In the run-up to the Earth Summit (“Rio + 20”) in June 2012 and given the necessary transformations, the convention put the topic Conduct of Life in a Global Community at center stage with a special focus on The Timeliness of Virtues. The search for a sustainable energy and a global resource management and for the integrity of creation shall give all people a common future and a dignified life. It evokes henceforth some basic questions of moderation and justice for the global community and puts on trial especially the dynamics of emerging nations and their rising middle classes, as well as the lifestyle of people in those countries, which bear greater responsibilities due to their bigger capacities.
In his opening address, the new KAAD president, Prof. Dr. Albert Franz (TU Dresden), referred to the cardinal virtues of temperance, fortitude, justice and prudence. There lies some potential and strength within them, which turns them as much into potential change agents as our scholarship holders. The virtues also served as leitmotifs for the forums of the convention. (See the complete programme in German.)
However, during the discussions, the tenor for an ethical life plan was always discussed parallel to humans’ quest for happiness. So “Must” was always linked to “Will” (as Prof. Dr. Markus Vogt, LMU München, pointed out during the central panel discussion). The borderline situation of the concept of growth in the light of climate change calls for a new global “social contract” which includes the question of a “global narrative of happiness”, says Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner (Director of DIE, German Development Institute). This includes far more than what the usual indicators of wealth capture. The constantly requested contextualization of the issue of growth and wealth against the background of different cultural traditions and leitmotifs underlines the need for new indicators. As far as global distributive justice is concerned, “egalitarianism” is needed. However, it requires an in-depth analysis within the framework of intercultural dialogue, of which world religions and their “cosmologies” (concepts of creation) as sources and cause of an ethical conduct of life play a central role. At international conferences this aspect is often underestimated. In the future more attention should be paid to the possible contributions of world religions when it comes to the issue of how to set a worth-living world for all.