What are the global topics that also concern Romania?
I would choose six key themes, launched by the Club of Rome founder Aurelio Peccei four decades ago, but which today are topical and have gained new forms: resources, education, culture, cooperation, the urban-rural relationship and technology.
With respect to resources, an even more severe crisis than the ongoing one is looming in the near future. It is one generated by the imbalance between resources and population. The world is already divided between those who have energy, food and water, and those who don’t. The survival of mankind on its only planet is rigorously asserted: 7% of the population uses 20% of the resources; the arable area is 11.5 bln hectares for a population of 7 billion, which is close to the limit beyond which major social conflicts may break out. The prices of basic foodstuffs are skyrocketing. We are threatened by a shortage of food, as well as water. The current crisis reflects, to a great extent, the unreasonable and irresponsible consumption of resources. Therefore, the current development model must be radically revised and brought in line with the metabolism of nature.
What is the role of technology in this landscape, marked by the new threats?
Development is primarily triggered by the progress of technology, which ensures increased productivity and competitiveness. But these alone are no longer enough. Since the warning issued in 1972 with the report on “The Limits to Growth” issued by the Club of Rome, going on to the launch of the concept of “sustainable development” in 1992 and to date, people have been facing the same problems, which have only grown more acute today.
The new technologies, materials and procedures dramatically change the way in which people work, think, move and communicate with each others, several times during the same generation. The pace of change is stunning, and it requires adequate solutions. What we need now is more advanced thinking and a fundamental revival of old recipes, which worked for obsolete doctrines and concepts. The comprehensive concept of sustainable development includes, apart from the production of goods and services, the responsible activation of available resources, no more squandering of resources, conservation and improvement of the environment, the qualitative enhancement and rational use of human capital. All these compel national governments and international institutions to focus more on coordination and harmonisation goals. Nowadays, political power can no longer operate outside the wealth of knowledge and experiences acquired by independent experts and researchers.
Education and research are important components for the development of a state. What is your view on these areas?
The pillars of civilisation are science, technology and the economy, and these must be firmly rooted in education. The more we look at investments in education as a priority, the safer and longer the survival of mankind. The economic crisis is a proof of a flawed worldview, in which order, honesty and hard work have been replaced by greed and arrogance.
Innovation is the key to success. This goal is achieved through investment in education, continuing training and research. Innovation alone generates value-added, and this is inseparable from the quality of education.
How can Romania step out of the economic crisis?
The future will belong to the brain and mind, if we want to survive. We need our mind to be free, critical and independent. For Romania, my philosophy is quite simple and certain to work: we must hire the best young minds, give them all the support and intellectual freedom they need in order for them to work and be successful in their own country. Brains must be put to work.
On the other hand, in Romania’s specific case, the rural environment continues to offer a huge potential, primarily for farming and food production and related services, but also in a broader socio-economic sense. Romania’s rural population accounting for over 40% of the total is often perceived as a weakness that needs addressing. As a judoka, I try to see things a little differently: how can we turn this weakness into a strength? Romania has one of the most fertile soils in Europe. The threat of a global food crisis should open our eyes to this fact and to the prospects that must be capitalised on. The future will belong to those able to manage their resources wisely. In a world where wheat and water will be worth more than oil, agriculture may become Romania’s success niche.
I have more respect for action than for speeches about values, and I believe our main targets are to bring and keep in the country our most educated people, and to start working hard.
Călin Georgescu, Ph.D., is the Executive Manager of the National Centre for Sustainable Development in Romania. As an acclaimed expert in sustainable development, public policies and strategies, he was appointed to coordinate the preparation of the Romanian Government’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development both in 1999 and in 2008 – in the new context required by European Union standards.
As a founding member and Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation and Development Projects (IPID), since 2006 Dr. Georgescu has been coordinating a project on “Reshaping Professional Worth in Romania,” consisting in three analysis reports and solutions for the state of human capital.
He is currently a special UN Rapporteur for Human Rights and the Illicit Movement of Toxic Waste, Representative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) National Committee for Romania, a member of the Club of Rome, Chairman of the Board of the European Support Centre for the Club of Rome in Vienna, Secretary General of the Romanian Association for the Club of Rome (ARCoR).
Interview made by Roxana Mazilu