About the conference

Knowledge for Sustainable Development - Lund University Research Conference

Acknowledging the need to promote a sustainable development, the aim of this conference is to draw attention to research for sustainable development conducted at all faculties at Lund University. Both Horizon Europe and Swedish funders will in the coming years have numerous calls related to Sustainable development. Many of these calls will require new combinations of expertise and skills. Facilitating the knowledge about research undertaken, skills and interests is a goal of the conference and it is also why it includes special matchmaking sessions.

9.00 Roundtable discussion 

The conference will begin with reflections on current knowledge for sustainable development and the progress of transforming our society. The invited guests will give their perspectives on how to produce and communicate knowledge in order to increase awareness of the challenges that need to be solved and to promote collaboration among different stakeholders.


  • Per Mickwitz, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Sustainability and Campus development

Invited guests

  • Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, Senior lecturer of Human Rights Studies, Department of History
  • Mikael Klintman, Professor in Sociology, Department of Sociology
  • Markku Rummukainen, Professor of Climatology, Lund University, and at SMHI, Climate Advisor and Sweden's Focal Point for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC 

10.15 Thematic parallel session

During a parallel session, research that provide knowledge related to the theme will be presented. The session includes 3-4 presentations á 10 min, from researchers at Lund University, with additional 5 min for questions. A chair will moderate each session and lead the Q&A. 


The overarching focus of the conference is Knowledge for Sustainable Development.

Sustainable development has been researched for decades. Yet, the development and progress of transforming our society is slow. Why? Is the existing knowledge not conveyed? Are there knowledge gaps that need to be identified and assessed? Many societal actors working with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG´s) find the goals contradicting and must make trade-offs. How do we overcome conflicts of interest and conflicts between goals? Can we improve collaboration and synergies between goals? Are there underlying issues that need to be addressed further in order to resolve others? What does science say about enabling and constraining factors? Are there areas where we have succeeded and can learn from and transfer to other sectors and goals?  What role can culture and art play in production and dissemination of knowledge for sustainable development?

These overarching issues set the scene and the mind-set for the day. In addition, submission of abstracts within the three broad, interdisciplinary themes below are welcome. Below you can read more about each theme. The texts only exemplify the research questions that can be approached within each theme, the list could of course be much longer. 

Key words: Crisis, risks, precariousness, various types of resilience at different levels (social, psychological, ecological, economic, political, etc.), coping strategies, innovation, policy. 

To discuss current societal challenges, concepts such as crisis and resilience are today widely used both in the public debate and in science. But the more precise meaning of these concepts is often unclear, and we need different perspectives in order to understand and solve the complex problems we face. Within the frames of this theme a multitude of questions can be addressed. How can we strengthen the capacity of people, systems and society to deal with the stresses caused by societal crises and environmental change? How can we make use of experiences from shocks and disturbances like financial crises, climate change, or pandemic outbreaks, to spur renewal, entrepreneurship and innovative thinking? How can research contribute to innovations of the socio-technical systems (food, mobility, energy etc.) producing the crises? How can we increase our knowledge of how humans and nature interact, adapt and impact each other amid change? How can policies and regulations related to the various sustainability arenas (e.g. the European Green Deal, the Global Biodiversity Framework) be used to better promote sustainable development? 

Key words: Communication, uncertainty, ambiguity, knowledge resistance, future-oriented methodologies, collaboration, credibility, simplification, obstacles, disciplinary norms.

In this theme, the focus is on enhancing our knowledge of which roles uncertainty and ambiguity play in sustainability research and how these aspects can be communicated. We encourage presenters to address how we communicate uncertainty and ambiguity today across disciplines. Is uncertainty and ambiguity a driver for knowledge resistance in society and a threat to the legitimacy of science? Future-oriented research, such as sustainability research, entails uncertainties and ambiguities. The systems are too complex to predict what the future will hold. What does science say about communicating ambiguous and uncertain results? What is a good way to communicate our results with uncertainties and ambiguities, without losing credibility? Can uncertainty be turned into something positive? Do we face the same obstacles across disciplines, or are there for example differences between perspective, habits and norms used by different disciplines? Case studies on specific actions to communicate uncertainty and ambiguity in any area such as energy, biodiversity, justice, health, etc are appreciated. 

Key words: Human rights, global health, sustainable land use, water consumption, food system, just distribution, digitalization and new technology, renewable energy solutions, sustainable consumption/production, equal opportunity. 

