Final Conference

Final Conference

Applied Ethics: Technology and Governance of Health and Natural Resources Project                                                     

Activity: Final conference
Date & Place: 21-22 May 2015, Trondheim Scandic Nidelven Hotel 
Organizers:May Thorseth, Allen Alvarez, Rune Nydal, Siri Granum Carson
Theme/topic: Grand challenges and our obligations to future generations
     More than ever, our actions and decisions critically affect the lives of following generations. Modern societies are rapidly transforming at a global scale due to combined effect of population growth, economic and technological shifts putting unprecedented pressure on natural resources and the environment. In what way does the imperative of sustainable development translate into responsible action? And how should the ethics research communities (broadly understood as an interdisciplinary field) respond to the grand challenges of our time? This conference invites researchers to present their analysis of urgent topics and solutions. 

The conference focuses on three topics:

  Governance of natural resources: As a result of unstable food prices, rich countries and international companies are buying or renting arable land in poorer countries, both in order to secure access to food and for  purposes of profitable investments. This so-
called land grabbing raises concerns about food security and the future of farming in the countries where land is turned over. In general: How should renewable and non-renewable resources at land and sea be controlled and governed? How does the access to natural resources influence institutions and politics nationally and internationally? These questions concern both the relation between rich and poor countries and between present and future generations. Conflicts could easily be perceived between the aims of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
  Socially responsible investing and business operations: The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund and a major actor in the global finance market. The 
fund defines its ethical commitments as consisting of 1) Economic responsibility towards future generations of Norwegians, and 2) A responsibility to avoid complicity in socially and environmentally harmful business. How are these obligations to be perceived and balanced? More generally: To what degree are powerful corporations and investors responsible for addressing global challenges such as climate change, population growth or fair distribution?
  Normative dimensions of technology:  How should university priorities locally relate to grand global challenges?  This is one of the questions that follow from NENT’s (Norwegian National Committee 
for Research Ethics in Science and Technology) recent statement of the role and place of petroleum research in university structures, stating that petroleum research is ethically indefensible if the total effect of such activity hinder societal transition processes towards renewable energy platforms. How are such so-called ‘broad’ research ethical issues to be handled within university structures and what should be the role of ethics research?  Given the social transformative powers of technology, how are priority settings to be settled? What are the most urgent tasks for ethics research?

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