Language is an interesting device. It helps us communicate with each other, share our ideas, thoughts, feelings. Yet, more often than not, all of the above get lost in a morass of misinterpretations and misunderstandings. The concept of sustainability isn’t safe from this either. It’s easy to overuse the S-word these days.
Often times we find ourselves using words simply in (or rather out of) context: the green economy, resource efficiency, hybrid environmentally friendly cars and free range poultry. At the 2012 European Resources Forum, I got a chance to catch up with Mr. Schmid-Bleek, the founding president of the Factor 10 Institute – a group of academics who study global resource productivity and sustainability. We discussed the issue of resource use in today’s world. Unfortunately for us, he stated that “We live in a civilization that forces us to destroy nature to further our own ends.” This creates a market which values “efficiency” of resources rather than the actual intensity of resources used. (more…)
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.