The Political and Ethical Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Event: Sustainable Growth Model

Since the economic opening, the Chinese society has experienced a rapid economic growth, but also increasing threats to its stability, for instance corruption, or socioeconomic inequalities. How can these problems be solved? How can the social development in China become more sustainable?

In the evening

In order to develop problem-solving approaches, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Fudan University, the German Consulate General of Shanghai, the Goethe Institute and the Shanghai Administration Institute jointly organized the symposium “The Political and Ethical Dimensions of Sustainable Development”, from October 8th to October 11th. During this event, the German expert and politician Prof. Dr. Gesine Schwan substantially addressed these questions. On October 8th, Dr. Schwan talked about the ethics of companies in Germany with researchers, lawyers, and representatives from the German chamber of commerce. On the following day, Dr. Schwan presented her work on a new concept of a fair and partnership-based family policy to students of sociology at the Fudan University. The concept aims at promoting gender equality and better care-work. In the evening, Dr. Schwan and Prof. Dr. Li Xiaojiang resumed the problem of persisting discrimination against women in China and Germany. of the topic of the third day was the interplay between capitalism, values and emotions. In a discussion at the Institute of Advanced Social Science (IAS) of the Fudan University, Dr. Schwan argued that social sustainability is based on a balance between the contradictory elements of market economy and commodification on the one hand and democracy emotions and values on the other.

Photo: FES China

The problem of a commodification of emotions was addressed in more detail in the evening, when Dr. Schwan discussed with the book authors Sven Hillekamp, Sun Ganlu and Zhao Chuan. On October 12th, Schwan attended a discussion at the Shanghai Administrative Institute (SAI) with the founding member of Transparency International Peter Eigen and Liu Zhonghong from SAI. The concept of good governance and the fight against corruption were major subjects of the debate.

Overall, the discussions pointed out that business ethics, gender equality, emotions, and good-governance are essential dimensions of social sustainability in China and Germany. Social sustainability requires a balance between markets and democracy, between social spheres that are commoditized and uncommercial values.

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