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Compilation of workshop findings for the 2nd Helmholtz Sustainability Summit

After the summit, the workshop moderators documented and digitalised their findings, which were then edited by members from the Sustainability Forum Working Group who were involved in planning and holding the workshops. The findings from the respective workshops were brought together in several iterations. The paper was presented at the last meeting of the administrative boards of the Helmholtz Association and then sent out to the Board members. The results and recommendations for action are now available in every centre. Each centre can use the paper to promote sustainable development by addressing the issues in a centre-specific way.

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Photo policy for workshops at the 2nd Helmholtz Sustainability Summit

The 2nd Helmholtz Sustainability Summit took place a few days ago. It was a great event with deep discussions and lots of interesting ideas coming out of the individual workshops.  The Helmholtz Sustainability Forum Working Group carefully processed and compiled the findings from the workshops. Some of the key findings and impressions are set out below.

The participants of the digitalisation workshop hoped that all employees would benefit from the development of a digital corporate identity, cooperative IT systems and sustainability dashboards, which would help them advance towards a more digital future. The group focused on raising awareness of the carbon footprint of software and hardware and discussed the challenges associated with hybrid work.

The workshop on socially responsible research sought to strike a balance between freedom and responsibility in research. This was arguably the hottest topic of discussion at the Sustainability Summit, with many people keen to voice their opinion. These issues will be scrutinised further in future as part of the LeNa Shape project.

The participants at the workshop on new working models were impressed by the presentation delivered by Josephine Hofmann of the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering, who demonstrated the wide-ranging nature of the opportunities and risks arising from new, more mobile working models. The availability, trustworthiness and attractiveness of an employer were all raised as key aspects. Participants also examined issues such as excessive workloads, the blurring of boundaries and fairness.

The key message of the user engagement workshop was that sustainability criteria can be implemented more effectively when users are fully involved in the planning, construction and operation of buildings and infrastructure. It is important to create incentives and raise awareness. There were lots of concrete suggestions for improvements, some of which can be implemented easily. Planners and builders also want clear guidelines on how to define sustainability in this area.

Participants at the workshop on sustainable procurement identified a discrepancy between theory and practice. In order to implement the kind of sustainable purchasing that is theoretically possible, procurement departments need proper decision-making from management and clarity about the desired criteria, labels and certifications for environmental and social sustainability. Buyers, users, sustainability officers and other stakeholders should work together on this.