Scientists call for World Council for Sustainability

Lüneburg. Scientists and scholars from all over the world increasingly doubt that national governments will be able to agree on a global policy on sustainability. At the 3-day Sustainability Summit of Leuphana University of Lüneburg, environmental and sustainability experts from 50 countries jointly spoke out in favor of the creation of an assertive global environmental organization and a council for global sustainability. They call for an international definition of wealth and the limits to growth. They strongly advocate changing the circumstances of today's world economy and finance industry in a manner that makes sustainable economic activity a must. Science should assume a more active role in developing solutions for global problems. In addition, educational efforts for sustainable development should be intensified.
20 years after the first United Nations Conference on Climate and Development in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, scientists consider previous efforts to increase sustainability as having failed. Instead, new research findings show that environmental destruction is increasing dramatically. For example, worldwide emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases rose by 45 percent between 1990 and 2010. The scientists attending the Leuphana Sustainability Summit are also strongly convinced that global social inequality is getting worse. Today the richest 10 percent of the world's population own more than 85 percent of the world's wealth.

Contributions submitted at the Lüneburg Conference show that scientifically proven findings regarding climate change, species die-off, economic and social crises have been available to some extent for years. However, up to now these findings have failed to prevent further unchecked environmental deterioration. "The problem lies in the lack of willingness to come to the right conclusions and implement a consistent policy on sustainability", says Prof. Dr. Heinrichs, Chairman of the Leuphana Conference. Science could play a major role, added Heinrichs. It must assume responsibility and develop practicable and feasible solutions to problems jointly with decision makers in business, politics and society.

In June this year, the next World Conference on Sustainable Development will take place in Rio de Janeiro. Attendees of the Lüneburg Sustainability Summit have only little hope that the Rio Conference will bring about a breakthrough. Instead, they expect to see only little progress, if at all. Professor Heinrichs is strongly convinced that "in view of the complex problems and the urgent need to take action, this will not be sufficient to ensure global transition to sustainable development. What we need is a turnaround. It can only be successful if countries like Germany continue to play a pioneering role.