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The Good Council: Malina Dumke and Thais Corral

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Intro: Hello, and welcome to The Good Council, the podcast of the World Future Council. In each episode, we’ll highlight current challenges and policy solutions. And we’ll also take you on a journey of inspiring stories. Listen in to another of our intergenerational dialogues from around the globe.

Annika:

My name is Annika, I’m 25 years old, and I’m a consultant at the World Future Council. In this episode, I’m speaking with Maria Fernanda Espinosa, who is one of the Councillors of the World Future Council. On 5 June 2018, she was elected as President of the United Nations 73rd General Assembly, as only the fourth woman to hold that office in UN history.

Maria Fernanda has more than 20 years of experience in international negotiations and multilateral issues, such peace, sustainable development, women’s rights, and biodiversity. She was a Permanent Representative to the UN in New York and later in Geneva. She has also served as Minister of Natural Heritage and Minister of Foreign Affairs on two occasions.

Today, I’m delighted to learn more about her as a person, as well as her work and mission in life, including her amazing engagement within the World Future Council!

Annika: Good morning, Maria, how are you?

Maria: I’m very well and very pleased to be with you, Annika!

Annika: Well, I’m very pleased that you are here and that you’re taking the time out of your very busy schedule. It’s a pleasure to have this conversation, thanks so much.

Maria: No, I have to thank you.

Annika: Thank you.

So let’s start with a brief look into your childhood. What was that like? And in what way has it shaped who you are?

Maria: Well, first of all, I grew up with three brothers and in that, I think was very important to shape my personality. It was I had a mother, she of course, was my role model, very independent, very strong, very much in charge, self-educated, because in my mom’s generation, and women didn’t go to university, they just got married and had children, but she prepared, self-educated herself. And she was an independent, a very successful businesswoman. And then very much in charge of our household, even though there was very much like a male accent—my dad, very traditional, conventional, and my three brothers. So the team was my mom and I and, she made sure that I had the strength, the independence, and the voice, with my three brothers, of course, but in the family and outside the family as well. So I would say my childhood was a happy childhood.

A little tough on the school front, because at the time, when I grew up, there was no idea about what today we call bullying. And at the time, we didn’t have that category. But, uh, now that I—you know, I think about the past, in a way, I realized that, yes, I was subject to bullying, because I was different: I had a lot of freckles, red hair and I was left-handed. And so I wasn’t—when you are a kid, the only thing you want is to be exactly the same as your peers and classmates. So I had this problem of writing with my left hand. And I was different, you know, my physically different because of freckles and I had all kinds of nicknames and all of that. But my mom was extremely supportive. At when I grew up, there was this idea that writing with your left hand was a bad habit, and that you need you needed to fix it and use your right hand, that was the right thing to do. And my mom was extremely, extremely strict at school saying, “My daughter’s left-handed, just let her do and don’t force her to use her right hand”. These are things that, you know, may appear unimportant, but they were, and I think all these elements shaped my personality as a as a very strong person. And, and I think it had a, you know, a strong impact on my future and in my career and life choices.

Annika: I can imagine. I would have never guessed but then you’d never know these things about someone else until you ask great, right! But what a story, looking at where you are now and who you are. And it’s a really powerful lesson for everyone who’s listening and maybe goes through the same struggles in their childhood.

So, if you look at your really successful career in politics and international diplomacy, is there anything you’d like to tell your younger self?

Maria: Well, I think one of the moments in my life when I was growing up, that were extremely important for my future is—very early, I don’t remember how old I was, my mom, something happened and she came and said, “listen, no one is going to knock on your door and tell you, here you have this opportunity. You have to fight for it, you have to shape your own future in a way”. And in I think that was so transforming in a way, I always knew that I had to fight for my dreams, and to follow my principles and values and to put all my passion and energy on the things that I wanted to do and change and transform. And when I was a child, my favorite, you know, game to play—very strange!—but I had my cousins and my brothers. So I would always organize school. And I was playing as if I was a teacher, teaching things, you know, and I think what this was also a landmark in my life in terms of being able to share, to learn, to interact, that I think was very important for the advocacy work I started very early in my career, supporting indigenous peoples on their rights and struggles; being an activist on the environmental front, in a very early stages of my professional career as well. And I started working and living with indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon for a long time. Then I went to work for IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature], I became the regional director and I started to really shape my international career.

But I really started, you know, touching the ground living in the Amazon, learning amazing things in worldviews, from indigenous people, especially Indigenous women. And then I started to go into different scales, working at the national level, then internationally, and that also shaped my diplomatic career. But I think it’s always important to go back to the roots to remind yourself over and over again, what are you, what is that you’re fighting for? For the dignity of people, for human security, for planetary security, for a different way of shaping our societies and the way we relate to nature, the way we relate to our environment as a global commons. And so I think that it’s a process, nothing happens by a miracle, especially for us, for women.

I think you have to craft your own life and your own future, and be very mindful that we still live in a world that is not gender equal, that has transexual inequalities, when you’re a woman from the global south, and a woman of color. And it’s, I would say, a tougher struggle. But it’s worthwhile. You have to pursue your dreams. I’m convinced.

Annika: Thank you. You touched on many issues there that I’d like to get back to in the course of the interview—fantastic teaser: inequalities, how it is being a woman on the international stage—but first I’d like to ask is, you joined the World Future Council in 2012. Why did you join the World Future Council and why do you care about the rights of future generations?

Maria: Well, 2012—I was then the Minister of cultural and natural heritage, a working a very, very hard to ensure that our policies and our interventions on the ground brought together culture and nature and that we basically, through the right policies, erased these artificial wall between culture and nature in a way and it’s strongly working to recover our heritage as a nation, and the inextricable connection between our cultural diversity with our biological diversity. So I was working on that as a minister, and I received the invitation from the World Future Council. And I really was fascinated by the work of the Council for two reasons.

First of all, this emphasis on assessing, looking, exploring at right policies for sustainable development and how the right policies, the right legislation, can really bring transformation and change in a country, but beyond a country. So, I really—this public policy, right policy approach, I really like that.

And the number two, of course, is this concept of transgenerational justice in a way. Transgenerational justice, when you are an environmentalist, it’s absolutely critical. Because this harmony between nature, the economy and politics can only happen if you think about the future generations and the legacy that you’re going to leave to future generations. So, I fell in love very quickly, with the mission, the vision of the World Future Council, and I accepted. And I’ve been so privileged that I have been re-elected as a Councillor a few times now. And now very soon, I’m going to have my 10th birthday, being part of the World Future Council family, and I feel very, very proud of being part of the family being part of the mission and being part of the transformative work that the World Future Council does every day.

Annika: Well, and we are very, very lucky to have you. So, thanks so much for all the wonderful support and the engagement that we enjoy having you! In a sentence though, in being a member with the World Future Council, what do you want to change in the world?

Maria: Well, I think that the World Future Council is a very powerful instrument to bring about transgenerational justice, especially transgenerational environmental justice. But at the same time, I think it is the right setting and the right means to make sure that we contribute, even if a little bit, to empower young people to have their own voices, to be the change makers that they want to be and that they deserve to be. So basically, this contribution, to both transgenerational environmental justice, but also to work on the right policies, policy decisions, and legal scaffolds, to build a true sustainable development for all, leaving no one behind, including the younger generations, I think that’s what the World Future Council brings.

Annika: Fantastic. So, I have to ask, though, because the challenges of our time are becoming increasingly evermore complex. Could please explain how all of these issues are interconnected: climate change, the rights of young people and women, and the destruction of natural habitats and peace? How are they interconnected?

Maria: I think, Annika, we live in a world of paradox. I am always amazed to see you know, the level of technological development that humanity has reached: the new technologies, the information and communication technologies, we are more interconnected. We know more, you know, the sophistication of science. The opportunity to access knowledge and technology. So, and yet, you know, we are unable to come up with a really holistic responses to these interconnected crises. You said it well, we are living a profound I would say, crisis of culture and civilization. Because as a society, we are unable to use what we have in our hands—in terms of knowledge, science, technology—to address and solve the critical issues, the critical challenge that humanity faces. And there is a strong connection basically, when you say the climate crisis, when you say the extinction crisis, when you say the inequalities crisis, that I often say is that these are symptoms of this dysfunctional system, in a way. So basically, what we need to fix, what we need to heal is the relationship between society, the economy, politics, and nature.

And one of the problems is the disconnection between the times of politics and the times of nature. Usually a politician, a head of State and government, you think about the next elections, you don’t think about the next generations, the future generations and other future elections. And usually, the time span for policy choices, for political decision making are four or five years. The cycles of nature are longer, they do require long-term planning, long term vision, responsibility with future generations.

And I also think that we are living a very particular moment in humanity’s life because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been just a synonym of loss, of fear, of uncertainty about the future. But at the same time, it’s providing us an opportunity to build forward better, to rethink the way we as humans relate to other species, to have, you know, a true profound reconciliation, with nature. And this, you know, goes through rethinking our economy, a just start thinking about why is that we are so driven by greed, and by overconsumption. And these are issues that might seem you know, philosophical or abstract, but they are critical to fixing the path that we are shaping as humans. And I am stubborn optimist as late Kofi Annan used to say, and we are here because we can change course.

Of course, we need leadership. But you know, I’m not a person that believes in these messianic leaders that are going to come and fix everything for us. It’s shared leadership! It is exercising our role as citizens, as committed and responsible citizens, young change makers, academic scientists, the private sector, and of course, governments, but we cannot leave governments alone to fix all the problems that we are facing. Co-responsibility and co- building, I think are perhaps the keywords.

Annika: You mentioned something really interesting there. You wrote a recent article where you say, I quote, “addressing today’s inequities demands a far more comprehensive and critical assessment of underlying systemic forces. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women, for example, is a direct result of deeply entrenched patriarchal rules and norms that perpetuate segmented structures in the home, in the labor market and in the workplace”, and it ties in with the answer you gave before. Because it’s how we structure societies, isn’t it, that really is one of the root causes for all the inequities that we’re facing. But how can we change these systemic forces?

Maria: Well, as I said, in writing that article that you are citing Annika, basically there is no you know, the golden bullet, the one kind of answer and response. I think that many things that you need to tackle at the same time. One is for example, the inequities in income and opportunity. And for that, the right to a quality education that is inclusive, that has a gender perspective embedded; a part of what we learn everyday is so important, the way you grow up, family and the way you set up priorities and values in life is important. And not only the issue of education, but the issue of preconception and of prejudice, and the things that you naturalize: you feel that it is natural to have women having certain roles in society and men having, you know, other different roles; that it is natural, when you have the same qualifications than a perfect male professional, it is okay that you receive a lower salary, it’s fine—it is not fine! And in basically, we part of the role we have as citizens is just to say no, is just to raise our voices. And the same goes when we are looking at you know the most vulnerable in society, they have to have a voice, they have to be empowered.

And let’s think about any dysfunction in society: look at climate change, and look at the depletion of critical ecosystems, look at pandemics such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Who suffer the most? Of course, women and girls because of the staggering domestic violence because of lockdowns, etc.

When you look at the other health workforce, 73% of the health workforce, are women, at the forefront. But when you look at these national COVID response high level committees—or however they’re called—80% are men. So, men take the decisions, but women are at the forefront giving the service the attention, taking care of patients, etc, etc. And when you look at what is happening with women with disabilities, and the pandemic: women and these abilities and the impacts of climate change. So, I think that we are not in shortage of data or information of understanding and knowing that there is a there is a systemic inequality, multiple inequalities, transactional inequalities that cannot be naturalized, that need to be at the forefront, when we take decisions at all levels, within our family at the domestic level, in public life, in legislation design, in public policy. In the work we do as advocates, as concerned citizens simply, and we have to raise our voices and just really be very serious about not letting it become part of the normal.

Annika: Right, and you mentioned the violence against women. That’s also a huge problem in many societies around the world. The World Future Council had a Future Policy Award on that, which you were a big part of, by organizing also a meeting of women in the embassy in Geneva, you also supported the World Future Council on the FPA on youth empowerment. Can I ask you; how can they actually help?

Maria: Well, I think that these Future Policy Awards are perhaps one of the shining outcomes of the footprint, I would say, of the World Future Council. I think it not only has a value because you acknowledge a country’s people, local governments that are doing the right thing in terms of sustainable development, but it also sets the example the good practice in order to be shared with others. And I would say when you look at the bank of the policies that have won the award, basically, you have a collection of good practices that I’m sure that have had an impact in other regions, in other places with other stakeholders that have learned from the good policies that the World Future Council is acknowledging. So basically, what I think it’s one of the footprints, of the one of the identity contributions of the World Future Council.

Annika: So, in your work with the World Future Council, you are also one of the Co-Chairs of the Commission on Rights of Children and Youth. And you were also on the panel at the launch event of the world future councils Youth Forum, Youth:Present—which this intergenerational dialogue between you me is also a part of—what do you think about the activities, and political and civic participation of young people today?

Maria: Well, I cannot even imagine a to have a collective responsibility for improving and reshaping our world, for building forward better, for reconciling and making peace with nature, without the agency, without the intelligence, without the creativity of younger generations. And sometimes, you know, in my long life and career, sometimes you worry because it’s, it’s nice to have, you know, to have a young person and to tick the box and to say, “Yes, they are part of this table, dialogue, conversation, etc”. And I have learned, and I am, every day, I am more convinced that they are fundamental actors in whatever we need to do.

If you look at the younger generations, young leaders, young professionals, they are essentially interconnected. And they are creative, engaged, committed. And basically that what we need, is the food, the precondition for transformation, for improving the way we relate to each other as humans, but we relate to our environment, to our Earth system in a way. And what is challenging, I would say, is to go from tokenistic engagement of young leaders and changemakers, to naturalize that whatever decision is taken in the multilateral arena, in national decision-making, at the local level, young changemakers, young actors have to be part and parcel of the decision making. And I know how much quality, how much legitimacy, decisions that are taken in this intergenerational form have, so with it’s a win-win. And it is a precondition for successful and lasting, wise decision making.

Annika: Do you have a piece of advice that you could pass on to young people today?

Maria: Well, basically, I would say that don’t be afraid. I think audacity drive, commitment, engagement is extremely important. When you look at young people in my own region in Latin America, you see that, unfortunately, younger generations, they don’t want to get involved in politics, for example, they are afraid, because sometimes, politics and political lives, especially for women, and young women, it’s like a scary, scary choice, a scary place. It’s tough. I’m not saying that it’s not difficult, but don’t shy away from politics from, you know, being engaged from raising your voices, from being active. And really, you know, convince yourself that you are capable of shaping and crafting a better, better world—in the present and in the future.

If it’s the world of politics, if it’s the world of academia, if it’s the world of advocacy, of civil society engagement of working in the private sector, wherever you are, you have to feel that you are changemakers, that you have a responsibility, and you need to be engaged. Especially, and here I’m speaking specially to young women changemakers, we need more women in power. I have met so many in my life, and they are really making the world shake, in a way—the Greta Thunbergs of the world in a way and the more you raise your voices, I think it the better the world and world leaders are going to respond wiser, in a wiser way I would say.

Annika: Recently, you also participated at the UN Generation Equality Forum in Paris. And in advance of the event, you spoke about the need to tackle issues, like gender-based violence and inequalities that women and girls are facing. Do you know of any policy solutions that you can share with us?

Maria: Absolutely. And here, again, this paradox I was mentioning, Annika, because we are not lacking knowledge, data or understanding what is happening. The whole Generation Equality Forum was about commemorating the landmark Beijing Declaration in Platform for Action—26 years ago. And when you go back and look at the commitments or the documents that came out of Beijing, it’s clearly you know, a roadmap on gender equality, and women’s rights. And you see that there’s a huge implementation gap. Lots of words, but very little actions. And when you look at the numbers, you see, we you know, something is fundamentally wrong.

Why is that we still have 75% of world parliamentarians are men and only 25% are women and female? When you look at the pay gap between men and women, same capacity, same background, same experience—different salary. Why is it still happening, there is a pay gap, a gender pay gap of 20%. Automatically, women earn 20% less, for the same job. You know, the arithmetic of gender inequality happen almost everywhere, in all areas of public life of the economy.

How many female CEOs are there, among the 500 biggest companies worldwide? So we still need to do, and to act to use the existing policy and legal scaffolds to really make changes and societal profound changes in all levels. Political violence against women—that’s why the younger generations are so afraid to get to be engaged into formal politics, because they know that the path towards having you know, positions of power in politics have high costs for us, for women. And I speak in a you know, with a lot of experience on that front.

And basically what are the things to do: is go from words to action, improve national legislation, we still have a big space for improvement in policy and legislation at the national level, but also be very serious about the multilateral decision-making regarding gender equality. The CSW, the Commission on the Status of Women, the existing human rights treaty bodies, CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of Women, as well. So there is a lot of space for policy improvement, for legislation improvement, but more importantly for action.

And the Generation Equality Forum was very much geared towards acting and geared towards these action Coalition’s on six fundamental issues of the of the agenda, including strengthening the feminist movements towards economic empowerment of women, and the fight against all forms of violence and discrimination.

The generation equality forum crafted a very important new instrument, which is a compact on women peace and security. The role of women in building peaceful societies, in being mediators of conflicts is extremely important. And here, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 is a very important instrument. But again, the shorthand of all of these is: deeds, not words.

Annika: What is it like being a woman in power?

Maria: Well, first of all, when I was president of the General Assembly, I had this initiative called Women in Power. And you know, of course, I invited female heads of state and government to New York, so they could exchange their own experiences as heads of state and government, but I also made sure that they could interact with younger activists and change makers, female, in terms in a way of sort of mentoring or exchanging. And basically, to have women in power is not only about having women in Parliament’s or women heads of state and government. Exercising power in all spaces of private and public life is what is going to transform our world, it is not only waiting, you know, to see when is that I am going to be a female parliamentarian, or I’m going to be, you know, the head of state etc.

It is about exercising your power, your wisdom, and in every space of your life. And you cannot be a different self in private and public, you have to be the same person, grab the opportunities, exercise your decision-making, your capacity.

When I was appointed Minister of Defense, I still have, you know, the reactions of some newspapers in my country. And they said why is that they’re appointing a poet to this position? They completely ignored, you know, my 25 years of professional career, and, you know, being a geographer, etc. No, they just picked up because it seemed like a weakness that you’re a woman, and a people not making comments about what I did, or I said, but the way I was, for example, the way I was dressing for an event, etc.

