Bart Jan Krouwel: Towards knowledge democracy and sustainability

Development Policy25 Aug 2009Bart Jan Krouwel

As a very pragmatic and results oriented guy, I am always asking myself: how can we use knowledge in our society to avoid the causes of problems, instead of solving the consequences of them?

Because, as a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) ‘expert’, I believe that a lot of things have to be changed on Mother Earth to make our society sustainable. And therefore we still need a lot of knowledge and science, such as for innovations and for changing our behaviour as citizens and/or consumers.

Now, we are often too busy to deal with consequences of societal problems, such as climate change, hunger, poverty, energy supply, water problems, (civil) wars etc. This costs a lot of money, a lot of pain, sadness, criminality, terrorism etc.

Why don’t we focus much more on trying to avoid the causes of these problems? So, it should no longer be allowed (worldwide) to produce engines, for example, which produce CO2 emissions. Or, firstly, we should organise food production more adequately in developing countries instead of exporting food to these countries.

For this transformation, we still need a lot of knowledge and science in very different areas. So, talking about ‘Towards Knowledge Democracy’, isn’t it possible that scientists are developing more knowledge about the future i.e. how to avoid the causes of problems, instead of underlining and explaining why things are as they are?

Then, talking about ‘interdisciplinary knowledge development’, I think we need more integrated partnerships between scientists and businessmen to develop – together – more innovations, and also to learn and accept more from each other! Science and business don’t have to be two such different worlds.