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Knowing Our Worth:
Conversations on Energy and Sustainability

with Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker

Knowing Our Worth
Pub. Year



Dialogue Path Press



Knowing Our Worth: Conversations on Energy and Sustainability is a series of conversations between Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, one of the foremost authorities on global environmental policy and co-president of the Club of Rome, and Daisaku Ikeda, SGI president. Together, they probe deeply into how to enable humanity to achieve a sustainable global society, shifting away from market fundamentalism and ideologies that exhort the unlimited expansion of market growth at the expense of people and the environment, and toward sufficiency based on efficiency—agreeing not to use more energy, water and minerals while achieving a fivefold increase of productivity and human fulfillment in the process.

Throughout the dialogue, which covers the impact of politics, economics, history and ideology on the environmental agenda, the authors propose an Asian-European alliance to serve as a model for sustainable ecology, one that, according to Dr. Weizsäcker, “philosophically overcomes the view of the ‘selfish beast’ and agrees on international rules rewarding sustainable businesses and lifestyles while penalizing or prohibiting destruction.”

Dr. Weizsäcker writes: “Through such a political, economic, moral, and religious alliance, we can find the will and strength to stand against competition as the decisive criterion in all things, to stand against unchecked and inhumane market forces destroying the power of the state to protect the welfare of its citizens. And we can stand against the destruction of morals and the short-termism that many today seem to support and cherish, almost as a human right.”

Mr. Ikeda adds:

“To avert and ultimately resolve the predicament humankind faces, we need to revise our perception of happiness, which now equates mass consumption—the endless pursuit of desire—with fulfillment.

. . . We must not allow ourselves to become captives of our desires but redirect the deep-seated energies of life underlying these base impulses toward the greater aims and values of harmonious coexistence and co-prosperity.”

Dr. Weizsäcker and Mr. Ikeda first met in March 2010 on the campus of Soka University in Hachioji, Tokyo. The idea of collaborating on a dialogue grew out of discussions they held at that time and was continued through written correspondence spanning from December 2011 to May 2014.


  1. Hope and Recovery
  2. A World Without War
  3. Green Growth
  4. Sufficiency and Human Fulfillment
  5. The Long-term Perspective
  6. Environmental Awareness
  7. Social and Ecological Justice
  8. Our Sustainable Future
Appendix 1. Selected Works—Daisaku Ikeda
Appendix 2. Selected Works—Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker
Appendix 3. The Göttingen Manifesto

About the Authors


“Knowing Our Worth is a charming discussion between a German environmental scientist and a Japanese Buddhist thinker. While recognizing the importance of resource and energy efficiency, the authors perceive that economic ideas of efficiency are not enough to counter the logic of financial selfishness. They call for a human revolution that would move us toward a world without war, a world in which ideas of growth are subordinate to ethical and practical ideas of frugality and sustainability in a context of social justice. They propose an Asian-European alliance toward a “new enlightenment” that would combine the ideas from science and religion that are most critical for humanity today and in the future.”
—Neva Goodwin, Co-Director, Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University

“Taking ourselves off the self-endangered species list requires a human revolution—a transformation of what we do and why, as we strive to become better human beings in more compassionate and durable societies. Drawing from great Asian and European civilizations, this book distills valuable and practical insights on sufficiency through efficiency, simplicity, public purpose, and civil responsibility.”
—Armory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute; coauthor, Factor Four and Natural Capitalism

“This wonderful dialogue between Daisaku Ikeda and Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker embraces the emergence of planetary awareness among citizens worldwide. Today’s sense of urgency arises from witnessing global destruction resulting from limited human consciousness and consequent human despair—evidenced in dysfunctional policies, illness, depression, addiction, violence, and terrorism.

“The authors remind me of modern bodhisattvas: facing humanity’s current challenges with hope, deep analyses, research, and dedicated compassionate action. Both these hardy souls engage with the most important global issues, shaping new paradigms, debates, and policies for our common future.

“Knowing Our Worth will remain a valuable guide to rising generations of global citizens in all countries as they join together to create humane societies beyond market fundamentalism, GDP-fetishism, commercialism, and mindless consumption.”
—Hazel Henderson, President, Ethical Markets Media; author, Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age

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