Europe at a crossroads: the challenge for future sustainable development
WASD 14th International Annual Conference
20-22 July 2016
Canary Wharf, London, UK
The theme for our 2016 conference was Europe at a crossroads: the challenge for future sustainable development. This major international event provided a forum for academics, government and industry to discuss the various challenges facing Europe in its efforts to achieve sustainable development.
Europe is at a crossroads facing many crisis and vulnerabilities, such as economic and monetary crisis; immigration; terrorism; safety and security; environment, energy and climate change; health inequalities; ageing population; integration and social policies including the relationship with Russia; and high levels of unemployment particularly among the youth. Faced with all of these issues, it is not surprising that for many people it is becoming very hard to be optimistic about Europe’s future.
This multi-disciplinary conference gave the participants the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences from all over the world; the emphasis was on the importance of evidence-based planning to overcome the challenges facing Europe’s efforts to achieve a sustainable future.
This three-day conference provided an opportunity for all scholars, government representatives and policy makers to get an external, unbiased point of view on the matters relating to their fields of practice. It explored important topics such as:
- Europe is facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis on its own shores with waves of migrants risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe. Many groups of gangs are doing their best to ensure that thousands of migrants arrive on the shores of Europe every day, forcing European governments to rescue and accommodate them.
- Growth in Europe has been generally slow since the global recession in 2008 with the austerity measures in some countries making the debt harder to service and leading to lower living standards and a less vibrant economy. Moreover, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has early this year warned that unless there is a decisive change in structural, fiscal and monetary policies, Europe may continue to languish in the upcoming year.
- Many scholars and policy makers have called for a transformative agenda which embraces change and achieves sustainable growth by addressing both the production and consumption sides. There is also a call for new synthesis and approaches for overcoming the crisis in Europe which involves an innovative and inclusive growth agenda and strategies.
- A 2015 report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) called for urgent action by European countries for the transition towards a green economy as one of the changes needed to secure the long-term sustainability of Europe and its neighbourhood.
- Finally, the conference will also examine the role of Europe in a changing world and Europe’s leadership in major international scientific cooperation initiatives.
Similar to all pervious conferences organised by WASD, the event aimed to discuss a range of questions relating to strengthening the linkages between industry, universities and research institutions as well as reconnecting these institutions to the SD discourse by exploring the role of professionals, universities and research institutions in achieving SD.