The Anthropocene - Consequences for Parliamentary Democracy? Klaus Töpfer in Augsburg
Klaus Töpfer, a pioneer of international environmental protection could be won as a guest in Augsburg: The images of his leap into the Rhine as Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety have long been icons of contemporary history. Klaus Töpfer's term of office also saw the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 - one of the great milestones in the annals of international environmental protection. As Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), he shaped global environmental protection and, as founding director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, made a decisive contribution to the debate on sustainability and sustainable development.
Klaus Töpfer speaks in Augsburg about the Anthropoean period. The term was introduced to the environmental debate in 2000 by atmospheric engineer and Nobel Prize winner Paul J. Crutzen and biologist Eugene F. Stoermer. Translated as the "Age of Man", it was widely taken up and marks a new geological age in which human interventions in nature have become so serious that they have exerted a dominant geophysical influence on the Earth system. From the diagnosis of this massive influence follows a responsibility of mankind to rethink and determine its own position towards nature and the cosmos. In his lectures, Klaus Töpfer illuminates the consequences of this for the political system and parliamentary democracy.
Klaus Töpfer was born in 1938 in Waldenburg/Silesia. His studies in economics took him to the universities of Mainz, Frankfurt and Münster, where he received his doctorate in 1968. In Münster between 1965 and 1971, he was assistant and then director of the Central Institute for Spatial Research and Planning. In 1971 he became head of the Planning and Information Department in the Saarland State Chancellery. In 1978 he was appointed State Secretary in the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and the Environment of Rhineland-Palatinate. There he became Minister of the Environment in 1985, before becoming Germany's second Federal Minister of the Environment from 1987 to 1994. After the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, Klaus Töpfer became Chairman of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) of the United Nations. In 1998 he became Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. In 2009 Klaus Töpfer became Founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam. He has received many awards, including the Federal Cross of Merit and the Theodor Heuss Prize.
On May 7th 2019, the visiting professorship commenced with the lecture "The Anthropocene - consequences for parliamentary democracy?" at the University of Augsburg. On May 21st 2019, Klaus Töpfer spoke on "Climate Engineering - the lifeline of climate policy?" in the rococo hall of the government of Swabia and on June 18th 2019, discussed "The crisis of multilateralism in a world with over 9 billion people" at the municipal library of Augsburg.
In addition to the lectures, a workshop for Master's and doctoral students on "The Anthropocene Consequences for Parliamentary Democracy" was held on June 19th 2019. The workshop was very well attended, as were the lectures. The events also were widely covered by the media.