Network for Sustainability and the Environment in Bonn

Apr 2, 2012

Germany is bidding to host the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in Bonn, which is already home to various UN bodies. At the Federal Foreign Office, Government Ministers Guido Westerwelle and Norbert Röttgen have presented the case that Bonn already plays a pre-eminent role in international sustainability policy.

Policy Consulting on Biodiversity

A tree frog Enlarge image (© dpa/Wildlife) IPBES, or the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, is an international policy-consulting forum intended to fulfil a role analogous to that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Preserving biodiversity is no less vital than climate change issues. It is imperative if we are to sustain our planet’s ecosystems.

The purpose of IPBES is to provide policy-makers with independent scientific information as a sound basis on which to make their decisions. Foreign Minister Westerwelle hopes that IPBES "will bolster biodiversity, raising public awareness of the issues and placing biodiversity on the political agenda."

  • The United Nations General Assembly decided to establish the platform in December 2010. An intergovernmental conference is taking place in Panama from April 16 to 21, 2012 which will determine where the IPBES Secretariat is to have its offices.

Bonn – a symbol of rapprochement between peoples

Addressing an assembly of ambassadors accredited in Germany on March 28, Foreign Minister Westerwelle, Environment Minister Röttgen and Jürgen Nimptsch, the Mayor of Bonn, outlined the case for Bonn to provide those headquarters.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle speaking at the event. Enlarge image German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle speaking at the event in Bonn on March 28, 2012. (© phototek/Th. Trutschel)

Foreign Minister Westerwelle highlighted the extraordinary way in which the former capital, his own hometown, symbolized a Germany that championed democracy and freedom. The Bonn Republic, he said, had set new standards of rapprochement between peoples, states and systems, and of European reconciliation.

Biodiversity – an important subject for the whole Government

Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen underlined the breadth of commitment to preserving biodiversity which was being demonstrated across the entire German Government. Like climate change, this cause represented one of the great challenges facing humanity in our time, he said, lamenting the fact that it did not enjoy the same degree of public attention as the climate change debate.

  • "IPBES will be an interface between the scientific community and policy makers that aims to build capacity for and strengthen the use of science in policy making (...) IPBES will be the mechanism that addresses the gaps in the science policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services." - ipbes.net

Ideal local conditions for developing a good network

The UN campus in Bonn Enlarge image The UN campus in Bonn (© picture-alliance/Oliver Berg)

Another point Foreign Minister Westerwelle emphasized was the special role Bonn had taken on in international sustainability policy and in playing host to the world. There are already 950 UN staff working in the city for 18 different UN bodies, the majority of which are active in the field of sustainability. One of the first to be established there was the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Over and above this, Bonn also houses the offices of around 150 organizations from the fields of biodiversity preservation and development cooperation, including NGOs, which are international in nature or in their choice of operational arena. This environment, complemented by the strong presence of the city's university, will enable the IPBES Secretariat to integrate well into its international network.

The next step: the Green Climate Fund

In concluding his address, Westerwelle announced another candidacy. Germany, he said, was currently engaged in preparing an official bid to make Bonn the headquarters of the Green Climate Fund. The Fund was established at the Climate Change Conference in Durban and is intended to provide financial support to developing countries as they convert their economies to low-carbon products and adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change.

© Federal Foreign Office

Sustainability in Germany

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