3 years ago

Global Sustainable Development priorities 500 y after Luther: Sola schola et sanitate [Sustainability Science]

Global Sustainable Development priorities 500 y after Luther: Sola schola et sanitate [Sustainability Science]
Wolfgang Lutz

Martin Luther succinctly summarized his theology in sola statements, such as sola scriptura, viewing the Bible (scriptura) as the only valid source of information about God rather than what he viewed as the extraneous, corrupting church doctrine of the time. As a secular side effect of this focus on individual reading skills, the Protestant territories were the first to acquire high literacy rates, which subsequently fostered health, economic growth, and good governance. Here I argue that a similar priority focus on empowerment of all segments of all populations through education and health (sola schola et sanitate) is needed today for sustainable development. According to decades of research, education and health are essential prerequisites for ending poverty and hunger, for improving institutions and participation in society, for voluntary fertility declines and ending world population growth, for changing behavior and adoption of new and clean technologies, and for enhancing adaptive capacity to already unavoidable climate change. This approach avoids paternalistic imposition of development policies by focusing external aid on enabling people to help themselves, their families, and communities. Prioritizing education and health also helps move more industrialized, aging societies from a focus on material consumption to one on quality of life. Sola schola et sanitate suggests that well-being will increasingly be based on health, continued mental stimulation, and consumption of cultural products, rather than fossil fuels and materials. Thus, cognition—or brain power—can be viewed as the zero-emissions energy for sustainable development.

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