UNESCO BRIDGES Sustainability Science Coalition Hub officially launched at UWTSD


The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is now home to the first UNESCO BRIDGES Sustainability Science Coalition Hub in the UK.

UNESCO BRIDGES Sustainability Science Coalition Hub at UWTSD

The official launch event was held in the Reading Room at the University’s ALEX building in Swansea this week.  During the event, contributions were made by Professor Medwin Hughes, Vice-Chancellor of UWTSD, Gabriela Ramos – UNESCO Assistant Director-General, Steven Hartman – Executive Director of UNESCO-BRIDGES and Carlos Alvarez Pereira, Vice President, Club of Rome.

BRIDGES is a new UNESCO initiative now moving forwards as a sustainability science coalition proposed for integration in their MOST (Management of Social Transformations) intergovernmental science programme. The intention of the coalition is to better integrate humanities, social science, and local and traditional knowledge perspectives into research, education and action for global sustainability through development and coordination of resilient responses to environmental and social changes at local and territorial scales.

Director of the new BRIDGES Hub at UWTSD is Dr Luci Attala.  She said:

“This is a very exciting development and I'm delighted that UNESCO has chosen UWTSD and recognised what the university has to offer.

We had a wonderful launch event and I’d like to thank everybody for their support and informative contributions throughout the day.  I'm now looking forward to supporting UWTSD staff to collaborate with an international network of scholars actively seeking solutions to today's pressing global issues and promoting sustainability science.”

Jose Manuel Sauna Mamatacan, representative of the Kogi indigenous people in Colombia at UWTSD

As part of the first UNESCO BRIDGES initiative a radical new ecological project led by an indigenous Colombian community was also launched on the day.  Those present had an opportunity to hear from the University’s Professor of Practice, Prof. Alan Ereira, and Jose Manuel Sauna Mamatacan, representative of the Kogi indigenous people in Colombia. 

The aim of this ambitious three-year project is to restore an area of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in Colombia to its once flourishing state. It will draw entirely on traditional knowledge and forms of understanding unknown to academic science. It will be carried out in partnership with scientists based in Europe observing, reporting, and learning from these proven techniques. This is an opportunity to learn in new ways, offering a route out of disaster. Colombia’s indigenous Kogi people will work with an ecologist and ethno-botanist to jointly regenerate degraded pieces of land, in particular dried water sources that are a result of modern exploitation. The vision is to provide a template for ecological transformation that could be replicated across the world. UNESCO BRIDGES is designed to bring together different forms of knowledge to provide sustainable solutions in this time of crisis.

Prof Alan Ereira, Founder/Chair of the Tairona Heritage Trust, producer/director of two films on the Kogi and Professor of Practice at UWTSD explains:

“As a documentary maker, I was used to encountering people who said "We need your help". The Kogi, desperately poor subsistence farmers whose whole society is off-grid, met me to say "You need our help". We need to be humble and learn, because they are so obviously right.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor added:

“I’m delighted that UWTSD will be part of the UNESCO Bridges initiative.  This is such an important development for the University to contribute to securing a network here in Wales and the UK that supports the sustainable science coalition.

UWTSD will be at the heart of this development as the UK hub and we will be celebrating the importance of the Humanities connecting communities of practice and research. Together through interdisciplinarity opportunities we will really demonstrate the importance of working together to build coalitions of practice that places the Humanities and Social Sciences at the heart of sustainable discourse and conversations focussing on the priorities of the development goals set by governments across the world.

This is a key development for Wales and a key development for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.”

UNESCO BRIDGES Hub official launch event was held in the Reading Room at the University’s ALEX building in Swansea

Further Information

For more information please contact Arwel Lloyd, Principal PR and Communications Officer, on 01267 676663 / arwel.lloyd@uwtsd.ac.uk