Lectures 2016

Divestment from fossil fuels and the implications for the Paris Agreement

In this sustainability lecture, Dr. Bob Massie addressed the history of engagement and divestment and how ESG factors are likely to be integrated into investor decisions in the next 20 years. He discussed challenging questions that have gradually altered the landscape of international corporate governance and capital markets over the last 50 years and become urgent in the aftermath of the COP 21 agreements in Paris in 2015.

Bob Massie is a co-founder of the Global Reporting Initiative and one of the world’s leading experts on both South African and fossil fuel divestment. Massie has been working on business, finance, governance, and sustainability for more than thirty years. He is currently the Executive Director of the Sustainable Solutions Lab at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

The event took place on 21 November and was moderated by Katherine Richardson, Professor in Biological Oceanography, Leader of Sustainability Science Centre, University of Copenhagen.

See the slides here

How the most vulnerable countries are leading the world to tackle climate change

A sustainability lecture by Dr. Saleemul Huq, from International Institute for Environment and Development, Bangladesh, on how the most vulnerable countries are leading the world to tackle climate change.

The talk told the story of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC ) and Paris Agreement focusing on the inclusion of the 1.5 Degrees long term temperature goal. It will then show how many of the poorest and most vulnerable countries, such as Bangladesh, are leading the world on both adaptation as well as mitigation to climate change.

Saleemul Huq is the Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB), a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London and a past Director of the Climate Change Programme at the institute. He has worked extensively in the inter-linkages between climate change (both mitigation as well as adaptation) and sustainable development, from the perspective of the developing countries, with special emphasis on least developed countries (LDCs).

The event took place on 31 October and was moderated by Katherine Richardson, Professor in Biological Oceanography, Leader of Sustainability Science Centre, University of Copenhagen.

Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement

A sustainability lecture by the world-renowned professor of economics and leader in sustainable development, Jeffrey D. Sachs, on implementing the Paris Climate Agreement.

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, bestselling author and columnist. He is is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on economic development, global macroeconomics, and the fight against poverty. His work has taken him to more than 125 countries with more than 90 percent of the world’s population.

He serves as the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The event took place on 17 June and was moderated by Professor Henrik Hansen, from the Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen, Introduction and welcome by Troels Østergaard Sørensen, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

See the slides here

Anticipatory Governance in Social-Ecological Systems: Researching Community Health and Sustainability in Arctic Alaska

This talk represents the first set of results from two projects from Alaska’s Arctic Slope region. Resident expert participants from the Northwest Arctic and North Slope Boroughs addressed the focal question “What is needed for healthy sustainable communities by 2040?” The results contribute to a truly multi-disciplinary cross-cultural discussion of the importance of innovative Indigenous thinking at the local scale in a rapidly changing Arctic.

Dr. Amy Lauren Lovecraft is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, also affiliated faculty with the International Arctic Research Center. Working to foster interdisciplinary engagement among students and faculty she is active in the Arctic and Northern Studies and the Resilience and Adaptation programs at UAF. In her research she explores power dynamics in social-ecological systems, in particular how problems are defined and policies designed in light of climate change uncertainties.  Her scholarship has been published as book chapters and in journals such as ArcticMarine PolicyThe American Review of Canadian Studies, Polar GeographyPolicy Studies Journal, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Recently she was co-editor of the transdisciplinary volume North by 2020: Perspectives on Alaska’s Changing Social-Ecological Systems (Autumn 2011) that developed from collaboration during the International Polar Year.

The event took place on 24 May in collaboration with the Embassy of the United States in Copenhagen and was moderated by Frank Sejersen, Associate Professor at Eskimology and Arctic Studies Section, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen.

The persistence of climate change denial

Public opinion polls show that a majority of the American people now accept that anthropogenic climate change is underway, yet denial persists in many quarters, including the leadership of the Republican party.  Professor Naomi Oreskes will explain the roots of American climate change denial, why it has been so persistent, and what, if anything, might be done about it.

Naomi Oreskes is a Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. She is the author of numerous books, articles, and opinion pieces. Her most recent books are Merchants of Doubt (Bloomsbury, 2010), which was short-listed for the Los Angeles Times book prize and released as a documentary film by the same name in 2015, and The Collapse of Western Civilization (Columbia University Press, 2014), both co-authored with Erik M. Conway.  She also wrote the Introduction to the Melville House edition of the Papal Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality, and, with John Krige, edited Science and Technology in the Global Cold War (MIT Press, 2014).  She has won numerous prizes and awards, including, most recently, the 2014 American Geophysical Union Presidential Citation for Science and Society and the 2015 Herbert Feis Prize of the American Historical Association for her contributions to public history.

The event took place on 28 April and was moderated by Ole Wæver, Professor of International Relations at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen.

Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene

Humanity is having pervasive and increasingly dominant effects on natural systems worldwide leading many scientists to conclude that we live in the Anthropocene epoch. Environmental trends include large-scale changes to climate, freshwater availability and quality, land use, marine ecosystems and biodiversity loss.

Professor Sir Andy Haines discussed the findings of TheRockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on planetary health, which has documented how these environmental trends pose major challenges to sustaining health advances of recent decades. He outlined how such trends and their drivers can affect a range of health outcomes such as non-communicable diseases, water-related and vector-borne diseases. Furthermore he explored the health effects of increased frequency and intensity of extreme events, such as floods, droughts, and heat waves, and the impacts of environmental change on food security and undernutrition.

The event took place on 8 March and was moderated by Steffen Loft, head of the Department of Public Health at University of Copenhagen, Professor, DMSc.