Environmental Challenges at the Fussball-Table

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Eduardo Pereria Gomes showing his skills at the table-top football.

Bettina Benziger

Eduardo Pereria Gomes showing his skills at the table-top football.

They are experts in their field. They work for more environmental sustainability. But how well do they do in the real challenges which life has in store? Meet the sustainability experts at the table football.

Monday, October 7th: The first workshop sessions of the World Resources Forum 2013 (WRF) were hold, already a lot of business cards exchanged. After the lunch break, Eduardo Pereria Gomes shows his skills at the table-top football. He works at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology EPF Lausanne, the Brazilian tells, still resting safely near the booth where he and his colleagues inform about their research. “We research biofuels made out of microalgae”, he explains, before proving his proficiency in a sports discipline. For their research, the team predicts a golden future: The technology called “SunCHem” allows for high production rates of biomass without destroying cultivable land. At the table-top football, the scientist also cuts a fine figure.

Antony Olway's first half of the match is disastrous.

Bettina Benziger

Antony Olway's first half of the match is disastrous.

It is shortly before 3pm when Antony Olway accepts the challenge of playing table-top football and being interviewed at the same time. While the first half of the match is disastrous, the cameraman of UbrainTV, a multimedia platform specialized on sustainability topics, catches up in the second half. Multi-tasking indeed is a challenge. “I have to go filming the plenary session”, he explains and picks up his camera directly after the last goal is scored, leaving the tabletop football behind for verbal matches on mutual resources management.

45 minutes later, Andreas Gattlen, Masters student in sustainable development at the University of Basel, gives it a shot. At WRF, he presents his thesis research at the poster exhibition: the decoupling of material consumption from economic development.

Andreas Gattlen gives it a shot.

Bettina Benziger

Andreas Gattlen gives it a shot.

While catching the balls in the tabletop football, he tries to concentrate on scientific matters: From his comparison of European economies, the football scientist concludes that “cases of absolute decoupling together with respectable GDP-growth are rarely observed”. His best practice example is the UK. However, also there, “imports move the consumption of resources abroad”, he explains.

In the coffee break on day two of the conference, it is time for the female participants to join the dialogues at the table-top football: Freyja Knapp, PhD student at University of California Berkley, researches on electronic waste recycling. “I attended four years ago”, she tells while trying to catch the rolling ball. Although a few balls escape her team of table-top football players, at the beginning she makes it a tough match. This year, she joined the conference in order to reconnect with acquaintances and to follow up on their work. The workshops gave her some new ideas for her research:“There is all these new projects going on”.

Freyja Knapp in a tough match.

Bettina Benziger

Freyja Knapp in a tough match.

In their element at the table-top football are the youngsters: the players change their positions rapidly when Jelle Ritterer and Daniya Sagutdinova make the ball flying in between the feet of the players. They and the other young conference visitors were then addressing sustainability challenges in a dialogue session after the match.

Jelle Ritterer and Daniya Sagutdinova during their match.

Bettina Benziger

Jelle Ritterer and Daniya Sagutdinova during their match.

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