And so, it’s a tough call, and there are higher expectations, and people are more demanding when you are a female it is true, it happens, it does happen. And there are so many women out there, trailblazers, at breaking the glass ceiling, etc. And they have to perform and you have to perform it twice as well and twice as good as any male

The Good Council: Bonus Episode mit Prof. Herbert Girardet

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Intro: Hallo und herzlich willkommen bei The Good Council, dem Podcast des World Future Council. In jeder Folge werden wir aktuelle Herausforderungen und politische Lösungen aufzeigen. Und wir nehmen Sie mit auf eine Reise voller inspirierender Geschichten. Hören Sie sich einen weiteren unserer generationenübergreifenden Dialoge aus aller Welt an.    Annika: Mein Name ist Annika, ich bin Beraterin beim World Future Council. Und in dieser Folge spreche ich mit Herbert Girardet, einem der Mitbegründer und ehemaligen Programmdirektor des World Future Council. Herbert ist ein Kulturökologe, Autor und ehemaliger Filmemacher. Er hat als Berater für UN Habitat und UNEP gearbeitet und wurde mit einem UN Global 500 Award für herausragende Umweltleistungen ausgezeichnet.  In einer früheren Folge sprachen Herbie und ich über seine Kindheit und wie diese seine spätere Arbeit zur Sicherung unseres Planeten für künftige Generationen beeinflusst hat.   In dieser Bonus-Episode sprechen Herbie und ich über seine Arbeit an regenerativen Städten.   Annika: Du wirst als einer der weltweit führenden Autoren auf dem Gebiet der Kultur- und Stadtökologie bezeichnet und hast, wie du bereits erwähntest, mehrere Bücher darüber geschrieben. Warum genau konzentrierst du dich in deiner Arbeit auf Städte?  Herbie: Nun, wenn man sich die Geschichte der Menschheit ansieht, war sie im Grunde eine Geschichte von Lagern, wenn man so will, von Jägern und Sammlern, von Dörfern und kleinen Städten, und bis zur industriellen Revolution hatte die größte Stadt der Geschichte etwa eine Million Einwohner, nämlich Shahjahan, ein Vorläufer von Delhi oder dem alten Peking, und ein oder zwei andere Orte. Sie schafften es, auf etwa eine Millionen Menschen zu kommen, und das war sozusagen der Grenzwert. Und bevor London ab dem 18. Jahrhundert zu einer Stadt mit etwa 8 Millionen Einwohnern heranwuchs, kurz vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, hatte es eine Stadt dieser Größenordnung noch nie gegeben.  Annika: Herbie zog als junger Erwachsener nach London und begann schließlich für die BBC zu arbeiten, für die er unter anderem eine Serie namens Far From Paradise produzierte.   Herbert: Als ich mein Studium der Sozialanthropologie an der LSE beendete, dachte ich, es wäre gut, ein besseres Verständnis dafür zu bekommen, woher wir kommen, was die menschliche Evolution angeht, über die die Menschen nicht wirklich viel wissen. Also initiierte ich eine Fernsehserie für die BBC mit dem Titel Far From Paradise. Es dauerte eine ganze Weile, das Geld dafür aufzutreiben. Aber schließlich hatten wir Koproduzenten in Deutschland und in Österreich gefunden. So gelang es uns, ein Projekt auf die Beine zu stellen, eine siebenstündige Fernsehserie, in der wir versuchten, die Entwicklung der Menschheit von den frühesten Städten in Mesopotamien, im Irak, in Ur und Uruk, nachzuvollziehen und zu verstehen, was mit diesen Orten geschah, denn sie sind nicht mehr da; sie sind im Grunde genommen in Trümmerhaufen verschwunden. Wir haben also zunächst die Auswirkungen einer sich entwickelnden städtischen Zivilisation im Nahen Osten auf die Umwelt nachgezeichnet und dann die Auswirkungen von Athen auf seine Umwelt in Attika untersucht. Es gibt ein berühmtes Zitat von Platon, in dem er beschreibt, wie die Landschaft um Athen abgeholzt und in eine erodierte Landschaft verwandelt wurde, in der nur noch sehr wenig Nahrung wuchs. Dann haben wir uns die Auswirkungen Roms auf Nordafrika angesehen, denn Rom war auf riesige Mengen an Getreide aus Nordafrika angewiesen, um die Menschen in der Stadt zu ernähren. Und dann sind wir, wenn man so will, durch die Geschichte bis in die Gegenwart galoppiert und haben die Umweltauswirkungen der modernen Zivilisation, der industriellen und urbanen Zivilisation, in Europa, Amerika und anderswo untersucht. Es war also ein erstaunliches dreijähriges Projekt, wie ich schon sagte, sieben Stunden lang. Und ich war auch Mitautor des dazugehörigen Buches, das mein erstes bedeutendes Buch war, das dann auch in verschiedene andere Sprachen übersetzt wurde. Es war also ein wirklich faszinierendes Projekt. Und ich greife auch heute noch darauf zurück.  Annika: Far From Paradise zeichnet die menschliche Entwicklung von den frühesten Städten in Mesopotamien und im Irak nach und versucht zu verstehen, was mit diesen Orten passiert ist, da sie heute nicht mehr existieren. Ich habe ihn also gefragt, ob dies die Grundlage für seine Arbeit über Städte bildete.    Herbie: Zu einem gewissen Grad, ich meine, das kam größtenteils aus der Arbeit in London und dem Versuch, London als Europas größte Stadt zu verstehen, mit etwa 8 Millionen Einwohnern zu dieser Zeit – und sie wächst heute immer noch auf eine noch größere Zahl. Aber global gesehen ist es eine relativ kleine Stadt geworden, verglichen mit Shanghai oder Sao Paolo oder anderen Städten oder der indischen Stadt Mumbai, aber London war sicherlich die Pionier-Megastadt in Europa, die aus der industriellen Revolution im 18. und 19. Hervorkam. Es hat mich fasziniert, dort zu leben, aber auch zu verstehen, welchen Einfluss es auf den Rest der Welt hatte. Das hat mich dazu angeregt, über das nachzudenken, was man den “Stoffwechsel der Städte” nennen könnte, den Stoffwechsel einer urbanisierten Welt. Da Städte keine unabhängigen Einheiten sind, benötigen sie Ressourcen aus anderen Teilen des Planeten, und zwar in immer größeren Mengen. Das war also eine sehr anregende Sache, mit der ich mich beschäftigen wollte. So habe ich eine Studie über den Stoffwechsel Londons durchgeführt – gerade zu der Zeit, als London eine neue Verwaltung einrichtete – und herausgefunden, dass der ökologische Fußabdruck Londons, also die Fläche, die benötigt wird, um London zu ernähren, mit Holz zu versorgen und die Kohlendioxidemissionen zu absorbieren, etwa das 125-fache seiner Fläche beträgt. Es ist also eine riesige Fläche, die anderswo auf der Welt benötigt wird, um eine Großstadt wie London am Leben zu erhalten! Und natürlich gibt es jetzt 20 Megastädte mit [je] mehr als 10 Millionen Einwohnern auf der ganzen Welt, die alle einen riesigen Appetit auf Ressourcen aus anderen Teilen des Planeten haben. Daher ist die Frage, wie sich Städte und ein urbaner Planet auf die Biosphäre auswirken, etwas, mit dem ich mich in den Jahren nach dieser Dokumentarserie sehr beschäftigt habe.  Ich begann also, mich mit den Auswirkungen einer urbanisierten Welt auf die Umwelt zu befassen, und ich begann zu unterscheiden zwischen dem, was ich Agropolis nenne, also einer Stadt, die in ihr eigenes Hinterland eingebettet ist und alle Ressourcen aus der Umgebung bezieht. Das geht auf die Arbeit des deutschen Geographen [Johann] Heinrich von Thünen aus dem 19. Jahrhundert zurück, der gezeigt hat, dass eine Stadt ohne große Verkehrssysteme dazu neigt, ihre Ressourcen aus der Nähe zu beziehen: aus dem Ackerland, aus den Wäldern, aus der Umge

The Good Council: Annika Weis und Angelina Davydova

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Intro: Hello, and welcome to The Good Council, the podcast of the World Future Council. In each episode, we’ll highlight current challenges and policy solutions. And we’ll also take you on a journey of inspiring stories. Listen in to another of our intergenerational dialogues from around the globe.

Annika: Hello, everyone. My name is Annika, I’m working at the World Future Council. In this episode, I’m speaking with Angelina Davydova, a renowned journalist, civil society expert, educator, and changemaker with more than 20 years of experience in Russian and international media, international non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and academia. She is regarded as an expert in Russian climate and environmental policy, green civil society initiatives, and grassroots movements. She currently writes for publications such as Kommersant, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Klimaretter.info, the Science Magazine, and she’s also the main editor of the journal Ecology and law.

Hello, Angelina, thank you so much for being here today with me, it is a real pleasure for me to speak with you and to get to know you a little bit better.

Angelina: Hello, Annika. And thank you for having me.

Annika: Because our listeners and readers probably don’t know you yet: I was just going to ask you if someone wrote a biography about you, what would it say who you are and where you come from?

Angelina: Well, I come from St. Petersburg, Russia, which was called Leningrad at the time that I was born. And I like making this joke saying that I was born in the city and I was born in a country which does not exist anymore. So I was born in Leningrad, Soviet Union. And now it’s in Petersburg, Russia. I studied economics. But then I went into journalism, and I worked many years in journalism. And I still do that now as a freelance author for a number of publications, which you mentioned. But other than that, around 12 years ago, I discovered the topics of climate change and sustainable development, and environmental cooperation. And I felt like those were very important topics for me personally, but also for the world, on a global scale. And I got very interested and I get very excited. And when I get really interested in something, I just go and explore the field. And this is what I did.

And so at this very moment, I’m active in a number of sectors, which you mentioned, I write, I speak, I educate, I’m active in international cooperation programs. I’m trying to learn many things about the world and trying to learn the way the world is in various diverse aspects of this world … problems, solutions, what we can do, what has been done already, what works, what doesn’t work. And then I’m trying to pass this information along in various forms, in form of educational materials, or media products, or something else, like, our conversation is probably also one of these formats. And I’m also connecting a lot of people together to speak about, I don’t know—maybe my life’s mission, I always feel like, if I’m being asked about how is that I see myself, I would probably say, on one hand, I’m really learning about the world and spreading this information around. On the other side, I’m also someone who connects a lot of people, like, I know a lot of people and many people know me. So I feel like it’s very important to get people connected, but also somehow to make the whole communication smoother. So to moderate the meetings, talks, be it offline, or more often online now.

Annika: How is your childhood? And how has that made you who you are today?

Angelina: Well, I grew up in a country, which was changing on a daily basis. Like something which we believe to be true one day was not true, the next day, and I believe we had to adapt to these changes. And on one hand, I feel like I was growing up thinking, nothing is forever, and everything will change tomorrow. So, you have to be flexible, you have to be resilient. I didn’t know the word resilient then, I guess it didn’t exist in my world. And you have to—I don’t know—be able to change. On one hand, it does bring a lot of flexibility. And I feel like, say, I’m always learning. I’m always learning something new. On the other hand, it certainly brings along issues of trust. Like, who do you trust and what do you trust? Do you trust any institutions at all? How do you trust people? Those are still very important issues not only for me personally, but I feel like many people in my country and especially people of my generation all around. So I would say those particular historic conditions obviously shaped me into the way I am now.

Now speaking more about personal experiences, I’ve always loved reading. And I used to read a lot when I was a kid. I also used to invent a lot of stories; we actually used to play that game with my mom when she would start a story like a fairy tale. But those would be sometimes a fairy tales about, I don’t know, various very practical aspects of life, for example, a fairy tale about a plumber, who we saw out of the window. And so she would start this story, and then I was encouraged to continue the story and think of something happening. And I still love that. Even though I don’t write fiction and I don’t produce fiction—well, maybe one day I will—but it’s still something which I enjoyed a lot. And then I also remember in our summer house, like our dacha, outside of Leningrad, we also had a lot of world maps where various countries and continents were portrayed. And I would travel through them with my eyes thinking, “Oh, my God, maybe one day I’ll go to Africa or to South America and elsewhere”, because I was out there somewhere up in the north, in a little spot. And I’m very happy that until the COVID [pandemic], I got the chance to travel to many continents, and many places in this little round planet and get to see with my own eyes the way people live.

Because even though I work in journalism, I very often realize how international journalism is somewhat limited in the portrayal of the ways of life of people, like common people like you or I, or that plumber who we can see out of our window. It’s very often that we tend to read stories about important people, presidents, Queens, celebrities, and not enough stories about just the way people live, what makes them happy, what their regular life is built around. And this is very often, you can only really see with your own eyes when you come to a place. And then when you speak to the people you see there. And then you build your own story. It might not be a 100% true story, because you only see and you only get to know particular aspects that you’re interested in. And then you still frame them with your brain, which might also have stereotypes or frameworks that you prefer to use. But it’s still feel like it’s an enriching experience.

Annika: So I take it, you’ve visited many, many countries, do you have a rough idea how many?

Angelina: Oh, actually, I didn’t count them. I don’t know, maybe something between 30 and 40? Around 30? I guess. Yeah.

Annika: That’s really impressive. So how does—how does today’s Angelina look back at child Angelina? What has come true? And what were your expectations? And did you think it would ever be – it would be like you think it would?

Angelina: Well, when I was a child, I even thought that the year 2000 is not real, you know, it seemed so far away. In a way, I don’t feel like I was making plans, or I was planning my future in a very distinct way. I thought that there are things that I want to do. There are things that I’m interested in. But I guess I didn’t have very specific plans like I want to grow up and be that. Actually, I didn’t know who I want to be. Even now, it takes me quite a while to explain what is actually that I’m doing because I’m doing so many things. Maybe there is no word for my profession. Maybe the whole idea of the profession is going into the past, and we are now being defined by something else. So yeah, I feel like I didn’t have any specific plans. Looking from my childhood experience to the way I am now, I would probably say, I’m happy with where I am. I mean, there’s still a long way to work on myself. There’s still a long way to explore me and find out what new things in life I’m interested in but also find out new ways of taking care of myself and yeah, exploring this world. But in general, I would say looking at the little girl which was out there in our summer house—in our dacha—and if she were to talk to me now, I believe that would have been an interesting conversation and mutually encouraging and happy conversation.

Annika: That’s really, really lovely. And I’d love to come back to some of the things you addressed. One of them is that you say you’re still perhaps searching for what it is that you want to be doing, and doing with your life. You did study St. Petersburg University, economics, and finance, but then you switch to journalism, is that maybe another facet of always reinventing yourself and looking for something else, or was there another reason how you came to become a journalist?

Angelina: Well, at that time, I was not framing it that way. Now, maybe if I look back, I would use exactly the same wording, like you just did. With me, I was somehow always following my inner call, I would say. I was always someone who could not spend, who could not imagine spending a year doing something which I would not enjoy. So for me, I was always like, there’s nothing that I should be doing or must be doing. There’s only something which I want to be doing. And that has pluses and minuses. Now that I think about it. [laughs] I mean, I never worked in hierarchical structures. I never don’t believe in hierarchies, I believe in teamwork. And I believe in partnerships. I never really worked like 10, nine to five jobs, or 10 to 8, or 10 to 6, which is more common here. I was always someone who felt like I want to define what I do and how I do, and I want to if I get passionate about something, I do that. However, that also has another side, which means the whole division between work and non-work disappears. In a way, I work all the time. Well, I don’t always define it as work. Like for example, what is it that we do now? Right? Is it work? Is it not work? I enjoy it. It’s interesting. Luckily, I have a colleague helping me and we are here at the office of the [Bilona], which is an NGO based in St. Petersburg, and I’m working with them, and they’re the ones who publish this magazine, environmental law, which I edit. And I’m very happy I have colleagues helping me. So… but anyway, that leads to the fact that say, two days on this week, I was working until midnight, and some other days, I have to get up very early and do something, it’s always like there are, it’s very hard to say no to exciting things. But maybe I should start learning more. So the whole work-life balance is an issue, is an issue for my so to say the mode of life, which I shaped. So now I start to think more about the balance, more about other things because I want to do so many other things in life. I want to join the choir again. [laugh] It’s so many times in my life, and I just dropped out because sometimes when you have an event in the evening, what, you miss it, right? And people cannot rely on you. And likewise, I would love to do more dancing, I would love to do other things. But yeah, it’s not easy. But what I’m trying to just think and to feel how is it I can, I can change my life.

Annika: It’s very reflective, for me actually listening to you. It’s almost like listening to a mirror. I relate to so much that you’re saying. So since we just spoke a lot about work. And you also mentioned your work-life balance, what is it that you hope to achieve with the work that you do?

Angelina: Here, once again, I would say I don’t always have very particular goals. And this is probably one of the specifics of living in, in our times in modern times in Russia as it is like planning exists, but it almost never comes to life. So in a way, I feel like I’m doing what I can. And I’m trying to do it better and better. I’m also trying to learn something new, meet new people, develop more profound and more mutually interesting, exciting and beneficial working companionships with people and organizations. And I just see what comes out of it. Like one of the factors which suddenly worked over the last, I’d say 10 years is that I’ve been and I’m still one of the people who has been putting climate agenda in Russia forward. And I would say here—I would also say not only me but also a number of us, right, people who are part of the climate circles, as we say, in Russia, we really, we put that agenda forward. Now the climate is an important issue. Everyone talks about it, there is probably every week, there are like one or two climate and decarbonisation related events, probably, out there, there’s something like a very, very tiny percentage that I’ve contributed to that factor, by writing about it, by giving public lectures, by talking to people, by bringing all these people together and facilitating a conversation between them. So that would be like one of the things that I would mention.

And then another—another thing that I would also mention is that, as you said, in the beginning, I’m also very active in the area of international cooperation. And I believe in international cooperation. I mean, these days—probably it has always been the case, but I live now, so I speak about the present—there is so many bad news about international cooperation, political complications, economic sanctions, economic conflicts, many other aspects. And most of what we read in the media is about this. However, I still, I strongly believe that aside from that there are still tracks for other kinds of corporations because very often, it’s the government or political or economic elites, which bring countries into this. And they don’t take into consideration common people, they don’t take into consideration people like you or me, who are working for a particular cause or engaged in a particular area. And we do want to develop international cooperation in our fields, not about I don’t know, military aspects, not about many other aspects, but about the areas where we’re working. And I feel it’s still important to sustain that level of cooperation, no matter what, it’s still important to talk to each other and try and think about, what is it that we can do?

Annika: That’s really important, especially right now, as you said, when it almost feels like international cooperation is somewhat going, going downhill almost. But this again ties in with you, the networker in a way, the person who brings people together, and who looks out for new contacts. And I guess one of the new sort of networks that you’re part of now, is the World Future Council. You’re a very recent Councillor, you joined just, I think, at the end of last year, 2020. What brings you to us? I mean, we’re super excited to have you and I’m super excited to learn from you today. What brings you to us?

Angelina: Well, first of all, I would like to say it has been a great honor when I have been invited to become a Councillor. And I looked up at the list of the current Councillors, and I looked up at the events and other activities of the Council. And I realized, wow, it’s such an amazing institution. It’s very interesting what they do. They bring together many exciting people. I like the level of discussions, the level of publications is indeed very professional. And I want to be part of that network. So I’ve been invited. I said, yes. I joined. And I’ve participated in a number of events, which were organized, I believe, with so far, we just had one big talk among all councillors. And the next one is coming soon. And I look forward to our real meeting, hopefully, in the fall, in Italy, if I’m not mistaken. And yeah, I mean, so far, all the activities which have been done by other councillors, the ones I read about, the ones I listen to. I’ve been to a number of events like online events, organized by other councillors and I also regularly read all the papers and research projects produced by other councillors and that’s all sounds very exciting to me.

I’m about to launch my podcast, which will be called [poslezavtra], so “the day after tomorrow”, that podcast is supported by the Goethe Institute in St. Petersburg. And for one of the podcast episodes, which is due to come out in late April and early May, I’ve actually interviewed Hans Herren, one of the councillors, and one of the World Future Council members. And that has already been very exciting cooperation outside the usual meeting track. And I look forward to furthering cooperation with other members. And yeah, it looks like a very interesting institution, it looks like a very interesting track. And a very interesting forward-thinking organization. I’m somehow very well I can, I can probably say, I don’t know if the word “progressive” is positive these days, I would call myself someone who very much likes looking into the future, thinking what the future could be, what is the future we want to be? And I feel like engaging in these kinds of conversations about the future is always something which excites me, I like thinking about the future and I’m a very, like, future-oriented person. So yeah, it’s an amazing opportunity. And I’m very grateful that I’ve been invited. And now I’m now part of the World Future Council. Oh, my God, that sounds so serious as well.

Annika: I really look forward to listening to your podcast when it’s out. Just briefly, maybe how is it that you look to use your skills and ideas and your work within the Council, and how can also the World Future Council help you amplify your work and achieve your goals?

