06 April 2019

On April 6, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, the Co-President of the Club of Rome delivered COME ON UKRAINE! lecture in MIM-Kyiv. The lecture was a part of MIM’s 30th Anniversary Year.

“In the old world economic activities were easy. If you wanted more fish you had to make more boats and hire more fishermen. Nowadays, if you want to fish you must develop fishing-free zones,” Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, the former member of the Bundestag, Co-Chair of the International Panel on Sustainable Resource Use, Co-President of the Club of Rome, and one of the most influential critics of neoliberalism, said.

Prof. Vyacheslav Pokotylo, MIM-Kyiv’s vice-president and Victor Halasuk, the president of the Ukrainian Association of the Club of Rome welcomed the attendees of the lecture. Victor Andrusiv, managing director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future moderated Q&A session.

70 – 80 years ago we lived in the world of unlimited nature and the small human race. Nowadays, the population tripled compared with 1941 whereas resources are getting scarce. Dr. Weizsäcker said that we needed 5 more Earths to secure the benefits of the “golden billion” for all people on the planet. He spoke about two options available – keeping the best for the few or developing technologies which could save resources and thus help increase business profits.

For example, it takes a ton of water and a ton of CO2 and a kilogram of metal to manufacture a kilo of textile. However, if resource consumption of such manufacturing could be reduced 5 times it would positively affect both the bottom line and environment. He believes that optimizing resource consumption is among the best investment opportunities. In his opinion, financial markets will drive innovations.

It takes public sector legislative activities to make those changes happen. He also strongly believes in creating a legal framework which makes long-term perspective profitable. According to Dr. Weizsäcker the legal framework should promote minimizing on resources. He illustrated the idea by the extremely unpopular at that moment environmental reform of the German Bundestag when fuel prices were going up whilst labor costs were going down. As a result 300,000 jobs were created.

Dr. Weizsäcker believes in sharing economy. He thinks that if we could share cars we could share the resources. For example aircraft companies will lease aluminium and when planes’ useful lives are over return the metal.

In his opinion, the responsible consumption generates new aesthetics when elegance dominates the splurge. Responsibility, legal framework and culture will nurture such attitude.