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Lecture Series | 3 July, 16:15 | Doctoral Researcher Showcase: Magdolna Molnár on the European Green Deal and Miloš Đurović on Environmental sustainability between the European centre and periphery

Where? H14, Universität Regensburg

When? Monday, 3 July 2023, 16:15-17:45

In this session, two doctoral researchers based at the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies at UR will present talks based on their ongoing research. Magdolna Molnár (Regensburg) will disscuss "Common misconceptions about sustainability: Examples from the European Green Deal" while Miloš Đurović (Regensburg) will be "Reflecting on the visions and practices of “environmental sustainability” between the European centre and its periphery". Magdolna Molnár will focus on the issue of European waste recycling policy, looking in particular at efforts to establish circular economy practices with electronic waste. Miloš Đurović reflects on the notion of environmental sustainability – its conceptualisation, implementation, and multifaceted and blurry character – focusing mainly on the nexus between the European centre and its periphery.

The talks take place in person in H14 and all are welcome to attend. Outlines of the talks are available below.

Magdolna Molnár (Regensburg) | Common misconceptions about sustainability: Examples from the European Green Deal

In the last two decades, discarded electronic equipment has become one of the fastest growing and most problematic waste streams in Europe (Forti et al. 2020). Due to the energy and resource
intensive production of electronic devices, such as laptops and smart phones, it has been argued that large sustainability gains could be made by extending the lifespan of these popular consumer goods (Öko-Institut 2020, Baldé et al. 2015). However, most European and national policies have largely prioritised recycling activities over promoting repairing, refurbishing and re-using (eg. McLaren et al. 2020).

This presentation will attempt to address the following questions by scrutinizing the European Circular Economy Action Plan:
- What actors are involved in defining the European Circular Economy? What priorities do they have?
- To what extent have recent European policies challenged the economic growth imperative?
- What have been positive changes in European policies and what gaps remain when considering more sustainable electronics production and consumption?


Miloš Đurović (Regensburg) | Reflecting on the visions and practices of “environmental sustainability” between the European centre and its periphery

Shutting down the coal-fired power plants and developing renewables within the joint fight against climate change became the requirement for those at the periphery desiring EU membership. Through some of its influential member states, its legislation, and the UN policies such as the Agenda for Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs), the European Union has been calling for an energy transition and actively envisioning a green and sustainable future across the European space. This imagined future is largely composed of the development of renewables and the optimistic preservation of the socio-economic system based on green growth models.

In this presentation, I will tackle a few questions and dilemmas I see as crucial in discussing an environmentally sustainable future across (and beyond) the European space. Firstly, as there are many concepts and measuring methods of environmental sustainability, I would like to reflect on the concept itself and its multiple facets. It is important to comprehend what kind of sustainability we discuss, fight for, and anticipate within the post-carbon European future. Then, I would like to reflect on the vision of environmental sustainability that those at the centre represent and question if they could serve as the “green role models” for the European peripheral space and beyond. My presentation will be backed by my own ethnographic research in the peripheral coal-mining town of northern Montenegro, showing that environmental sustainability outside the European centre is often differently perceived, practised and envisioned, and thus not necessarily overlapping with the EU legislation and vision of European decarbonized future.

This session forms part of the lecture series Climate Change: Action and Law in the Global South and Beyond the West organized by Prof. Dr. Rike Krämer-Hoppe (DIMAS/Law) with Dr. Paul Vickers (DIMAS/ScienceCampus). Find the full programme here.