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Give earth a chance - paths to sustainable living

YUFE online lecture series

The online lecture series "Give earth a chance - paths to sustainable living" is dedicated to the topic of sustainability and looks at the subject from five different angles:

  • Sustainable building – from theory to practice
  • Sustainable tourism for sustainable society
  • The impact of environmental degradation on human migrations
  • Sustainable development and poverty reduction – interconnected causes, multidisciplinary research and integrated policies
  • How climate change drives biodiversity loss – and how to counteract it

The lecture series takes place online and in English. Please find the detailed programme below.

The series is open for all interested persons: citizens, students and university staff members. We welcome interested people from all backgrounds. The participation is free of charge.


Please note: After your registration, you will receive a zoom link to join the online lectures. All five lectures can be visited with the same zoom link.

Registration closing date: Registration is open until 16/11/2022. You are free to attend the entire lecture series or attend individual dates. 


The online lecture series is a joint offer of the YUFE Alliance (Young Universities for the Future of Europe). YUFE unites ten young research-intensive universities and three non-academic partners located all across Europe. 

Each lecture is organised by one of the following YUFE universities:

© YUFE Alliance

Technical information

The technical requirements for participating are Internet access and a computer or notebook (with or without webcam) - or a tablet or smartphone. 


Sustainable building - from theory to practice

12/10/2022, 17:00 - 18:30 CET

We all know that the built environment’s sustainability should increase to reach climate targets. But how to achieve this? This presentation combines academic insights with concrete innovative examples from industry. Where the first stresses the importance of quantitative assessment techniques to support informed decision making, the latter shows that slowly but surely things are moving in today’s building practice.


Matti Buyle (University of Antwerp)
Matti Buyle is a postdoctoral researcher at the faculty of Applied Engineering at the University of Antwerp. His research concentrates on environmental sustainability assessment and life cycle assessment (LCA). The core of his work focusses on the development of methods and tools to incorporate the future environmental consequences of a decision made today. Given the strong focus on methodological developments of the assessment techniques, Matti Buyle is involved in a broad range of applications, including the construction sector and innovative building strategies, the treatment of metallurgic residues and wastewater treatment systems.

Jona Michiels (Van Roey)
As a construction engineer, Jona is well aware of the challenges the industry will face in the coming years. He has a passion for sustainability and innovation and is the driving force to align the various companies of the group on the sustainability goals and the step-by-step transformation process needed to achieve this.  He focuses on developing innovative products and services, looks for value-adding companies that fit within the mission and vision of the group and encourages collaboration between the various actors of the group in order to arrive at the best solution for the customer together.

Sustainable tourism for sustainable society

19/10/2022, 17:00 - 18:30 CET

Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world. It is also an indicator of our society in many ways. There is a dire need for the society to rapidly become environmentally friendly, even regenerative, while at the same time taking into account economic and socio-cultural sustainability. This pressure is changing tourism. In this webinar the main aspects of sustainability are examined in the tourism context. This elaborates how tourism as an industry can provide pathways for the whole society to become sustainable in the long run.


Juho Pesonen (PhD) (University of Eastern Finland)
Professor of tourism business and the director of Tourism Marketing and Management master’s degree programme.
Juho Pesonen (PhD) is a professor of tourism business at the Centre for Tourism Studies in the University of Eastern Finland Business School. In his research, Juho focuses on how information and communication technologies are changing the tourism business, tourists, and their behaviour. He also has a keen interest in destination marketing in digital channels.
Juho is the co-editor-in-chief for Finnish Journal of Tourism Research. He is also vice-president of the International Federation for Information Technology in Travel & Tourism and an associate editor for the Journal of Information Technology and Tourism.

The impact of environmental degradation on human migrations

26/10/2022, 17:00 - 18:30 CET

The lecture is a richly illustrated journey from prehistoric times to the present day, answering a few fundamental questions important from the point of view of current environmental changes:

  • How did soil cover influence the rise and fall of great civilizations?
  • Are the soil resources finite?
  • How does Anthropocene scalp the Earth?
  • Who are the environmental refugees and how much are they connected with soil degradation?

