DEVOTION MADE SUSTAINABLE

Maja Göpel is Secretary General of the German Advisory Council on Global Change. The role of paradigm shifts as strategic leverage points is crucial to her work. She was a part of the Global Wellbeing and GNH Lab.

impressions of the European Forum Alpbach 2018

The German Advisory Council on Global Change has an important mission: Provide inspiring intellectual leadership and scientific advice for the German government and wider public on possible pathways for sustainable global development. As its Secretary General, Maja holds up to this promise. The way in which Maja describes what problems she sees at work clarifies where her determination comes from. She claims that “... the constant crisis-mode in Europe and the reactive fixing of problems with old ideas and promises [...] has taken over – and has, so do I believe, contributed to the chasm between ‘the establishment’ and the increasing amount of people that do not trust governments and those promises anymore.”


Committed to promote change

As a devoted scientist, Maja is advocating system transformations for sustainable development and tries to develop new prosperity models. She helped start up the World Future Council, is a member of the Club of Rome and the Balaton Group and serves on several boards. With her research and a lot of passion, Maja is driven by the goal to really understand how societal change and a personal transformation can be facilitated. And she is dedicated to working on understanding and changing the way that an outdated economic paradigm and development story is instrumental in blocking the transformational change required for a sustainability turn. What she strives for is no less than a system change.

Collaboration to shape the future

Maja finds that the Lab is not only a place where new thoughts can be developed and tested, but also “an amazing possibility to re-evaluate, deepen and embellish ideas, strategies and networks” and “a great accelerator for existing projects”. The Lab has had a sobering and motivating effect on Maja, to continue working on the force of personal and structural transformation with a deep and wide set of methods and approaches. And, since it is her firm belief, “that human beings could be better off if development was reconceptualised more holistically”, the Lab and its approaches – in particular the practical methods of Theory U – happened just at the right time. In retrospect, she is happy that she could combine the Lab experience with former leadership trainings and a longer-standing Buddhist practice. Thus inspired, she keeps on researching and integrating other organizational change approaches to bring those into sustainability thinking and practice.


Maja has a clear vision and strong standpoints. Making things better can only be accomplished by a close evaluation of the status quo and Maja is not hesitant to voice her insightful stance from “beyond ideology” and claim what needs to be done: “Inspiring and supporting people to speak truth to power, to be literate in the role that paradigms and mind-sets play in humans making history and shaping the future, to believe in sustainable alternatives being possible and to detect new possible pathways and collaboration potentials.” The Lab might have only be a small step on this path, but it gives a glimpse of the giant leaps that will soon be taken.

“I try to be yet more open to understanding the deeper human drivers in any situation of collaboration or conflict.”

Maja Göpel