Angelina: Well, I feel like it’s still being formed like there is no set-like forms of cooperation. But from what I’ve seen so far, and I have heard and read so far, I would be open to engaging in public events organised by the World Future Council, which are dedicated to my area of expertise, I would be open to any sort of bilateral or multilateral cooperation projects with other councillors, I am sharing everything I do through the council’s mailing list. And sometimes I think maybe it’s a bit too much. [lauhgs ]But I’m still doing it. And I like learning about what other members are doing. So in a way, a lot of exchange a lot of cooperation, very particular, educational and public awareness projects that we can do together. I’m always happy to speak at the World Future Council events and share my expertise and my knowledge of the areas and the region where I’m from. So I look forward to many forms of engagement. And I believe, right now, with the times when most of life and activities are online, we’re kind of have to rethink what international cooperation is in these difficult times. And many new forms can appear. And we’re watching them appearing and being born.

Annika: Wonderful. And there’s one thing that I’d really love to ask you about, which is since you’re a journalist, the other huge thing, obviously, is that nowadays, almost everyone can become a journalist. Right? And I mean, specifically social media and fake news. What does that do to you? And what do you think about the phenomenon that everyone can just pick up a microphone, write about something they’re interested in, and put it out there? Whereas journalists really go through all the motions and fact check, make sure what they’re saying is accurate.  What do you think about that?

Angelina: Well, I see both positive and negative consequences of that trend. On the positive side, it did become much more democratic in a way and inclusive in a form that everyone can now be a—I mean, they used to say this, like civic journalism, a few years ago, I believe now they don’t use that term that widely nowadays, but yeah, everyone now can be a civic journalist. Like, with what you do is what you’re writing in social media, with what you post or repost, like creating media content or sharing media content, you’re already contributing to the global media world. And it’s good in a way. Now the negative consequences are obviously like the ones you mentioned. And that it’s very often that people now and audiences now find it more and more difficult to differentiate between professional media specialists and non-professional media specialists. And people just say things like, oh, it has been written on the internet, or, like, I saw it on Facebook or on Twitter. And not many people really go deep down about where this information appeared. Who was the origin of it? How do I make sure it’s correct? How do I make sure it’s authentic? Like, what are the proofs? What does the other side say? So in a way, all these questions referring to fact-checking, to bringing proofs of your information, to bringing opinions of the other sides—that’s not always there. And in a way that changes the way people consume information, because now we have so much information in various forms around us. There’s a lot of noise, so to say, right, informational noise, and there’s a lot of buzzing around. And it’s really hard to pick out particular news outlets and pick out particular media products, which you can trust. I mean, nowadays, like for us, media professionals, it might be a bit easier. But I often think about people who are not that experienced also with social media, and they tend to believe many things which are written or said or otherwise represented in various social media formats, and then it’s really difficult to differentiate, it’s really difficult to find out what’s really happening. So yeah, I would say both positive and negative consequences of that.

Annika: And does it have any direct impact that you feel it has on your work?

Angelina: Well, on one hand, I feel like I need to promote my work. And now promotion of what you do is as important as creating an original media product. So, the times when you write an article, and then it was like, wow, and everyone read it and everyone paid attention to it. Again, I mean, unless you probably write about some really important political issues. But if you really want to bring the attention of the audience to your subject, you have to invest—either you or your colleagues, someone has to invest a lot of in promotion. Like you really have to knock on your audience’s door and say, look, this is an amazing story. I very often try and do it through my personal attitude, saying, look, it’s me, I do this, I came to learn about the story, I did this research, I spoke to those people and to those people, and I went there, maybe, and I produced the story. And but yeah, so you have to react. And you have to promote a lot of what you do. And then you also—another open question is, to what extent should you really react to everything happening in social media and engage in conversations? I actually a few years ago, I used to be much more active on social media, like Facebook and Twitter, like posting my materials and answering all the comments and engaging in long conversations or then writing my general thoughts about what’s happening in the sector that I’m active in. And then after a while, it became so much, it just became too much for me, and I realized, I want to do a bit less of it. And probably now I’m handing it more professional way, and I’m engaging in fewer conversations in social media than before, simply because I did not have enough time, like 24 hours is certainly not enough for that.

But it’s still an open question, especially if you don’t work for a large professional media, but you work for a number of media, and you are the one who has to do everything. I mean, say in case of our magazine, luckily, there are professional people who do this. But then sometimes when I write for other media, and I want to publicize my stories for a more general audience, I have to invest a lot of time and energy in promoting it and also engaging with the audience. And this is this very time-consuming. I mean, on one hand, it does bring you closer to your audience. On the other hand, yeah, time, time, time is the greatest resource of our lives now.

Annika: Yeah, that’s true. And I guess that also ties in again with the work-life balance that you mentioned before. Social media has almost made it even more difficult to sort of have that clear separation between the professional and the private life and there’s just always something to be done. Like around the clock, I guess, especially as a journalist, you must be feeling that.

Angelina: Right? Even when I come to a party or like to dinner, and I meet new people, and they don’t know what I do. As soon as I mentioned this, they start asking me questions about recycling, or waste management reform, or forestry, or wildfires. And I feel like, people, honestly, I came here just to have fun! But because the topic is becoming so im


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Intro: Hello, and welcome to The Good Council, the podcast of the World Future Council. In each episode, we’ll highlight current challenges and policy solutions. And we’ll also take you on a journey of inspiring stories. Listen in to another of our intergenerational dialogues from around the globe.

Annika: Hello, everyone. My name is Annika, I’m working at the World Future Council. In this episode, I’m speaking with Angelina Davydova, a renowned journalist, civil society expert, educator, and changemaker with more than 20 years of experience in Russian and international media, international non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and academia. She is regarded as an expert in Russian climate and environmental policy, green civil society initiatives, and grassroots movements. She currently writes for publications such as Kommersant, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Klimaretter.info, the Science Magazine, and she’s also the main editor of the journal Ecology and law.

Hello, Angelina, thank you so much for being here today with me, it is a real pleasure for me to speak with you and to get to know you a little bit better.

Angelina: Hello, Annika. And thank you for having me.

Annika: Because our listeners and readers probably don’t know you yet: I was just going to ask you if someone wrote a biography about you, what would it say who you are and where you come from?

Angelina: Well, I come from St. Petersburg, Russia, which was called Leningrad at the time that I was born. And I like making this joke saying that I was born in the city and I was born in a country which does not exist anymore. So I was born in Leningrad, Soviet Union. And now it’s in Petersburg, Russia. I studied economics. But then I went into journalism, and I worked many years in journalism. And I still do that now as a freelance author for a number of publications, which you mentioned. But other than that, around 12 years ago, I discovered the topics of climate change and sustainable development, and environmental cooperation. And I felt like those were very important topics for me personally, but also for the world, on a global scale. And I got very interested and I get very excited. And when I get really interested in something, I just go and explore the field. And this is what I did.

And so at this very moment, I’m active in a number of sectors, which you mentioned, I write, I speak, I educate, I’m active in international cooperation programs. I’m trying to learn many things about the world and trying to learn the way the world is in various diverse aspects of this world … problems, solutions, what we can do, what has been done already, what works, what doesn’t work. And then I’m trying to pass this information along in various forms, in form of educational materials, or media products, or something else, like, our conversation is probably also one of these formats. And I’m also connecting a lot of people together to speak about, I don’t know—maybe my life’s mission, I always feel like, if I’m being asked about how is that I see myself, I would probably say, on one hand, I’m really learning about the world and spreading this information around. On the other side, I’m also someone who connects a lot of people, like, I know a lot of people and many people know me. So I feel like it’s very important to get people connected, but also somehow to make the whole communication smoother. So to moderate the meetings, talks, be it offline, or more often online now.

Annika: How is your childhood? And how has that made you who you are today?

Angelina: Well, I grew up in a country, which was changing on a daily basis. Like something which we believe to be true one day was not true, the next day, and I believe we had to adapt to these changes. And on one hand, I feel like I was growing up thinking, nothing is forever, and everything will change tomorrow. So, you have to be flexible, you have to be resilient. I didn’t know the word resilient then, I guess it didn’t exist in my world. And you have to—I don’t know—be able to change. On one hand, it does bring a lot of flexibility. And I feel like, say, I’m always learning. I’m always learning something new. On the other hand, it certainly brings along issues of trust. Like, who do you trust and what do you trust? Do you trust any institutions at all? How do you trust people? Those are still very important issues not only for me personally, but I feel like many people in my country and especially people of my generation all around. So I would say those particular historic conditions obviously shaped me into the way I am now.

Now speaking more about personal experiences, I’ve always loved reading. And I used to read a lot when I was a kid. I also used to invent a lot of stories; we actually used to play that game with my mom when she would start a story like a fairy tale. But those would be sometimes a fairy tales about, I don’t know, various very practical aspects of life, for example, a fairy tale about a plumber, who we saw out of the window. And so she would start this story, and then I was encouraged to continue the story and think of something happening. And I still love that. Even though I don’t write fiction and I don’t produce fiction—well, maybe one day I will—but it’s still something which I enjoyed a lot. And then I also remember in our summer house, like our dacha, outside of Leningrad, we also had a lot of world maps where various countries and continents were portrayed. And I would travel through them with my eyes thinking, “Oh, my God, maybe one day I’ll go to Africa or to South America and elsewhere”, because I was out there somewhere up in the north, in a little spot. And I’m very happy that until the COVID [pandemic], I got the chance to travel to many continents, and many places in this little round planet and get to see with my own eyes the way people live.

Because even though I work in journalism, I very often realize how international journalism is somewhat limited in the portrayal of the ways of life of people, like common people like you or I, or that plumber who we can see out of our window. It’s very often that we tend to read stories about important people, presidents, Queens, celebrities, and not enough stories about just the way people live, what makes them happy, what their regular life is built around. And this is very often, you can only really see with your own eyes when you come to a place. And then when you speak to the people you see there. And then you build your own story. It might not be a 100% true story, because you only see and you only get to know particular aspects that you’re interested in. And then you still frame them with your brain, which might also have stereotypes or frameworks that you prefer to use. But it’s still feel like it’s an enriching experience.

Annika: So I take it, you’ve visited many, many countries, do you have a rough idea how many?

Angelina: Oh, actually, I didn’t count them. I don’t know, maybe something between 30 and 40? Around 30? I guess. Yeah.

Annika: That’s really impressive. So how does—how does today’s Angelina look back at child Angelina? What has come true? And what were your expectations? And did you think it would ever be – it would be like you think it would?

Angelina: Well, when I was a child, I even thought that the year 2000 is not real, you know, it seemed so far away. In a way, I don’t feel like I was making plans, or I was planning my future in a very distinct way. I thought that there are things that I want to do. There are things that I’m interested in. But I guess I didn’t have very specific plans like I want to grow up and be that. Actually, I didn’t know who I want to be. Even now, it takes me quite a while to explain what is actually that I’m doing because I’m doing so many things. Maybe there is no word for my profession. Maybe the whole idea of the profession is going into the past, and we are now being defined by something else. So yeah, I feel like I didn’t have any specific plans. Looking from my childhood experience to the way I am now, I would probably say, I’m happy with where I am. I mean, there’s still a long way to work on myself. There’s still a long way to explore me and find out what new things in life I’m interested in but also find out new ways of taking care of myself and yeah, exploring this world. But in general, I would say looking at the little girl which was out there in our summer house—in our dacha—and if she were to talk to me now, I believe that would have been an interesting conversation and mutually encouraging and happy conversation.

Annika: That’s really, really lovely. And I’d love to come back to some of the things you addressed. One of them is that you say you’re still perhaps searching for what it is that you want to be doing, and doing with your life. You did study St. Petersburg University, economics, and finance, but then you switch to journalism, is that maybe another facet of always reinventing yourself and looking for something else, or was there another reason how you came to become a journalist?

Angelina: Well, at that time, I was not framing it that way. Now, maybe if I look back, I would use exactly the same wording, like you just did. With me, I was somehow always following my inner call, I would say. I was always someone who could not spend, who could not imagine spending a year doing something which I would not enjoy. So for me, I was always like, there’s nothing that I should be doing or must be doing. There’s only something which I want to be doing. And that has pluses and minuses. Now that I think about it. [laughs] I mean, I never worked in hierarchical structures. I never don’t believe in hierarchies, I believe in teamwork. And I believe in partnerships. I never really worked like 10, nine to five jobs, or 10 to 8, or 10 to 6, which is more common here. I was always someone who felt like I want to define what I do and how I do, and I want to if I get passionate about something, I do that. However, that also has another side, which means the whole division between work and non-work disappears. In a way, I work all the time. Well, I don’t always define it as work. Like for example, what is it that we do now? Right? Is it work? Is it not work? I enjoy it. It’s interesting. Luckily, I have a colleague helping me and we are here at the office of the [Bilona], which is an NGO based in St. Petersburg, and I’m working with them, and they’re the ones who publish this magazine, environmental law, which I edit. And I’m very happy I have colleagues helping me. So… but anyway, that leads to the fact that say, two days on this week, I was working until midnight, and some other days, I have to get up very early and do something, it’s always like there are, it’s very hard to say no to exciting things. But maybe I should start learning more. So the whole work-life balance is an issue, is an issue for my so to say the mode of life, which I shaped. So now I start to think more about the balance, more about other things because I want to do so many other things in life. I want to join the choir again. [laugh] It’s so many times in my life, and I just dropped out because sometimes when you have an event in the evening, what, you miss it, right? And people cannot rely on you. And likewise, I would love to do more dancing, I would love to do other things. But yeah, it’s not easy. But what I’m trying to just think and to feel how is it I can, I can change my life.

Annika: It’s very reflective, for me actually listening to you. It’s almost like listening to a mirror. I relate to so much that you’re saying. So since we just spoke a lot about work. And you also mentioned your work-life balance, what is it that you hope to achieve with the work that you do?

Angelina: Here, once again, I would say I don’t always have very particular goals. And this is probably one of the specifics of living in, in our times in modern times in Russia as it is like planning exists, but it almost never comes to life. So in a way, I feel like I’m doing what I can. And I’m trying to do it better and better. I’m also trying to learn something new, meet new people, develop more profound and more mutually interesting, exciting and beneficial working companionships with people and organizations. And I just see what comes out of it. Like one of the factors which suddenly worked over the last, I’d say 10 years is that I’ve been and I’m still one of the people who has been putting climate agenda in Russia forward. And I would say here—I would also say not only me but also a number of us, right, people who are part of the climate circles, as we say, in Russia, we really, we put that agenda forward. Now the climate is an important issue. Everyone talks about it, there is probably every week, there are like one or two climate and decarbonisation related events, probably, out there, there’s something like a very, very tiny percentage that I’ve contributed to that factor, by writing about it, by giving public lectures, by talking to people, by bringing all these people together and facilitating a conversation between them. So that would be like one of the things that I would mention.

And then another—another thing that I would also mention is that, as you said, in the beginning, I’m also very active in the area of international cooperation. And I believe in international cooperation. I mean, these days—probably it has always been the case, but I live now, so I speak about the present—there is so many bad news about international cooperation, political complications, economic sanctions, economic conflicts, many other aspects. And most of what we read in the media is about this. However, I still, I strongly believe that aside from that there are still tracks for other kinds of corporations because very often, it’s the government or political or economic elites, which bring countries into this. And they don’t take into consideration common people, they don’t take into consideration people like you or me, who are working for a particular cause or engaged in a particular area. And we do want to develop international cooperation in our fields, not about I don’t know, military aspects, not about many other aspects, but about the areas where we’re working. And I feel it’s still important to sustain that level of cooperation, no matter what, it’s still important to talk to each other and try and think about, what is it that we can do?

Annika: That’s really important, especially right now, as you said, when it almost feels like international cooperation is somewhat going, going downhill almost. But this again ties in with you, the networker in a way, the person who brings people together, and who looks out for new contacts. And I guess one of the new sort of networks that you’re part of now, is the World Future Council. You’re a very recent Councillor, you joined just, I think, at the end of last year, 2020. What brings you to us? I mean, we’re super excited to have you and I’m super excited to learn from you today. What brings you to us?

Angelina: Well, first of all, I would like to say it has been a great honor when I have been invited to become a Councillor. And I looked up at the list of the current Councillors, and I looked up at the events and other activities of the Council. And I realized, wow, it’s such an amazing institution. It’s very interesting what they do. They bring together many exciting people. I like the level of discussions, the level of publications is indeed very professional. And I want to be part of that network. So I’ve been invited. I said, yes. I joined. And I’ve participated in a number of events, which were organized, I believe, with so far, we just had one big talk among all councillors. And the next one is coming soon. And I look forward to our real meeting, hopefully, in the fall, in Italy, if I’m not mistaken. And yeah, I mean, so far, all the activities which have been done by other councillors, the ones I read about, the ones I listen to. I’ve been to a number of events like online events, organized by other councillors and I also regularly read all the papers and research projects produced by other councillors and that’s all sounds very exciting to me.

I’m about to launch my podcast, which will be called [poslezavtra], so “the day after tomorrow”, that podcast is supported by the Goethe Institute in St. Petersburg. And for one of the podcast episodes, which is due to come out in late April and early May, I’ve actually interviewed Hans Herren, one of the councillors, and one of the World Future Council members. And that has already been very exciting cooperation outside the usual meeting track. And I look forward to furthering cooperation with other members. And yeah, it looks like a very interesting institution, it looks like a very interesting track. And a very interesting forward-thinking organization. I’m somehow very well I can, I can probably say, I don’t know if the word “progressive” is positive these days, I would call myself someone who very much likes looking into the future, thinking what the future could be, what is the future we want to be? And I feel like engaging in these kinds of conversations about the future is always something which excites me, I like thinking about the future and I’m a very, like, future-oriented person. So yeah, it’s an amazing opportunity. And I’m very grateful that I’ve been invited. And now I’m now part of the World Future Council. Oh, my God, that sounds so serious as well.

Annika: I really look forward to listening to your podcast when it’s out. Just briefly, maybe how is it that you look to use your skills and ideas and your work within the Council, and how can also the World Future Council help you amplify your work and achieve your goals?

Angelina: Well, I feel like it’s still being formed like there is no set-like forms of cooperation. But from what I’ve seen so far, and I have heard and read so far, I would be open to engaging in public events organised by the World Future Council, which are dedicated to my area of expertise, I would be open to any sort of bilateral or multilateral cooperation projects with other councillors, I am sharing everything I do through the council’s mailing list. And sometimes I think maybe it’s a bit too much. [lauhgs ]But I’m still doing it. And I like learning about what other members are doing. So in a way, a lot of exchange a lot of cooperation, very particular, educational and public awareness projects that we can do together. I’m always happy to speak at the World Future Council events and share my expertise and my knowledge of the areas and the region where I’m from. So I look forward to many forms of engagement. And I believe, right now, with the times when most of life and activities are online, we’re kind of have to rethink what international cooperation is in these difficult times. And many new forms can appear. And we’re watching them appearing and being born.

Annika: Wonderful. And there’s one thing that I’d really love to ask you about, which is since you’re a journalist, the other huge thing, obviously, is that nowadays, almost everyone can become a journalist. Right? And I mean, specifically social media and fake news. What does that do to you? And what do you think about the phenomenon that everyone can just pick up a microphone, write about something they’re interested in, and put it out there? Whereas journalists really go through all the motions and fact check, make sure what they’re saying is accurate.  What do you think about that?

