1965 - Beginnings
Concerned that governments were unable to solve the world’s most pressing problems or to engage in thinking about the long term, an Italian industrialist, Aurelio Peccei, and a Scottish scientist, Alexander King, convened a group of like-minded thinkers to deliberate on the causes and potential solutions to the great problems of mankind.
1968 - The Club of Rome is established
In April, a two-day meeting in Rome brought together 36 European economists and scientists. Although the gathering was ridden with divergences and antagonism, a core group remained, their thinking crystallising around three pillars which continue to define the Club to this day: a global perspective, the long-term and Peccei’s concept of ‘problematique’, or cluster of intertwined global problems. The group met regularly therefore, its numbers swelling to include experts and international decision-makers, but remaining loosely organised with no formal structure or secretariat.
1972- Limits to Growth is published
Under the supervision Dennis Meadows, a group of professors at MIT were commissioned by the Club to study the complex problems with which the group was grappling, using the now-famous World3 computer model. The result was the publication of The Limits to Growth in 1972, a milestone for the Club and a definitive moment in the advent of the sustainability movement. The Report was ground-breaking, as the first to fundamentally challenge the dominant paradigm of unbridled economic growth without regard for its environmental consequences.
1974 - The Salzburg Statement
On the initiative of the Club, Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky hosted a meeting on “North-South Problems” in Salzburg, Austria, with six other heads of state and government. The two-day private brainstorming session produced the “Salzburg Statement” which was issued in front of 300 journalists. It emphasised that the oil crisis was simply part of the whole complex of global problems and not merely a political one, as many at the time believed.
1984 - Beyond Peccei
After Peccei’s death in March 1984, the continued existence of the Club was put into question. At its annual meeting in Helsinki, members nonetheless agreed to carry and elected Alexander King as President. The post of Secretary-General was created, with Bertrand Schneider assuming the role, and a more formalized structure, including a Secretariat, was put in place.
The Club’s headquarters were moved from Rome to Paris and the Club decided to invite prominent world figures who shared the Club’s concerns, to become Honorary Members. These included former president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of Germany, Richard von Weizsäcker and newly elected president of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel.
1986 - Reaffirmation of a Mission
The Club decided on a deliberate change of emphasis in tackling “the predicament of mankind”. While maintaining its distinctively global approach, it chose to focus on particular aspects, sometimes even concentrating on a single major one for a few years.
In his statement “The Club of Rome — Reaffirmation of a Mission”, Alexander King outlined some potential areas of focus: governability, peace and disarmament, population growth, human resources, and an assessment of the consequences of advances in science and technology.
Before the Reykjavik Summit in October, Eduard Pestel and Alexander King sent a memo to both President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, suggesting that the United States and the USSR might be induced to work together on reducing arms sales to poorer countries. Gorbachev reacted very positively, leading to crucial contacts during the period of glasnost and perestroika.
1987 - National Associations
At the annual meeting in Warsaw, a Charter was adopted making the National Associations of the Club of Rome official entities.
1990-1991 - The First Global Revolution
At the suggestion of its new President, Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner, the Club spent 1990 re- examining the world situation and reassessing its own mission in the context of turbulent global changes. A membership consultation was launched and responses discussed intensively at meetings in Moscow and Santander. The outcome was the first report of the Club of Rome (rather than to), entitled The First Global Revolution, written by Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider and published in 1991 in 19 countries.
The Report redefined the Club’s priority concerns: development, the environment, governance, education and ethical values. It clearly set out the aims, strategies and initiatives for the future of the Club of Rome. In particular, it marked a turning point by putting special emphasis on the “resolutique” — on possible ways of responding to aspects of the predicament of humankind — and hence on action and concrete results, as well as reflection.
After the collapse of Communism, National Associations were established across Eastern Europe (associations already existed in Poland and Russia). Throughout the 1990s, associations were also created in Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela) and meetings were held in Buenos Aires, Bogotá and Punta del Este.
1993 - Conscience of the World
The President of Germany, Richard von Weizsäcker, declared to a German newspaper: “The Club of Rome is the conscience of the world”.
1999 - EXPO 2000
The Club of Rome was heavily involved in EXPO 2000 in Hanover. The President of the Club of Rome, Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner, chaired EXPO’s International Advisory Board and was also in charge of the Global Dialogue, the philosophy of which had been developed by the Club of Rome’s Beyond 2000 – Which Kind of Society Do We Want?.
2000 - Prince of Jordan becomes Club President
In November 2000, at a meeting in Madrid, in the presence of King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Sofía (Honorary Members of The Club of Rome), HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan was appointed President of the Club and Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner made Honorary President.
