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Berlin Peace Clock Award-A Laudatio by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP

For Professor Dennis Meadows, the Award's 2007 Winner

Berlin , 7 November - Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sorry not to be with you today to celebrate the extraordinary career and influential thinking of Professor Dennis Meadows-the highly deserved winner of this year's Berlin Peace Clock Award.

2007 is perhaps a year more than most, when the ideas and assessments made by Professor Meadows and the co-authors of the 1972 "Limits of Growth' have finally come home to roost in the popular consciousness.

When 'Limits to Growth' was penned, the world was living within its means. In 2007 it has become clear that we are now living beyond our means and that the future stability of our planet is now in jeopardy.

As professor Meadows has noted in recent interviews and statements, the next 20 years could see more changes in the Earth's natural assets than at any time in the history of human-kind.

The honouring of Professor Meadows with this prize does not come in a vacuum.

The links between environmental degradation, specifically as a result of climate change, and peace and security will also be formally acknowledged in Oslo on 10 December.

This is when former US Vice-President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize-an event that will occur as environment, and importantly finance, ministers gather in Bali for the next and most crucial round of negotiations under the UN climate convention.

Earlier this year the UN Security Council formally debated the issue of climate change and security. Meanwhile 2007 has witnessed statements from retired military leaders in the United States and serving officers in Australia and the United Kingdom on the security challenges that global warming now presents.

UNEP, in a landmark report on Sudan, has made the link between conflict and tensions in the Darfur region and elsewhere as a result of a changing climate.

The mismatch between the Earth's biological carrying capacity and the consumption of nature-based assets is starkly outlined in UNEP's latest Global Environment Outlook-4-the peer reviewed work of some 1,300 experts published and widely reported in October.

So Professor Meadows, we have finally caught up with your visionary work over 30 years or more-and perhaps we have, at least on climate change, reached a critical mass of political, business, local authority, scientific and civil society will.

Perhaps we have also finally learnt the concept of a 'systems approach'-one that breaks down the artificial barriers of the boxes marked 'fish stocks' or 'freshwaters' or 'forests' and understands the inescapable links between all living things, nature-based resources and human well-being.

And perhaps the warnings enshrined in your years of pioneering research, writing and lecturing on sustainable development, may have in 2007 reached a tipping point in favour of universal action.

Congratulations again on deservedly winning this award and congratulations to the organizers.

The Berlin Peace Clock Award, initiated in 1992 by Jens Lorentz and revived in 2003 by the city's Senator for Science, Research and Culture and UNESCO, should be commended for raising awareness of the vital link between sustainability and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights-not just within this generation but between generations past, present and future.

Thank you for your attention

Professor Dennis Meadows co-author of the "Limits of Growth"



Further Resources

Berlin Peace Clock Award

Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update

The Club of Rome

Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4)

Interview with Dennis L. Meadows
Source: Euronatur

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore Jointly Win the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize
Statement by Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme, in Response to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore Jointly Winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

Beyond The Limits To Growth
A new update to The Limits to Growth reveals that we are closer to "overshoot and collapse" - yet sustainability is still an achievable goal


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