Lüneburg. Scientists from around the world have increasing doubts that national governments will be able to agree on a global sustainability policy. At a three-day sustainability summit at the Leuphana University Lüneburg, environmental and sustainability experts from 50 nations were unanimously in favour of creating a strong and effective world environmental organisation and a council for global sustainability. They call for an international agreement on the limits of growth and a definition of prosperity. They advocate changing the parameters of the global economy and financial industry so that companies must manage their businesses sustainably. In future scientists and researchers should themselves take on a more active role in developing solutions for global problems. The efforts in education for a sustainable development should also be intensified.
Twenty years after the first UN conference on climate and development in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, scientists and researchers consider present efforts to achieve more sustainability as failed. In fact, existing research shows that the destruction of the environment has continued to dramatically increase. Emissions of harmful greenhouse gases between 1990 and 2010 increased by 45 per cent world-wide. Social inequality in the world has also, according to scientific studies, has been further aggravated. Today the richest 10 per cent of the world population dispose of over 85 per cent of the world’s wealth.
The Lüneburg conference proceedings confirm that there have been scientific findings on climate change, species extinction, economic and social crises, in some cases for years. They have however so far been unable to prevent the unabated destruction of the environment. “The problem is the lack of willingness to draw the proper conclusions and implement them in a rigorous sustainability policy”, says conference chair Professor Harald Heinrichs from Leuphana. Science has a key role to play here, Heinrichs continues. It must take on responsibility and together with decision-makers in business, politics and society develop realistic and practical solutions.
In June of this year, there is another world conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro. The participants of the Lüneburg sustainability summit have little hope that there will be a break-through there. They predict that at most small advances will be achieved. “Given the complex problems and the great pressure to take action, this will not be enough to finally make the transition to a globally supported sustainable development”, Heinrichs is convinced. “What we need is a trend reversal. This can only happen if countries like Germany continue to take on a leading role”.