The the Brussels-EU Chapter of The Club of Rome was founded under the leadership of Raoul Weiler. It has since developed a variety of initiatives and activities, including the monthly Aurelio Peccei Lectures which welcomes distinguished speakers to talk about topics of particular concern to the Club.
2004 - Limits: 30 years on
Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker published his second Report to the Club of Rome: Limits to Privatisation: How to Avoid too Much of a Good Thing. The Report critically reviewed world- wide privatisation efforts, with over 50 case studies. It provided guidance on the balance, power and responsibilities of the public and the private sector, as well as the increasingly important role of civil society.
Dennis Meadows published his book Limits to Growth — The 30 Year Update expressing his concern for a lack of action since the warnings issued in The Limits to Growth (1972). It concluded that humankind continues to “overshoot” the carrying capacity of our planet and has gone beyond the limits of our biosphere. As such, a soft landing can no longer be expected.
2007 - New Leadership
Ashok Khosla, Chairman of the Development Alternatives Group, India, and Eberhard von Koerber, Chairman & CEO, Eberhard von Koerber AG, Switzerland, were appointed Co- Presidents. Martin Lees, former Rector of the United Nations University for Peace In Costa Rica, was named Secretary-GeneraL, succeeding Uwe Möller in 2008.
In November, the Club of Rome, on the invitation of H. E. Dr. Horst Köhler, German Federal President, hosted a day-long international conference on “Policy Challenges in the Next Phase of Globalisation”. The meeting provided a platform for an exchange of views between the President, Members of the Club of Rome and other distinguished experts from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds and took place in Schloss Bellevue, the official residence of the President.
2008 - The Club moves to Switzerland
With the support of Swiss businessman and Club of Rome supporter Robert Heuberger, the Club established its international secretariat in Winterthur, Switzerland. The city council welcomed the decision and remains supportive.
2012 - von Weizsäcker and Wijkman become co-presidents
Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, a leading German leading in resource efficiency, and Anders Wijkman, a Swedish politician and former member of the European Parliament, were elected co-Presidents.
2017 - Come On!
In cooperation with more than 30 members of the Club of Rome, co-presidents Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker and Anders Wijkman, published Come On! Capitalism, Short-termism, Population and the Destruction of the Planet. The book proposed an overhaul in the way in which governments, businesses, financial systems, innovators and families interact with our planet.
2018 - 50 Years of The Club of Rome
On April 7th 2018, 50 years to the day after the founding of the Club of Rome, 100 members, friends and guests marked the organisation half-century at its headquarters in Winterthur, Switzerland.
In October, more than 400 international thought leaders and dignitaries from came together in Rome to discuss the most pressing challenges and solutions facing humanity and the planet.
The Club of Rome appointed two women for the first time in its history to co-lead the organisation, Mamphela Ramphele of South Africa and Sandrine Dixson Declève of Belgium.
2019 - New Vision and Mission
The Club of Rome developed a new working programme and operational structure, establishing 5 Impact Hubs on the following five themes: Climate-Planetary Emergency, Reclaiming and Reframing Economics, Rethinking Finance, Emergence of a New Civilizations and Youth Leadership. A satellite office, focusing on Rethinking Finance, was opened in Brussels.
2019 - Lessons from Africa
On 5th and 6th November, The Club of Rome held its first Annual Conference in sub-Saharan Africa. The event marked a milestone in the Club’s history, as it sought to reconnect with the “Mother Continent” and broaden its reach beyond its traditional European heartlands, channeling the spirit of ubuntu and opening its perspectives to the voices of younger generations.
2019 - Planetary Emergency Plan
In September 2019, The Club of Rome launched The Planetary Emergency Plan on the sidelines of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. The Plan, which was drafted in partnership with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), provides a set of key policy levers addressing the cross-cutting challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and human health and well-being. It outlines a vision of transformation and regeneration, a roadmap for governments to set in motion a decade in which the development path of our planet is steered onto one which is inherently beneficial for all living species, leaving no one behind.
The Club today
Today, the Club continues to be at the forefront of challenging and controversial global issues. Propelled by a new mission and organisational structure, which today includes 35 National Associations, the Club of Rome has now published over 45 Reports. They continue to challenge established paradigms and advocate for policies that can practically address the many emergencies facing society and the planet today. The Club remains true to its historical intent, while it attempts to lay the foundations for long-term systemic shifts in global social, environmental and economic systems. In short, it is an established, respected, international think-tank positioned to face the core challenges of the 21st Century. The Club has around 100 active full members with a full-time secretariat in Winterthur, Switzerland with a satellite office in Brussels, Belgium.