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  6. Sustainability Council Visits Volkswagen Innovation Days and Strengthens Future Dialogue

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Sustainability Council joins Volkswagen Innovation Days

Sustainability Council Visits Volkswagen Innovation Days

The Sustainability Council of the Volkswagen Group accompanies the transformation of the company with its activities. In May and June the Council spoke about the challenges of commuter mobility, met the Group’s stakeholders for dialogue, learned about innovation within the Group and advanced its own projects.

Sustainability Council Discusses New Solutions For Commuter Mobility With Stakeholders

Stakeholder in dialogue with World Café host Open Source Lab on how data will shape new intermodal mobility solutions at ITF Summit Event of the Sustainability Council on Commuter Mobility

Today, commuting is a major challenge for cities, businesses and their employees. Only a joint effort of the affected cities, mobility providers, companies, science and commuters themselves can solve this problem. In order to initiate an overarching dialogue, the Council members Yves Leterme, Michael Sommer and Gesche Joost invited representatives of these stakeholders to a dialogue event in Leipzig. The question: How can the involved parties work together to develop new sustainable and intermodal mobility solutions for commuting?

Five flagship projects provided fresh impetus: Cubic Transportation Systems with its one-account solution, Wolfsburg AG with its Task Force Transport, Arup with its approach to integrated mobility, Scania with its mobility offer for employees Scania Go! as well as regiomove with their concept for regional mobility from one source. In a World Café format, the participants discussed successively the perspectives "city", "commuter" and "data" (the discussions were conducted by the city of Leipzig, the ADAC and the Open Source Lab - a project of the Sustainability Council). The findings from the discussions were brought together in a final plenary session.

The conclusion: It requires more cooperation between the actors, i.a. through public-private partnerships, explicit involvement of commuters in finding solutions and improved visibility of combinable transport options to enhance commuter traffic. In addition, especially young people should be won as users of new mobility services and solutions.

Georg Kell Spoke at the Volkswagen Group Stakeholder Dialogue

At the beginning of June, around 45 representatives from politics, civil society, the economy and the capital market met for the first national stakeholder dialogue with representatives of the Volkswagen AG management in Wolfsburg at the invitation of Group Sustainability. Representing the Sustainability Council, Georg Kell, spokesman for the Council, was on-site and got a chance to discuss the issues raised by the various stakeholder groups.

Georg Kell speaking on the transition of Volkswagen and the importance of working together for common goals at the Volkswagen Group Stakeholder Dialogue

The main topics of the event were the diesel crisis, integrity and cultural change, decarbonisation and electrification, sustainable supply chains and human rights due diligence. The program consisted of brief presentations, stakeholder inputs, and a Leadership Q & A, where stakeholders addressed their questions directly to senior management. In addition, stakeholders were given the opportunity to deepen the content of selected topics in small working groups. Overall, the event was received very positively and offered external and internal participants space to exchange views and opinions on current initiatives and positions of the Volkswagen Group.

In his closing remarks Georg Kell praised the quality and objectivity of the contributions to the discussion as well as by the openness of all participants. He also highlighted the historic and industry-politic significance of the paradigm shift at Volkswagen and with which Volkswagen and its employees are one of the first major corporations. He gave the stakeholders an essential role and said, "The rest of the world is not ready yet. Here you can all participate in a historic turnaround!"

Future Mobility Days Gave Council Members Insights into Current Group Innovation Projects

The Council members Yves Leterme, Georg Kell, Margo T. Oge and Michael Sommer (from right) get insights into sustainable material concepts

The Volkswagen Group Innovation sets the course for the mobility of the future. It promotes fundational research, identifies relevant trends, thinks ahead and acts as an incubator and driver of ideas for the entire company. At Future Mobility Days, Group Innovation provides exclusive insights into current projects.

As in the previous year, the Sustainability Council was invited to learn about the variety of Group's innovation projects and to get in touch with Volkswagen's researchers. The Council members Margo T. Oge, Georg Kell, Michael Sommer and Yves Leterme were welcomed by Axel Heinrich, Head of Volkswagen Group Innovation, and introduced to the new structure of the former Group research. Bita Daryan, Innovation Strategy Manager, accompanied the Councils through the presentation of innovation projects.

The regional approach, the great innovative strength, and the sustainability focus of the shown projects particularly impressed the Council members.

Council Project on Sustainable Transport Policy Instruments Presents Interim Results

Participants of the midterm workshop of the Next Generation Policies project
© MCC

The following day, the four Council members traveled to Berlin to meet with the teams of two Council projects in Berlin. In the morning, the various project partners of the Next Generation Policies project reported on their current research on the effectiveness of various policy instruments for sustainable mobility.

Ottmar Edenhofer informed his fellow Council members about the existing findings on CO2 pricing and the current state of discussions in Germany. The Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) highlighted the environmental, health and financial effects of no-driving zones and scrapping premiums. In this context, the Swiss Paul Scherrer Institute also described the elements of the underlying CO2 life cycle analyzes. As the third project partner, the researchers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research presented their findings on the relevance of synthetic fuel for a sustainable economy.

In addition to the critical discussion of the current state of research, the next project steps were discussed. At the end of August, the research results will be published as part of two Policy Briefs. So far, three publications of the project are available online for download.

The Next Generation Policies project examines the effectiveness of various policy instruments to promote sustainable mobility and different decarbonisation strategies. The project is a collaboration of the Mercator Research Institute for Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). At the heart of the chosen approach is the realization that policymaking without credible policy assessment can not be improved.

More information about the project

Workshop talk about Open Mobility with the Open Source Lab

Georg Kell, Margo Oge, Yves Leterme (from the back left) und Michael Sommer (front right) at the project workshop with the Open Source Lab
© Open Source Lab

In the afternoon, the Open Source Labs team reported on their latest activities and projects. First, the results of the last panel discussion with experts on the topic of emission-free cities were presented (Volkswagen reported), which has now been published as part of a discussion paper.

Besides that, the team from the Open Source Lab presented the first steps and considerations for an Open Souce-based CO2 tracker. The CO2 tracker is an app that allows people to document their mobility-related CO2 emissions and better understand them. The goal is to increase the transparency of one's own ecological footprint and to point out alternatives.

Further more, the current study of local, digital mobility solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa regarding open source and open data was presented. The Open Source Lab team identified a surprising number of innovative, community-driven approaches and projects. The Council members shared their perspectives and experiences on the topics presented and provided feedback on the further development of existing ideas. In addition, they suggested a closer cooperation with the respective departments at Volkswagen.

In the coming weeks and months, the team will work on a taxonomy to highlight the different levels of openness in mobility. In addition, the forms of cooperation between private and public actors for new mobility solutions will be in the foreground.

The Open Source Lab on Sustainable Mobility is a think tank project based in Berlin. It was initiated by the Volkswagen Sustainability Council and is implemented by the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). In addition to assisting the Council, the Lab serves to facilitate a broad public dialogue on sustainable mobility, involving a range of stakeholders. The lab uses design research methods and provides an open platform for interdisciplinary research and knowledge sharing.

More about the Open Source Lab's activities on the blog