Sustainable partnerships

Simposio © Jeff Bastos

In recent years DWIH São Paulo has helped build numerous networks and facilitated valuable contacts. One example of this important work is the involvement of the DWIH in the German-Brazilian Symposium for Sustainable Development, which took place for the tenth time in 2022.

This year’s DWIH focus topic is “Sustainable innovations”, but if you want to reach these innovations, you need strong networks. Networks which can give space to these future-oriented developments and make it easier for them to gain a foothold. For DWIH São Paulo, 2022 was about more than just celebrating its tenth birthday: it was about the ongoing business of forging contacts which facilitate sustainable exchanges. One exceptional event involving the DWIH took place in September 2022: the 10th German-Brazilian Symposium for Sustainable Development under the heading of “Connecting innovation and sustainability – opportunities and challenges after Covid-19”. For over 20 years the Baden-Württemberg Center for Brazil and Latin America at the University of Tübingen has organised the symposium series with various partners in Brazil and in Germany. The partners in 2022 were the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and the host Fluminense Federal University (UFF) in the neighbouring city of Niterói.

DWIH São Paulo has been involved in the symposium series since 2013 and also enjoys close links with the University of Tübingen, which has been among the associate supporters of the DWIH since 2014. Both sides gain significant benefits from the partnership. “The Center for Brazil and Latin America at the University of Tübingen has greatly increased the profile of DWIH São Paulo among German higher education and research institutions,” says Marcio Weichert, Head of Programmes at DWIH São Paulo. Dr Martina Schulze, head of the Center for Brazil and Latin America replies that “The fact that the University of Tübingen is so well known in Brazil today is due in no small measure to the work of DWIH São Paulo.”

Sustainable innovations in post-Covid age

This successful partnership is also reflected in the prominence of the German-Brazilian Symposium for Sustainable Development. A total of 70 speakers accepted invitations to the 10th symposium, representing 34 Brazilian and 22 German institutions. Around 200 people gathered in Niterói for the symposium. The two-and-a-half-day event addressed the significance of sustainable innovations in post-Covid age in four different sections. One key focus was the connection between health and sustainability, as were cultural, social and economic perspectives on sustainability. The other two sections explored combating climate change, and creating a culture of innovation which protects resources in the long term.

The most recent symposium further offered a rich variety of perspective thanks to the diverse backgrounds of those attending. “The speakers included young students and PhD students alongside experienced decision-makers,” Marcio Weichert relates. The symposium also heard a talk from the multi-award-winning Brazilian startup Solo Embalagens. His co-founder Mateus Viana won the audience prize for his technique of replacing single-use plastic packaging with biodegradable packaging made of dried palm leaves at 2021 Falling Walls Lab Brazil, which was organised by the DWIH São Paolo.

Green hydrogen and circular economy

Martina Schulze explains how the symposium can help facilitate German-Brazilian ideas sharing on specific areas. “Green hydrogen is very significant to both countries as a sustainable fuel, but Germany and Brazil take very different approaches to how it is used,” Schulze says. “That’s why it was all the more beneficial to bring together a range of perspectives at our event.” She stresses that the same applies to circular economy, which is extremely important in Brazil. The head of the Center for Brazil and Latin America at the University of Tübingen is particularly pleased that the 2022 symposium set new partnerships in motion. For example, a project run by the Volkswagen Foundation is dedicated to ethical questions in Brazilian mining and the issue of how this can be made more environmentally friendly.

There are still many challenges to making the future as sustainable as possible, and some of these are already on the agenda for the 11th German-Brazilian Symposium for Sustainable Development in Tübingen in March 2024, such as food security and the importance of agriculture. And even though the event is taking place in Germany, the DWIH still has a role to play, as Martina Schulze explains: “Marcio Weichert and DWIH São Paulo are always important points of contact for us when it comes to choosing speakers and agreeing topics.”

Johannes Göbel