Implementing global biodiversity targets in Germany – with support from research
iDiv invited to a parliamentary evening in Berlin to discuss possible action
Berlin. Implementation of the recently agreed UN nature conservation targets will only succeed if all stakeholders – from policy and practice, civil society, business and science - work together. Science provides the knowledge base for effective action, thus playing a key role in the implementation of these global objectives. This was the tenor of discussion at the parliamentary evening on 17 January in the State Representation of Saxony-Anhalt in Berlin, to which the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Saxony-Anhalt Ministry of Science, Energy, Climate Protection and the Environment had invited. The scientists call for a high-level national biodiversity council as an essential element in making the conservation of biological diversity a core political issue across all relevant ministries.
It is about nothing less than the very foundations of life. Many animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. Many ecosystems are under pressure. With them, the services which biological diversity provides, and on which human well-being depends, are in danger of disappearing. To reverse the decline in global biodiversity loss, the 196 member states of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted a new agreement on biodiversity, setting global targets up to 2030 at the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference in Montréal last December.
“We now have good, ambitious international biodiversity goals, which the German government has also helped to promote,” says iDiv Professor Aletta Bonn, head of the Department of Ecosystem Services at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), iDiv and Friedrich Schiller University Jena. However, experience shows that even the best and most ambitious global targets are pointless if they are not implemented at the national level with effective measures involving stakeholders from all areas of society. “We must now actively push ahead with the implementation of these global targets. This can only succeed if policy, business, civil society and research work together and invest ambitiously in our environment in order to safeguard our health, and our children and grandchildren’s future.”
At the parliamentary evening in the Saxony-Anhalt State Representation, the Secretary of State of the Federal Ministry for the Environment Bettina Hoffmann, the chair of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) Olaf Bandt as well as Andreas Jahn, CEO of the Bundesverband mittelständische Wirtschaft, discussed with members of the Bundestag and representatives from research, business and civil society, which actions need to be taken now by which groups in order for Germany to make its contribution to achieving the global targets.
With a letter signed by more than 500 scientists from all over Germany, the researchers call for setting up a politically high-ranking national biodiversity council, which will help make the conservation of biodiversity, our foundation of life, a core issue across all ministries together with young people.
“The best available scientific evidence can guide the identification of measures to reverse current negative biodiversity trends,” says iDiv speaker Prof Henrique Pereira from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. “Whether the measures adopted are then implemented, and have an effect, must be consistently evaluated. For this, we need systematic and effective biodiversity monitoring. We are happy that the federal government has established the National Monitoring Centre for Biodiversity (NMZB) in Leipzig right on our doorstep.”
Prof Christian Wirth, iDiv speaker from Leipzig University, also sees long-term, guaranteed funding of basic research as an essential prerequisite for enabling the achievement of global biodiversity goals. “Our planet is changing faster than we would like, and with that, its biological diversity. What is considered reliable knowledge today is already outdated tomorrow. It is the task of basic research to not only observe these changes, but to understand them in real-time so we remain capable of acting to save the planet, both now and in the future”.
Co-host of the parliamentary evening, Prof Armin Willingmann, Saxony-Anhalt Minister for Science, Energy, Climate Protection and the Environment, stated, “The conservation of biodiversity is one of the most urgent challenges worldwide. With iDiv, we established a beacon for biodiversity research in Central Germany. iDiv is now also at the international forefront of this research. Especially regarding the implementation of the agreement on biodiversity achieved in Montréal in December 2022, I strongly urge the federal government to join the states of Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony and Thuringia, in order to secure the long-term funding of iDiv.”
“iDiv is an outstanding example of how cross-border synergies in research and its funding can be utilised,” says Prof Eva Inés Obergfell, rector of Leipzig University and vice chairperson of the iDiv Board of Trustees. “We would like to extend this formula for success beyond federal limits and involve other partners, such as Germany’s federal government, in research funding. The biodiversity crisis will keep us busy for a long time. iDiv's excellent research provides the basis for courses of action to rise to this challenge for humanity.”
You can find the Federal Secretary of State’s speech at the event here.
In the ten years since it was founded, iDiv has developed into an internationally renowned research institution. 350 employees from 40 nations, nine professors and four junior research groups create the scientific basis for a sustainable approach to biological diversity. ‘Biodiversity’ encompasses the entire variety of life – not only species diversity, but also genetic diversity, diversity of functions, interactions and ecosystems. As well as the employees at the core centre in Leipzig, there are over 150 members; researchers at the three participating universities – the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Leipzig University, as well as the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and seven other institutions - who work on integrative biodiversity research issues. Through their expertise, they significantly support iDiv’s scientific uniqueness.
iDiv research findings create the basis for the conservation of biodiversity. They are relevant in a number of societal areas, including politics; internationally, for example, through contributions to the World Biodiversity Council IPBES, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and analyses of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. Also at the federal level, by, for example, helping to shape national biodiversity monitoring, and at the state level through policy consultation in the state parliaments.
Prof Dr Aletta Bonn
Head of Department Ecosystem Services
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Phone: +49 341 9733153