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Interview Details

Interview with Mark Dubrulle

  • President, Club of Rome EU Chapter
  • Dated: Thursday, June 9th 2011

  • EWP: The Club of Rome promotes interdisciplinary analysis, dialogue and action on fundamental, systemic challenges which are determining the future of humanity. What are the main challenges you identified?


    Mark Dubrulle: The Club of Rome was founded in the late sixties, years of profound social changes with May 68. There was something in the air. People at different levels could feel that humanity was not going in the right direction. The Italian industrialist Aurelio Peccei, at that time in a leading position at Fiat, initiated the Club of Rome. Because of his position he cannot be suspected of being a leftist rebel or a green “fundi”. He belonged to the establishment. This is very significant for the origins of the Club of Rome. He was supported by the British Alexander King, then by the Director General Scientific Affairs at the OECD. They brought together a group of mature, responsible people from very respectable corporations and institutions. They had the brilliant idea to ask the MIT to come up with a report about growth in the world: population growth, growth of material production, of consumption, of the use of natural resources and so on. This report, based on a mathematical model, was published in March 1972 with the title “Limits to growth». It is generally linked to the name of Dennis Meadows, a young MIT researcher. The report indicated a number of developments, clearly demonstrating that there were limits to growth and that within foreseeable future the world would run into serious problems, threatening the survival of our planet. The limits to growth were obvious.

    The report was probably also a first attempt to insist on the need of a holistic approach. One of the difficulties we are dealing with in our thinking is that   sciences are separated, closed boxes. The approach of the Club of Rome is definitely interdisciplinary. Indeed, you cannot deal with poverty, economy, wealth, industry, agriculture and environmental protection if you haven’t a global picture of what is happening in the world and make the interconnections.      


    The major contribution of the Club of Rome to society was – and still is - to think “out of the box” in a very provocative and disturbing way.



    EWP: In 2008, the Club of Rome launched an integrated program of international research and consultation on the topic “A New Path for World Development”. Is water an issue within this consultation process and the general program of the Club of Rome?


    Mark Dubrulle: Resources include water by definition. We have within the Club very distinguished members who already years ago draw our attention on the problem of water. We intend to play an active role in the debate on water resources, water supply and water consumption, with a very critical attitude towards the current policies. Ian Johnson, the new Secretary General of the international Club of Rome, clearly stated that water is one of the big challenges, perhaps even more important than oil.



    EWP: How do you assess the water future of Europe? Is the glass half empty of half full? Do you think that it is appropriate or exaggerated to say that there is a “water emergency” in Europe?  


    Mark Dubrulle: Already in the seventies, when I was an environmental activist, we thought that water would become a major issue in our battle. It is a problem in many aspects. First there is the question of privatization of water resources. We believe that water should be part of our commons and accessible to all, as tap water. Another aspect is the management of water. We are suffering from climate change. We have very wet winters and very dry summers. There is a lack of balance between the available water resources. In the world a surface equivalent to Germany is being covered every year with concrete - roads, industrial facilities, housing etc. -, making it very difficult for water to penetrate in the soil and to be available for basic purposes such as drinking water and for agriculture. At the same time we are facing increasing floods. So, water management is indeed a major issue and we need to deal with it very urgently. I have the feeling that it is largely neglected. We talk about long-term problems related to climate change, but water is in my view even higher on the agenda.

    EWP: What kind of tools does the Club of Rome EU Chapter use to educate people on environmental issues in general and water issues in particular?  


    Mark Dubrulle: It is our ambition to develop a strategy to influence in the first place opinion leaders. As an example, last year, the CoR-EU organized a series of private lunch debates on the overall subject of “Limits to certainty”. The participating opinion leaders from industry, banks, academia, labor unions and public authorities showed a high degree of consciousness and concern. We expect that such debates will contribute to change the mainstream thinking and influence positions on world challenges, including the water issue. The CoR-EU is also holding “Aurelio Peccei Lectures & Dialogues” on a regular basis. In 2012, the European Year of Water, we could put emphasis on issues related to water. We should also embark on some more public activities, attracting the media since they are moulding public opinion. A very difficult task because it is quite obvious that the media and the political parties, fail in their educational role. In mainstream thinking too little attention is paid to the fundamental behavioral changes needed to meet the challenges for the future generations. “Good news is no news”. The media prefer to emphasize the natural catastrophes and the nuclear accidents; the urgency to change our economy is hardly mentioned. Many positive initiatives are ignored. There are alternatives to the way we are managing our resources – including water – and yet they are not really part of the media messages. A positive development is that through the internet culture, there is a very fast movement to a greater awareness about these issues. With the speed and effectiveness of internet communication, we may expect that the messages of the Club of Rome will also be reaching a large number of citizens and decision makers.       



    EWP: Many people consider education as the main driver to change behavior. This could probably work out with regard to the young people that benefit from an education taking into account environmental issues. But what would you tell present generations?     


    Mark Dubrulle: I believe that my generation is concerned by the well-being of our offspring. I share the view of Ernst von Weizsaecker: nobody can be indifferent about the future of our grandchildren. What sort of world will we leave to them? If people really care about their children and grandchildren, they should step out of their egotism and the materialism that is dominant now. I am afraid though that it will be difficult to change the mindset and the behavior of people. Recent studies about values in life indicate that for most youngsters the most important thing is “making money” while a couple of years ago, money came on the 5th or 6th position. This is due to the fact that mainstream thinking and mass communication are all about money, success and glitter. Education should stress the fact that happiness, health and a sustainable future are not for sale.


    EWP: Thank you for the interview.

  • Mark Dubrulle
  • President, Club of Rome EU Chapter
  • Mark Dubrulle, Member of the Club of Rome, has been involved in environmental activism and environmental management for 40 years. His professional experience includes environmental management and communication strategies, as well as European affairs. He was co-founder and, from 1971 to 1980, National Secretary of the Bond Beter Leefmilieu / Inter-environnment. He was a founding member and the first Secretary of the Flemish Green Party Agalev (now Groen!). In 2010, Mark Dubrulle was elected President of the Club of Rome EU Chapter in Brussels. Worldwide, the Club of Rome counts a fixed number of 100 full members. It is an independent, not-for-profit organization which draws on the insights and expertise of its members from all regions. Its essential mission is to act as a global catalyst for change through the identification and analysis of the crucial problems facing humanity, communicating these problems and their possible solutions to opinion leaders and decision makers. The EWP Vice-Chairman, Mr. Fritz Barth, recently joined the Board of the CoR-EU.
"Education should stress the fact that happiness, health and a sustainable future are not for sale"

- Mark Dubrulle
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