Angelina: Well, I see both positive and negative consequences of that trend. On the positive side, it did become much more democratic in a way and inclusive in a form that everyone can now be a—I mean, they used to say this, like civic journalism, a few years ago, I believe now they don’t use that term that widely nowadays, but yeah, everyone now can be a civic journalist. Like, with what you do is what you’re writing in social media, with what you post or repost, like creating media content or sharing media content, you’re already contributing to the global media world. And it’s good in a way. Now the negative consequences are obviously like the ones you mentioned. And that it’s very often that people now and audiences now find it more and more difficult to differentiate between professional media specialists and non-professional media specialists. And people just say things like, oh, it has been written on the internet, or, like, I saw it on Facebook or on Twitter. And not many people really go deep down about where this information appeared. Who was the origin of it? How do I make sure it’s correct? How do I make sure it’s authentic? Like, what are the proofs? What does the other side say? So in a way, all these questions referring to fact-checking, to bringing proofs of your information, to bringing opinions of the other sides—that’s not always there. And in a way that changes the way people consume information, because now we have so much information in various forms around us. There’s a lot of noise, so to say, right, informational noise, and there’s a lot of buzzing around. And it’s really hard to pick out particular news outlets and pick out particular media products, which you can trust. I mean, nowadays, like for us, media professionals, it might be a bit easier. But I often think about people who are not that experienced also with social media, and they tend to believe many things which are written or said or otherwise represented in various social media formats, and then it’s really difficult to differentiate, it’s really difficult to find out what’s really happening. So yeah, I would say both positive and negative consequences of that.

Annika: And does it have any direct impact that you feel it has on your work?

Angelina: Well, on one hand, I feel like I need to promote my work. And now promotion of what you do is as important as creating an original media product. So, the times when you write an article, and then it was like, wow, and everyone read it and everyone paid attention to it. Again, I mean, unless you probably write about some really important political issues. But if you really want to bring the attention of the audience to your subject, you have to invest—either you or your colleagues, someone has to invest a lot of in promotion. Like you really have to knock on your audience’s door and say, look, this is an amazing story. I very often try and do it through my personal attitude, saying, look, it’s me, I do this, I came to learn about the story, I did this research, I spoke to those people and to those people, and I went there, maybe, and I produced the story. And but yeah, so you have to react. And you have to promote a lot of what you do. And then you also—another open question is, to what extent should you really react to everything happening in social media and engage in conversations? I actually a few years ago, I used to be much more active on social media, like Facebook and Twitter, like posting my materials and answering all the comments and engaging in long conversations or then writing my general thoughts about what’s happening in the sector that I’m active in. And then after a while, it became so much, it just became too much for me, and I realized, I want to do a bit less of it. And probably now I’m handing it more professional way, and I’m engaging in fewer conversations in social media than before, simply because I did not have enough time, like 24 hours is certainly not enough for that.

But it’s still an open question, especially if you don’t work for a large professional media, but you work for a number of media, and you are the one who has to do everything. I mean, say in case of our magazine, luckily, there are professional people who do this. But then sometimes when I write for other media, and I want to publicize my stories for a more general audience, I have to invest a lot of time and energy in promoting it and also engaging with the audience. And this is this very time-consuming. I mean, on one hand, it does bring you closer to your audience. On the other hand, yeah, time, time, time is the greatest resource of our lives now.

Annika: Yeah, that’s true. And I guess that also ties in again with the work-life balance that you mentioned before. Social media has almost made it even more difficult to sort of have that clear separation between the professional and the private life and there’s just always something to be done. Like around the clock, I guess, especially as a journalist, you must be feeling that.

Angelina: Right? Even when I come to a party or like to dinner, and I meet new people, and they don’t know what I do. As soon as I mentioned this, they start asking me questions about recycling, or waste management reform, or forestry, or wildfires. And I feel like, people, honestly, I came here just to have fun! But because the topic is becoming so im

The Good Council: Raina Ivanova und Prof. Dr. Ernst Ullrich von Weizsäcker

Shownotes

& weitere Informationen



Intro: Hallo und herzlich willkommen bei The Good Council, dem Podcast des World Future Council. In jeder Folge werden wir aktuelle Herausforderungen und politische Lösungen aufzeigen. Und wir nehmen Sie mit auf eine Reise voller inspirierender Geschichten. Hören Sie sich einen weiteren unserer generationenübergreifenden Dialoge aus aller Welt an.

Hallo, mein Name ist Raina Ivanova, und ich bin Repräsentantin des Jugendforums Youth: Present. In dieser Episode spreche ich mit Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker. Ernst ist ehemaliger Vorsitzender des Bundestag Umweltkomitees, Ehrenpräsident des Club of Rome, und ehemaliger Dekan der Bren School of Environmental Science and Management an der University of California, Santa Barbara. Er studierte Physik in Hamburg und promovierte in Biologie im Jahre 1968 an der Universität Freiburg. In den 70er Jahren war er Professor für Biologie an der Universität Essen und Präsident der Universität in Kassel, bevor er Direktor des UN Centre for Science and Technology in New York wurde. Von 1984 bis 1991 war er Direktor des Instituts für Europäische Umweltpolitik in Bonn, Paris und London und von 1991 bis 2000 war Prof. von Weizsäcker Präsident des Wuppertal Instituts für Klima, Umwelt und Energie. Von 1998 bis 2005 war er Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages und leitete von 2002 bis 2005 den Ausschuss für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit. Er ist Autor vieler Bücher, darunter Factor Five und wurde 2008 mit dem Deutschen Umweltpreis ausgezeichnet. Er ist Ehrenmitglied des World Future Councils.

Raina: Vielen Dank, dass Sie heute hier sind.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ja vielen Dank. An meinem Lebenslauf haben Sie ja erfahren, dass ich vollkommen wahnsinnig bin. Immer wieder was Neues.

Raina: Man merkt auf jeden Fall, dass sie einen sehr starken Wissenschaftsfokus haben. Was begeistert Sie denn so sehr an der Naturwissenschaft?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ach, ich war einfach sehr neugierig. Schon als Kind sah ich Raupen und die haben sich verpuppt und plötzlich waren es Schmetterlinge. Unglaublich, was sich da alles tut. Pflanzen haben mich nicht so sehr interessiert, aber Tiere immer. Und dann wollte ich Biologe werden und dann sagte mir ein alter weiser Mann: „Wenn du Biologie studieren willst, darfst du nicht Biologie studieren. Dann musst du erstmal was Seriöses machen. Chemie, Mathematik, Physik oder meinetwegen Medizin und dann wirst du später Biologe“. So habe ich es gemacht.

Raina: Sie haben durchaus auch einen Fokus auf die Umwelt. Sie waren unter anderem Teil des Ausschusses für Umwelt im Bundestag. Im Mai ist nun das Klimaschutzurteil gefallen, durch diese Verfassungsklage. Und wir wissen ja das die Lage mit dem Klimaschutz in Deutschland durchaus kritisch ist. Wie sehen Sie das und denken Sie das dieses Urteil etwas verändern kann?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Da gibt es erstmal ganz viele Antworten. Die eine ist, dass die deutsche Umweltministerin Svenja Schulze wollte, genau dieses ehrgeizige Gesetz, aber das konnte sie mit dem Koalitionspartner von der CDU, vor allem der Wirtschaftsvereinigung der CDU nicht durchsetzen. Also wurde dann ein Kompromiss gefunden. Dann hat das Bundesverfassungsgericht gesagt, dass ist aber nicht gut genug für künftige Generationen. Das ist rechtlich eine ganz neue Sache, dass das Verfassungsgericht sagt, die Politik muss nicht nur die an die heute lebenden Menschen denken, sondern auch an die Zukunft, die vielleicht noch nicht Geborenen. Und dafür ist es nicht ehrgeizig genug. Ich habe Svenja Schulze, die Ministerin, begeistert gehört über dieses Gesetz. Jetzt mit Rückendeckung des Bundesverfassungsgesetzes können wir endlich das machen, was wir sowieso wollten.

Raina: Denken Sie denn, dass dieses neue Urteil ausreichend ist, damit wir unseren nationalen Klimaziele einhalten können?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Die nationalen Klimaziele, die wir 2015 in Paris zugesagt haben, dass kriegen wir einigermaßen hin. Besser als die Mehrzahl der anderen Länder. Trotzdem kann man auch hier noch ehrgeiziger werden und da finde ich es sehr gut, dass die Grünen und die SPD der Meinung sind, ja wir müssen noch ehrgeiziger werden. Jetzt will man ja die Klimaneutralität nicht mehr erst 2050, wie in Paris versprochen, sondern 2045 hinkriegen. Jetzt müssen wir nur noch darauf achten, dass das Erreichen dieses ehrgeizigeren Zieles nicht mit Missbrauch oder falschen Tatsachen erreicht wird. Also zum Beispiel, wenn einer zu viel CO2 auspustet oder andere Treibhausgase und dann kauft er sich, Landgrabbing nennt man das, ein Stückchen Afrika und baut da eine Eukalyptus Plantage hoch. Die nimmt ein bisschen CO2 auf und dann sagt er: Schaut mal, alles Klimaneutral. Die Eukalyptus-Plantage egalisiert was ich dazu viel gemacht habe. Das ist idiotisch. Und das passt nicht nach Afrika. Das macht die Böden kaputt. Das macht die biologische Vielfalt kaputt. Macht viele Tiere kaputt. Das darf man nicht in einer einfachen Gegenrechnung als Erreichung des Klimaschutzzieles anbieten.

Raina: Nun haben viele damit gerechnet das dieses Urteil gar nicht gefällt werden wird, weil es mit Klimaschutz seit langem sehr kritisch aussieht und meiner Meinung nach noch immer sehr kritisch aussieht. Was glauben Sie was dieses Urteil über unsere Gesellschaft aussagt?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: In der Bevölkerung gibt es eine verbreitete Stimmung. „Wir wollen in Ruhe gelassen werden. Wir wollen nicht immer noch mehr tun für Leute, die wir nie kennen lernen.“ Also unsere Urenkel oder sowas. Ich habe als ich in Amerika war einen Cartoon, also so eine Witzgeschichte gesehen. Da war ein Kino abgebildet. Das hatte zwei Filme im Angebot. Das eine war der Film von Al Gore, früherer Vizepräsident der Vereinigten Staaten und das hatte den Titel „An Inconvenient Truth“, also eine unbequeme Wahrheit und das andere Kino hatte im Angebot „A reassuring lie“ eine Beruhigungslüge. Und dann, wo die Leute reingehen. Also alle gehen in die „reassuring lie“. Also das Volk möchte der Wahrheit nicht so gern ins Auge gucken und Politikerinnen und Politiker, die zu ehrgeizig sind, werden gnadenlos abgewählt.  Das ist das Problem. Aber immer nur die Schuld bei den Politikern zu suchen, das ist mir zu einfach.

Raina: Sie waren ja selbst einmal Politiker in der SPD ist das richtig?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ja

Raina: Und das ist ja oft, dass in unserer Gesellschaft sehr radikalere Ansätze sehr früh schon abgelehnt werden, weil Leute es nicht mögen ruckartig Veränderungen durchzuleben. Wie denken Sie ist es möglich trotzdem diese Veränderungen erzeugen zu können?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Also ich habe eine Zeit lang in einer Arbeitsgruppe als Leiter gearbeitet in China. Als Berater des chinesischen Ministerpräsidenten. Ich war Leiter der Arbeitsgruppe über ökonomische Instrumente für Energieeffizienz und Umweltschutz. Und dort habe ich folgendes, auf ihre Frage geantwortet. Wir machen eine lang Frist Preissteigerung, aber jedes Jahr nur gerade so viel wie das Volk gut aushalten kann und die Industrie. Also wenn die Energie effizienter wird, im Jahr 2022 dann wird 2023 die Energie umso so viel Prozent teurerer wird, wie die Effizienz zugenommen hat. Also das das Geld was man pro Monat für die Energie Dienstleitungen ausgibt nie mehr wird. Nur die reichen Familien, die kriegen diesen Effizienz-Fortschritte eher als die Armen, da muss man dann was politisch machen, damit die Armen nicht die Verlierer sind. Das ist aber dann eine weitere Sache. Jedenfalls, wenn man dieses in China, wo die Leute ja langfristig denken auf 20, 30, 40 Jahre festlegt, dann werden die Investoren und Ingenieure heute schon das machen, was in 20, 30, 40 Jahren nötig ist. Das heißt also weitestgehend schmerzlos, aber ungeheuer wirksam in der langen Frist.

Nur wenn ich das in Deutschland, Frankreich oder in Uruguay oder Malaysia. Dann werden die Leute sagen, wenn alle vier Jahren Wahlen sind, dann wird doch die neue Regierung das ganz schnell stoppen. Dann sage ich: Dann müssen wir dafür sorgen, dass zum Beispiel durch einen Verfassungsartikel, diejenigen Dinge, die für die lang Frist gemeint sind, nicht abhängig sind von den jeweiligen Wahlen. Das wäre doch auch mal eine Lösung. Dann hätten wir also zwei Ziele erreicht. Erstmal eine sehr starke Klimapolitik und zweitens weitestgehend Schmerzfreiheit.

Raina: Sie haben gerade gesagt, dass dieser Prozess circa 40 Jahre gedauert hat. Das ist ja schon längerfristig.  Denken sie denn, dass das ein Lösungsansatz für die Klimakrise wäre, vor allem bedenken wir das die größte Ressource die uns fehlt, Zeit ist?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Natürlich hätte ich es auch gerne, wenn das ganze sehr viel schneller geht. Aber wenn das nur dazu führt, dass die Parteien, die sich dafür eingesetzt haben, automatisch bei der nächsten Wahl weggewischt werden, dann ist das eine Springprozession. Zwei Schritte vorwärts und wieder einen Schritt zurück. Das ist nicht besonders gescheit. Deswegen will ich lieber etwas, was gerade noch für die Mehrheit akzeptabel ist, ganz wenig wehtut, aber was für die junge Generationen eine exzellente Zukunftsperspektive wird.

Raina:  Denken Sie denn, dass die Klimakatastrophe noch aufzuhalten ist?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ich glaube, dass die Maßnahmen, die ich politisch vorgeschlagen habe, also mit dem Schrittchen weise vorwärts gehen, aber konsequent. Dass das eine tolle Chance bietet, dass es zu den katastrophenartigen Zusammenbrüchen nicht kommen wird. Es wird große Veränderungen geben. Die Landwirtschaft muss sich ändern, die Forstwirtschaft muss sich ändern. Die Art wie man Städte baut, da braucht man wieder etwas mehr grün. Das sind Dinge, diese Sorte Anpassung gibt es immer mal wieder, das halten wir aus.

Raina: Nun ist Klimaschutz ja nicht eine Sache, die meine Generation angefangen hat, sondern das gab es ja schon durchaus mehrere Jahrzehnte davor. Aber trotzdem ist der Ansatz auf eine gewisse Art neu. Finden Sie das sich die heutige Klimabewegung mit der vor 30 Jahren vergleichen lässt?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Vor 30 Jahren waren 5% der Bevölkerung davon überzeugt, dass es einen Klimawandel gibt und das der problematisch ist und 95% der Bevölkerung haben gesagt, dass ist alles dummes Geschwätz von diesen komischen Wissenschaftlern. Und heute nach drei sehr trockenen Sommern und Waldbränden im Amazonas, in Australien, in Sibirien in Alaska und eben auch in Deutschland. Hat die Weltbevölkerung aufgeschreckt. Und jetzt sind etwa 60-70% der Bevölkerung der Meinung. Ja es leider gibt es eine Klimaerwärmung mit zum Teil sehr weitreichenden Folgen. Sie haben eben in meiner Einführung gesagt ich sei in Santa Barbara gewesen, in Kalifornien. Da war ich drei Jahre lang und viele meiner Freunde, die dort gelebt haben, haben ihre Häuser verloren. Und deswegen sind gerade in Kalifornien eine dicke Mehrheit der Menschen der Meinung, wir müssen mehr tun.

Raina: Als jüngerer Mensch merke ich, dass gerade in meiner Generation momentan viele ihre Einstellung ändern. Wenn ich zum Beispiel damit vergleiche, wie meine Großeltern oft das Thema Klimaschutz angehen dann merke ich ja schon das ist etwas revolutionäres, wie Klimaschutz heute vonstattengeht. Haben Sie irgendwelche Tipps oder Ratschläge an jüngere Leute, denn Sie bringen ja sehr viel Lebenserfahrung mit.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Also erst einmal finde ich es wundervoll, wenn es einen Dialog zwischen den Alten und den Jungen gibt. Und dass die Alten nicht so tun als seien die Jungen noch in den Windeln. Und dass die Jungen nicht so tun als seien die Alten völlig vertrocknet. Denn manchmal ist es genau umgekehrt. Beides ist erklärungsbedürftig und die Kommunikation ist sehr wichtig. Ich rede mit meinen Enkeln sehr oft darüber und die holen sich ihren Rat bei mir ab, weil ich manches auch schon weiß, da ich ja mal Wissenschaftler war. Gleichzeitig merke ich, dass bei den Jungen noch eine gewisse Bereitschaft vorhanden ist, jetzt alles mal anders zu machen. Ich habe mich mit Greta Thunberg angefreundet und mit Luisa Neubauer. Die sprechen für ihre Generation, wobei auch nicht mehr als die Hälfte der Jungen so denken. Die andere Hälfte sitzt da und „dattelt“ und streamt, die machen irgendwelche andere Sache. Die eigentlich mit Klimaschutz nichts zu tun haben und langweilen sich einfach.

Raina: Sie haben da gerade auch noch ein anderes Problem angesprochen, was ich persönlich auch sehr stark wahrnehme. Also das Klimaschutz manchmal auch nur in diesen Bubbles passiert. stattfinden. Also ich persönlich würde sagen, dass ich mich in einer dieser „Klimaschutzbubble“ befinde, wo viele meiner Freunde einfach sich für den Klimawandel interessiert und sich dafür interessieren ihr Leben so zu verändern, dass sie dagegenwirken können. Aber für viele ist das noch sehr unzugänglich. Auch als Politiker wie denken Sie denn, dass Klimawandel für alle zugänglicher gemacht werden könnte?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Wenn man immer mal wieder Schreckensfilme zeigt, immer mal wieder. Die einem bildlich zeigen, was auf einem zukommen kann, wenn das Grönlandeis ins Meer rutscht oder sowas in der Art. Das wäre ja für die Stadt Hamburg fürchterlich. Wenn man die potenzielle Realität in Bildform vor sich sieht und dann denkt, das ist zwar nur ein Film. Aber wenn die Realität so wird, das wollen wir doch lieber verhindern. In Deutschland sind wir so reich, wir können Deiche bauen. In Bangladesch geht das nicht. Etwas die Hälfte von Bangladesch wäre unter Wasser, das wären dann 50 Millionen Menschen. Und dann haben wir ein Flüchtlingsproblem, das ist 20- bis 100-mal größer als das Flüchtlingsproblem von 2015. Und schon damit sind wir ja 2015 politisch fast nicht fertig geworden.

Raina: Bei mir war es auch tatsächlich auch ein Schreckensfilm, der mich motiviert für den Klimaschutz tätig zu werden. Und zwar auch der von dem sie gerade gesprochen haben: „An inconvenient Truth“ von Al Gore. Da war ich auch 12 Jahre alt und als ich gesehen habe, dass Hamburg theoretisch unter Wasser stände, wenn die Meeresspiegel weiter so ansteigen, war es auch für mich zum ersten Mal etwas greifbarer, dass der Klimawandel nicht nur im globalen Süden existiert und für mich nicht nur in der fernen Zukunft spielt.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Sehr gut, dass sie den Film nicht verwendet haben, um sich mit Tränen zurückzuziehen, sondern das es Sie ermutigt hat mit Freundinnen und Freunden ihrer Generation und ein paar Alten zusammenzustehen und zu sagen: Leute das ist ein echtes Problem, da müssen wir jetzt was tun.

