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Science and Policy: Dialogue in Durban

12/06/2011 - Leading policy-makers and researchers met today in Durban to urge climate negotiators to acknowledge scientific findings and address the sustainability challenge. Amongst the participants of this dialogue were Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa and Co-Chair of the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, and the European Union’s Climate Comissioner Conny Hedegaard, as well as Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Nicholas Stern from the London School of Economics. The event was hosted by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute.
Science and Policy: Dialogue in Durban

South Africa's president Zuma and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, president of the COP 17 climate summit in Durban, at the high-level dialogue between policy and science. Photo: K. Gullason / Stockholm Environment Institute

“Staying below 2°C global warming is not just an environmental goal, but a crucial development goal,” said Schellnhuber. “Beyond that line, the world could cross many tipping points, like the meltdown of the big ice sheets and the disruption of the Asian and African monsoon systems.” Global sustainability issues “cannot be delayed by endless political wrangling,” said Nicholas Stern. All countries have to move away from carbon-intensive energy production. “Given the disparities in wealth and resources in our world, however, it is clear that developed countries will have to take the lead in terms of finance, technology and investment, recognising that doing so benefits them as well; it will help secure the future of our planet and our species.”

The meeting built on the third Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability, held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm this May. This series of “Nobel Cause” conferences had been initiated by Schellnhuber in 2007. Each of these events is gathering some fifty of the world’s most renowned thinkers and experts on global sustainability, half of them Nobel Laureates. This year, they drafted a memorandum which got handed in person to the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability appointed by the UN Secretary General, to feed into the preparations of Durban and the Rio+20 summit in 2012.


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