GTTN Call for Experts: Timber Tracking

Curbing illegal logging and timber trade – call for experts in timber tracking (from both supply & user side) to participate in working groups of the Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN) to further operationalise and promote innovative timber tracking tools:

GTTN Call for Experts in Timber Tracking

The GTTN is comosing its working groups for the second phase, as described in the flyer (pdf):

GTTN Phase II: What? Who? How?


For further information about current timber tracking, GTTN activities, sustainable timber markets, contact Dr. Nele Schmitz:






The Global Timber Tracking Network – In Focus: Illegal Logging and the Associated Timber Trade

Illegal logging and the associated timber trade are a serious threat for precious timber species and for forests in general. It impacts environment (biodiversity loss, soil degradation, climate change) as well as economy (tax evasion, corruption, distortion of timber market).

Timber tracking systems do exist to check tree species and geographic origin of wood. The most common ones, however, can be manipulated as they are paper-based or via electronic tags. That’s why development of timber tracking systems based on characteristics inherent to the wood are essential.

The Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN) brings together experts in timber identification tools (wood anatomy, stable isotopes and DNA analyses), policy and advocacy specialists to

(i) integrate, optimize and standardize methods,

(ii) develop a global database with reference data,

(iii) raise awareness and train researchers worldwide.

At the start of the second phase of the GTTN, the new IUFRO report “Illegal Logging and Related Timber Trade – Dimensions, Drivers, Impacts and Responses” offers a welcome perspective on the problem of illegal logging and related timber trade. The full report is available via the IUFRO website. Key issues are highlighted by Dr. Nele Schmitz (GTTN; Thünen Institute of Forest Genetics) in her summary of the report:

A summary of the IUFRO World Series Volume 35 report on illegal logging and related timber trade


For further information about current timber tracking, GTTN activities, sustainable timber markets, contact Dr. Nele Schmitz:




Pursuit of Sustainability – From Knowledge to Action

The pursuit of sustainability requires more and better knowledge, but it is how knowledge is used that matters most. It is part of knowledge that social-environmental systems are influenced by interacting production and consumption processes. Understanding the dynamics of systems and how they can be influenced remains a key challenge. How can existing governance processes be reshaped so that they are more conductive to achieving social wellbeing? How can knowledge be linked with action?


Spotlights on the book ‘Pursuing Sustainability’ (Pamela Matson, William C. Clark, Krister Andersson; Princeton University Press, 2016):


Read main elements here (pdf)


Dr. Nele Schmitz, nele.schmitz(at)

Co-evolution of Technology, Society and Institutions: Science-Policy Interface Key for 2030 Agenda

The Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) 2016, issued in July by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, points out that implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires asking new types of questions along the guiding principle of ensuring that no one is left behind. Strengthening the bridge between science and policies is identified as a need and key opportunity.

A nexus approach, looking at the interlinkages between infrastructure, inequality and resilience, reveals that harnessing synergies and addressing trade-offs is critical for policy-making. Processes must be supported by scientific knowledge and cross- and transdisciplinary collaboration. A critical function of the science-policy interface is to bring new and emerging issues to the attention of policy-makers. Identified issues are explored and focused, possibly leading to more timely responses to emerging threats or the exploitation of new opportunities.

As highlighted in the report, design and functioning of inclusive institutions is essential for delivering on the imperative to leave no one behind. Technology has greatly shaped society, economy and environment and vice versa. In achieving the SDGs, technology has a major role to play. One critical point is to take into account how technology, society and institutions co-evolve.


The Global Sustainable Development Report can be accessed on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: GSDR 2016


Dr. Sigrid Kusch contributed to Chapter 3 “Perspectives of scientists on technology and the SDGs” and Chapter 5 “Identification of emerging issues for sustainable development” of GSDR 2016.

Environment in Europe: UNEP’s GEO-6 Assessment for the pan-European Region

As part of the Sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6), a separate assessment for the pan-European region was launched in June 2016 at the 8th Environment for Europe Conference in Batumi, Georgia. The “GEO-6 Assessment for the pan-European region” provides a comprehensive picture of the current state, trends and an outlook for the environment in the region, and highlights factors that influence prosperity, human health and wellbeing. Focused under the lens of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), the report demonstrates that the challenges, but also the solutions, today are highly interlinked and more systemic.

“Clean air, water, resilient ecosystems and sound management of chemicals and waste are essential for a healthy planet and healthy people. Closing resource-use loops through the promotion of circular economy principles will be a necessary part of the solution, providing much-needed jobs and economic sustainability. The transition towards an inclusive green economy in the pan-European region presents a significant opportunity, which will require the active engagement of a “coalition of the willing” at all levels of society. It demands a fundamental redesign of energy, food, mobility and urban systems, as well as a change in lifestyles. Countries in the region have much to contribute to the shaping of a shared vision of the future.” (Foreword UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, to the GEO-6 Assessment for the pan-European region)


Direct download of report as pdf: GEO-6 Assessment for the pan-European region

E-book, particularly useful for mobile access: GEO-6 Assessment for the pan-European region (E-book)

Related material and access to all GEO-6 regional reports: UNEP Science-Policy Interface


Dr. Sigrid Kusch contributed to the report as coordinating lead author of Chapter 2 “Environmental state and trends” and as co-author of Chapter 4 “Outlooks and emerging issues”.

Sustainability in Practice: Renewable Energy Cooperatives

Cooperatives for renewable energy are examples of proactive citizen initiatives aiming for implementation of alternative energy supply models. Main success factors can be identified:

Renewable energy cooperatives (pdf)

(Beggio, Giovanni; Kusch, Sigrid: Renewable energy cooperatives: main features and success factors in collectively implementing energy transition. Proceedings “Quaesti – The 3rd Virtual Multidisciplinary Conference”, 2015, pp.233-237)

Contact: Giovanni Beggio, M.Sc., giovanni.beggio(at)

Improving Energy Efficiency: Co-generation Revisited

Although combined heat and power production is already relatively common in Europe, its vast potential to improve energy efficiency is still heavily underexploited. Cleaner production schemes offer suitable frameworks to foster uptake of combined heat and power production by industry. Read more:

CSE Journal City Safety Energy 02/2015

(direct download: 70-319-1-PB)

(Kusch, Sigrid: An overview concerning combined heat and power production: a smart way to improve energy efficiency. CSE City Safety Energy 2-2015, pp. 132-141)

On Unsustainable Patterns and Expulsions

An approach that enables new insights (and is topical in this time of fugitive crises): examples of expulsions from the biosphere, the social and the economic system, while explaining the systemic behaviour of unsustainable use of human and natural capital.

A spotlight on Saskia Sassen’s book ‘Expulsions’ (2014):

Read here the poster (pdf)

Dr. Nele Schmitz, nele.schmitz(at)


Entrepreneurial Schools – Your New Challenge

Registration to the 2016 round of the School Enterprise Challenge run by Teach A Man To Fish is open until 30 April, for all countries of the world:

In 2015, 2,919 schools from 106 countries participated, and winners are from all around the world, including Zambia, Ukraine, Nigeria, UK, Uganda, Bulgaria, India. Having served as judge during the last rounds, one insight is that the projects are exiting! Develop your own entrepreneurial skills and participate.