Chemical Engineering & Technology, Vol.21, No.8, 629-636, 1998
Sustainable development and technology assessment
Changes in the environmental consciousness of wealthy western societies began to appear in the 1960s. These changes manifested themselves in three ways. First, in the mid-1960s the term "Technology Assessment"(TA) was coined in the USA. The TA discussion in Germany - as well as in other comparable countries - led to growing TA activities and the opening of institutions connected with Technology Assessment. Secondly, in 1968, the Club of Rome was founded, which in 1972 brought out its first study "The Limits to Growth". Thirdly, the sustainability debate followed and intensified with the report in 1980 "Global 2000" and the Brundtland report in 1987 "Our Common Future", which formulated the concept of sustainable development. Debates intensified further in 1992 with the "Agenda 21", the closing document of the Rio Conference for Environment and Development. The following will show both that the diffuse idea of sustainability can be operationalized with the technology assessment concept and - as has recently taken place at the TU Clausthal - that technology assessment should be established in research and teaching at the university level.