Global recognition of the need for sustainability transition has never been stronger and Denmark is committed with goals of 70% CO2 reduction by 2030, to mitigate climate change. While climate change is a very important concern for sustainability transition, it cannot stand alone. To develop a sustainable society, we have to satisfy the needs of current and coming generations within the operating spaces defined by the tolerance limits of our vulnerable planet and its ecosystems.
The calls for development of solutions that decouple value creation from resource consumption, and from the toxicity crisis that is developing in our waterways, land areas and through our material cycles, and that address the accelerating crisis of biodiversity loss.
Technology is envisaged to play a prominent role in enabling sustainability transition, but as of yet, no convincing efforts are evident to provide a consolidated understanding of which technologies, where in society and through which types of implementation. No matter how ambitious goals one may set, relying on hockey-stick development curves is a dangerous, tactic. Instead, the achievement of the goals must be significantly supported through a systemic understanding of the problems and solutions, supporting systematic and strategic approaches towards sustainability transition.
From a methodology perspective, many contributions have been made over recent decades, to both understand, analyse, model and remediate sustainability challenges. Life cycle assessment acts as a cornerstone for the modelling of the impact of our society and its technologies on the environment. Circular economy currently acts as one of the most prominent calls to action, regarding the decoupling of wealth and value creation from resource consumption. And there are numerous other instrumental examples. But with the increasing recognition of the urgency of a sustainability transition, even the most ambitious of the currently available methodologies lack in terms of holism, data modelling ability, domain-versatility and multi-disciplinarity. To reach the ambitious targets that society must set, new collaborative research efforts are required, which both build on domain-specific expertise, and also challenge assumptions and traditions.
DTU Centre for Absolute Sustainability will bear the mission of fostering technology research and innovation that enables fact-based strategic sustainability decision-making and implementation in Denmark and internationally. The Centre will develop systemic models of sustainability assessment (showing where to focus and which technologies to choose), systematic engineering approaches to sustainability transition (showing how we should begin to transition) and strategic implementation plans, a.o. based on technology foresight and societal back-casting (showing what to do).
By bringing leading experts on assessment and engineering approaches together in an orchestrated collaboration not seen before in any research organisation globally, the Centre will strengthen and consolidate sustainability competencies at DTU and enable ground breaking research results within technology-focused environmental sustainability transition. The Centre will gather DTU researchers, already globally renowned within their complementary, but discrete fields of sustainability-oriented research, and create a new multi-disciplinary research platform, designed to provide expertise to model, strategize and build transition processes towards sustainability.