Setting Down Roots: Dennis Meadows on the Founding and Mission of Balaton

October 25, 2012 • Daily Email Recap

Dennis Meadows recently gave the following interview to Solutions Magazine:

Setting Down Roots: Dennis Meadows on the Founding and Mission of Balaton


Working with their Hungarian colleagues, scientists Donella and Dennis Meadows organized the first meeting of the Balaton Group in Csopak, Hungary, in 1982. Donella died unexpectedly in 2001, and Dennis relinquished all his responsibilities for organizing and financing the group after its 25th annual meeting in 2006. But he remains a steadfast participant in its meetings and a keen observer of its members’ highly diverse work. Here Solutions interviews Dennis about the group’s founding, the impact of its meetings, and the current thinking about sustainability around the world.

What goals led you to organize that first Balaton Group meeting 30 years ago?
In the early 1980s there was still generally a mood of optimism about global development. The threats of climate change and peak oil were not yet widely recognized. But there were concerns about natural resources-their quality and long-term availability. Our desire to help focus state-of-the-art systems thinking tools on natural resource issues at the regional and national level prompted us to mobilize the first meeting. Dana [Donella] and I wrote the first issue of The Balaton Bulletin in October 1982 to describe that first session:

“In September 1982, 30 scientists and managers met in Hungary to review the state of the art of natural resources modeling and to identify ways we could advance the theory and the practice of regional resource management. Those attending the meeting wanted to identify ways of supporting each other in the design and implementation of policies that:

  • greatly raise the productivity of each region’s natural resource endowment; and
  • maintain or increase its overall fertility.”

The first Balaton meeting in 1982 identified several questions that served as the framework for our early efforts, including: What is the current maximum sustainable use of the resource base: nationally, regionally, globally? What are the ways of facilitating the transition to more extensive reliance on renewable resources? And: What are the likely future consequences of unequal distribution of the world’s resources? We also studied how our answers to any of these questions could be most effectively communicated to other scientists and to decisions makers.

To read the full interview, please click through:

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