When we think about international environmental conferences, similar pictures come to our minds: experts flying in to chic venues, abundance of good food and long discussions of impacts that are hard to gauge. Which brings us to the question: do we really need to launch the tradition of another yearly environmental conference in Europe?
Dr. Harry Lehmann, who conceived the idea of the European Resources Forum, thinks that the answer is certainly yes.
Before heading for the first sessions of the ERF in Berlin, my colleague Tanaka Tabassum and I spoke to Dr Lehmann on his motivation for “another” environmental conference. As well as leading the planning division of the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), Dr. Lehmann is a veteran in the field of sustainability policy with an academic background in physics.
Clearly, this is not a man who builds castles in the sky.
“This is one small step on a long journey.” Dr Lehmann is realistic while still optimistic about the future: “It is good to have you, the younger generation here as well. I will be here for 10 more years or so after which I will have to pass on the torch to the younger scientists that will be part of your generation.
We brought up concerns as to how the public and private sector and NGOs adopt different approaches towards a more sustainable future. Instead of finally joining forces and targeting the problem together, Dr. Lehmann interrupts, “This is why we are here. Politicians, NGOs and private companies are present. Well, not too many from the private sector, but next year we will have more. It is not enough to have typical scientists like myself with too many facts and figures. We need more practical approaches.”
Watch our interview with Dr Lehmann talking about why Europe needs its own resource efficiency conference.
Tanaka Tabassum contributed reporting from Berlin.