President Kőrösi’s comments below:
Dear Friends in our quest for sustainability,
Isaac Asimov, the American biochemist and science fiction writer once said: ”No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”
He was right: the decision which path to follow now will have a direct impact on the fate of the forthcoming generations of humankind, too.
Yes, we have entered the Anthropocene era in the history of the Earth – but are we up to the tremendous responsibility of being the main shapers of life on our globe?
We usually make our decisions with the assumption that we have the relevant information for the best possible outcomes.
Let me draw a parallel: If you need to cross a road and there is no traffic light, you assess the flow of cars.
There are several factors for you to evaluate: the number or cars, the distance between them, their speed, the width of the road, the number and the location of banana peels, your abilities to walk, even the probability of a police officer showing up…
What we know is that in our world today, we need to get to the other side of the road, as on our side of the road, conditions for life and civilization are becoming unsustainable.
The other side that is more sustainable, peaceful, respectful, inclusive, socially more just, and, therefore, better for the current and future generations of humanity – and their only home, this fragile blue planet. Just as we agreed.
In our real world, the cars are the wars, the blatant disrespect for human rights, the depletion of our resources, the inadequate education of our children, the growing inequality of distribution of food and other resources, and, most alarmingly, the worsening water and climate crises.
It would be self-deception to expect that a friendly policeman will suddenly show up in 2023.
In fact, in 2020 we had a sort of a policeman called Covid-19. It introduced to us the prototype of the Anthropocene era crises but even that was not enough to cause a speedy transformation. Despite our joint promise we gave earlier in the SDGs, the Addis Ababa Protocol, and the Paris Agreement.
In 2023, we are providing science briefings to the UN General Assembly, the world’s Number 1 deliberative and policy making body: an institution comprising 193 member states, with a combined constituency of eight billion people.
We hope to see a coalition of scientists that can advise the Assembly in shaping key decisions and validate how sustainable their implementation is: how fast we are crossing the road and how many cars are approaching.
We will have the UN Conference on Water in March to agree and decide on game changers for water and resilience.
New financing models for water, and a global water information system are both key elements of our new, integrated water and climate agenda.
We will review our progress regarding the Sendai framework in May to lock in early warnings for all, as well as risk assessment and mitigation.
The SDG summit in September will be the moment to synthesize it all for the whole sustainable development agenda – and to put the world on a “Beyond GDP” track, with scientific guard rails approved by the international community.
Dear Friends, we have to focus on the future: we cannot get through the road based on how many cars went by yesterday.
We can’t build traffic lights: it would take too long to agree on where to put them and on the side that will pay for them.
But we can get our act together and provide the basic scientific guidance we all need to cross that road: the road that divides humanity’s demise from its second chance.
Please join me in this endeavor.
While doing so, I ask you to be mindful of the limitations of our knowledge, but, all the same, to be resolute because time is evidently not on our side.
How to do that? How to resolve this basic dilemma of the 21st century? Well, to quote the immortal words of Hamlet, “that is the question.”
And it is with this question that I wish you thought-provoking discussions.
I sincerely hope to get positive, impactful and game-changing outcomes from your deliberations.
Good luck and a happy new year to all of you.
Thanks for your attention.