Resilient society key to sustainable development: German academic (Focus Taiwan)

  • Matthias Kleiner, president of the Leibniz Association
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Taipei, May 7 (CNA) The establishment of a resilient society, in which people are aware of the important issues and can take action, is key to the sustainable development of mankind, according to Matthias Kleiner, president of the Leibniz Association.

Kleiner, who heads the union of German non-university research institutes in various branches of study, told CNA on April 28 that it is vital for every society to be physically and mentally prepared for whatever problems human beings might be facing as natural resources are being exhausted.

"I think resilience, in a broad sense, is a key word for the future," he said, adding that there should be joint efforts by the public and private sectors to promote such awareness.

The efforts should include focusing more on education and the dissemination of information, particularly about the 17 sustainable development goals proclaimed by the United Nations in 2015, Kleiner said, referring to the U.N. goals that include climate action, gender equality, clean energy and innovation.

He said the establishment of Tang Prize in Taiwan is a good example of action taken to shed light on important social issues and promote the pursuit of knowledge for the benefit of society.

The biennial Tang Prize was established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin (尹衍樑) to complement the Nobel Prize and to honor top researchers and leaders in four fields -- sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, Sinology, and the rule of law.

Kleiner said that in the pursuit of sustainable development, it is also important to bring together industry and academia to brainstorm, which will lead to greater innovation.

The acquisition and transfer of knowledge should not be an "assembly line," said Kleiner, who served as president of the prestigious German Research Foundation from 2007 to 2012.

"Strong innovation is urgently needed for sustainable development," he said during a visit to Taipei at the invitation of the Tang Prize Foundation.

In the process of innovation, however, people must be careful about the consequences of their actions, Kleiner said.

For example, in the field of human embryonic stem cell applications, the question of how far to go should be examined, he said.

Certain issues require significant public engagement, which highlights the importance of building a resilient society in which people are adequately informed to make proper decisions, he said.

Kleiner also praised Gro Harlem Brundtland and Arthur H. Rosenfeld, the two Tang Prize laureates in sustainable development, saying that their insights and excellent science have had a major impact on people's lives.

The Tang Prize has been gaining international attention, Kleiner said, expressing the hope that it will attract more research talent that will benefit the welfare of human beings. 

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)