-consumption, many are scrutinised for their work, but it is worth taking another look at these companies and their recent efforts. New sustainability offices and projects carve space for themselves among the private sector’s energy and fuel giants, leading us to entertain the idea: what if these companies are the very part of the solution?

At our ‘Unconventional alliances’ panel discussion, you will hear about recent advances in the private sector towards sustainability and the role of the greatest polluters in fighting climate change.

GOING FAR TOGETHER: Enhancing intersectoral collaboration for sustainability

Intersectoral collaboration is the joint action taken by government sectors, as well as representatives from private, voluntary and non-profit groups that takes  different forms such as cooperative initiatives, alliances, coalitions or partnerships. Indicators for policy and planning should be developed as an integral part of the overall planning process at local and national levels.

Currently there is no significant representation of the V4 region when it comes to the issues of sustainability or sustainable development. By joining forces and combining  efforts, the V4 countries could not only evolve into a more sustainable region, but also get the opportunity to take a leading role in the CEE region when    it comes to the issues of sustainability at the negotiating table.

TO GROW OR NOT TO GROW: Recalibrating our economies within planetary boundaries

Climate change. Biodiversity loss. Biogeochemical. Ocean acidification. Land use. Freshwater. Ozone depletion. Atmospheric aerosols. What do they all have in common? They are our planetary boundaries.  

Over the last decade, green growth policies have drawn increasing interest. OECD, UNEP, the World Bank and the EC have had several initiatives on the issue. Definitions and indicator sets have been developed, though critics have pointed out that most initiatives amount to little more than a greenwashing of conventional economic growth. How can we achieve economic growth and respect our planetary boundaries at the same time? Is there a path where both are achievable? These will be the main questions our panellist will try to find solutions for.  

TURNING WASTE INTO GOLD: Circular Economy solutions for competitiveness

A circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a closed-loop system, minimising the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions. The circular economy aims to keep products, equipment and infrastructure in use for longer, thus improving the productivity of these resources. This regenerative approach is in contrast to the traditional linear economy, which has a “take, make, dispose” model of production.

With high economic potential; it is a driver for a modernised economy with high environmental relevance while contributing to the SDGs. To achieve a circular economy, we need incremental and ground-breaking innovations. 

MOVING GREEN: Mobility and Infrastructure in Central Eastern Europe

The urban mobility revival in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries is hard to overlook. Fuelled by EU funds and evolving mobility patterns, the shift towards modern, low-carbon and customer-oriented collective transportation marches throughout the region. The agglomeration railways, particularly in and around bigger metropolitan areas, are currently one of the fastest growing segments of the whole railway market in Central and Eastern Europe. 

In the CEE region, both electricity and gas as fuel sources have been identified as one of the most promising alternative fuels for public transport. New business models are making local authorities rethink the mobility governance, including the whole financing aspect. Most important, however, is the historic development gap between Western and Eastern Europe that is slowly beginning to vanish, and that it partially thanks to inspiring progress in urban mobility in CEE. While there are great successes in this field, we still have a long way to go to decarbonise the mobility and infrastructure sector in the region. The main question is how can mobility and infrastructure in our region change in a way that it brings about the sustainability aspects as well?

Join Visegrad for Sustainability for the first strategic sustainability forum of Central Eastern Europe.

GET IN TOUCH WITH OUR TEAM LEAD

Lilla is the Conference Manager for Budapest Sustainability Exchange and the lead for V4SDG Exchange, our project that aims to strengthen intersectoral dialogue and partnership through in-person activities. She is a lawyer trained at the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest, and a graduate of the European Academy of Diplomacy.

If you have any questions in regards to the Budapest Sustainability Exchange, feel free to contact Lilla at lilla.bartuszek@v4sdg.com.