On the 25th of April 2012, Worldwatch Institute Europe had the pleasure of hosting members of our parent organization from the United States at the launch of the State of the World 2012 report. In addition, representatives from other significant groups of stakeholders in Europe's environmental direction were present to participate in a lively panel discussion.
Among our guest speakers was Erik Assadourian, the project director for State of the World 2012, who spoke at length about the need for economic degrowth alongside green growth. This was all placed in the context of the impact of our consumer culture on the carrying capacity of the earth, and the need to transform that culture in aid of sustainable prosperity.
Also speaking was Robert Engelman, president of Worldwatch Institute. His presentation covered the area of population and its obvious impacts on human ecology and sustainable development. In particular, the theme of women's rights figured prominently in his analysis of how to control the world's population before ecological pressures exert its own unpleasant control on our numbers. A question poignantly posed was - "how many people would be born if women only gave birth to children who they planned to have?"
Following Robert, was Bo Normander, director of the european office, who covered a topic close to his own heart - that of biodiversity. It was on this topic that he contributed a chapter to the State of the World 2012 report, and we learned of its importance, not just for its own sake, but in the broader historical context of mass extinctions.
The speakers were followed by a question and answer session, followed by a short break. When everyone returned, there were further (shorter) presentations given by representatives from Germanwatch, a partner organization, the Danish United Nations Association, representing a UN perspective, and Moller-Mærsk, representing the business perspective.
Following those brief presentations, a lively panel discussion followed where the various speakers were allowed to question, and answer each other, as well as take questions from the audience.
Finishing off the day, a member of our very own board of directors Øystein Dahle spoke some wise words, and summed up nicely with "Growth is the economy of the cancer cell. The last 50 years have been about human rights, now we must move to human obligations. Climate change is not the problem - the planet has a fever - it is merely a symptom of a bigger problem"