Events The Jena Declaration on Sustainability

September 09, 2021

The Jena Declaration on Sustainability


The Jena Dec­la­ra­tion on Sustainability

The Unit­ed Nations’ Agen­da 2030 came into force on Jan­u­ary 1, 2016. In this Agen­da, the mem­ber states com­mit­ted them­selves to doing every­thing pos­si­ble over the fol­low­ing 15 years to achieve 17 goals for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in the world. These goals include end­ing pover­ty; edu­ca­tion and a healthy life for all; and achiev­ing sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion. Increas­ing­ly, experts are now point­ing out that despite immense polit­i­cal, legal and finan­cial efforts, the glob­al com­mu­ni­ty is about to miss its last chance to achieve these UN Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals in time. Mere­ly increas­ing exist­ing resources does not appear to be suf­fi­cient to imple­ment Agen­da 2030.

A net­work of renowned inter­na­tion­al insti­tu­tions, such as the Club of Rome, the World Acad­e­my of Art and Sci­ence, the Acad­e­mia Europaea, and the Ger­man and Cana­di­an UNESCO Com­mis­sions, is there­fore now call­ing for a clear change of strat­e­gy through a new cul­tur­al approach. On the ini­tia­tive of Prof. Ben­no Werlen of the UNESCO Chair on Glob­al Under­stand­ing for Sus­tain­abil­i­ty at Friedrich Schiller Uni­ver­si­ty Jena, more than 30 insti­tu­tions have already adopt­ed The Jena Dec­la­ra­tion”, in which they define a new cul­tur­al approach through which the Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Goals can still be achieved.

Speak­ers at the launch event at 3:00 p.m. on 9 Sep­tem­ber 2021 will include the Co-Pres­i­dent of the Club of Rome, Mam­phela Ram­phele, the Pres­i­dent of the World Acad­e­my of Art and Sci­ence, Gar­ry Jacobs, as well as impor­tant co-sig­na­to­ries to the Dec­la­ra­tion such as Prof. Hart­mut Rosa, Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al of the Ger­man UNESCO Com­mis­sion, Dr Roman Luckscheit­er, the Pres­i­dent of the Leib­niz Asso­ci­a­tion, Prof. Matthias Klein­er, but also, the Ger­man cli­mate activist Luisa Neubauer and artists from Afghanistan, Iran and South Africa, among others.

It will take a broad-based glob­al social move­ment to change think­ing and action“

Top-down mea­sures to tack­le glob­al chal­lenges, which have dom­i­nat­ed so far, can­not take suf­fi­cient account of the diver­si­ty of cul­tur­al and region­al dif­fer­ences. For exam­ple, many glob­al pro­grammes are poor­ly adapt­ed to actu­al local liv­ing con­di­tions and there­fore find lit­tle accep­tance. It will take a broad-based glob­al social move­ment to change think­ing and action for the tran­si­tion towards sus­tain­able pros­per­i­ty. This requires fine tun­ing to local needs and con­di­tions,” empha­sis­es Gar­ry Jacobs, Pres­i­dent of the World Acad­e­my of Art and Sci­ence and one of the first sig­na­to­ries to the Dec­la­ra­tion. The pri­ma­ry aim is to get such a move­ment up and running. 

In order to accel­er­ate and deep­en the nec­es­sary soci­etal change, the Unit­ed Nations and polit­i­cal deci­sion-mak­ers must approach more direct­ly the most impor­tant actors of change: indi­vid­u­als with their every­day rou­tines and habits. The aim of The Jena Dec­la­ra­tion” is to draw greater atten­tion to the way in which human activ­i­ties are embed­ded cul­tur­al­ly, region­al­ly and his­tor­i­cal­ly. Build­ing on this, the net­work is call­ing on every­one to devel­op inclu­sive solu­tions tai­lored to local con­di­tions. This requires first of all a respect­ful appre­ci­a­tion of, and regard for, cul­tur­al diver­si­ty. The fact that young peo­ple world­wide are assigned a cen­tral role in the real­i­sa­tion of the pro­gramme of the Jena Dec­la­ra­tion on Sus­tain­abil­i­ty is par­tic­u­lar­ly note­wor­thy and, in my view, absolute­ly nec­es­sary. With­out the ideas, the demands and the com­mit­ment of the gen­er­a­tion of tomor­row, it will not be pos­si­ble to over­come the great social chal­lenges. Today’s gen­er­a­tion is obvi­ous­ly find­ing it very dif­fi­cult to do so. There­fore, young and old, hand in hand for sus­tain­able improve­ment, that can be the key,” empha­sis­es Prof. Uwe Cant­ner, Vice-Pres­i­dent for Young Researchers and Diver­si­ty Man­age­ment for of Friedrich Schiller University.

World Sec­re­tari­at in Jena

The Declaration’s pro­gramme accord­ing­ly aims to reach peo­ple of all ages – espe­cial­ly younger gen­er­a­tions – and of diverse cul­tur­al, social and region­al back­grounds, and to make it eas­i­er for them to act local­ly in the spir­it of glob­al sustainability.

The nec­es­sary change extends into all areas of life, as Mam­phela Ram­phele, Co-Pres­i­dent of the Club of Rome, points out, using edu­ca­tion as an exam­ple: Human­i­ty has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn from the mul­ti­plic­i­ty of inter­con­nect­ed plan­e­tary emer­gen­cies upon us. To learn the les­son we have to embrace nature’s wis­dom reflect­ed in indige­nous knowl­edge. At the same time we need to break down the knowl­edge silos in our out­dat­ed edu­ca­tion systems.”

Imple­men­ta­tion of the dec­la­ra­tion will take place along the three pro­gramme lines Art”, Edu­ca­tion” and Civ­il Soci­ety”. These will be coor­di­nat­ed by a World Sec­re­tari­at estab­lished at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Jena in coop­er­a­tion with the Max Weber Cen­tre for Advanced Cul­tur­al and Social Stud­ies (Max-Weber-Kol­leg) of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Erfurt and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar. It is a spe­cial oppor­tu­ni­ty for Thuringia and Ger­many to be able active­ly to shape future sus­tain­abil­i­ty pol­i­cy togeth­er with such influ­en­tial part­ners and a broad social move­ment,” says Prof. Ben­no Werlen, head of the coor­di­na­tion office.

The livestream of the event and fur­ther infor­ma­tion can be found at: