Development Minister Müller calls for new growth model and responsible natural capital accounting

19th June 2018 | 4th BMZ Forum for the Future | Berlin, Germany

In honour of World Environment Day, Development Minister Müller welcomed participants from German politics, the private sector and civil society to the fourth BMZ Forum for the Future “Making Globalisation Fair” on June 5, 2018. Under the title “Natural Capital: Our Wealth – Our Responsibility”, speakers and guests explored ways to shape the world of tomorrow without exceeding our planet’s natural limits.

In his opening address, Development Minister Dr Gerd Müller outlined the need to rethink how we assess the impact of our lifestyle on the natural world and the environment. He advocated for a system of natural capital accounting: “We need a new growth model. So above all, we have to be honest in our calculations. The economy and consumption are causing billions in environmental damage we could be assessing. The cost of diseases caused by emissions, and declining forests, soil, biodiversity: none of this is reflected on any price tag. But we cannot exploit natural resources for free. And we have to lead the pack in protecting global goods, because nature has a very real value.”

In his speech “Strategies for transforming to a sustainable world,” guest speaker Prof Klaus Töpfer, retired federal minister and former Head of the UN Environmental Programme, agreed, calling on Germany to lead the way. “I will stand up and say that a country like Germany with a good, even very good economy, with a long history in science and technology, cannot in good conscience sit back and ask if everyone else is on board. We must be pioneers, blaze a new trail, and then bring the others on board. Any strategy has to start at home. Let’s create a recycling society others can look up to. And let’s pursue this recycling society with the sense of responsibility a country like ours has to assume.”

Development Minister Müller was joined at the podium by Eberhard Brandes, Managing Director of WWF Germany, Dr Karin Kemper, Senior Director for the Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice at the World Bank, and Prof Michael Otto, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Otto Group, for a panel discussion on the necessity of and scope for rethinking and assessing wealth.

“Every product has an effect on the world and its people, an effect that can be measured. It is important to express natural capital in numbers to get decision-makers thinking about the value of nature,” Otto said.

Karin Kemper presented this year’s World Bank report “The Changing Wealth of Nations”, which addresses issues of sustainability and ecological accounting. “In the report, we look at whether there is a benchmark that can tell us when a country’s development is no longer sustainable,” Kemper said.

Brandes emphasised the importance of linking ecological imperatives with commercial interests. He called for more rapid change accompanied by a collective pricing policy that accounted for natural capital and environmental damage. “We can only secure lasting prosperity for everyone if we find the answers to these questions in time,” he added.

This was the fourth event in the “Forum for the Future: Making Globalization Fair” dialogue series and was organized by the GIZ’s Development Policy Forum. In laying the groundwork for the forum, the GIZ focused on socially responsible environmental policy and sustainable development. As part of its socially responsibly environmental policy, the BMZ launched the WAVES (Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services) partnership in 2010 to support the World Bank’s efforts to include natural capital accounting in development planning.

Together with UNESCO Special Ambassador Ute-Henriette Ohoven and artist Leon Löwentraut, Development Minister Müller concluded the official part of the Forum for the Future programme by introducing the #Art4GlobalGoals exhibit. The exhibit marks the start of the eponymous campaign launched by Ohoven with Minister Müller’s support as patron. 20-year-old and internationally successful painter Löwentraut artistically interpreted 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015 in paintings. #Art4GlobalGoals is intended to raise awareness and make the SDGs accessible to a wider public, and encourage active involvement.

Picture above: Heinl/Photothek. From left to right: Prof Klaus Töpfer, Eberhard Brandes, Development Minister Müller, Prof Michael Otto and Karin Kemper

Digital Development Debates – Archive

The Future of Labour Is Not Pre-Determined

Interview with Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the situation of labour rights worldwide.

» more

Morocco’s Solar Bet

Morocco’s new solar power plants are expected to support 1.1 million people and hopes are high for a boost in job creation. Yet obstacles still remain.

» more

Women Entering Tech

The Organization ChunriChoupaal does not accept the male bias of the tech industry. Neither in Europe nor in Pakistan

» more

Europe’s Working Poor

In some parts of Europe, garment workers earn less than their Asian counterparts – even if they work for big brands

» more