Leading Research Institute In Sustainability Transitions

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Green.Org had the opportunity to sit down with Rachel Greer, PhD Researcher for DRIFT Transition, to learn more about what she thinks is the future of sustainability. DRIFT is a leading research institute in the field of sustainability transitions. They develop and share transformative knowledge to support people, cities, sectors and organizations to engage proactively with transitions. DRIFT has four main activities that complement, ground and inspire each other: academic researchconsultancy,  education and public dialogue & debate.

The strong link between all of their activities allows them to combine theory-development with critical feedback and various ways of testing and validating our insights. It also enables them to keep our research relevant to a wide variety of actors.

DRIFT was established in 2004 at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, where they are currently operating as a social enterprise. Since 2004 they have seen the field of Sustainability Transitions grow into a booming, international field of research and practice.

Let’s Get To Know Rachel Better. 

Rachel Greer, PhD Researcher

Rachel’s international educational background fuses social science with quantitative methods by bridging Applied Social Psychology and environmental decision-making with Industrial Ecology. She has presented her novel assessment of the environmental impact and diffusion potential of Transition Towns in multiple countries, and has contributed scientific findings to the EU Horizon 2020 project ENERGISE: an innovative pan-European research initiative for greater scientific understanding of the social and cultural influences on energy consumption.

As a sustainability consultant at a biodynamic Spanish winery, she assessed the annual carbon footprints and the environmental performance for the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), as well as led the company in “Wineries for Climate Protection,” a collaborative project seeking best practice solutions and international benchmarks for sustainability in oenology.

Rachel has experience designing reduction plans for company emissions, energy use, water management, and waste, which strategies and practices she intends to incorporate in her current focus at DRIFT: Waste FEW ULL.

This project’s aim is to substantially reduce resource inefficiencies in the Food-Energy-Water nexus through Urban Living Labs across three continents: Europe, Africa and South America. Key activities include mapping resource flows and identifying critical dysfunctions, designing the most effective local response (e.g. policy intervention, technology diffusion), modelling the market and non-market economic value of each intervention; engaging with decision-makers to close each loop; and comparing and contrasting approaches in order to develop replicable models for use in cities around the world.

Rachel, thank you for being here! What is a fun fact about you?

I trained in seven countries to run a full marathon!

Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today? 

To start creating societal shifts now. If we spend too much time on incremental innovations, rising oceans will displace people from all over and even drown the best wine growing regions!

What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?

Shifting to cleaner production over end-of-pipe solutions.

What can the average person do to make a difference? 

Avoid fast fashion, eat less meat, and talk to your policymakers to take circular action!

Rachel, thank you for being here and sharing your experience working for one of the leading research institute in sustainability transitions.

To hear from more leading scientists and CEOs in renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainability, be sure to subscribe to The Green Podcast, hosted by Dylan Welch.

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Dylan Welch
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.
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