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The 2nd Interdisciplinary Symposium on Sustainable Development aims to further develop the theme of the first symposium "Which transition for our societies?", organised in Namur on 31 January and 1 February 2014, supported by the Public Service of Wallonia. The participants consistently expressed their wish to repeat this event given its great success with over 400 participants and 400 subscribed to the waiting list.

The findings are numerous following the first symposium edition: what are the barriers, the frames of reference that confine us in an old system preventing us from going forward? What research, innovations and ideas are necessary to encourage ecological transition? What is the relationship between sustainable development and democracy in a broader (global) framework? What are the effects of the systemic crisis on sustainable development? And so on. Ever since then, the crisis still prevails and these issues remain relevant.

In this perspective, the present symposium aims to:

  • encourage breakthrough scientific approaches that possibly offer solutions across different aspects of the systemic crisis through their far-reaching vision on sustainable development and critical standpoint concerning established paradigms;
  • promote an interdisciplinary approach, innovation that requires cross-fertilisation between disciplines as well as a systemic approach;
  • promote transdisciplinarity by involving social actors;
  • enhance the recognition of scientists working on sustainable development. 


The general topic of the current conference focuses on the relationship between transition and sustainable development concepts and how to accelerate this transition. With this in mind, contributors are asked to address at least one of the following questions in their manuscript: What problems arise with a justified transition? Which kind of transition and how to speed up the process? Is it scientifically, economically and socially achievable? What are the barriers, the frames of reference that confine us in an old system preventing us from moving forward? What positive experiences are there? What type of research, innovations and ideas are necessary to encourage ecological transition? What is the relationship between sustainable development and democracy in a broader (global) framework? What are the effects of the systemic crisis on sustainable development? What fields of (sustainable) jobs should be part of this transition?

Specifically, contributors should associate with one of the eight proposed areas for parallel sessions: 

A. Specific themes

  1. Global commons: energy, climate, biodiversity (particularly stock-based vs flow-based economy; energy thresholds and peak resources – fossil fuels, rare earth metals, phosphorus, forest, fisheries resources; implications of production and lifestyle patterns – consumption and transportation; prevention of and adaptation to systemic crises; management of common goods…). 
  1. Food, agriculture and animal farming practices: human and environmental health; organic food; fossil fuel free farming; interdependence between living organisms; biosphere related issues; promotion of distribution channels; land access; urban agriculture, … 
  1. Housing and land-use planning: transportation, renovation of existing buildings, transition towns, housing location regarding access to services, sustainable mobility, intermodality,… 
  1. Social economy and transition to sustainable development: new economic practices evaluated in the context of "niche" and widely distributed; alternative organizational models leading economic activity towards the pursuit of societal objectives related to sustainable development; governance, management, financing, distribution of social economic projects within a sustainable transition period. 

B. Cross-sectoral themes 

  1. Transition models: sustainable development (SD), prosperity without growth, green capitalism or degrowth? (drawbacks and shortcomings of each of these concepts; role of indicators, currency and finance; SD and social justice; ethical issues). 
  1. The role of public authorities in the transition: What kind of governance? How to induce behavioural changes? Which policies supporting current and emerging technologies? Law and public policy developments (legislative and impact assessment, integration principles, advisory councils; embedding SD into national constitutions and international treaties; SD and fundamental rights). 
  1. Transition and non-governmental actors: role of the various stakeholders: citizens, consumers, businesses, workers, large institutions, social movements; scientific research, education, culture, media; participatory democracy and modes of collective intelligence. 
  1. Research stream on transdisciplinary research: research findings on a specific sustainability topic based on a transdisciplinary mode of organisation or analysis of the various problems that arise from this type of approach (e.g. selection of stakeholders, learning best practices or design principles). 

Paper presentations by a given author will be followed by discussion involving at least a person active in the field. 

Submission guidelines 

The abstracts should be submitted in PDF, Word or equivalent format HERE . They should be 4 pages long (Arial, 11pt) and provide the following elements: 

  • first and last names of the authors, email address and affiliation;
  • mention of the author for subsequent correspondences;
  • background of the author(s) (discipline(s));
  • theme chosen from the eight proposed topics;
  • indicative bibliography containing the main sources considered.

Abstracts should also address the following four aspects:

  • theoretical frameworks;
  • diagnosis;
  • explanation of data (such as indicators);
  • mention of successful experiences (optional).

Consistent with the main title of the symposium, interdisciplinary contributions will be favoured as expected. If relevant, contributions giving specific attention to the North-South dimension are welcomed as well.

Abstracts will be reviewed by two referees. Upon acceptance, authors will be allowed to present their contribution at the corresponding sessions. The full paper will not be reviewed, unlike the first edition of the symposium.

It is also possible to submit a proposal for the poster session (to be mentioned in the submission).

A collection containing all paper abstracts will be distributed in paper format to the participants at the beginning of the symposium. The full papers will be available on the symposium website. The scientific committee is considering selecting the best papers in view of a collective submission to a peer-reviewed international journal (Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics following the 4th theme with the collaboration of Pr. Benjamin Huybrechts and the journal Sustainability Science for remaining themes).

Abstracts and full papers can be written either in English or in French. Presentations are also possible in both languages. 

Important dates 

  • Abstract opening date online submission: 10 November 2014.
  • Abstract submission deadline: 30 November 2014 --> postponed to 15 December 2014.
  • Acceptance notification: 1st February 2015.
  • Final abstract submission (for layout and printing for participants): 31 March 2015.
  • Poster submission deadline: 30 April 2015.
  • Full paper submission deadline: 10 May 2015. 

General information

The 2nd Interdisciplinary Symposium on Sustainable Development is organised with the support of the Public Service of Wallonia. This symposium is co-chaired by the Professors Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Université catholique de Louvain) and Marek Hudon (Université libre de Bruxelles). This is an international scientific symposium which also seeks to encourage the participation and the involvement of both decision-makers and civil society.

The 2015 Symposium will be honoured by the presence of several high-level speakers. Laurence Tubiana (Director of IDDRI and Ambassador for Climate Change Negotiations, Paris 2015) has confirmed her participation. Pierre Rabhi (philosopher, agricultural biologist novelist and poet) and Martin Khor (Executive Director of the South Centre, Geneva) have agreed in principle.

The Scientific Committee is constituted by: 

  • Pr. Philippe Baret (UCL)
  • Pr. Patrick Brocorens (UMons)
  • Pr. Isabelle Cassiers (UCL)
  • Pr. Tom Dedeurwaerdere (UCL)
  • Pr. Olivier De Schutter (UCL)
  • Pr. Johan Eyckmans (HUBrussel)
  • Pr. Marie-Françoise Godart (ULB)
  • Pr. Marek Hudon (ULB)
  • Pr. Jean Hugé (UAntwerp)
  • Pr. Benjamin Huybrechts (ULg)
  • Pr. Pierre Lannoy (ULB)
  • Pr. Kevin Maréchal (ULB)
  • Pr. Sybille Mertens (ULg)
  • Pr. Delphine Misonne (USL-B)
  • Pr. Pierre Ozer (ULg)
  • Pr. Philippe Toint (UNamur)
  • Pr. Denise Van Dam (UNamur)
  • Pr. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (UCL)
  • Pr. Edwin Zaccaï (ULB)

The scientific coordination is provided by Ir. Véronique Deuse (ULB). 

The coordination of the project is provided by Frédérique Verhulst (UCL).

To download the call please click HERE.

For further information, please write to: info@congrestransitiondurable.org


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