Raina: Nur kurz, um die Tränen anzusprechen. Es war wirklich meine erste Reaktion. Oft ist es ja auch sehr frustrierend sich für den Klimawandel einzusetzen, weil es halt als radikale Klimapolitik angesehen wird, die irgendwie sehr realitätsfern ist von dem was wir erreichen können. Wie sehen Sie es denn, ist der Ansatz oft zu radikal von jüngeren Menschen?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ich finde es gut, dass es diese Stimme erstmal gibt. So dass Leute, die eher kompromissbereit sind wie ich, nicht als sehr radikal angesehen werden, sondern als ein freundschaftliches Angebot der Mitte. Zwischen dem was die ganz Langsamen gerade noch tolerieren können und dem was die berechtigterweise verärgerten Jungen verlangen. Und da muss man auch eine vernünftige Mitte finden. Zudem gibt es vieles was man auch technisch erreichen kann. Ich habe mit einem australischen Team zusammen ein Buch geschrieben, was denn Namen Faktor fünf hatte. Und darin beweisen wir, dass in den vier Klimawirksamsten Wirtschaftsbereiche: Gebäuden, Industrie, Verkehr und Landwirtschaft eine Verfünffachung der Energieeffizienz oder auch der Stoffeffizienz möglich ist. Meine Familie und ich leben zum Beispiel in einem Passivhaus. Das hat praktisch keine Heizkosten mehr, auch im kältesten Winter. Da ist nämlich eine sehr gute Isolierung und zweitens eine Wärmeaustausch-Belüftung drin. Wenn wir in einem warmen Wohnzimmer sitzen, dann sind oben so Schlitze und da wandert die Luft raus und wandert über ein Kanalsystem nach draußen. Und während sie das tut, berührt sie physikalisch die hereinkommende frische Kaltluft, so dass dann die Kaltluft frisch, aber aufgewärmt beinah in Zimmertemperatur ins Haus kommt. Dadurch haben wir quasi keine Heizkosten mehr und ein sehr gemütliches Innenklima. Übrigens auch immer Sommer, wenn es zu heißt ist, passiert der gleiche Mechanismus umgekehrt. Denn der Boden ist ja dann kühl, dann muss man das durch den Boden leiten. Also das ist ein Beispiel von Hunderten, wie man mindesten fünfmal so effektiv sein kann. Ein anderes Beispiel ist die LED-Lampe, anstelle der alten Glühbirne. Die ist 10mal so Lichteffektiv als die alte Glühbirne. Also gemessen pro Kilowattstunde. Und die Nahrungsmittel und die normalen Produkte, Kühlschrank und was es alles gibt, kann man sehr viel effizienter machen. Das bisschen Rest was man dann noch braucht für Bewegung und für doch noch aufwärmen und industrielle Prozesse wie Stahlschmerze und so etwas, das kann man dann mit erneuerbaren Energien machen. Ich war im deutschen Bundestag, auf Initiative meines Parteifreundes von der SPD Hermann Scheer, als sie das Gesetzt für erneuerbaren Energien durchgesetzt haben. Damals kostete eine Stunde, eine Kilowatt Stunde Photovoltaik-Strom einen Euro. Heute kostet es in Deutschland nur noch 1/20. Fünf Euro Cent und in geeigneten Gegenden Afrika nur noch 2 Euro Cent. Das heißt also, was als ich in die Politik gegangen bin, ich für einen teuren Luxus gehalten habe (Ich habe trotzdem dafür gestimmt), ist heute lukrativer als Kohle, Kernenergie und Benzin. Das heißt die Technik hat sich in Richtung Klimaschutz entwickelt, man muss die Rahmenbedingungen so ändern, dass die Leute mit den richtigen Dingen Geld verdienen anstatt mit den Falschen. Und da kann man die neue Generation, die junge Generation sehr leicht überzeugen. Ja das wollen wir.

Raina: Wirtschaftswachstum ist ja eins der größten Argumente gegen strenge Klimaschutzgesetzte, denn viele Menschen sind der Meinung das Wirtschaftswachstum und Klimaschutz nicht miteinander einhergehen können. Aber sie haben ja gerade ein gutes Beispiel genannt, wie das doch möglich sein kann. Dennoch ist es so, dass viele Leute davon nicht überzeugt sind. Was würden Sie dazu sagen?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Empirisch von der Realität her, haben die Leute erstmal Recht. Es gibt eine stramme Relation Prokopf-Wohlstands Entwicklung und Co2 Ausstößen pro Kopf. Aber wenn wir dafür sorgen, dass in der Energiepolitik grüner Wasserstoff erschwinglich wird und Energieeffizienz lukrativer wird und Stoffeffizienz, also Kreislaufwirtschaft auf einmal richtig rentabel sind, braucht man längst nicht so viel Erzabbau und Verschiffung und was es alles gibt. Das heißt man kann unglaublich viel eleganter werden so dass dann Wohlstandsentwicklung und Treibhausgasemissionen auseinandergerissen werden. Das muss man erreichen, das ist dann die neue Technologie.

Raina: Sie haben ja gerade eben davon geredet, dass sie damals die nachhaltigen Technologien eher als luxuriös angesehen haben und das ist ja ein weiterer Kritikpunkt denn viele als sehr wichtig ansehen. Da oft die umweltfreundlichen Alternativen teurerer waren. Sie waren früher ja auch in der SPD und interessieren sich nehme ich mal sehr für soziale Gerechtigkeit. Wie denken Sie denn, dass man da auch etwas dagegen tun kann, dass eben die neuen Technologien nicht nur für wohlhabender Leute zugänglich gemacht werden?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Absolut richtig. Übrigens bin ich immer noch bei der SPD. Und mir ist es sehr wichtig, dass die ärmeren Menschen in der Bevölkerung nicht leiden unter Umweltschutz und Klimaschutz leiden. Die Ärmsten Menschen auf der Welt die Indigenen in Brasilien in Indien und was es so alles gibt. Die leben davon das die Umwelt gesund ist. Wenn die Umweltzerstörung überhandnimmt, dann verlieren die ihre Lebensgrundlage. Also in Bezug auf gesunde Gewässer, gesunde Luft und gesunde Bäume und so weiter. Es ist genau umgekehrt. Die Armen sind auf Umwelt angewiesen. Die Reichen können sich irgendwelche Oasen aussuchen, in denen die Umwelt noch gesund ist. Bei uns ist es tatsächlich genau wie sie sagen, dass wir dafür sorgen müssen das die Ärmeren Familien nicht ökonomisch leiden unter dem was ökologisch notwendig ist. Das kann man ohne weiteres machen. Zum Beispiel kann meine eine CO2 Steuer so machen, dass einfach pro Tonne CO2 ziemlich viel gezahlt werden muss. Sagen wir mal Beispiel 100 Euro. Das dadurch eingenommene Geld, was durch den Staat eingenommen wird, wird pro Kopf der Bevölkerung zurückverteilt. Die Armen kriegen genauso so viel wie die Reichen. Aber die Armen pusten weniger Co2 aus als die Reichen. Also werden durch diesen Umverteilungsmechanismus die Armen reicher und die Reichen ärmer.

Raina: Sie sind ja auch Autor und sprechen in ihren Büchern oft von einer vollen Welt. Das unsere Denkgewohnheiten, welche aus dem Zeitalter der Aufklärung stammen heutzutage unangemessen sind. Und nun ist es ja so das Deutschland als sehr weit entwickelter Industriestaat eine gewisse Verantwortung gegenüber den ganzen anderen Ländern in der Welt hat, weil wir nun ja eine volle Welt sind. Denken Sie denn, dass es zum Beispiel für Entwicklungsländer gerechtfertigt wäre auf Grund des Wirtschaftswachstumes auf weniger nachhaltigere Alternativen zurückzugreifen?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Zunächst einmal muss ich sagen, dass diese Unterscheidung in leere Welt und voller Welt ist nicht von mir, sondern von Professor Dr. Herman Daly. Der war Chefökonom der Weltbank, also nicht unbedingt ein grüner Spinner. Der sagte nur: Real, vor 20.000 tausend oder 200.000 Jahren in der Steinzeit oder Silberzeit, da waren die Menschen eine verschwindend kleine Menge und selbst noch zur Zeit von Montesquieu und Immanuel Kant, hatten wir nur ungefähr ein Zehntel der Menschen wie heute und nur etwa ein Hundertstel des ökonomischen Umsatzes von heute. Das war die leere Welt. Damals wurde man berühmt als Erfinder oder als Entdecker, de facto als Räuber als Kolonisatoren die Afrika unterworfen haben, das waren in Europa Helden. Das war gemein gegen Afrika, aber für die Natur war das noch aushaltbar. Die volle Welt ist neu. Seit ungefähr 1950 geht es raketenartig nach oben. Jetzt kriegen wir auf einmal Probleme, dass die biologische Vielfalt kaputt geht, dass das Klima kaputt geht, das an vielen Stellen Wasserknappheit plötzlich da ist und so weiter. Das ist das Phänomen der vollen Welt. Das ist ein Negativwort. Das ist eine Schädigung gewesen. Jetzt muss man fragen, wie reagiert man darauf. Da gibt es sehr verschiedene Dinge. Das eine ist, zur Zeit der Steinzeit war es für das Überleben der Menschheit wichtig, dass Frauen zehn bis 20 Kinder kriegen konnten. Sonst wäre die Menschheit ausgestorben bei der Säuglings- und Kindersterblichkeit oder Hungersnöten. Alles das was so passierte. Aber heute, in der vollen Welt, sind ein bis zwei Kinder das richtige Maß der Familie. Und in China, Deutschland, Italien und in vielen anderen Ländern hat man das längst begriffen, dass die Stabilisierung der Bevölkerung gut für das Land, gut für die Bevölkerung ist. In der Mehrzahl der afrikanischen Länder ist das leider noch nicht angekommen. Das ist sehr wichtig, dass Afrika und auch andere Länder merken, dass wir Bevölkerungsstabilisierung als sehr wichtiges Ziel brauchen. Aber um wieder auf Ihre Frage zurückzukommen. Es ist vollkommen richtig, dass die klimafreundlichen Technologien so künstlich verbilligt werden müssen, dass auch die ärmeren Menschen und auch die ärmeren Nationen davon etwas haben können. Und es ist nicht einfach zu teuer wäre. Das ist eine politische Aufgabe. Davon muss man dann die Reichen und die Produzenten überzeugen, dass es wichtig ist, dass die ganze Welt etwas davon hat und nicht nur die Reichen. Das sind zwei sehr verschiedene Dinge. Das eine ist das Kinderkriegen und das andere ist die Erschwinglichkeit und die Vorteile der modernen Technologie. Das sind die Dinge, die man sich im Einzelnen angucken muss. Da kann man nicht mit einer Pauschalantwort kommen.

Raina:  Um die Denkgewohnheiten noch einmal anzusprechen. Das was wir hier brauchen ist essenziell ein Paradigmenwechsel, der ja schon oft in Industrieländern erfolgt ist, weil viel mehr Leute hier einen höheren Bildungsstandard haben. In vielen Ländern in z.B. Afrika oder generell im globalen Süden ist Bildung ja genau das was fehlt. Wie kann Deutschlands da, als Industriestaat beisteuern? Sie sind ja hier auch beim World Future Council Ehrenratsmitglied und deswegen schauen Sie sich ja nicht nur Deutschland an, sondern die ganze Welt.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker:  Ich finde es großartig, dass der WFC sich genau diese Art von Fragen stellt und dabei zu dem Ergebnis kommt: Es muss eine Kooperation zwischen Nord und Süd geben. Wobei der Norden das Wissen, die Technologie und das notwendige Geld zum Einkauf dieser Technologien und zur Bildungsentwicklung zu einem erheblichen Teil beigesteuert wird. Aus Gerechtigkeitsgründen und auch aus Glaubwürdigkeitsgründen. Ich bin überzeugt, dass es für Entwicklungshilfe Agenturen im Norden und im für die Länder des Nordens ausgesprochen nützlich ist, wenn dafür gesorgt wird das im Süden die Bildung und auch die technische Bildung, die berufliche Bildung und auch die Technik Fortentwicklung auf Universitätsniveau richtig vorankommt. Dann werden das nämlich Partner und nicht Hungerleider.

Raina:  Ich glaube Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe ist hier ein sehr gutes Stichwort. So dass Entwicklungsländer nicht von uns abhängig gemacht werden, sondern sie sich selbst helfen können sich zu entwickeln.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker:  Absolut

Raina:  Sie unterstützen ja den WFC und haben eine besondere Leidenschaft für die Rechte von zukünftigen Generationen. Was ist für Sie denn ein Recht was Ihnen besonders wichtig ist oder was momentan besonders wichtig ist, was bewahrt werden muss für zukünftige Generationen?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Also ich würde sagen ein Recht auf Bildung ist ein Teil der Menschenrechte. Es soll nicht sein, dass irgendeine Familie zu arm ist, um ihren Kindern einen Zugang zur Schule zu ermöglichen. Das darf nicht sein. Das muss aber in erster Linie das betreffende Land organisieren. Dann wird übrigens das betroffene Land auch reicher. Dafür muss aber auch der Norden dafür sorgen, dass nicht durch irgendwelche Barrieren die anderen arm gehalten werden. Wir müssen einen fairen Nord-Süd Warenaustausch, und Geldaustausch, Bildungsaustausch haben. Also wenn ich an der Universität Freiburg Vorlesungen halte, übrigens auf Englisch, dann sind etwa die Hälfte der Studierenden aus Entwicklungsländern. Die sind dann immer ganz glücklich, wenn ich so rede, wie sie es gewöhnt sind aus ihrem eigenen Land. Wenn ich also nicht die Arroganz des Nordens rauslasse, sondern sage: Jetzt will ich euch erstmal gut zuhören. Wo liegen eure Probleme? Ihr habt ja die meisten Sachen schon einmal durchdacht. Dann komme ich mit Lösungsangeboten und frage dann immer wieder: Oder ist euch das noc


Shownotes

& weitere Informationen



Intro: Hallo und herzlich willkommen bei The Good Council, dem Podcast des World Future Council. In jeder Folge werden wir aktuelle Herausforderungen und politische Lösungen aufzeigen. Und wir nehmen Sie mit auf eine Reise voller inspirierender Geschichten. Hören Sie sich einen weiteren unserer generationenübergreifenden Dialoge aus aller Welt an.

Hallo, mein Name ist Raina Ivanova, und ich bin Repräsentantin des Jugendforums Youth: Present. In dieser Episode spreche ich mit Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker. Ernst ist ehemaliger Vorsitzender des Bundestag Umweltkomitees, Ehrenpräsident des Club of Rome, und ehemaliger Dekan der Bren School of Environmental Science and Management an der University of California, Santa Barbara. Er studierte Physik in Hamburg und promovierte in Biologie im Jahre 1968 an der Universität Freiburg. In den 70er Jahren war er Professor für Biologie an der Universität Essen und Präsident der Universität in Kassel, bevor er Direktor des UN Centre for Science and Technology in New York wurde. Von 1984 bis 1991 war er Direktor des Instituts für Europäische Umweltpolitik in Bonn, Paris und London und von 1991 bis 2000 war Prof. von Weizsäcker Präsident des Wuppertal Instituts für Klima, Umwelt und Energie. Von 1998 bis 2005 war er Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages und leitete von 2002 bis 2005 den Ausschuss für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit. Er ist Autor vieler Bücher, darunter Factor Five und wurde 2008 mit dem Deutschen Umweltpreis ausgezeichnet. Er ist Ehrenmitglied des World Future Councils.

Raina: Vielen Dank, dass Sie heute hier sind.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ja vielen Dank. An meinem Lebenslauf haben Sie ja erfahren, dass ich vollkommen wahnsinnig bin. Immer wieder was Neues.

Raina: Man merkt auf jeden Fall, dass sie einen sehr starken Wissenschaftsfokus haben. Was begeistert Sie denn so sehr an der Naturwissenschaft?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ach, ich war einfach sehr neugierig. Schon als Kind sah ich Raupen und die haben sich verpuppt und plötzlich waren es Schmetterlinge. Unglaublich, was sich da alles tut. Pflanzen haben mich nicht so sehr interessiert, aber Tiere immer. Und dann wollte ich Biologe werden und dann sagte mir ein alter weiser Mann: „Wenn du Biologie studieren willst, darfst du nicht Biologie studieren. Dann musst du erstmal was Seriöses machen. Chemie, Mathematik, Physik oder meinetwegen Medizin und dann wirst du später Biologe“. So habe ich es gemacht.

Raina: Sie haben durchaus auch einen Fokus auf die Umwelt. Sie waren unter anderem Teil des Ausschusses für Umwelt im Bundestag. Im Mai ist nun das Klimaschutzurteil gefallen, durch diese Verfassungsklage. Und wir wissen ja das die Lage mit dem Klimaschutz in Deutschland durchaus kritisch ist. Wie sehen Sie das und denken Sie das dieses Urteil etwas verändern kann?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Da gibt es erstmal ganz viele Antworten. Die eine ist, dass die deutsche Umweltministerin Svenja Schulze wollte, genau dieses ehrgeizige Gesetz, aber das konnte sie mit dem Koalitionspartner von der CDU, vor allem der Wirtschaftsvereinigung der CDU nicht durchsetzen. Also wurde dann ein Kompromiss gefunden. Dann hat das Bundesverfassungsgericht gesagt, dass ist aber nicht gut genug für künftige Generationen. Das ist rechtlich eine ganz neue Sache, dass das Verfassungsgericht sagt, die Politik muss nicht nur die an die heute lebenden Menschen denken, sondern auch an die Zukunft, die vielleicht noch nicht Geborenen. Und dafür ist es nicht ehrgeizig genug. Ich habe Svenja Schulze, die Ministerin, begeistert gehört über dieses Gesetz. Jetzt mit Rückendeckung des Bundesverfassungsgesetzes können wir endlich das machen, was wir sowieso wollten.

Raina: Denken Sie denn, dass dieses neue Urteil ausreichend ist, damit wir unseren nationalen Klimaziele einhalten können?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Die nationalen Klimaziele, die wir 2015 in Paris zugesagt haben, dass kriegen wir einigermaßen hin. Besser als die Mehrzahl der anderen Länder. Trotzdem kann man auch hier noch ehrgeiziger werden und da finde ich es sehr gut, dass die Grünen und die SPD der Meinung sind, ja wir müssen noch ehrgeiziger werden. Jetzt will man ja die Klimaneutralität nicht mehr erst 2050, wie in Paris versprochen, sondern 2045 hinkriegen. Jetzt müssen wir nur noch darauf achten, dass das Erreichen dieses ehrgeizigeren Zieles nicht mit Missbrauch oder falschen Tatsachen erreicht wird. Also zum Beispiel, wenn einer zu viel CO2 auspustet oder andere Treibhausgase und dann kauft er sich, Landgrabbing nennt man das, ein Stückchen Afrika und baut da eine Eukalyptus Plantage hoch. Die nimmt ein bisschen CO2 auf und dann sagt er: Schaut mal, alles Klimaneutral. Die Eukalyptus-Plantage egalisiert was ich dazu viel gemacht habe. Das ist idiotisch. Und das passt nicht nach Afrika. Das macht die Böden kaputt. Das macht die biologische Vielfalt kaputt. Macht viele Tiere kaputt. Das darf man nicht in einer einfachen Gegenrechnung als Erreichung des Klimaschutzzieles anbieten.

Raina: Nun haben viele damit gerechnet das dieses Urteil gar nicht gefällt werden wird, weil es mit Klimaschutz seit langem sehr kritisch aussieht und meiner Meinung nach noch immer sehr kritisch aussieht. Was glauben Sie was dieses Urteil über unsere Gesellschaft aussagt?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: In der Bevölkerung gibt es eine verbreitete Stimmung. „Wir wollen in Ruhe gelassen werden. Wir wollen nicht immer noch mehr tun für Leute, die wir nie kennen lernen.“ Also unsere Urenkel oder sowas. Ich habe als ich in Amerika war einen Cartoon, also so eine Witzgeschichte gesehen. Da war ein Kino abgebildet. Das hatte zwei Filme im Angebot. Das eine war der Film von Al Gore, früherer Vizepräsident der Vereinigten Staaten und das hatte den Titel „An Inconvenient Truth“, also eine unbequeme Wahrheit und das andere Kino hatte im Angebot „A reassuring lie“ eine Beruhigungslüge. Und dann, wo die Leute reingehen. Also alle gehen in die „reassuring lie“. Also das Volk möchte der Wahrheit nicht so gern ins Auge gucken und Politikerinnen und Politiker, die zu ehrgeizig sind, werden gnadenlos abgewählt.  Das ist das Problem. Aber immer nur die Schuld bei den Politikern zu suchen, das ist mir zu einfach.

