International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)

Sustainability Lecture 2019

This year’s Sustainability Lecture on November 27, 2018 will be held by Shia and Hanno Su, zero waster, blogger, and authors. Their lecture’s titel is „Zero Waste – Ein Leben ohne Müll? [Zero Waste – A life without garbage?]“.

Every German citizen produces 617 kg of garbage every year – this is much more than our planet can handle. There is another way, say Shia and Hanno Su. The author and her husband have been living almost garbage-free since 2014 and are firmly convinced that this lifestyle has nothing to do with renunciation. On the contrary, it even enriches their own lives.

With the Sus, the entire residual and plastic waste of a whole year fits in a jar. If you think that you have to turn your whole life upside down, you are wrong. "It's not black magic," assures Shia Su with a wink.

On 27.11.2019 at 6:00 p.m., you can see for yourself in the Alte Aula in Tübingen, because Shia and Hanno Su give an exciting insight into their everyday life without garbage. You are warmly welcome to join in the discussion. No question is taboo. "There are a lot of surprising alternatives that many of us simply don't know," says Hanno Su, "let us surprise you!”

6 p.m.
Alte Aula, Festsaal, Münzgasse 30


Previous Lectures


The Sustainability Lecture of 2018 was hold by Alfred Theodor Ritter, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Alfred Ritter GmbH und Co. KG. His lecture’s title was "Sustainable Development as a Perspective for Companies: The example of (the company) Ritter". Mr. Ritter spoke in front of more than 130 interested participants and critically reflected on the current economic system, on what stands behind good quality, and on what chocolate manufacturers can do to shape the world a little more towards sustainable development.

Mr. Ritter emphasised that we economise to improve life - not only ours, but ideally all lives of people involved in the production chain. For this reason, an economic system designed only for growth is a dying system in which he himself does not want to live. Factors such as GDP take into account neither the acidification of soils nor the introduction of microplastics into the oceans, since those are difficult to calculate with pure figures and numbers.

With regard to the basic ingredient of chocolate - cocoa, a product traded on the stock market - Mr Ritter is quite sure: you can taste bad quality. This refers not only to cocoa of inferior quality itself, but also to the human suffering that is related to the production of cocoa and thus also in chocolate: Poverty, child labour and human trafficking. For this reason, Ritter Sport Company strengthens the relations to its cocoa farmers, many of whom are organised in cooperatives. Additionally, the company has invested money in its own plantation "El Cacao" in Nicaragua, where biodiversity and fair wages are the cornerstones of good cocoa. Since premium chocolate goes hand in hand with premium cocoa, anyone who pursues the vision of producing the best chocolate in the world must therefore invest in the people involved in the production chain. Mr Ritter mentioned the successes on the way to a more sustainable chocolate production as well as unresolved questions, for example in parts of the milk production. During the lively discussion with the audience following his speech, the speaker discussed both the challenges and the positive solutions for a sustainable economy.


Satish Kumar (Picture: Friedhelm Albrecht/Universität Tübingen)

On Thursday, November 30th 2017, the Indian environmental activist and author Satish Kumar held the Sustainability Lecture on the issue "Soil, Soul, Society - how to bring environment, spirituality and humanity together". In his passionate and motivating speech, Mr Kumar emphasized the interplay of nature and human life. Nature is not a resource that can be exploited for economic profit and higher wages, but a source of life. Only if the elements of nature - fire, water, earth, and air - are in equilibrium, human beings will be able to live well. This is because humans are made up of the same parts: Fire for passion and love, water, since the human body consists of 70 percent of it, earth, because everything human beings are eating derives directly from the earth, and air that we need to breathe. For example, if we pollute the air, we still have to breathe it, if we poison the water, we still need it for life. This ingenious balance has been disturbed and disrupted by us as human beings; therefore, only we are able to bring it back into balance again. No matter how difficult this may seem, there is no single problem that cannot be solved and tackled by looking at its substance – genius simplifies and acts! Since Universities have trained many of today's decision-makers who are responsible for the current situation on earth, they now have to take responsibility and must play an important role for the change of the current situation. Universities must teach a holistic perspective which not only includes economic factors, but also teaches students the importance of the natural balance. Satish Kumar is sure: if each and every person contributes to this change, we will be able to solve one of the biggest problems together, and make the world a place worth living in for us and future generations.


Ursula Sladek (Picture: Friedhelm Albrecht/Universität Tübingen)

Key note speaker of the evening was a businesswoman and energy expert: Ursula Sladek, co-founder of the Elektrizitätswerke Schönau and award winner of the German Environment Prize 2013. She gave the Sustainability Lecture on „Die Herausforderungen der Energiewende in Deutschland“.




Thomas Jorberg (Picture: Friedhelm Albrecht/Universität Tübingen)

Thomas Jorberg, executive spokesman of the GLS-Bank, gave the „Sustainability Lecture“ 2015 with the title "Das Ende von Banken, wie wir sie kannten. Nachhaltigkeit im Finanzsektor?". The Sustainability Lecture as well as the award ceremony took place on Friday 27 November 2015.



Prof. Dr. Angelika Zahrnt (Picture: Friedhelm Albrecht/Universität Tübingen)

The Sustainability Lecture 2014 was given by Prof. Dr. Angelika Zahrnt, economist and honorary president of the BUND. The title of the lecture was "Was kommt nach dem Wirtschaftswachstum?". The Sustainability Lecture as well as the award ceremony took place on Friday 28 November 2014.



Ministerin Theresia Bauer (MdL) (Picture: Friedhelm Albrecht/Universität Tübingen)

On 29 November 2013, the Sustainability Lecture was given by Mrs Ministerin Theresia Bauer MdL. The title of the lecture was "Wissen schafft Nachhaltigkeit - die Rolle der Wissenschaft auf dem Weg in die nachhaltige Gesellschaft".



Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker (Picture: Friedhelm Albrecht/Universität Tübingen)

In 2012, the internationally renowned environment expert Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker gave the Tübingen Sustainability Lecture. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, who is committed to scientific and socio-political issues all over the world, had been elected as Co-President of the in that year. Among numerous other functions, he worked as Director of the in Bonn, as President of the and as a member of the German Bundestag in the course of his career. He is a pioneer of the idea of sustainability and addressed the topic of intergenerational justice in his speech. The title of the Sustainability Lecture was: "Was schulden die Alten den Jungen?



From left to right: Prof. Thomas Potthast, Prof. Klaus Töpfer und Prof. Bernd Engler (Picture: Leweke/IZEW)

For the first Sustainability Lecture in 2011, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Klaus Töpfer (Founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam); former German Minister of the Environment as well as Executive Director of the UNEP could be engaged.