Interesting keynote speeches and lively panel discussions: the ceremony to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Wuppertal Institute at Wuppertal’s historic city hall was characterized by the motto of "Making Utopia possible." More than 500 guests, including a number of well-known international sustainability experts, exchanged ideas on global challenges, national progress, and the importance of local sites of transformation.
In his opening speech, Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner, Co-Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) and Director of the German Development Institute (DIE), said that "modern sustainability policy must keep fairness in mind," adding that "transformation is not automatically fair. Therefore, we need to take concerns seriously so that uncertainty can become hope and confidence." Svenja Schulze, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Science Minister, Johannes Remmel, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Environment Minister, Prof. Dr. Christa Liedtke, Director of the Sustainable Production and Consumption research group, and Wuppertal Institute Vice-President Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick then discussed the contribution that politicians and scientists in North Rhine-Westphalia could make here.
Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, emphasized the importance of strong government structures for increased sustainability: "We need an even more transformative policy. Transformation means change. Politicians who are scared of this will not be able to overcome this century’s challenge." He added that, against this background, the Wuppertal Institute was vital as a "unique think tank for the development of transformation strategies." In their discussion, Jochen Flasbarth, Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner, Dr. Heinrich Bottermann, Secretary General of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), and Prof. Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Co-President of the Club of Rome and Founding President of the Wuppertal Institute, also stressed that successful transformation was not possible without extensive cultural change.
The Transformative Science research prize, which will be awarded by the Wuppertal Institute, is also expected to give fresh impetus to the debate on sustainability policy in future. Stifterverband, the donors’ association for the promotion of humanities and sciences in Germany, will be providing 250,000 euros to the institute for the prize over the coming years. Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Barner, President of Stifterverband, presented Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind, President of the Wuppertal Institute, with the deed of donation during the ceremony.
"We are delighted that we will be able to confer this prize in future," said Schneidewind. "We want the prize to encourage young scientists to embark on the adventure of transformation research."
In particular the mayor of Wuppertal Andreas Mucke and Prof. Dr. Lambert Koch, rector of the University of Wuppertal, once again highlighted how much Utopian spirit and the sense of optimism has taken hold in Wuppertal today. “Wuppertal has always been a place of Utopian spirit and a site of change, so this is an ideal location for a think tank on transformation research,” explained Uwe Schneidewind in conversation with Andreas Mucke and Lambert Koch, adding that for this reason it had been important for the institute’s management to involve enthusiastic residents from the city’s various districts in the 25th anniversary celebrations. In the film Mensch:Utopia (Human:Utopia), which premiered during the celebrations, many citizens described their personal utopias. In the afternoon, guests at the ceremony also had the chance to get to know the climate district of Arrenberg and other projects showcasing transformation in Wuppertal.
Thanks to a number of Wuppertal-based sponsors who supported the anniversary celebrations, the institute also has a special gift for the city’s community: from September 8 and lasting for several months, there will be an evening video installation by artist Kai Fobbe on the tower of the cogeneration plant run by Wuppertaler Stadtwerke, the city’s public utility company.
You will be able to find more information on the anniversary events and additional images in the coming days at 25jahre.wupperinst.org and on our Flickr channel.
Press release of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy
Legally responsible for content: Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind, President
Contact: Myrto-Christina Athanassiou, Public Relations
Phone: +49 202 2492-187, fax: +49 202 2492-108