Raina: Sie waren ja selbst einmal Politiker in der SPD ist das richtig?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ja

Raina: Und das ist ja oft, dass in unserer Gesellschaft sehr radikalere Ansätze sehr früh schon abgelehnt werden, weil Leute es nicht mögen ruckartig Veränderungen durchzuleben. Wie denken Sie ist es möglich trotzdem diese Veränderungen erzeugen zu können?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Also ich habe eine Zeit lang in einer Arbeitsgruppe als Leiter gearbeitet in China. Als Berater des chinesischen Ministerpräsidenten. Ich war Leiter der Arbeitsgruppe über ökonomische Instrumente für Energieeffizienz und Umweltschutz. Und dort habe ich folgendes, auf ihre Frage geantwortet. Wir machen eine lang Frist Preissteigerung, aber jedes Jahr nur gerade so viel wie das Volk gut aushalten kann und die Industrie. Also wenn die Energie effizienter wird, im Jahr 2022 dann wird 2023 die Energie umso so viel Prozent teurerer wird, wie die Effizienz zugenommen hat. Also das das Geld was man pro Monat für die Energie Dienstleitungen ausgibt nie mehr wird. Nur die reichen Familien, die kriegen diesen Effizienz-Fortschritte eher als die Armen, da muss man dann was politisch machen, damit die Armen nicht die Verlierer sind. Das ist aber dann eine weitere Sache. Jedenfalls, wenn man dieses in China, wo die Leute ja langfristig denken auf 20, 30, 40 Jahre festlegt, dann werden die Investoren und Ingenieure heute schon das machen, was in 20, 30, 40 Jahren nötig ist. Das heißt also weitestgehend schmerzlos, aber ungeheuer wirksam in der langen Frist.

Nur wenn ich das in Deutschland, Frankreich oder in Uruguay oder Malaysia. Dann werden die Leute sagen, wenn alle vier Jahren Wahlen sind, dann wird doch die neue Regierung das ganz schnell stoppen. Dann sage ich: Dann müssen wir dafür sorgen, dass zum Beispiel durch einen Verfassungsartikel, diejenigen Dinge, die für die lang Frist gemeint sind, nicht abhängig sind von den jeweiligen Wahlen. Das wäre doch auch mal eine Lösung. Dann hätten wir also zwei Ziele erreicht. Erstmal eine sehr starke Klimapolitik und zweitens weitestgehend Schmerzfreiheit.

Raina: Sie haben gerade gesagt, dass dieser Prozess circa 40 Jahre gedauert hat. Das ist ja schon längerfristig.  Denken sie denn, dass das ein Lösungsansatz für die Klimakrise wäre, vor allem bedenken wir das die größte Ressource die uns fehlt, Zeit ist?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Natürlich hätte ich es auch gerne, wenn das ganze sehr viel schneller geht. Aber wenn das nur dazu führt, dass die Parteien, die sich dafür eingesetzt haben, automatisch bei der nächsten Wahl weggewischt werden, dann ist das eine Springprozession. Zwei Schritte vorwärts und wieder einen Schritt zurück. Das ist nicht besonders gescheit. Deswegen will ich lieber etwas, was gerade noch für die Mehrheit akzeptabel ist, ganz wenig wehtut, aber was für die junge Generationen eine exzellente Zukunftsperspektive wird.

Raina:  Denken Sie denn, dass die Klimakatastrophe noch aufzuhalten ist?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ich glaube, dass die Maßnahmen, die ich politisch vorgeschlagen habe, also mit dem Schrittchen weise vorwärts gehen, aber konsequent. Dass das eine tolle Chance bietet, dass es zu den katastrophenartigen Zusammenbrüchen nicht kommen wird. Es wird große Veränderungen geben. Die Landwirtschaft muss sich ändern, die Forstwirtschaft muss sich ändern. Die Art wie man Städte baut, da braucht man wieder etwas mehr grün. Das sind Dinge, diese Sorte Anpassung gibt es immer mal wieder, das halten wir aus.

Raina: Nun ist Klimaschutz ja nicht eine Sache, die meine Generation angefangen hat, sondern das gab es ja schon durchaus mehrere Jahrzehnte davor. Aber trotzdem ist der Ansatz auf eine gewisse Art neu. Finden Sie das sich die heutige Klimabewegung mit der vor 30 Jahren vergleichen lässt?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Vor 30 Jahren waren 5% der Bevölkerung davon überzeugt, dass es einen Klimawandel gibt und das der problematisch ist und 95% der Bevölkerung haben gesagt, dass ist alles dummes Geschwätz von diesen komischen Wissenschaftlern. Und heute nach drei sehr trockenen Sommern und Waldbränden im Amazonas, in Australien, in Sibirien in Alaska und eben auch in Deutschland. Hat die Weltbevölkerung aufgeschreckt. Und jetzt sind etwa 60-70% der Bevölkerung der Meinung. Ja es leider gibt es eine Klimaerwärmung mit zum Teil sehr weitreichenden Folgen. Sie haben eben in meiner Einführung gesagt ich sei in Santa Barbara gewesen, in Kalifornien. Da war ich drei Jahre lang und viele meiner Freunde, die dort gelebt haben, haben ihre Häuser verloren. Und deswegen sind gerade in Kalifornien eine dicke Mehrheit der Menschen der Meinung, wir müssen mehr tun.

Raina: Als jüngerer Mensch merke ich, dass gerade in meiner Generation momentan viele ihre Einstellung ändern. Wenn ich zum Beispiel damit vergleiche, wie meine Großeltern oft das Thema Klimaschutz angehen dann merke ich ja schon das ist etwas revolutionäres, wie Klimaschutz heute vonstattengeht. Haben Sie irgendwelche Tipps oder Ratschläge an jüngere Leute, denn Sie bringen ja sehr viel Lebenserfahrung mit.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Also erst einmal finde ich es wundervoll, wenn es einen Dialog zwischen den Alten und den Jungen gibt. Und dass die Alten nicht so tun als seien die Jungen noch in den Windeln. Und dass die Jungen nicht so tun als seien die Alten völlig vertrocknet. Denn manchmal ist es genau umgekehrt. Beides ist erklärungsbedürftig und die Kommunikation ist sehr wichtig. Ich rede mit meinen Enkeln sehr oft darüber und die holen sich ihren Rat bei mir ab, weil ich manches auch schon weiß, da ich ja mal Wissenschaftler war. Gleichzeitig merke ich, dass bei den Jungen noch eine gewisse Bereitschaft vorhanden ist, jetzt alles mal anders zu machen. Ich habe mich mit Greta Thunberg angefreundet und mit Luisa Neubauer. Die sprechen für ihre Generation, wobei auch nicht mehr als die Hälfte der Jungen so denken. Die andere Hälfte sitzt da und „dattelt“ und streamt, die machen irgendwelche andere Sache. Die eigentlich mit Klimaschutz nichts zu tun haben und langweilen sich einfach.

Raina: Sie haben da gerade auch noch ein anderes Problem angesprochen, was ich persönlich auch sehr stark wahrnehme. Also das Klimaschutz manchmal auch nur in diesen Bubbles passiert. stattfinden. Also ich persönlich würde sagen, dass ich mich in einer dieser „Klimaschutzbubble“ befinde, wo viele meiner Freunde einfach sich für den Klimawandel interessiert und sich dafür interessieren ihr Leben so zu verändern, dass sie dagegenwirken können. Aber für viele ist das noch sehr unzugänglich. Auch als Politiker wie denken Sie denn, dass Klimawandel für alle zugänglicher gemacht werden könnte?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Wenn man immer mal wieder Schreckensfilme zeigt, immer mal wieder. Die einem bildlich zeigen, was auf einem zukommen kann, wenn das Grönlandeis ins Meer rutscht oder sowas in der Art. Das wäre ja für die Stadt Hamburg fürchterlich. Wenn man die potenzielle Realität in Bildform vor sich sieht und dann denkt, das ist zwar nur ein Film. Aber wenn die Realität so wird, das wollen wir doch lieber verhindern. In Deutschland sind wir so reich, wir können Deiche bauen. In Bangladesch geht das nicht. Etwas die Hälfte von Bangladesch wäre unter Wasser, das wären dann 50 Millionen Menschen. Und dann haben wir ein Flüchtlingsproblem, das ist 20- bis 100-mal größer als das Flüchtlingsproblem von 2015. Und schon damit sind wir ja 2015 politisch fast nicht fertig geworden.

Raina: Bei mir war es auch tatsächlich auch ein Schreckensfilm, der mich motiviert für den Klimaschutz tätig zu werden. Und zwar auch der von dem sie gerade gesprochen haben: „An inconvenient Truth“ von Al Gore. Da war ich auch 12 Jahre alt und als ich gesehen habe, dass Hamburg theoretisch unter Wasser stände, wenn die Meeresspiegel weiter so ansteigen, war es auch für mich zum ersten Mal etwas greifbarer, dass der Klimawandel nicht nur im globalen Süden existiert und für mich nicht nur in der fernen Zukunft spielt.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Sehr gut, dass sie den Film nicht verwendet haben, um sich mit Tränen zurückzuziehen, sondern das es Sie ermutigt hat mit Freundinnen und Freunden ihrer Generation und ein paar Alten zusammenzustehen und zu sagen: Leute das ist ein echtes Problem, da müssen wir jetzt was tun.

Raina: Nur kurz, um die Tränen anzusprechen. Es war wirklich meine erste Reaktion. Oft ist es ja auch sehr frustrierend sich für den Klimawandel einzusetzen, weil es halt als radikale Klimapolitik angesehen wird, die irgendwie sehr realitätsfern ist von dem was wir erreichen können. Wie sehen Sie es denn, ist der Ansatz oft zu radikal von jüngeren Menschen?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Ich finde es gut, dass es diese Stimme erstmal gibt. So dass Leute, die eher kompromissbereit sind wie ich, nicht als sehr radikal angesehen werden, sondern als ein freundschaftliches Angebot der Mitte. Zwischen dem was die ganz Langsamen gerade noch tolerieren können und dem was die berechtigterweise verärgerten Jungen verlangen. Und da muss man auch eine vernünftige Mitte finden. Zudem gibt es vieles was man auch technisch erreichen kann. Ich habe mit einem australischen Team zusammen ein Buch geschrieben, was denn Namen Faktor fünf hatte. Und darin beweisen wir, dass in den vier Klimawirksamsten Wirtschaftsbereiche: Gebäuden, Industrie, Verkehr und Landwirtschaft eine Verfünffachung der Energieeffizienz oder auch der Stoffeffizienz möglich ist. Meine Familie und ich leben zum Beispiel in einem Passivhaus. Das hat praktisch keine Heizkosten mehr, auch im kältesten Winter. Da ist nämlich eine sehr gute Isolierung und zweitens eine Wärmeaustausch-Belüftung drin. Wenn wir in einem warmen Wohnzimmer sitzen, dann sind oben so Schlitze und da wandert die Luft raus und wandert über ein Kanalsystem nach draußen. Und während sie das tut, berührt sie physikalisch die hereinkommende frische Kaltluft, so dass dann die Kaltluft frisch, aber aufgewärmt beinah in Zimmertemperatur ins Haus kommt. Dadurch haben wir quasi keine Heizkosten mehr und ein sehr gemütliches Innenklima. Übrigens auch immer Sommer, wenn es zu heißt ist, passiert der gleiche Mechanismus umgekehrt. Denn der Boden ist ja dann kühl, dann muss man das durch den Boden leiten. Also das ist ein Beispiel von Hunderten, wie man mindesten fünfmal so effektiv sein kann. Ein anderes Beispiel ist die LED-Lampe, anstelle der alten Glühbirne. Die ist 10mal so Lichteffektiv als die alte Glühbirne. Also gemessen pro Kilowattstunde. Und die Nahrungsmittel und die normalen Produkte, Kühlschrank und was es alles gibt, kann man sehr viel effizienter machen. Das bisschen Rest was man dann noch braucht für Bewegung und für doch noch aufwärmen und industrielle Prozesse wie Stahlschmerze und so etwas, das kann man dann mit erneuerbaren Energien machen. Ich war im deutschen Bundestag, auf Initiative meines Parteifreundes von der SPD Hermann Scheer, als sie das Gesetzt für erneuerbaren Energien durchgesetzt haben. Damals kostete eine Stunde, eine Kilowatt Stunde Photovoltaik-Strom einen Euro. Heute kostet es in Deutschland nur noch 1/20. Fünf Euro Cent und in geeigneten Gegenden Afrika nur noch 2 Euro Cent. Das heißt also, was als ich in die Politik gegangen bin, ich für einen teuren Luxus gehalten habe (Ich habe trotzdem dafür gestimmt), ist heute lukrativer als Kohle, Kernenergie und Benzin. Das heißt die Technik hat sich in Richtung Klimaschutz entwickelt, man muss die Rahmenbedingungen so ändern, dass die Leute mit den richtigen Dingen Geld verdienen anstatt mit den Falschen. Und da kann man die neue Generation, die junge Generation sehr leicht überzeugen. Ja das wollen wir.

Raina: Wirtschaftswachstum ist ja eins der größten Argumente gegen strenge Klimaschutzgesetzte, denn viele Menschen sind der Meinung das Wirtschaftswachstum und Klimaschutz nicht miteinander einhergehen können. Aber sie haben ja gerade ein gutes Beispiel genannt, wie das doch möglich sein kann. Dennoch ist es so, dass viele Leute davon nicht überzeugt sind. Was würden Sie dazu sagen?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Empirisch von der Realität her, haben die Leute erstmal Recht. Es gibt eine stramme Relation Prokopf-Wohlstands Entwicklung und Co2 Ausstößen pro Kopf. Aber wenn wir dafür sorgen, dass in der Energiepolitik grüner Wasserstoff erschwinglich wird und Energieeffizienz lukrativer wird und Stoffeffizienz, also Kreislaufwirtschaft auf einmal richtig rentabel sind, braucht man längst nicht so viel Erzabbau und Verschiffung und was es alles gibt. Das heißt man kann unglaublich viel eleganter werden so dass dann Wohlstandsentwicklung und Treibhausgasemissionen auseinandergerissen werden. Das muss man erreichen, das ist dann die neue Technologie.

Raina: Sie haben ja gerade eben davon geredet, dass sie damals die nachhaltigen Technologien eher als luxuriös angesehen haben und das ist ja ein weiterer Kritikpunkt denn viele als sehr wichtig ansehen. Da oft die umweltfreundlichen Alternativen teurerer waren. Sie waren früher ja auch in der SPD und interessieren sich nehme ich mal sehr für soziale Gerechtigkeit. Wie denken Sie denn, dass man da auch etwas dagegen tun kann, dass eben die neuen Technologien nicht nur für wohlhabender Leute zugänglich gemacht werden?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Absolut richtig. Übrigens bin ich immer noch bei der SPD. Und mir ist es sehr wichtig, dass die ärmeren Menschen in der Bevölkerung nicht leiden unter Umweltschutz und Klimaschutz leiden. Die Ärmsten Menschen auf der Welt die Indigenen in Brasilien in Indien und was es so alles gibt. Die leben davon das die Umwelt gesund ist. Wenn die Umweltzerstörung überhandnimmt, dann verlieren die ihre Lebensgrundlage. Also in Bezug auf gesunde Gewässer, gesunde Luft und gesunde Bäume und so weiter. Es ist genau umgekehrt. Die Armen sind auf Umwelt angewiesen. Die Reichen können sich irgendwelche Oasen aussuchen, in denen die Umwelt noch gesund ist. Bei uns ist es tatsächlich genau wie sie sagen, dass wir dafür sorgen müssen das die Ärmeren Familien nicht ökonomisch leiden unter dem was ökologisch notwendig ist. Das kann man ohne weiteres machen. Zum Beispiel kann meine eine CO2 Steuer so machen, dass einfach pro Tonne CO2 ziemlich viel gezahlt werden muss. Sagen wir mal Beispiel 100 Euro. Das dadurch eingenommene Geld, was durch den Staat eingenommen wird, wird pro Kopf der Bevölkerung zurückverteilt. Die Armen kriegen genauso so viel wie die Reichen. Aber die Armen pusten weniger Co2 aus als die Reichen. Also werden durch diesen Umverteilungsmechanismus die Armen reicher und die Reichen ärmer.

Raina: Sie sind ja auch Autor und sprechen in ihren Büchern oft von einer vollen Welt. Das unsere Denkgewohnheiten, welche aus dem Zeitalter der Aufklärung stammen heutzutage unangemessen sind. Und nun ist es ja so das Deutschland als sehr weit entwickelter Industriestaat eine gewisse Verantwortung gegenüber den ganzen anderen Ländern in der Welt hat, weil wir nun ja eine volle Welt sind. Denken Sie denn, dass es zum Beispiel für Entwicklungsländer gerechtfertigt wäre auf Grund des Wirtschaftswachstumes auf weniger nachhaltigere Alternativen zurückzugreifen?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Zunächst einmal muss ich sagen, dass diese Unterscheidung in leere Welt und voller Welt ist nicht von mir, sondern von Professor Dr. Herman Daly. Der war Chefökonom der Weltbank, also nicht unbedingt ein grüner Spinner. Der sagte nur: Real, vor 20.000 tausend oder 200.000 Jahren in der Steinzeit oder Silberzeit, da waren die Menschen eine verschwindend kleine Menge und selbst noch zur Zeit von Montesquieu und Immanuel Kant, hatten wir nur ungefähr ein Zehntel der Menschen wie heute und nur etwa ein Hundertstel des ökonomischen Umsatzes von heute. Das war die leere Welt. Damals wurde man berühmt als Erfinder oder als Entdecker, de facto als Räuber als Kolonisatoren die Afrika unterworfen haben, das waren in Europa Helden. Das war gemein gegen Afrika, aber für die Natur war das noch aushaltbar. Die volle Welt ist neu. Seit ungefähr 1950 geht es raketenartig nach oben. Jetzt kriegen wir auf einmal Probleme, dass die biologische Vielfalt kaputt geht, dass das Klima kaputt geht, das an vielen Stellen Wasserknappheit plötzlich da ist und so weiter. Das ist das Phänomen der vollen Welt. Das ist ein Negativwort. Das ist eine Schädigung gewesen. Jetzt muss man fragen, wie reagiert man darauf. Da gibt es sehr verschiedene Dinge. Das eine ist, zur Zeit der Steinzeit war es für das Überleben der Menschheit wichtig, dass Frauen zehn bis 20 Kinder kriegen konnten. Sonst wäre die Menschheit ausgestorben bei der Säuglings- und Kindersterblichkeit oder Hungersnöten. Alles das was so passierte. Aber heute, in der vollen Welt, sind ein bis zwei Kinder das richtige Maß der Familie. Und in China, Deutschland, Italien und in vielen anderen Ländern hat man das längst begriffen, dass die Stabilisierung der Bevölkerung gut für das Land, gut für die Bevölkerung ist. In der Mehrzahl der afrikanischen Länder ist das leider noch nicht angekommen. Das ist sehr wichtig, dass Afrika und auch andere Länder merken, dass wir Bevölkerungsstabilisierung als sehr wichtiges Ziel brauchen. Aber um wieder auf Ihre Frage zurückzukommen. Es ist vollkommen richtig, dass die klimafreundlichen Technologien so künstlich verbilligt werden müssen, dass auch die ärmeren Menschen und auch die ärmeren Nationen davon etwas haben können. Und es ist nicht einfach zu teuer wäre. Das ist eine politische Aufgabe. Davon muss man dann die Reichen und die Produzenten überzeugen, dass es wichtig ist, dass die ganze Welt etwas davon hat und nicht nur die Reichen. Das sind zwei sehr verschiedene Dinge. Das eine ist das Kinderkriegen und das andere ist die Erschwinglichkeit und die Vorteile der modernen Technologie. Das sind die Dinge, die man sich im Einzelnen angucken muss. Da kann man nicht mit einer Pauschalantwort kommen.