According to the United Nations, the 2020’s is the “decade of action” in which sustainable solutions must be accelerated and put into action. We need to create new ways forward to reach a carbon neutral society. The challenge is global, but action needs to be taken on various levels in both the Global South and the Global North. When climate action measures are discussed, it is important that both benefits and costs of the social transformation are justly distributed. Within the frames of this theme the presenters can address a multitude of questions, based on their research area. For example, what risks are we prepared to take, and are we taking risks at the expense of others? Who has the right to health care, is entitled to the land, in charge of the water distribution, or has access to energy and transport? Are new technology and digitalization enabling or constraining equal opportunities and democracy?  Can food and other products be produced and consumed in a just way, to meet the global demand without causing damage or harm on a local scale? How can science, policy and the civic society join forces and develop technical solutions and fair use of natural resources, and at the same time meet the goals for human rights, equal treatment and non-discrimination? What can we learn from case studies on the distributional impacts of specific actions in areas such as energy, food, education?

Poster Presentation (during lunch break)

Research that provide knowledge related to a theme will be presented as a poster in a written digital format. The posters will be displayed during the lunch break, and available as a pdf.   

14.10 Matchmaking event & mingle

During this session, researchers from Lund University present new research ideas and projects, and invitations to new research consortium. The theme session begins with a 3 min pitch from five presenting researchers in plenum. Thereafter, all participants within the theme choose one topic (breakout room) for a more detailed discussion. The session ends with a mingle. The participants are free to change topic (breakout room) when desired.  
In addition to the three conference themes, the matchmaking contributions may also relate to the theme Future calls.

Key words: Swedish research bill, Horizon Europe, Climate and environment, Health and welfare, Digitalization, Capacity building and working life, Democratic and strong society, Adaptation to climate change, Cancer, Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters, Climate-neutral and smart cities, Soil health and food.

For the matchmaking session in the afternoon Future calls will be an additional theme. This fourth theme will focus on future calls, taking the Swedish research bill and Horizon Europe as point of departure. We invite researchers to present ideas to prepare for new projects and initiatives that can answer to future calls. 

15.15 Panel Debate 

The conference ends with a panel debate on ways forward and how to organise successful collaborations within the University and with external partners. The panel will discuss how to proceed with the experiences from the day, themes for future conferences and reflect on how research and education can be brought closer together. 


  • Emily Boyd, Professor and Director, LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)


  • Lizette Gradén, Associate Professor, Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences
  • Sara Kauko, Postdoc, Social resilience
  • Henrik Smith, Professor, Centre for Environmental and Climate science, Director of Sustainability Forum
  • Maria Takman, PhD student, Agenda 2030 Graduate School

16.15 Summary

Concluding remarks will be given by the Vice-chancellor Erik Renström.

Sitting yoga for conference break

Welcome to a relaxing yoga session during the breaks! Participating in a full-day online conference can be exhausting. We welcome all participants to a short yoga session to relax your eyes, neck and shoulders, guided by Cheryl Sjöström. The session takes 7 min, and you may participate sitting on your chair. No specific preparation or equipment is needed. Enjoy!

The scientific contributions will be evaluated by a scientific committee, with members from the Lund University Research Board and the Sustainability Forum steering committee. 

  • Barbara Törnquist-Plewa, Professor, Centre for Languages and Literature
  • Anna Meeuwisse, Professor, School of Social Work
  • Susanne Arvidsson, Associate Professor, Deparment of Business and Administration
  • Heiko Herwald, Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences

The conference is organised by the Research Board in collaboration with Sustainability Forum.

  • Per Mickwitz, Pro vice-chancellor for Research, Sustainability and Campus development
  • Barbara Törnquist-Plewa, Professor, Centre for Languages and Literature
  • Anna Meeuwisse, Professor, School of Social Work
  • Susanne Arvidsson, Associate Professor, Deparment of Business and Administration
  • Cerina Wittbom, Research Coordinator, Sustainability Forum

Time for the event:

4 May 2021 09:00 to 16:30


Online, Zoom

Target group:

The conference is primarily aimed at researchers associated with Lund University. However, we also welcome other researchers, stakeholders, and students who want to join the discussions and share their views and learn more about research conducted at Lund University.




cerina [dot] wittbom [at] cec [dot] lu [dot] se