The presentation will show the effects of environmental degradation from ancient Mesopotamia to the contemporary problems of the Sahel zone. The causes of the disappearance of the Aral Lake, the formation of Dust Bowls and the floods in the Far East and Central America will also be shown. Examples of ways to deal with the above environmental problems will also be shown.


dr hab. Marcin Świtoniak (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń)
Professor at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń – geographer, author of academic and secondary school textbooks, researcher and lecturer. His research interests are related to soil erosion and cultural landscapes. Apart from scientific work, he is passionate about travel, especially if he can combine it with various forms of active tourism. He spent several months behind the Arctic Circle, climbed Elbrus and Mont Blanc, and in recent years he has been fascinated by Africa.

Sustainable development and poverty reduction - interconnected causes, multidisciplinary research and integrated policies

09/11/2022, 17:00 - 18:30 CET

The first two decades of the 20th century have challenged the ways in which the global scientific and political communities define their goals and paradigms. The new scenario incorporates an increasing amount of evidence on unexpected consequences of the complex interactions between human actions and environmental changes. Sustainable development is not only a useful idea to define common goals and expectations (embodied in the SDGs) but it also represents a substantial departure from many traditional scientific methodologies and political designs. One of its main innovations is the multidisciplinary approach. In this talk, we will discuss how the very well-known economic goals of reducing poverty and inequality are substantially transformed when they are understood together with other complementary non-economic goals like preserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change.


Esteban Nicolini (PhD) (University Carlos III of Madrid)
Esteban Nicolini got his Ph.D. in economics at the University Pompeu Fabra and is currently associate professor at the Department of Social Sciences and co-director of the Master in Sustainable Development and Global Governance, both at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.
His main lines of research are related with the determinants of regional economic growth and the evolution of the standards of living in the long run. He has published on Explorations in Economic History, the Journal of Latin American Studies, Economic History Review and European Review of Economic History among other leading journals.
He has also contributed to the design and evaluation of public policies related to poverty alleviation, inequality reduction and human development through consultancy projects for the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), UNICEF, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and FIIAPP (Fundación Internacional y para Iberoamérica de Administración y Políticas Públicas).

How climate change drives biodiversity loss - and how to counteract it

16/11/2022, 17:00 - 18:30 CET

The earth currently experiences a loss of species richness – biodiversity – at an unprecedented speed. This biodiversity crisis also applies to Germany and other parts of Europe. The drivers of this change are manifold: the loss of natural habitats, more intensive land use, the application of pesticides and too many fertilizers, but increasingly also climate change. There is growing evidence that plants and animals are already responding to altered regimes of temperature and rainfall, and will increasingly do so in the near future.
The presentation will highlight the main changes in biodiversity and their underlying causes, using data from both long-term observations and experiments, looking at plants, but also birds, insects and other animal groups. Although the net effects of climate change on plants and animals are negative, some species may profit from the changes – and a conclusion of the talk will be that it is not too late to take counteracting measures to halt biodiversity loss.


Prof. Dr. Martin Diekmann (University of Bremen)
Prof. Dr. Martin Diekmann is a plant ecologist at the University of Bremen, leading the research group Vegetation Ecology and Conservation Biology. He works predominantly in forests and grasslands, studying aspects of relevance to both basic and applied ecology. One basic question Martin Diekmann tries to answer is: Which abiotic and biotic factors can explain the occurrence of single plant species and whole communities at a site? He has especially studied the temporal change of the vegetation and plant species richness over the last decades to understand the impact of various environmental drivers on the vegetation, including climate change, intensified land use and the accumulation of nutrients in the soil (eutrophication) through fertilizers and the atmospheric deposition of nitrogen


For questions about the individual lectures, please contact:

University of Antwerp
Science Communication Department: Els Grieten 

University of Bremen
Academy of Continuing Education: Dr. Petra Boxler 
UniTransfer: Charlotte Simmat

University of Carlos III of Madrid
Institutional Relations and Sustainable Development Service: Pilar de la Prieta Llanillo

University of Eastern Finland
Centre for Continuous Learning: Senni Pykäläinen 

Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun
Department of International Partnerships and Educational Mobility: Katarzyna Pawlonka