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“We now focus on engaging stakeholders from the outset” - Juliane Dziumla on her Career and UNU-FLORE’S Sustainability Approach

The opening ceremony of elbMUN 2024 was enriched by interesting speeches and presentations by several guests of honor. These included Juliane Dziumla from UNU-FLORES, the United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Flows and Resources. We had the opportunity to interview her after the ceremony.

As the UNU-FLORES Associate Sustainability Officer, Dziumla is responsible for the institute’s environmental inventory and sustainability performance. She also coordinates projects related to sustainable development and its regional implementation alongside a wide range of stakeholders.

Dziumla is passionate about sustainability and is dedicated to working towards a greener future. Prior to joining UNU-FLORES, she worked in the Business Development department of the recycling company TerraCycle, where she produced business proposals for new recycling products, and then as a marketing assistant for HOGA Schools. In her role as an academic coordinator, Dziumla led a UNU-FLORES/UNEP project on sustainable infrastructure in Chile. She is also conducting Doctoral Research in the field of innovative urban agriculture. As part of her study, Dziumla focuses on vertical farming and its potential to support sustainable food production and assist in the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.

You transitioned from a background in business development and marketing to a focus on sustainability. What motivated you to make this change? Was there a particular inspiration or experience that influenced your decision? Could you share some details about your background and what led you to this path?

Juliane Dziumla: I find it impressive that you are aware of my CV. Sustainability has always been my passion. During my media studies and work for newspapers, I consistently chose topics related to sustainable development and animal rights. After completing my bachelor's degree, I felt the need for a stronger theoretical background, so I pursued studies in that field. Interestingly, it would have been challenging to switch fields in Germany, but studying abroad made the transition easier.

During your speech at the opening ceremony, you mentioned a period when you would submit scientific reports to policymakers and they would not review them. How has your role evolved since then, and what challenges have you encountered along the way?

Juliane Dziumla: When I started at UNU-FLORES in 2018, we had a policy brief series that aimed to translate our research into policy packages and recommendations for policymakers. However, we found that these were not being utilized as expected. One reason might be that, despite our affiliation with the UN, we were perceived as outsiders without authority over government actions. This made it challenging to have our work taken seriously, even with solid research backing it. 

Since then, we've shifted our approach, as demonstrated in our project on sustainable infrastructure in Chile. We now focus on engaging stakeholders from the outset, especially in the political sphere, which requires building long-term relationships. This method has proven more effective than just producing policy briefs. Our goal is to help policymakers understand the topics that should be on their agenda and support them in enhancing sustainability efforts. This evolution in our approach has made a significant impact.

What future projects are you looking forward to, and which ones are you particularly excited about?

Juliane Dziumla: I'm particularly enthusiastic about my research. I'm fortunate to be pursuing my PhD at UNU-FLORES, and focusing on vertical farming. As I mentioned in my presentation, the agricultural sector is a critical area for improvement in terms of resource use. Vertical farming offers the potential for more sustainable agriculture and resilient food systems, which is the focus of my work.

In addition to my research, we have projects both internationally and with the city of Dresden in this field, and I'm excited to contribute to these initiatives.

Pareel Amre and Anna Abraham


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