Raina:  Um die Denkgewohnheiten noch einmal anzusprechen. Das was wir hier brauchen ist essenziell ein Paradigmenwechsel, der ja schon oft in Industrieländern erfolgt ist, weil viel mehr Leute hier einen höheren Bildungsstandard haben. In vielen Ländern in z.B. Afrika oder generell im globalen Süden ist Bildung ja genau das was fehlt. Wie kann Deutschlands da, als Industriestaat beisteuern? Sie sind ja hier auch beim World Future Council Ehrenratsmitglied und deswegen schauen Sie sich ja nicht nur Deutschland an, sondern die ganze Welt.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker:  Ich finde es großartig, dass der WFC sich genau diese Art von Fragen stellt und dabei zu dem Ergebnis kommt: Es muss eine Kooperation zwischen Nord und Süd geben. Wobei der Norden das Wissen, die Technologie und das notwendige Geld zum Einkauf dieser Technologien und zur Bildungsentwicklung zu einem erheblichen Teil beigesteuert wird. Aus Gerechtigkeitsgründen und auch aus Glaubwürdigkeitsgründen. Ich bin überzeugt, dass es für Entwicklungshilfe Agenturen im Norden und im für die Länder des Nordens ausgesprochen nützlich ist, wenn dafür gesorgt wird das im Süden die Bildung und auch die technische Bildung, die berufliche Bildung und auch die Technik Fortentwicklung auf Universitätsniveau richtig vorankommt. Dann werden das nämlich Partner und nicht Hungerleider.

Raina:  Ich glaube Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe ist hier ein sehr gutes Stichwort. So dass Entwicklungsländer nicht von uns abhängig gemacht werden, sondern sie sich selbst helfen können sich zu entwickeln.

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker:  Absolut

Raina:  Sie unterstützen ja den WFC und haben eine besondere Leidenschaft für die Rechte von zukünftigen Generationen. Was ist für Sie denn ein Recht was Ihnen besonders wichtig ist oder was momentan besonders wichtig ist, was bewahrt werden muss für zukünftige Generationen?

Prof. Dr. Weizsäcker: Also ich würde sagen ein Recht auf Bildung ist ein Teil der Menschenrechte. Es soll nicht sein, dass irgendeine Familie zu arm ist, um ihren Kindern einen Zugang zur Schule zu ermöglichen. Das darf nicht sein. Das muss aber in erster Linie das betreffende Land organisieren. Dann wird übrigens das betroffene Land auch reicher. Dafür muss aber auch der Norden dafür sorgen, dass nicht durch irgendwelche Barrieren die anderen arm gehalten werden. Wir müssen einen fairen Nord-Süd Warenaustausch, und Geldaustausch, Bildungsaustausch haben. Also wenn ich an der Universität Freiburg Vorlesungen halte, übrigens auf Englisch, dann sind etwa die Hälfte der Studierenden aus Entwicklungsländern. Die sind dann immer ganz glücklich, wenn ich so rede, wie sie es gewöhnt sind aus ihrem eigenen Land. Wenn ich also nicht die Arroganz des Nordens rauslasse, sondern sage: Jetzt will ich euch erstmal gut zuhören. Wo liegen eure Probleme? Ihr habt ja die meisten Sachen schon einmal durchdacht. Dann komme ich mit Lösungsangeboten und frage dann immer wieder: Oder ist euch das noc

The Good Council: Annika Weis und María Fernanda Espinosa

Shownotes

& weitere Informationen



Intro: Hello, and welcome to The Good Council, the podcast of the World Future Council. In each episode, we’ll highlight current challenges and policy solutions. And we’ll also take you on a journey of inspiring stories. Listen in to another of our intergenerational dialogues from around the globe.

Annika:

My name is Annika, I’m 25 years old, and I’m a consultant at the World Future Council. In this episode, I’m speaking with Maria Fernanda Espinosa, who is one of the Councillors of the World Future Council. On 5 June 2018, she was elected as President of the United Nations 73rd General Assembly, as only the fourth woman to hold that office in UN history.

Maria Fernanda has more than 20 years of experience in international negotiations and multilateral issues, such peace, sustainable development, women’s rights, and biodiversity. She was a Permanent Representative to the UN in New York and later in Geneva. She has also served as Minister of Natural Heritage and Minister of Foreign Affairs on two occasions.

Today, I’m delighted to learn more about her as a person, as well as her work and mission in life, including her amazing engagement within the World Future Council!

Annika: Good morning, Maria, how are you?

Maria: I’m very well and very pleased to be with you, Annika!

Annika: Well, I’m very pleased that you are here and that you’re taking the time out of your very busy schedule. It’s a pleasure to have this conversation, thanks so much.

Maria: No, I have to thank you.

Annika: Thank you.

So let’s start with a brief look into your childhood. What was that like? And in what way has it shaped who you are?

Maria: Well, first of all, I grew up with three brothers and in that, I think was very important to shape my personality. It was I had a mother, she of course, was my role model, very independent, very strong, very much in charge, self-educated, because in my mom’s generation, and women didn’t go to university, they just got married and had children, but she prepared, self-educated herself. And she was an independent, a very successful businesswoman. And then very much in charge of our household, even though there was very much like a male accent—my dad, very traditional, conventional, and my three brothers. So the team was my mom and I and, she made sure that I had the strength, the independence, and the voice, with my three brothers, of course, but in the family and outside the family as well. So I would say my childhood was a happy childhood.

A little tough on the school front, because at the time, when I grew up, there was no idea about what today we call bullying. And at the time, we didn’t have that category. But, uh, now that I—you know, I think about the past, in a way, I realized that, yes, I was subject to bullying, because I was different: I had a lot of freckles, red hair and I was left-handed. And so I wasn’t—when you are a kid, the only thing you want is to be exactly the same as your peers and classmates. So I had this problem of writing with my left hand. And I was different, you know, my physically different because of freckles and I had all kinds of nicknames and all of that. But my mom was extremely supportive. At when I grew up, there was this idea that writing with your left hand was a bad habit, and that you need you needed to fix it and use your right hand, that was the right thing to do. And my mom was extremely, extremely strict at school saying, “My daughter’s left-handed, just let her do and don’t force her to use her right hand”. These are things that, you know, may appear unimportant, but they were, and I think all these elements shaped my personality as a as a very strong person. And, and I think it had a, you know, a strong impact on my future and in my career and life choices.

Annika: I can imagine. I would have never guessed but then you’d never know these things about someone else until you ask great, right! But what a story, looking at where you are now and who you are. And it’s a really powerful lesson for everyone who’s listening and maybe goes through the same struggles in their childhood.

So, if you look at your really successful career in politics and international diplomacy, is there anything you’d like to tell your younger self?

Maria: Well, I think one of the moments in my life when I was growing up, that were extremely important for my future is—very early, I don’t remember how old I was, my mom, something happened and she came and said, “listen, no one is going to knock on your door and tell you, here you have this opportunity. You have to fight for it, you have to shape your own future in a way”. And in I think that was so transforming in a way, I always knew that I had to fight for my dreams, and to follow my principles and values and to put all my passion and energy on the things that I wanted to do and change and transform. And when I was a child, my favorite, you know, game to play—very strange!—but I had my cousins and my brothers. So I would always organize school. And I was playing as if I was a teacher, teaching things, you know, and I think what this was also a landmark in my life in terms of being able to share, to learn, to interact, that I think was very important for the advocacy work I started very early in my career, supporting indigenous peoples on their rights and struggles; being an activist on the environmental front, in a very early stages of my professional career as well. And I started working and living with indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon for a long time. Then I went to work for IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature], I became the regional director and I started to really shape my international career.

But I really started, you know, touching the ground living in the Amazon, learning amazing things in worldviews, from indigenous people, especially Indigenous women. And then I started to go into different scales, working at the national level, then internationally, and that also shaped my diplomatic career. But I think it’s always important to go back to the roots to remind yourself over and over again, what are you, what is that you’re fighting for? For the dignity of people, for human security, for planetary security, for a different way of shaping our societies and the way we relate to nature, the way we relate to our environment as a global commons. And so I think that it’s a process, nothing happens by a miracle, especially for us, for women.

I think you have to craft your own life and your own future, and be very mindful that we still live in a world that is not gender equal, that has transexual inequalities, when you’re a woman from the global south, and a woman of color. And it’s, I would say, a tougher struggle. But it’s worthwhile. You have to pursue your dreams. I’m convinced.

Annika: Thank you. You touched on many issues there that I’d like to get back to in the course of the interview—fantastic teaser: inequalities, how it is being a woman on the international stage—but first I’d like to ask is, you joined the World Future Council in 2012. Why did you join the World Future Council and why do you care about the rights of future generations?

Maria: Well, 2012—I was then the Minister of cultural and natural heritage, a working a very, very hard to ensure that our policies and our interventions on the ground brought together culture and nature and that we basically, through the right policies, erased these artificial wall between culture and nature in a way and it’s strongly working to recover our heritage as a nation, and the inextricable connection between our cultural diversity with our biological diversity. So I was working on that as a minister, and I received the invitation from the World Future Council. And I really was fascinated by the work of the Council for two reasons.

First of all, this emphasis on assessing, looking, exploring at right policies for sustainable development and how the right policies, the right legislation, can really bring transformation and change in a country, but beyond a country. So, I really—this public policy, right policy approach, I really like that.

And the number two, of course, is this concept of transgenerational justice in a way. Transgenerational justice, when you are an environmentalist, it’s absolutely critical. Because this harmony between nature, the economy and politics can only happen if you think about the future generations and the legacy that you’re going to leave to future generations. So, I fell in love very quickly, with the mission, the vision of the World Future Council, and I accepted. And I’ve been so privileged that I have been re-elected as a Councillor a few times now. And now very soon, I’m going to have my 10th birthday, being part of the World Future Council family, and I feel very, very proud of being part of the family being part of the mission and being part of the transformative work that the World Future Council does every day.

Annika: Well, and we are very, very lucky to have you. So, thanks so much for all the wonderful support and the engagement that we enjoy having you! In a sentence though, in being a member with the World Future Council, what do you want to change in the world?

Maria: Well, I think that the World Future Council is a very powerful instrument to bring about transgenerational justice, especially transgenerational environmental justice. But at the same time, I think it is the right setting and the right means to make sure that we contribute, even if a little bit, to empower young people to have their own voices, to be the change makers that they want to be and that they deserve to be. So basically, this contribution, to both transgenerational environmental justice, but also to work on the right policies, policy decisions, and legal scaffolds, to build a true sustainable development for all, leaving no one behind, including the younger generations, I think that’s what the World Future Council brings.

Annika: Fantastic. So, I have to ask, though, because the challenges of our time are becoming increasingly evermore complex. Could please explain how all of these issues are interconnected: climate change, the rights of young people and women, and the destruction of natural habitats and peace? How are they interconnected?

Maria: I think, Annika, we live in a world of paradox. I am always amazed to see you know, the level of technological development that humanity has reached: the new technologies, the information and communication technologies, we are more interconnected. We know more, you know, the sophistication of science. The opportunity to access knowledge and technology. So, and yet, you know, we are unable to come up with a really holistic responses to these interconnected crises. You said it well, we are living a profound I would say, crisis of culture and civilization. Because as a society, we are unable to use what we have in our hands—in terms of knowledge, science, technology—to address and solve the critical issues, the critical challenge that humanity faces. And there is a strong connection basically, when you say the climate crisis, when you say the extinction crisis, when you say the inequalities crisis, that I often say is that these are symptoms of this dysfunctional system, in a way. So basically, what we need to fix, what we need to heal is the relationship between society, the economy, politics, and nature.

And one of the problems is the disconnection between the times of politics and the times of nature. Usually a politician, a head of State and government, you think about the next elections, you don’t think about the next generations, the future generations and other future elections. And usually, the time span for policy choices, for political decision making are four or five years. The cycles of nature are longer, they do require long-term planning, long term vision, responsibility with future generations.

And I also think that we are living a very particular moment in humanity’s life because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been just a synonym of loss, of fear, of uncertainty about the future. But at the same time, it’s providing us an opportunity to build forward better, to rethink the way we as humans relate to other species, to have, you know, a true profound reconciliation, with nature. And this, you know, goes through rethinking our economy, a just start thinking about why is that we are so driven by greed, and by overconsumption. And these are issues that might seem you know, philosophical or abstract, but they are critical to fixing the path that we are shaping as humans. And I am stubborn optimist as late Kofi Annan used to say, and we are here because we can change course.

Of course, we need leadership. But you know, I’m not a person that believes in these messianic leaders that are going to come and fix everything for us. It’s shared leadership! It is exercising our role as citizens, as committed and responsible citizens, young change makers, academic scientists, the private sector, and of course, governments, but we cannot leave governments alone to fix all the problems that we are facing. Co-responsibility and co- building, I think are perhaps the keywords.

Annika: You mentioned something really interesting there. You wrote a recent article where you say, I quote, “addressing today’s inequities demands a far more comprehensive and critical assessment of underlying systemic forces. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women, for example, is a direct result of deeply entrenched patriarchal rules and norms that perpetuate segmented structures in the home, in the labor market and in the workplace”, and it ties in with the answer you gave before. Because it’s how we structure societies, isn’t it, that really is one of the root causes for all the inequities that we’re facing. But how can we change these systemic forces?

Maria: Well, as I said, in writing that article that you are citing Annika, basically there is no you know, the golden bullet, the one kind of answer and response. I think that many things that you need to tackle at the same time. One is for example, the inequities in income and opportunity. And for that, the right to a quality education that is inclusive, that has a gender perspective embedded; a part of what we learn everyday is so important, the way you grow up, family and the way you set up priorities and values in life is important. And not only the issue of education, but the issue of preconception and of prejudice, and the things that you naturalize: you feel that it is natural to have women having certain roles in society and men having, you know, other different roles; that it is natural, when you have the same qualifications than a perfect male professional, it is okay that you receive a lower salary, it’s fine—it is not fine! And in basically, we part of the role we have as citizens is just to say no, is just to raise our voices. And the same goes when we are looking at you know the most vulnerable in society, they have to have a voice, they have to be empowered.

And let’s think about any dysfunction in society: look at climate change, and look at the depletion of critical ecosystems, look at pandemics such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Who suffer the most? Of course, women and girls because of the staggering domestic violence because of lockdowns, etc.

When you look at the other health workforce, 73% of the health workforce, are women, at the forefront. But when you look at these national COVID response high level committees—or however they’re called—80% are men. So, men take the decisions, but women are at the forefront giving the service the attention, taking care of patients, etc, etc. And when you look at what is happening with women with disabilities, and the pandemic: women and these abilities and the impacts of climate change. So, I think that we are not in shortage of data or information of understanding and knowing that there is a there is a systemic inequality, multiple inequalities, transactional inequalities that cannot be naturalized, that need to be at the forefront, when we take decisions at all levels, within our family at the domestic level, in public life, in legislation design, in public policy. In the work we do as advocates, as concerned citizens simply, and we have to raise our voices and just really be very serious about not letting it become part of the normal.

Annika: Right, and you mentioned the violence against women. That’s also a huge problem in many societies around the world. The World Future Council had a Future Policy Award on that, which you were a big part of, by organizing also a meeting of women in the embassy in Geneva, you also supported the World Future Council on the FPA on youth empowerment. Can I ask you; how can they actually help?

Maria: Well, I think that these Future Policy Awards are perhaps one of the shining outcomes of the footprint, I would say, of the World Future Council. I think it not only has a value because you acknowledge a country’s people, local governments that are doing the right thing in terms of sustainable development, but it also sets the example the good practice in order to be shared with others. And I would say when you look at the bank of the policies that have won the award, basically, you have a collection of good practices that I’m sure that have had an impact in other regions, in other places with other stakeholders that have learned from the good policies that the World Future Council is acknowledging. So basically, what I think it’s one of the footprints, of the one of the identity contributions of the World Future Council.

Annika: So, in your work with the World Future Council, you are also one of the Co-Chairs of the Commission on Rights of Children and Youth. And you were also on the panel at the launch event of the world future councils Youth Forum, Youth:Present—which this intergenerational dialogue between you me is also a part of—what do you think about the activities, and political and civic participation of young people today?

Maria: Well, I cannot even imagine a to have a collective responsibility for improving and reshaping our world, for building forward better, for reconciling and making peace with nature, without the agency, without the intelligence, without the creativity of younger generations. And sometimes, you know, in my long life and career, sometimes you worry because it’s, it’s nice to have, you know, to have a young person and to tick the box and to say, “Yes, they are part of this table, dialogue, conversation, etc”. And I have learned, and I am, every day, I am more convinced that they are fundamental actors in whatever we need to do.

If you look at the younger generations, young leaders, young professionals, they are essentially interconnected. And they are creative, engaged, committed. And basically that what we need, is the food, the precondition for transformation, for improving the way we relate to each other as humans, but we relate to our environment, to our Earth system in a way. And what is challenging, I would say, is to go from tokenistic engagement of young leaders and changemakers, to naturalize that whatever decision is taken in the multilateral arena, in national decision-making, at the local level, young changemakers, young actors have to be part and parcel of the decision making. And I know how much quality, how much legitimacy, decisions that are taken in this intergenerational form have, so with it’s a win-win. And it is a precondition for successful and lasting, wise decision making.

Annika: Do you have a piece of advice that you could pass on to young people today?

Maria: Well, basically, I would say that don’t be afraid. I think audacity drive, commitment, engagement is extremely important. When you look at young people in my own region in Latin America, you see that, unfortunately, younger generations, they don’t want to get involved in politics, for example, they are afraid, because sometimes, politics and political lives, especially for women, and young women, it’s like a scary, scary choice, a scary place. It’s tough. I’m not saying that it’s not difficult, but don’t shy away from politics from, you know, being engaged from raising your voices, from being active. And really, you know, convince yourself that you are capable of shaping and crafting a better, better world—in the present and in the future.

If it’s the world of politics, if it’s the world of academia, if it’s the world of advocacy, of civil society engagement of working in the private sector, wherever you are, you have to feel that you are changemakers, that you have a responsibility, and you need to be engaged. Especially, and here I’m speaking specially to young women changemakers, we need more women in power. I have met so many in my life, and they are really making the world shake, in a way—the Greta Thunbergs of the world in a way and the more you raise your voices, I think it the better the world and world leaders are going to respond wiser, in a wiser way I would say.

Annika: Recently, you also participated at the UN Generation Equality Forum in Paris. And in advance of the event, you spoke about the need to tackle issues, like gender-based violence and inequalities that women and girls are facing. Do you know of any policy solutions that you can share with us?

Maria: Absolutely. And here, again, this paradox I was mentioning, Annika, because we are not lacking knowledge, data or understanding what is happening. The whole Generation Equality Forum was about commemorating the landmark Beijing Declaration in Platform for Action—26 years ago. And when you go back and look at the commitments or the documents that came out of Beijing, it’s clearly you know, a roadmap on gender equality, and women’s rights. And you see that there’s a huge implementation gap. Lots of words, but very little actions. And when you look at the numbers, you see, we you know, something is fundamentally wrong.

Why is that we still have 75% of world parliamentarians are men and only 25% are women and female? When you look at the pay gap between men and women, same capacity, same background, same experience—different salary. Why is it still happening, there is a pay gap, a gender pay gap of 20%. Automatically, women earn 20% less, for the same job. You know, the arithmetic of gender inequality happen almost everywhere, in all areas of public life of the economy.

