Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


You are here: Home / Potsdam 2007

Potsdam Memorandum 2007

A Global Contract for the Great Transformation

Executive Summary of the main conclusions from the Symposium “Global Sustainability: A Nobel Cause”

in Potsdam, Germany, 8-10 Oct 2007


Photo: © Hannah Förster, PIK

Humanity is standing at a moment in history when a Great Transformation is needed to respond to the immense threat to the Earth. Anthropogenic global warming through greenhouse gas emissions is the foremost of an entire set of emerging development, security and environmental crises. Nobel Laureates from all disciplines, high level representatives from politics and world-renowned experts have called for this transformation to begin immediately. An integrated response will have to accommodate human welfare within the capacity of the planet to sustain economical growth. While drastic reduction in GHG emissions by rich countries is essential, the right for development in the poorer countries, accommodating the vast majority of humanity, will have to be an integral part. This requires, above all, equal access to affordable, sustainable and reliable energy services.

This Great Transformation can only be achieved with a new global contract between science and society which needs to tap all sources of ingenuity and cooperation to meet this challenge of the 21st century. The scientific community and the leaders, institutions and movements representing the worldwide civil society have to engage in a strategic alliance. The need is to embrace a multi-national innovation program on the basic needs of human beings, requiring the scale of for instance the Apollo Program. In addition, it is essential to remove the persisting cognitive divides and to create a global initiative on the advancement of sustainability science to win over the best young minds for laying the cognitive foundations for the well-being of the generations further down the line.

Extensive version of the Potsdam Memorandum (PDF-file)

Deutsche Textversion

More information on the Symposium

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

This new book invites a broad audience to take part in the stimulating and instructive debates of the Potsdam Symposium. Eight Nobel Laureates, renowned scientific experts, leaders from politics and business, and representatives of major NGOs have been invited to share their thoughts on global sustainability. The essays included in the book cover a broad range of topics, ranging from a general analysis of the climate change and sustainability crisis to specific proposals on technologies and policies, which could be part of the solution.

Download complete PDF (6.3 MB)
Download separate chapters

Hardcopies through Cambridge University Press

Authors include: