Children from the Passau-Grubweg primary school opened the evening event of the Sustainability Day at the University of Passau with a song from the Earth Kids Choir project. Keynote speaker Christine von Weizsäcker took up the sung lyrics about courage and cleverness and said: "When it comes to sustainability, we have to be brave and clever. And we still have a lot to learn." In her lecture, the renowned biologist and environmental activist addressed various topics to show what is currently on the global agenda in the effort to achieve more sustainability – and where the most urgent problems lie.
"Recent publications by a wide range of key UN governing bodies summarising the state of the art in the respective fields are very much in agreement: for people to live together sustainably on Earth, we need systemic, multidimensional, cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and participatory approaches", said von Weizsäcker. This requires diligence, perseverance, close observation and precise analysis, but also modesty, respect and a joy of encountering those who are not caught in their respective habitual bubble of discourse", von Weizsäcker continued.
After the welcome by University President Professor Ulrich Bartosch, and a virtual greeting by Bavarian State Minister for the Environment and Consumer Protection Thorsten Glauber, the University's Sustainability Commissioner, Professor Werner Gamerith, gave a brief overview of the activities of the Sustainability Hub. In doing so, he underlined the task of the university to prepare the ground for fruitful discussions and to leave students with a strong awareness of the issues of sustainability.
After a short introduction by Climate Action Manager, Angie Schüppel, whose position at the University was established earlier in 2023, the awards for special services to sustainability were presented. The prize in the category "Sustainability Activities on Campus" went to the Sustainability student society for its now ten-year student commitment. Laura Fuchs, Anna Baierl, Nina Neuleitner, Christina Bichlmeier, Elisa Buhr and Annika Stöwer accepted the award for their "outstanding record of activities that make the campus more liveable and sustainable", according to Professor Werner Gamerith in his laudatory speech.
The 2023 prize in the category "Research with Relevance to Sustainability" was awarded to economist Stephan Geschwind, who works as a graduate teaching and research assistant at the Chair of Economic Theory held by Professor Johann Graf Lambsdorff. In his master's thesis, which was awarded the highest grade of 1.0, Geschwind links the problem of over-exploitation of natural resources with the risk of violent conflict. "The interesting result is that scarce resources do not per se lead to more violence, as is sometimes assumed in the literature", Graf Lambsdorff writes in his statement. "The risk of increasing violence is only evident for endogenous scarcity as a result of human-induced over-exploitation."
The sponsor of the two prizes, each worth 1,500 euros, is Sparda Bank.