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Hungarian President Lecturing On Sustainability

Media release 22 September 2009

Hungarian President Lecturing On Sustainability

The President of Hungary is visiting The University of Auckland to give a public lecture on environmental responsibility this coming Friday 25 September (11.15am-12noon, OGGB4, Level O, Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road).

His Excellency Mr László Sólyom will speak about “Possible parallels: Profound changes facilitating democracy and sustainable ecology” (details below). His lecture will include an open forum lasting ten minutes.

Mr Sólyom is a noted lawyer with a passion for ecopolitics and environmental protection. He seeks to bring a critical ecological approach to issues of globalisation, and has inaugurated a “Network of Green Presidents”.

He will arrive on campus at 10.45am for a formal welcome and gift presentation at the Council Room, The ClockTower, 22 Princes Street. Following his lecture he will view exhibitions on the University’s environmental research and be treated to a luncheon attended by environmental researchers. He leaves the Fale Pasifika, 20 Wynyard Street for his next engagement at 2pm.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, says the University is honoured to be hosting the Hungarian President. “Our reputation for environmental research mirrors the President's ‘green’ interests and we are looking forward to a useful exchange of views.”

The President arrives in New Zealand on 24 September on a four-day visit focusing on education, scientific and cultural links.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The President’s lecture will be in English; the question and answer session will be translated. The text of his lecture is expected to be available beforehand and can be sent to you on request. Journalists are welcome to attend the lecture. Please arrive by 10.45am and produce ID with photo.

DETAILS OF LECTURE It is by now a global commonplace that humans from all walks of life on this planet should exist in a sustainable manner, and the sooner the better. In the next ten years the affluent regions of the world need to achieve radical reductions in their emissions and material output. Rapidly approaching deadlines that have been internationally agreed upon indicate the urgency of the multi-faceted task ahead. Whole populations of large geopolitical regions would make a leap over the deep end by finally embarking on this "experiment on an historical scale”. But can countries, in essence very complex systems, be radically changed at all in a short space of time? And if yes, what may be the price to pay in unrest and upheavals? Even if successful in the end, can rapid socio-economic transitions remain peaceful? To assist answering these questions, the other side of the Globe may offer some of its experiences to share.



It is a well-known fact that twenty years ago Hungary, along with the whole region of Central and Eastern Europe did embark on a huge "social experiment”: the transition to democracy and market economy. This transformation, undertaken for the sake of freedom, dignity and prosperity, has been of a scale comparable to the transformation required today for the sake of sustainability. There can be made a systems-level analogy between the two: the rapid and complete dismantling of the whole existing political, social and economic system, and the simultaneous re-building of something hoped to be more viable, more sustainable.



It is rare if not unparalleled to undertake changes affecting the way of life of entire societies at such a speed, to such a geographic extent and depth, while more or less maintaining peace, order, and the rule of law. But the experiment in Central and Eastern Europe started twenty years ago offers parallels and transferable experiences which may be relevant for the planning, launching and leading of a peaceful global transition to social and environmental sustainability.


ENDS

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