303030

Eurac Research is celebrating its 30th birthday. To mark the occasion, 30 young researchers tell us in 30-seconds videos what they plan to do in their field over the next 30 years.

1

Becoming a Writing Expert

If we look around, we realise that writing is both a pervasive and indispensable means to performing innumerable actions: from the most mundane, such as writing a Whatsapp message to our mother to tell her we won't be back for dinner, to the most complex, such as applying for a job position by submitting a CV and a motivational letter, or launching a petition on Change.org. Writing is therefore fundamental. Yet, during our formative years, it is taught and practised too little, because it is often thought to be an innate talent.

For years, language experts have been denouncing the close correlation between socio-economic disadvantages and other obstacles in understanding and producing a text, and have been proposing new methods to teach writing in ain a collective and collaborative way, so that everyone can really master this complicated communicative tool.

Arianna Bienati Linguist

Transformation

Overcoming the climate and biodiversity crisis requires profound change, a transformation that affects energy systems as much as societal processes.

2

Look Who’s Swimming

The Alps are also known as the “water towers of Europe”. Their aquatic habitats - wetlands, lakes and flowing waters - are particularly sensitive ecosystems. A variety of animal and plant species live here, inseparably linked to their habitats. They settle depending on various factors such as the morphology of a water body, the altitude and biogeographical region. Intact aquatic ecosystems are a prerequisite for clean drinking water.

With climate change, these natural bodies of water are under great pressure: nowhere else are so many species threatened or have already disappeared as in or around water. However, flora and fauna are also endangered by the direct impact of humans: for example, when we build up and straighten rivers. In order to understand how our alpine aquatic ecosystems function and what threatens them, we first need an inventory of the diversity of all plant and animal species which as yet does not exist in South Tyrol.

Magdalena VanekEcologist
3

Behaviour Change and Energy Poverty

Energy poverty is generally defined as the inability to access or afford energy services that are necessary for a good standard of life. In many ways it is a consequence of financial poverty, but it also has some very particular drivers inherent to the energy context. As such, this type of poverty also requires particular tools to tackle it, tools that are scalable, cost-effective, and address specific drivers.

Unfortunately, it is often the case that the exact people afflicted by energy poverty find themselves unable to make the kind of fundamental investments necessary to address it at its root, such as retrofitting their homes for example. Even when the government or someone else does invest in improved efficiency, often it can be difficult to align behaviour for the intervention to be impactful.

Nicolas CaballeroEconomist
4

Beautiful Photovoltaic

Photovoltaic technologies can be installed on all available surfaces of buildings, including façades. In this sense, they support the energy transition because they produce cleaner and fairer energy, in a variety of ways. Their aesthetics, however, are very defined by the materials used to make them. This is why photovoltaic panels are often considered suitable for use in modern, high-tech looking buildings, while they are rather hidden in more traditional ones. On the other hand, the architectural language used in buildings is an expression of the identity, culture and traditions of the local community, which must be protected and preserved.

To make it possible to combine the needs of energy transition and those of preserving architectural traditions, a new generation of photovoltaic technologies is being developed that feature shapes, colours and finishes that are compatible with traditional building materials, and are therefore able to harmonize, almost to the point of camouflage, with the existing built environment.

Martina PelleEngineer
5

Time is Life

The predominant way of life and economy in the Global North, and consequently also here in South Tyrol and Italy, is based on the systematic overuse of ecosystems and natural resources. This overuse is already threatening the long-term livelihoods of humanity. Moreover, our consumption and production patterns can only be sustained through everyday access to cheap labour, especially in the Global South. Social, economic and ecological costs are outsourced in this way - in space and time.

Many people, also here in South Tyrol, are aware of this. Nevertheless, it is difficult to change the dominant, non-sustainable way of life which is firmly anchored in our everyday life, for example through physical-material infrastructures (e.g. motorways, shopping centres), institutions (e.g. banks, ministries) as well as social norms and everyday practices. The dominant solution strategies for sustainability transformation (e.g. technological solutions, "green" growth) have also not led to fundamental change. They do not question the deep-rooted, systemic causes of current unsustainability (e.g. the capitalist growth economy) and thus contribute to its stabilisation.

Approaches of a so-called socio-ecological transformation aim to identify and analyse non-sustainable social structures, processes and behaviours. The aim is, among other things, to examine concrete solution strategies and to point out possibilities for sustainable, socially and ecologically more compatible forms of life and economy.

Felix WindeggerEcological Economist
6

On the Trail of Water Scarcity

Mountains are the water reservoirs of our planet. They supply the surrounding lowlands with drinking water. But more and more often, water runs dry on its journey from the heights to the lowlands, where most of the water is consumed. Even in water-rich regions such as southern Africa, many taps run dry, and people must rely on expensive water tankers to supply them with drinking water. Climate change is only part of the problem. Water scarcity in southern Africa is also caused by poor local infrastructure and by huge population growth. In addition, there are global, systemic causes, such as the detour of resources from underdeveloped to already developed areas, which in turn exacerbate inequalities locally and globally.

Jess DelvesPolitical Ecologist
7

Sustainable Future

In the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the slowing down of many production activities and the limiting of transport had very positive impacts in terms of greenhouse gas reductions. But how plausible are these actions to mitigate climate change? Creating a more sustainable world does not involve a linear and shared pathway: on the contrary, it presents dilemmas and trade-offs that must be addressed. Our systems of production and consumption certainly need to be rethought, but not without taking into account the often counter-intuitive consequences this entails at a societal level. For example, the same interventions to irrigate organic agricultural products can be invasive to the ecosystem of a lake or river, or deprive other sectors of needed water. It is therefore crucial to anticipate and unravel the dynamic and complex interplay of human factors (and consequently also economic and scientific factors) in order to build shared visions of the future.

Matteo RizzariEnvironmental Economist and Political Scientist

New videos will be regularly added over the next weeks.