An Opportunity To Rethink A New Beginning Based On Sustainability

The 5th edition of the Sustainability Web Festival can be the opportunity to build a community that want to re-think a more sustainable future.

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The 5th edition of the Sustainability Web Festival can be the opportunity to build a community that wants to re-think a more sustainable future

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If it is true that the coronavirus is the game changer of the twenty-first century, the factor that can really and radically change the capitalist dynamics at stake in our society, then it is also true that there is no more fertile land than today on which to develop new ideas. Or to give strength to those old ideas, like that about sustainability, that have been mistreated, to change what does not work, for a vision of how we would like to conceive our future. It sounds utopian, it’s true, but ideas are not lacking and if we take a good look, they have never been lacking.

In an article that appeared a few weeks ago in the Internazionale, Ece Temelkuran, a Turkish journalist, by reiterating the importance of rethinking a future world and of creating a ‘totally new normality’, posed a fundamental question: “How can we stay in touch with each other and with the surrounding reality while we are trying to give shape to this world where physical contact is prohibited?” It seems, however, that the guys from K!kero, a student organization of the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano, have in the meantime found their own ambitious answer, namely the 5th edition of the Sustainability Festival which started on April 14 and will last until May 9.

If, in the Covid-19 era, you associate the word ‘festival’ with images of crowds, social closeness and physical contact that until yesterday made you excited, but today perhaps makes you shiver, don’t worry! The added value of the Sustainability Web Festival is that it is only in digital format. It was precisely this emergency that forced K!kero’s guys to rethink the format eventually giving it a deeper meaning.

To be a community

As the president of the festival, Vittoria Brolis, tells us the idea not to cancel the festival but to change the way it is organized is especially important because of the awareness that “now, more than ever, there is a need to feel part of a community, a community that on this occasion we want to make even bigger.” As Marco Miorandi, one of the organizers, explains, one of the novelties and positive aspects of the digital transition is precisely that “of giving space to guests from various parts of the world.” Today’s technologies, he explains, “allow us to disseminate our content to a potentially wider audience than in past editions.”

In fact, one of the organizers, Ilaria Chizzoni, reiterates to us that “online content is available to anyone, without constraints of physical presence or overlapping schedules; collaborations are not only local, but also with realities physically far away, but close to sustainability. The situation has thus allowed everyone to be creative in finding new ways of involvement.” In fact, if before the festival was particularly focused on the university experience, “today the idea is to make it more accessible in order to connect the university, the research and the interested population, to feel part of a community that works, thinks, reasons and tries to make the best out of this moment thinking about another possible world,” according to Vittoria Brolis.

The good news is that today there are minds more ready to imagine this other possible world. Indeed, the world we live in seems to have now made all its limits visible and therefore the new world should find its lifeblood and its vitality in the concept of sustainability. The concept is to use those ideas, perhaps even the ‘old’ ones, that have remained unused and unexplored in the frenzy of pre-Covid-19 reality and which today have become urgently important. For example, there have been ideas about how to combine economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability, such as post-growth theories, or more concrete ideas about living plastic-free or with zero waste.

Ilaria Chizzoni tells us about the environment around which this festival has taken shape: “I feel an impalpable but strong energy among the people, who even at a distance manage to form a solid network to support a common goal, that of making the planet Earth the absolute priority.” However, forming this solid network has not happened without issues, as expected. In fact, all the organizers feel the lack of physical presence and eye contact, but the will to carry out the project has prevailed and gave rise to unexpectedly positive aspects. They are trying to do something they have never done because they don’t want to give up the opportunity to discuss together. So K!kero’s organizers are working to find familiarity with a format that will happen more and more. Normally the festival is only two days but this year it is being extended to accommodate this new format. “Nothing is off the table,” Vittoria tells us, “to keep the digital format alive next year in order to involve those who cn’t reach us in those two festival days.”

The 5th very special edition

In its 5th and very special edition from April 14 to May 9, the festival uses different digital platforms, from social media (Facebook and Instagram) to the event website where new content is published daily in different formats along with recordings. There is space for more scientific and serious tutorials and mini talks but also for fun challenges and concerts to get wild. The content of the past weeks is available on the website whereas that of the next 10 days is particularly focused on insights to make our economies sustainable and zero-emission systems. Experts from different backgrounds will talk about what it means to manage a business in a sustainable way as well as about ‘Green Bonds’ in regard to finances and about post-growth economies.

On May 1, Bonacchi, Full Professor in Accounting at the Free University of Bolzano, will explain possible metrics for a new and more sustainable capitalism. On the weekend, the music will be the star of the show with international guests who will let us into their houses to share their art and to connect Bolzano with London, Turin and Berlin. The final keynote speech will be held by experts from the OECD based in Trento who will share experiences of sustainable development at a local level.

Talking about environmental, economic and social sustainability with practices and insights coming from the Amazon, from Sweden and passing through Bolzano, is a way to stay in touch with each other but also with the world around us, as journalist Ece Temelkuran hoped. It will bring attention to issues that, in a media world invaded by emergency and bitter semi-political debates, are particularly fundamental to think about and shape a new future as if everything would be different and therefore, everything will be fine (#andràtuttobene).

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