Input to e-journal on Tuesday, 22 April 2003:


Let’s sail to Gothenborg!


Report of the Workshop „Sustainable Mobility“ during the Annual Meeting 03 of The World Student Community for Sustainable Development in Tokyo, Japan

By Carlo Centonze, Sabine Perch-Nielsen and Patrick Jeannerat, ETH Zurich


Motivation to create this workshop was the fact, that so many students attended the annual meeting by airplane. We assumed that flying produces 5 times more CO2-Emissions than travelling in an electric train over the same distance. So we wanted to create awareness of more sustainable means of travel amongst the students, especially since it was to attend a meeting in sustainable development.



Inspiration from the SustainTrain Project


To start the workshop, Carlo Centonze showed his film about SustainTrain. This way, the guests could get a feel of the diversity of new values, that could be contained in an alternative travelling route. A trip by train for example does not only save energy, but also creates bridges among the different cultures (food, clothing, languages, natural and political environment etc), and gives the travellers another feeling of the distances on our earth. Of course there is much more time comittment involved, and often travel expenses are higher due to additional accomodation and catering. However, we tried to point out the social experience of such a trip for the participants, a chance to create networks and friendships for life. As in SustainTrain, the different backgrounds and perspectives of the participants could serve as a wonderful source of inspiration, thus constituting a melting pot or think tank with an extreme potential to find unconventional, trans-disciplinary solutions challenged by different viewpoints. Using the travel time in this way, such a project could easily be supported by sponsors, so as to minimize the financial burden. Besides, such trips could serve well as extracurricular activity for the personal cv and be of great benefit for the local student organisation in the sense of team-building, identity creation and public relations.



Outcome of the Workshop


In the main part of the workshop, we formed 2 working groups from different regions in our world to find alternative travel solutions to visit next year’s annual meeting in gotenborg (march 2004). Here are the proposed ideas:


1. Workgroup Japan/Asia

The students of UT considered hopping on a freight ship and taking a 2 to 3 weeks overseas journey all the way to Europe’s North Sea, while picking up more students from south-east Asia, India and Africa on the way. Each participant would organise a cultural event, like teaching traditional danse, songs or cooking. At other times, members could play some games like “Stratagem” in order to build a feeling for interrelated complex problems in the sense of Sustainability. The delegation would also organise think tanks to work on some tasks given by the sponsors of the trip. Potential Participants could be motivated by aspects like life experience, fun and adventure, and being part of a representative project attractive for media. They would take part in making publicity for WSC-SD and their local community as well as inspire other groups at home or on the way.

searching for alternatives to travel to the AM 04 in Gothenborg



2. Workgroup St. Petersburg and ETH Zurich

Students from St. Petersburg would take the Train to Hamburg to meet the students from Zurich, who themselves would have taken a river freighter along the Rhine from Basel via Rotterdam. They would take into account the UNO year of the water to learn about threaths and solutions around the sustainability of water. From Hamburg, the 2 delegations would merge and use a sailing boat to get to the harbour of Gothenborg in Sweden.


3. Combined ideas

When the ideas were presented to eachother, a new proposition arouse: The delegations of all the communities could meet in Hamburg, some coming by plane, others by train or ferry, and would then all together enjoy the last lap to Gothenborg, e.g. by sailing boat. The experience of this year’s WSC-SD proved that people would have loved to spend more time with eachother. So why not consider such a solution. However, it would make sense to align the topics of the trip with the main topic of next year’s annual meeting (which may be “sustainable cities”).





At the end of the workshop, the organisers collected the adresses of all those students, who were interested to realise some similar ideas for next year. Serious preparations should set off at the beginning of the new terms in october. In order to find sponsors however, projects will have to be made concrete very quickly. All the participating organisations of AM04 are kindly asked to join in with their own travel alternative. Of course, things will also depend on the goals of the organisers of the AM04, the prevailing weather conditions along the chosen routes, and the initiative of the individuals within the student communities. The local organisations might use this idea to recruit new members, as is the plan of the Zurich community “Project21”.



Mailing Group “Sustainable Travel Project 04”:

The workshop did not define any particular student to lead a possible project for AM04. The people of the mailing list is all that exists up to now. Please mail any input, new ideas and coordination to the members below:


“Yoichi Yoshizawa”, “Akiko Yano”, “Michael Toribio”, “Atsuko Terazono”, “Kostya”, “Leeza Perova”, “Irene Steimen”, “Carlo Centonze”, “Patrick Jeannerat”


Questions, information, inspiration (pictures and film): check ou the [SustainTrain] project on