Rio Conference Blog

1 to 20: The future we choose

0 Comments 19 Juni 2012

Nobel Laureates, political decision-makers, scientists as well as representatives of the young generation came together for an intergenerational dialogue that was organized by the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. King Carl Gustaf of Sweden himself opened this exciting high-level dialogue forum.

King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden

This event was definitely one of the most insightful I attended so far. With good interventions from the panelists and a strong audience challenging the panel. The participants not only represented different sectors but also different generations. The topics that were discussed ranged from what science can tell us about the transition towards a sustainable future, to how to create more awareness for sustainable consumption among the young generation…

My notes are actually filling seven pages. So what was the thing that struck me most at this event?

Walter Kohn, 1998 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

I think, it was when one of the Nobel Laureates stood up from the audience to say that no matter what document you produce it has to be understood by all people. Referring to the Declaration from the High-level Dialogue on Global Sustainability that was presented at the session, Walter Kohn claimed that if we want to reach out to people messages have to be comprehensible and readable. He doubted that a bus driver in L.A. would stand the test of completely understanding the document that was just produced.

James Balsillie, co-Founder of Blackberry

The panel as well as the audience included high-level participants, such as Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland, and Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, Urmas Paet, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia and Professor Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway

Maybe it was due to the presence of the numerous high-level representatives from the Nordic countries that the conference room was cooled down to Arctic temperatures. Thanks to the intervention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia that they eventually turned the AC completely off. Sometimes the UN just doesn’t seem to be a good role model for sustainability.

Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of the Earth Summit 1992 and twelve-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez


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