June 2, 2014. I am very excited on my way to the Berlin Congress Center on the East Side of Berlin. I have reserved the day for the Sustainable Development Council Annual Conference of the German Government (14. Jahreskonferenz des Rates fuer Nachaltige Entwicklung). The Council is related to the Kanzlerin‘s (Merkel’s) gabinet.

In the first experts’ round table we can already see the scope of the Council: concrete solutions for concrete problems (upcycling constructions rests, recuperation of ecosystems, better ways to produce and store renewable energy, etc.). But there is also an unexpected element in the panel: it is the presence of Prof. Welzer. He is not focusing on such practical solutions; he is thinking much further… (To find out more about Prof. Welzer’s work, see other blog post).

After a lunch break and a meeting with the brilliant Monica Arraya – a global expert in Climate Change who is now building in Costa Rica a dialogue platform to help to society to take sustainable decisions, after many years working in London – we went back to the auditorium to listen to Angela Merkel.

Merkel is one of the politicians I follow with great interest. Maybe because I “knew” her much before she was the “Kanzlerin” maybe because she is a physicist like me, maybe because of her surprising biography, because she is a woman and she obviously does not belong to the “capitalist male” club, or just because she is now the most popular politician in Germany in decades, clearly engaged for sustainable development and peace, in a conservative party.

She spoke to us for almost one hour. She touched on all the critical and difficult points on the sustainability agenda:

  • the importance of the transition to a clean energy matrix and the challenges this decision brings as the entire world, including China, is observing the German model and how other countries have to adapt;
  • the development of a sustainable model for 9 billion people and the German contribution to it;
  • the future of Europe or how to build a rich, democratic, socially and environmentally fair Europe;
  • about transparency and corruption;
  • building peace, etc.

The huge auditorium was very silent. She is quite charismatic. But then a child started screaming, making many people feel a bit uncomfortable, particularly the mom, until Frau Dr. Merkel joked “I knew I would have total support of the next generation!” And we could all laugh together.

She left in me the impression of a well prepared, alert and intelligent politician, with a very good sense of humor and who really enjoys what she is doing.