(Text: Armin König; Übersetzung: Christina Gerke)
I cordially welcome you to this exceptional school event held in the Illingen town hall and I’m delighted that our municipality has again been able to cooperate with the Illtal Gymnasium.
Today’s topic is one of the biggest issues of our society which does not only affect today´s generation but also concerns all future generations. Protecting the environment is of primary importance for all of us.
I’m exceedingly pleased that you students of the Illtal Gymnasium have taken up this important and difficult topic, that you have worked on it and finally presented it so vividly in your project. I feel proud and honored that Mr Luc-Marie Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD and Mr Peter Müller, Minister President of the Saarland are attending this official presentation today. This is a great distinction for you, dear students of the Illtal Gymnasium.
We are especially delighted to welcome Mr Gnacadja, a very committed environmental politician from the Republic of Benin. Illingen has a very special relationship to the Republic of Benin because of our town twinning with Tovilklin in Benin.
Mr Gnacadja is not only a convinced but also a convincing environmental politician
Before taking up his position as UNCCD Executive Secretary, Mr. Gnacadja served as Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development of Benin from 1999 to 2005. He gained first-hand knowledge of the UNCCD process over a number of years in his capacity as Head of Delegation to the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD.
Mr. Gnacadja was also Head of Delegation to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. His pronounced leadership qualities enabled him at the national level to initiate and build synergies between the Rio Conventions, in conjunction with the National Commission on Sustainable Development.
This is the topic which moves us all. The Nobel laureate Al Gore has contributed decisively to raising our awareness of the problem.
The title of Al Gore’s new book is „Our Choice. A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis“.
It is our choice where we want to go, it is our decision if we want to keep on putting strain on the Planet Earth or if we are capable and ready to finally change our way of living as well as our way of doing business.
We definitely do have a choice.
In the first chapter of his book “What goes up must come down”, Al Gore says:
“Human civilization and the Earth’s ecological system are colliding, and the climate crisis is the most prominent, destructive, and threatening manifestation of this collision.”
Never before has mankind changed and exploited Planet Earth as much as today. We produce, we consume, we abuse nature and our environment, we occupy space that has been taboo heretofore. On a daily basis we interfere with the ecosystem Earth and leave our footprints. And in many cases we leave barren land behind us wherever we tread. This is true not only in a metaphorical sense but meant quite literally.
The consequences are far-reaching: climate change, an ever increasing shortage of resources, desertification, soil degradation – these catchwords indicate what we are doing to our ecosystem Earth.
There is scarcely any place left on our planet that has not at all been touched by humankind. Apart from technological progress there is also the exponential rise of population growth around the globe which is to blame for this desolate situation.
Our continuous obsession with economical growths results in our destroying the foundations of our own existence. It is essential for us to change this attitude.
It is imperative for us to finally reverse our negative impact on our habitat. We have to establish a sustainable economy, we have to use our resources responsibly, we have to be considerate of future generations before we get to the point of no return that will make the ecosystem Earth collapse.
It is an obligation for all people living on this planet to practice anticipatory environmental protection and to take all necessary preventives if we do not want to jeopardize the foundations of our own existence.
Let us construct a Noah’s Ark together. Let us go about these basic principles of a sustainable development together.
Two General Studies courses from the Illtal Gymnasium are already on board; they have dealt with the issues of climate change and sustainable development in various articles and they have published this magazine. I sincerely compliment you for your commitment and dedication – your project is a milestone on the way to the projects for sustainable development planned by the municipality of Illingen. We are proud of you . As mayor of this town I strongly support these activities. It is our Earth, therefore no one can elude his responsibility.
When I’m speaking of responsibility, I do not only refer to the Earth’s ecology.
We need to change in order to change our society – so as to ultimately change the whole world.
I want a just society in which money is not everything.
I want a solidary society in which everyone helps the other.
I want an innovative society which is not afraid of changes.
I want a competitive society in which it is fun to be an entrepreneur.
I want a regardful society which is considerate of future generations and which is pledged to leave them a world and a climate worth living in.
I want a curious society which inspires hope for the future
You are curious.
You whet one’s appetite for something new.
You are our hope.
Good luck for your work.
You are our future.