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Experts to Work Out How the Planet Will Cope with 9B People

23 November 2010

News release

World Experts in NZ to Work Out How the Planet Will Cope with 9 Billion People

World experts will meet in Auckland next week to work out how the planet is going to cope when the population reaches 9 billion people in 2050.

They will attend the fourth international conference on Sustainability, Engineering and Science at the University of Auckland from Wednesday, 1 December to Friday, 3 December.

“Before 2050, when the population will reach 9 billion, our global civilisation faces one of its greatest challenges – how to match our demands to the limited resources of the planet,” says Dr Carol Boyle, the chair of the NZ Society for Sustainability Engineering and Science (NZSSES), which is hosting the event.

“Business as usual will not be enough to ensure the ongoing viability of our communities. We need radical changes in mindsets, behaviour and whole systems to avoid the collapse of our social structure, our economic structure and our environment.

“It sounds scary because it is scary. For example, we know we will be facing shortages of oil, possibly as soon as 2015, which will have significant effects on transportation and production of goods. We are still unsure of the impacts and the potential effects on the NZ economy but we do know the cost of not facing up to global warming, energy shortfalls, and water and food production will only increase the longer we wait to deal with them.

“The changes we need to make in the coming decades are fundamental and urgent. It requires leadership from scientists, engineers and designers to create a future that serves the needs of the people, while protecting our planet. That’s why we’re hosting this conference,” says Dr Boyle.

As well as presenting the latest in sustainable research and development, the conference will discuss practical and achievable ways to advance sustainability in business, government and society.

“We’ll be looking at how evolving technology can be used, discussing ways to embed sustainability into our schools, workplaces and daily lives, how to shift society away from rampant consumerism and what will happen to our environmental systems if we don’t,” says Dr Boyle.

One of the key speakers at the conference will be Dr Peter Head from the UK who was named by Time magazine in 2008 as one of the world’s 30 global eco-heroes. A civil and structural engineer, he is an adviser to the Singapore Government on green buildings and infrastructure, a world leader in bridge building and, in 2002, was appointed by the Mayor of London as an independent commissioner on the London Sustainable Development Commission.

Other speakers at the conference include:

• Professor Martin O’Connor who is the director of French international research centre REEDS (Research in Ecological Economics, Eco-Innovation and Tool Development for Sustainability)

• Professor David Hood from the Queensland University of Technology

• Professor Ian Lowe from Griffith University, Brisbane, and president of the Australian Convervation Foundation

• Professor Hans Schreier from the University of British Columbia

• Dr Darlene Schuster from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers

• Professor Jorge Vanega who is Dean of the Texas A&M College of Architecture

• Dr Roger Blackley, chief planning officer, Auckland Council

• Sir Peter Gluckman, chief science adviser to the Prime Minister

• Bob Harvey, chair of the Auckland Waterfront Development Agency

ENDS

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