The Anthropocene - Consequences for Parliamentary Democracy? Klaus Töpfer in Augsburg
In the Summer Semester of 2019, the Jakob-Fugger-Zentrum had the honor of hosting Klaus Töpfer, a pioneer of international environmental protection 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 time in office also encompassed 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 the 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.
In Augsburg, Klaus Töpfer spoke about the Anthropocene period. This concept was introduced into the environmental debate in 2000 by the atmospheric chemist and Nobel Prize winner Paul J. Crutzen and the biologist Eugene F. Stoermer. Marking the "Age of Man", the term was widely adopted by reaserchers, delineating a new geological age in which human intervention in nature has become so widespread that it exerts a dominant geophysical influence on the Earth’s eco-system. The diagnosis of this massive influence underlines mankind’s distinct responsibility to rethink and determine its own position towards nature and the cosmos. In his lectures, Klaus Töpfer highlighted the consequences of the Anthropocene for the political system and parliamentary democracy.
Klaus Töpfer was born in 1938 in Waldenburg/Silesia. His studies in economics brought him to the universities of Mainz, Frankfurt and Münster, where he received his doctorate in 1968. He was an assistant at and then a director of the Central Institute for Spatial Planning in Münster between 1965 and 1971. In 1971, he became the head of the Planning and Information Department in the State Chancellery of Saarland. In 1978, he was appointed State Secretary in the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and the Environment of Rhineland-Palatinate. While there, he was also designated Minister of the Environment in 1985, before becoming Germany's second-ever 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 the Chairman of the of the United Nations’ Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). In 1998, he was named Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. In 2009, Klaus Töpfer became the Founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam. He received many awards, among others the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Theodor Heuss Prize.
On May 7th 2019, his Visiting Professorship at the University of Augsburg commenced with the lecture "The Anthropocene - consequences for parliamentary democracy?". On May 21st 2019, Klaus Töpfer spoke on "Climate Engineering - the lifeline of climate policy?" in the rococo hall of the Swabian regional government and discussed "The crisis of multilateralism in a world with over 9 billion people" on June 18th 2019 at the municipal library of Augsburg.
"Das Anthropozän - Konsequenzen für die parlamentarische Demokratie?", Opening lecture of the International Visiting Professorship at the Jakob-Fugger-Zentrum by Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Klaus Töpfer on May 7th 2019 at the University of Augsburg
"Climate Engineering – Rettungsanker der Klimapolitik?", Lecture given as part of the International Visiting Professorship at the Jakob-Fugger-Zentrum "The Anthropocene - Consequences for Parliamentary Democracy. Klaus Töpfer in Augsburg" on May 21st 2019 in the Rococo Hall of the Swabian regional government
"Die Krise des Multilateralismus in einer Welt mit über 9 Milliarden Menschen", Lecture given as part of the International Visiting Professorship at the Jakob-Fugger-Zentrum "The Anthropocene - Consequences for Parliamentary Democracy. Klaus Töpfer in Augsburg" on June 18th 2019 at the municipal library of Augsburg.
In addition to the lectures, a workshop for Masters 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.