How many female CEOs are there, among the 500 biggest companies worldwide? So we still need to do, and to act to use the existing policy and legal scaffolds to really make changes and societal profound changes in all levels. Political violence against women—that’s why the younger generations are so afraid to get to be engaged into formal politics, because they know that the path towards having you know, positions of power in politics have high costs for us, for women. And I speak in a you know, with a lot of experience on that front.

And basically what are the things to do: is go from words to action, improve national legislation, we still have a big space for improvement in policy and legislation at the national level, but also be very serious about the multilateral decision-making regarding gender equality. The CSW, the Commission on the Status of Women, the existing human rights treaty bodies, CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of Women, as well. So there is a lot of space for policy improvement, for legislation improvement, but more importantly for action.

And the Generation Eq

The Good Council: Hafsat Abiola und Akinyi Obama-Manners

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Akinyi: Okay, let’s start I’m like really nervous. You look so amazing. Thank you. Okay, let me begin. So Hello everyone, my name is Akinyi Obama-Manners and I’m 24 years old and I am a Youth:Present representative. I am passionate about working with children and young people to positively impact their lives by using art to allow for self-expression and creative thinking. For example, I’ve been working at Sauti Kuu Foundation in Kenya since 2019, where I helped develop the arts and creativity project activities and I work with toddlers and young people in an early childhood development program in a Nice Ju children’s village in Kenya. Today, I’m delighted to be speaking with Hafsat Abiola today and to learn more about her life, her work, and her engagement with the World Future Council. By way of introduction, Hafsat Abiola-Costello sorry, excuse me, is a human and civil rights campaigner and was appointed June 5, 2018, as the Executive President of Women in Africa Initiative. This initiative is dedicated to the economic development and support of leading and high potential African women. She is also the founder of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, which seeks to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Nigeria. In 2008, she founded China Africa Bridge, an organization that seeks to ensure that growing African ties benefit between the continent and China. Hafsat received the Youth Peace and Justice Award from the Cambridge Peace Commission in 1997, the State of the World’s Forum Changemaker Award in 1998, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Leader of Tomorrow Award 2000. Since 2008, she has been a Council member of World Future Council. Welcome to The Good Council Hafsat. How have you been like, it’s so great to see you again.

Hafsat: I’ve been really I think, under a lot of stress. As of Monday, I just went for my final divorce court date. So huge, huge thing. It’s kind of sad to put to bed a dream of a wonderful marriage, but I think it’s also in inspiring, at least for me to put to bed, something that did not work, you know, sometimes you just have to do that because you don’t think something’s working you think that well, let’s keep trying to make it work. But if it’s not going to work, it’s sometimes a good idea to put it to rest so that you create space for other things.

Akinyi: Yeah, and I think also especially now since Corona, it’s definitely a time of New Age kind of like rebirth for everyone.

Hafsat: Yes, yeah. So, in a way that whole process has been on one hand, empowering. And the other it’s been stressful because I’m having to move physically from where I was living with my now ex-husband, to my new home. But it’s also been it’s also been a time for reflection. I really am thinking also about I’ve been thinking a lot about Virginia Woolf. And I’ve still never gotten around to reading the book “A room of one’s one”. But I began to realize how important it is that women have spaces of their own. I think that we do so many things differently. And the world needs the balance between the male and female energies. And when I say the balance between the male and female energies, I’m not talking about an institution like marriage, where oftentimes the female energy has been subsumed into a preexisting framework. I’m talking about real partnership, where both energies coexist in equal power, because I think that that then allows for the full expression of what’s positive.I’ve been thinking a lot about that even now, as we think of them. You now, there’s so much pressure and push for women to go into leadership. And what does this mean? I can eat? When I think of my you know, and my experience of my marriage is actually genuinely very positive, because I am married to an extremely progressive person, when I think of the institution of marriage, and the institution of government and power, and corporate power, and all the various forms of power. And we’re saying that women should go away, if we’re not careful, all they’ll do is just go and be submerged. When what the world needs, is the ability to go in and transform. And I think that we need to be thinking of how women create spaces, that allows us to hold on to our power, so that we have the full capacity to transform dysfunctional spaces, instead of just going into encouraging women to go into spaces, where then they’ll just be a number a quarter, and we’ll say we have 25% or 30%. But what’s still the outcome in terms of the allocation of resources and innovation, the appropriation of benefits? Is it more egalitarian? Is it more democratic? Is it more life sustaining or not?  So, I think that I want us to begin, and especially, you know, in the end, it was because of your generation, that I was bullish around this question about divorce, not because of myself, because actually, the way that we’re raised in Nigeria, and particularly my culture, the Yoruba culture, from a very young age, girls are trained that way. So it was, you have to be like cool water. So even when you are in a hot situation, if you’re very, if you cool enough, you call the situation, you know, because we really trained to stay calm, and to absorb quite a lot. And I could have continued absorbing any number of things, when I thought of two children that I have my son and my daughter, but I want them to have the example of equal coexistence between male and female energy. And I want that given to them in such a clear and compelling way. Why do I say that? My mom died when she was 44 years old. I was at the time she died, I was about 21, I was going to turn 22. So, she has been that I’m going to be 50 very soon, in three years, I’ll be 50. So, she’s been dead for more than half of my life. And yet, I can tell you that whenever I have a question about anything, I feel my mother, I feel like voice. I just feel her like sitting beside me. And then we look at the problem together. And then I just realizing it’s just going to be this way. And you know, we’re Africans and Africans, we believe very much in the ancestors in the journey that I’ve taken just even in the last few months. So, find a new place to stay, or go to a place and they’ll say, you know, maybe they’d look at me and see this black African woman and they just wouldn’t give me the apartment. Finally, finally, if you see the place I finally found, it is so perfect in every way. The gentle children love it. It’s just walking distance from their school. It’s so perfect, and I don’t think I found it. I think the ancestors looked at the problem that I had. And they said have such as continue to conduct ourselves in the way in which we put her and so they went ahead, and I took care of everything.  And so that’s why I want to make the example as compelling. Because who knows when you’re going to go in this era of COVID? People, you, you, you hear that somebody isn’t feeling well and 24 hours later that the person died. If anything were to happen, I would, no matter how long ago I left, at the gentle children, whenever they faced with a question, I should have a very clear understanding about what their mother would have wanted them to do. I think it’s so important that we live, that our lives be a clear message, that there should never be any confusion as to what our priorities are. And that we’re here, not for ourselves, but to really uphold the human spirit in the very, very best possible way.

Akinyi: Now, it’s so inspiring to me, how you talk about your mother and her role and her legacy in your life. So, what did you learn from your mother? And what might she have learned from us?

Hafsat: So, when I was very young, I’m not just an introvert, which is kind of extrapolating as I said, I’m a learner. So, I am very, on this whole water thing. My Water is very cool, extremely cool. I remember one day, someone slapped me and someone younger than me. She was upset and she slapped me and my mother, so my mother came to hear about it. Now I didn’t do anything when the person did that, because I just thought clearly, she must be upset. And that’s why she’s done that. My mother blew a gasket. She could not believe that allowed someone to slap me that I allowed someone to slap me. I hadn’t even thought about retaliation in any way. In fact, I didn’t even want to do that.  My by my nature is just very relaxed. In fact, I just think Oh, poor girl. She’s so upset. And I’m given a Maven to thinking how to help her not to be so upset. Yeah. Then I remember the tools actually very cool native as I work. In fact, I have low blood pressure. She used to have low blood pressure when she was alive. So, because we just we just take it just takes more energy more to happen for me to be Want to in order to get any otherwise, I’m just happy going through life. And my mother taught me something at that moment that it was important for me not to allow people to walk all over me. Because let myself I’m actually perfectly comfortable with that. I have no problem with that. Because I mean, if somebody is walking all over you, maybe the person needed something to walk on. I mean, it, that’s just kind of my mentality, I’m doing very well, because my mother taught me that. Essentially, she was teaching me to stand up for myself because she got upset. And she spoke to me and scolded me. And essentially said, you have to learn to stand up for yourself. So, I think that’s the big lesson I learned from my mother is that I have to stand up for myself. that’s my daughter, because we’re invading our bedroom actually, sorry. You know, she was, she was, she felt very much that I shouldn’t allow that to happen. And actually, that has really helped me in my life. Because I think, just because it doesn’t really matter to you, isn’t actually a good reason to allow somebody to do something that isn’t respectful of you. Just because you can take it and it doesn’t really bother you so much, doesn’t mean you should allow it because because it’s also not good for that person, for you to allow them to power in a way that is limiting for others. It’s not good for them. And maybe if they are, if you allow them and they go on to do it to someone else, the person’s reaction will be so balanced and so aggressive. Whereas you because you notice that they’ve crossed the line. And because you say you stay so even tempered, maybe you’re the best person to say to them that that you’ve crossed a line, you shouldn’t cross that kind of line, we shouldn’t do that. And so I learned that from my mom. And I’ve been learning to stand up for myself. And the other thing I learned about standing up for myself. I don’t know where I learned this at you want to say that? It wasn’t from my mom, I don’t know where it was. I don’t know. But I don’t want to say I learned that when you want to respond. Okay, two things. Number one, when you want to respond, it’s extremely important that you are not reacting, but you are responding. So when you react is like somebody still have to do to just slap the president back and you start you know, fighting, that’s a reaction. Yeah. I set the terms for your engagement, and you have gone along with the term that I’ve been sexually. Where does power lie? Sorry.  So my daughter has to collect something from a room. So we’re sorry to have invaded your space? By Zoe by Bella. So um, you know, it’s something I’m not I lost my train of thought, if something happens and you, you are not, and you follow the framework that has been created. You remember this quotation? Oh, I haven’t shared the quotation with you that slavery is not African history, slavery, interrupted African history. So it’s as if you’ve allowed yourself to be interrupted. And you’re now going with the narrative from the person that has interrupted you? Well, when somebody is interrupted, you often don’t want to take you off course, maybe you are going in this particular direction, and it’s not in their best interest, that you continue in that direction. So they try to derail you push you off course. And you when you then get sidetracked, you’ve that you’ve allowed them to win, essentially. So it’s important not to do that.  Yes, you don’t want to be taken advantage of by others. But in when you say that somebody is taking advantage of you, you have to be careful to give a complete response that is, but you must act in a way that advances your own cause. You’ll act in a way that furthers their cause, you know, somebody has slapped you, maybe that person is actually physically stronger. When you slap them that they’ll end up beating you up.

Akinyi: Yeah, exactly.

Hafsat: You know, what you’ve allowed them to set the terms of engagement along the terms that best events. But when you didn’t do that, when you just step back, and you look at what the person has done, when you consider what your options are, how to respond, there’s you holding on to your power, and then applying your power in the most responsible way. Because then you could come up with a solution that at least is good for you, at the minimum. And at the maximum, ideally is good for both of you. So you could have a conversation with that person. And then the person says, you know, I don’t know why I did that, I’m sorry, I’m going to check myself in the future, and you have a better understanding.  So that I think is better, especially if you’re not physically as strong. Something else I wanted to say about that which is connected. It’s always better in any engagement. Wherever possible, the strongest power is in action. Not so much in words. So, if there’s something that we don’t like, like, we don’t like the way Africa is positioned in the global economy, but Africans spend so much time talking about the poverty in Africa, the challenges, I just think that that’s not what we should be doing. We should be spending as much time connecting me, Hafsat connecting to Akinyi, and seeing and doing research, how do we change that situation? That’s what our audience is not just an exhausting yourself, lamenting limitation.  Now, what is it going to do for anybody? What is it ever done? But it’s the innovation, always holding on to hope, and always trusting that the God that made Caucasians and Asians is the same color that has made Africans and is not a God as much as found in us to poverty and misery. So that is a challenge that he has set before us, he has set because he knows we can meet the challenge, then we work to meet it. So, I think that, and when we move in that way, we then engage all the potential allies and say, here’s where we’re at what Africans are doing. We would love for you to partner with us. You know, when you look at the history of the world, we look at the audacity of British companies going to take over pretty much the subcontinent of India and run it as their own private system. Before it was actually a British company, not even the British state that did that the East India Company. Yeah, you know, and, and those people acted and then mobilized alliances to concrete concretize, that action? We are not doing that. And I think that’s the problem is not that they did it, is the fact that we don’t have enough belief in ourselves to also take action.

Akinyi: And I think it’s about like because I think power comes from within. So, it’s how you harness that power?

Hafsat: Completely agree.

Akinyi: I think that’s so important. And I think also with how like the pandemic has happened, and how things have slowed down, I think especially as like black women, we’re always taught, like, we’re so strong, you know, we fail through whatever adversity or whatever happens to us. And I think it’s important for us to, like, be able to, like, be soft, to be able to be sad, if we need to be sad, you know, to be able to, like, be, we don’t have to be strong all the time. And I think that’s also important in like getting into those leadership roles. Because I think, as well as like being a strong woman, you also need to like have, you need to have emotions, you need to be like emotional in the sense that you can like slow down, you can see things for what they really are not just like hard as that’s what like the word expects women to be because we’re strong, you know.

Hafsat: You know, to be honest with you, I think it even goes deeper than that, I think, you know, first we’re women, and that’s a big issue that we need to unpack. And we’re also black people, that’s also I think, and the world that we live in, in a way bigger. Consider, you know, there was one day, I went to the very first trip to another West African country, Cote d’Ivoire. And its sister of mine from my yacht. One of the French departments in that is an island of African, the African post. She convened so many of us together in this case. And there was this exhibition that she organized that a friend of hers had done, where they looked at the way in which story where they looked at the way in which they looked at the way in which black people have been presented over centuries. Actually, women followed that exhibition, it started playing. I didn’t know when they looked at was wanting to child, I think I need to go in a zoo in a pen in a zoo, and all these people around her looking at her, like the way we look at monkey, you go to the zoo and over a banana. Then there was even another woman with a child that she was carrying and another child standing beside her and we’re going looking at this family, then the woman that they took from South Africa, Lucy I think she had a very big one. And I think that took her to France. And she was on a tour, she was put on a circuit, and people would come from all over to local, especially because of our bond, because he had a very big gun. You know, when she death, she wasn’t giving any dignity because they now did this effort to find out, you know, to call her up to study our body. When President Mandela will go to South Africa to France, when he became president of South Africa, immediate requests that remains should begin Even back to the people of South Africa. So she could be probably very. I think you, you know, there was another time I read about the Second World War. And Winston Churchill in England, you know, he, you know, Africans as colonial subjects that being part of that war as soldiers, Nigeria, in many countries, Kenya. But at the end, when they were doing the march into England, the victory march into England, Winston Churchill made the decision that the Africans should come in last, so that by this time, most of the crowd would have gone and then they wouldn’t have to acknowledge that Africans had contributed to helping them win that war.  We think it’s always interesting for us, when you hear about things like this, we think, well, how could that have happened? And that’s wrong? I think we should think differently, I think, you know, how are those kinds of things happening even today? In what ways are Africans being continually objectified? In what ways? Are we not getting the rewards of our labor? Because I think sometimes, those kinds of practices, we think are colonization, it went on. And in the, from 1958, when Ghana secured independence, the countries in Africa became started to become independent. But we don’t think of the kind of mindset that shaped those kinds of political systems, and the fact that those mindsets still exist.  So I think you know, that we need to realize that colonization or frameworks are like the tip of the iceberg that we can see below the iceberg is even a larger body of values, ideas, beliefs about other people. So that even if you take care of the colonization as a framework, and say, we let’s get this country to be independent, you will continually have the children, the offspring of that kind of mindset, that would also be degrading, dehumanizing for the people affected. So, I want us to take that approach.  And because if we take that approach, we become more critical, less accepting, more insistent on evidence, more insistent on data, more insistent on looking at actual results, and not to be overwhelmed and overtaken by pronouncements, you know. I’m here in Belgium, which is just a wonderful country. But you know, one of their stories was when they came at the colony, in very hot continents. And he wanted to meet a certain quota for rubber. So to make sure that the Africans could deliver this quarter, their hands were cut their feet, my car, if they fail to deliver even that of their children. Now, when you think about that, and then you think about how the country gained its independence, and what happened right after that to the first democratically elected president, and the fact that till today, Congo is the poorest black, poorest country in Africa. Even though they have coltan, which is an essential and strategic resource used for every mobile phone, then you can see the long history and how we continue the has an impact. So what I don’t want is for us to feel like oh, we’re all looking at us were victims. Woe is us, everybody is against us. Because that’s not true.  From the experience of slavery, through the experience of colonization, through the experience of neoliberal economics on our different countries and economies. We’ve had allies in the rest of the world will stood with us. But I think also that my challenge actually is that within the continent, so few realize that we need allies. So few realize that we’re still in a battle. They still Besant to say, Oh, it’s all about our governments now and the governments to do what they need to do, but it’s more than our governments. It’s always been more than the continent, because the continent and the people of the continent are considered to be special reserves of others.  And I think this is where we need to begin to address a lack of true sovereignty, then I think that we need to recognize that as Africans, There was this beautiful quote from Toni Morrison, where she said, the big, the big, the big motive of racism is distraction. So they tell you, you don’t have a history and you start doing research to prove you have a history, when they tell you don’t have a language show to prove that you were done there, you exist in all this. And I think we need to remember that our goal as Africans is not to prove our humanity to anyone.  Our goal, as Africans is to be present in the world, on equal terms with others. And so we should keep our eye on that prize. That what does the world need to have expressed today that we as Africans can also support the expression of and not get distracted by all these efforts, many centuries in the making to dehumanize and degrade us.

Akinyi: That was really, like, incredible to listen to. Like I’ve just like lost for words. Like I can listen to you all day. So now I want to know more about you. And so, my first question is, what did you want to be when you were a child?

Hafsat: When I was young, I wanted to be a diplomat. And I told my dad, that I want to be a diplomat, because I had gotten into Georgetown School of Foreign Service. I applied early from high school. And I said to my dad, but I want to go there because I want to be a diplomat. And my father paused. And he said, what kind of husband will you marry gallivanting around the world? The funny thing is that, if not for COVID, I would still be gallivanting around the world, because when he won the political presidential election in Nigeria, and this was decades ago, in 1993, and then the military put him in jail. And my mother had to begin to lead the pro-democracy efforts.  At that moment, I became an activist, I started traveling, to speak for a cause for democracy, I was traveling all over the United States, through Canada, through the United Kingdom, everywhere we went to Germany, to price our case. And then afterwards, I became involved, I created an organization in Nigeria to empower women and young people to participate in that democracy, and kept traveling because of that., because I’ll be invited to Sweden, I’ve been invited. I was working on a youth employment campaign to help generate millions of jobs for young people around the world. So, we would be holding a summit in Egypt would all the summit in India, you know, so I was always traveling.  And I always remember that my father said, you know, what kind of husband because I did find your husband over now. My ex husband, but also, because I think that’s ultimately the worst. I mean, I don’t represent any government. But oh, it’s saying that my internet is unstable, I hope returned to conversation. But it doesn’t, you know, I don’t represent any government. But as president of women in Africa, I represent African women. And I’m having to travel, engage with partners, engage with sponsors, and advocate for women’s economic empowerment. So, I think I ended up doing actually exactly what I wanted to do.

Akinyi: Yeah, for sure. And I think also, because through your work, you’re promoting the development of women, as initiators of change through leadership and awareness programs, for examples through founding the Kudirat initiative for democracy, which is named after your mother. Why did you name after your mother?

Hafsat: I liked that woman so much. Yeah, in my brain, great human being. And when the military gunned her, down on the streets of Lagos, because she was organizing the democratic effort, I wanted to let the military know that they had not silenced that voice. So created, because she’s a very kind lady. I just needed the acronym kind of starts with a case of I made it easier, and that I could write initiative for Nigerian democracy. And then I th