Looking back, moving forward
March 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of ‘Limits to Growth’ by the Club of Rome. This occasion sadly does not give cause for celebration, neither in the light of relief from the threats described, nor in the light of the certainty that all necessary actions have been taken. In fact, the key message of the report is still being neglected by leading actors in politics, economy, and partly, in science: Unlimited growth of subsystems within a finite system will ultimately lead to a collapse. As chemists, we are well aware of the thermodynamic truth in it. And even more – we have important knowledge and enough in our hands and minds to act on it.
Chemistry is the key enabling science for the products we use in our everyday lives. Every sector has been and is being shaped by chemical innovations. While substantially contributing to our health, standard of living, and wellbeing, chemistry plays a most important role in facing today’s challenges of limited resources on the input side, their use, and limited capacity of natural sinks on the output side. Chemistry, as a science and as an industry, is indispensable in securing a sustainable development of all our societies.
How can chemists and leading actors in politics and economy be equipped to bring about the urgently needed change in all sectors involving chemistry? How can we facilitate a closer alliance between science and decision-making in policy and industry?
We believe teaching of chemistry, but also teaching about chemistry for sustainable development is key. Launched in March 2020, the M.Sc. Sustainable Chemistry provides a blueprint for education for sustainable development in the field of chemistry for working professionals from science, industry, the public sector, and NGOs. Our students critically reflect disciplinary boundaries of chemistry and support each other as agents of change in their institutions. Our unique interdisciplinary curriculum revolves around teachings to view and perform chemistry in the system of sustainability. In 2021, the programme was listed among the United Nations SDG Good Practices (UN DESA) for its contribution to the achievement of SDGs 4, 9, 12 and 17.
In addition, a second programme will be launched in March 2022: The MBA Sustainable Chemistry Management integrates transformative management practices connected to the chemical enterprise with sustainable chemistry. Whereas the M.Sc. targets chemists and closely related other disciplines, the MBA is open to all other disciplines.
Among many global aspects, both programmes anticipate the requirements of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability within the EU’s New Green Deal for science, policy and industry, and the need for professionals with expertise in chemistry for sustainable development. Both programmes strengthen chemistry’s role as part of the solution to the threats described fifty years ago. Let’s start today as chemists in our professional settings to implement the necessary actions to move forward into a future worth living in.
Lisa Keßler, Myriam Elschami, Klaus Kümmerer
Leuphana University Lüneburg
EuChemS at #GWB2022
EuChemS organised its second Global Women’s Breakfast event as an interactive webinar on 16 February 2022, which was a part of the global initiative of IUPAC.
You are invited to watch the EuChemS @Global Women’s Breakfast 2022 webinar recording here.
The European Chemical Society has published its Yearbook 2021. This publication highlights the many accomplishments of EuChemS, including its Professional Networks, in science, policy areas, and science communication and looks back on the various meetings and events that were held throughout the year. In addition, it also proudly presents the winners of several EuChemS awards.
The EuChemS Yearbook 2021 is available for free download here.
We wish you a happy reading!
The PDF version will be available soon.