Some examples of general
talks which can be adapted to scientific, business, student or
general public audiences.
(see separate page for Baha'i talks)
Most talks can be given in English or French, with supporting powerpoint presentations
Some examples of presentations on these topics can be downloaded from the links below
[download presentation as pdf
or The Sustainability Challenge
The rapid expansion of the human population and economy is now hitting planetary boundaries, and our material civilization must address the unsustainability of its energy use, food production, resource consumption, social inequalities and economic and financial system. An alternative sustainability paradigm is possible but presents enormous ethical challenges for our consumer society. Viewed constructively, the necessary transition to sustainability is an opportunity to challenge our basic assumptions, redefine our purpose, and adopt new values for an ever-advancing civilization.
Despite 40 years of international environmental governance, failures outnumber successes and the planetary environment continues to degrade rapidly. The root causes lie in the values behind our short-term materialistic orientation and disregard of science. Addressing the problem requires challenging our basic assumptions, applying a systems approach, and exploring alternative ethical frameworks and their implications for a "green economy". New institutional arrangements will be necessary to give form to multi-level environmental governance for sustainability.
[download presentation as pdf 5.1 mb]
Climate change continues to accelerate, threatening the well-being of human society, yet our addiction to fossil fuels is preventing an adequate response. The inertia in our system, vested interests in the status quo, and the financial crisis are all barriers to change. The present energy system underlying modern civilization is unsustainable. There is great potential in alternative renewable energy sources, but the transition will be difficult.
[download presentation as pdf 4.3 mb]
As climate change seems to be approaching a tipping point where widespread human impacts are possible, we need to consider our moral responsibility, since our lifestyles and consumption of fossil fuels may lead to widespread human suffering and migrations. Since many human rights violations are against immigrants, we need to prepare our own communities to receive people displaced by climate change impacts and sea-level rise.
There are many good reasons to feel hopeless and depressed about the problems facing the world. By taking an ethical approach, it is possible to develop a vision of a higher human purpose, and to understand the processes of change leading to a better society and economy. We can take charge of our own life and contribute to the betterment of our own community
Sustainable development is a policy or political concept, while sustainability is a scientific concept. The present sustainability crisis presents a mosaic of challenges for the science of sustainability, including how to measure sustainability. Science will be insufficient to achieve sustainability if it is not combined with values and ethical perspectives of a sustainable economy and society.
[download presentation as pdf 19 mb]
The challenges of sustainable development and climate change show the vulnerability and unsustainability of our present material civilization. Rather than focusing on the negative side of present problems, we need to ask what kind of a society we want to build to replace our disfunctional economy and its environmentally damaging impacts. Since the causes are rooted in the values of our society, this presentation explores the ethical principles for environmental responsibility and a socially-just economy that can reorient our economy and society towards greater sustainability.
Healing the social divides that threaten world stability will require a new social contract based on ethical principles. It is possible to define development not only in terms of GDP but through all the dimensions of human life that characterize individual development. This can be reinforced with values-based indicators relevant to social responsibility and sustainability.
A recent EU-funded reseach project has developed values-based indicators of education for sustainable development in a variety of civil society organizations. By making the invisible visible, indicators of behaviours correlated with an organizations own values can strengthen its ethical orientation and impact. Values-based learning can be introduced into schools and youth activities to reinforce the ethical foundations of education for sustainability.
[download presentation as pdf 19.6 mb]
Coral reef ecosystems are among the richest and most highly evolved of natural systems. Powered by renewable solar energy, and with efficient energy use and materials recycling through high levels of cooperation and reciprocity, they demonstrate many of the principles that we need to apply to make our own society and economy more sustainable. Unfortunately coral reefs are the first major component of the biosphere to show vulnerability to climate change and ocean acidification at the global level, and their future is in doubt.
Agenda 21, the action plan adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, can be considered the second official definition of sustainable development along with that of the Brundtland Commission. This view of a participant in the process traces its origins back to the 1972 Stockholm Conference and follows its implementation forward to Rio+20.
The latest definition of sustainabilty is the SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015. While governments have the primary responsibility for their implementation, they are also relevant to individuals, communities and businesses.