The occasion of the Arctic Science Ministerial

Speech by the Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek MdB at the evening event on the occasion of the Arctic Science Ministerial in Berlin


"Together we can build a strong foundation for a sustainable future for the Arctic. We can change a lot for the better for people in the Arctic – and for people worldwide.", said Anja Karliczek.

© BMBF/Hans-Joachim Rickel

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Dear colleagues,

Distinguished scientists,

Esteemed guests,

Professor Vogel,

One hundred and fifty years ago, the polar explorer Carl Koldewey set sail for Greenland. He didn't make it there. Too much ice and other adverse conditions stopped his sailing ship from getting through. So instead, he sailed to Spitsbergen.

It was the first ever German expedition to the Arctic.

And our fascination with the Arctic remains unbroken to this day. Although Germany is not an Arctic nation, it is one of the world’s leading countries in the field of Arctic research. The German research vessel POLARSTERN spends 320 days a year on research voyages. The conditions on today’s expeditions cannot be compared with those of 150 years ago.

But a little spirit of adventure is still required when an expedition sets off to explore the eternal ice of the Arctic.

“The eternal ice” – That sounds so beautiful. But the eternal nature of the ice is now in doubt. The Arctic is changing at breathtaking speed. It is more urgent than ever to find scientific and societal answers to these rapid changes.

The Arctic is the main “climate kitchen” for the world. Yet it is also a natural habitat and the home to its indigenous population. Preserving it is in our own best interest. But there are still many unanswered questions.

No single country can achieve this on its own. We will only be successful if we act jointly. And, of course, this means jointly with those people who have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years. If we pool our knowledge with their knowledge to gain new insights and work together to develop solutions, we have the chance to limit climate change.

Therefore, I will be very pleased if we can use the Second Arctic Science Ministerial to jointly shape the future course of Arctic research. After all, the motto for this conference is “Challenges and Joint Actions”.

Joint Actions –This is a message to the scientific community which is requested to share findings and knowledge, build networks, and make data resources available as a basis for quicker progress. But, of course, it is also a message to governments. This conference not only brings together international scientists but also creates a bridge to the policy-makers.

Governments are called upon more than ever to support the generation of knowledge on the one hand and to listen to the population in a challenged world on the other hand. Every individual has a right to live in their home region. This is what the Paris climate agreement was meant to help come true. And now major partners are withdrawing.

Yet we urgently need joint action. The IPCC Special Report highlights the consequences of global warming which clearly also affect the Arctic region.

This is why we are meeting here today and tomorrow. We want to send a signal – a signal of close cooperation across national borders.

After all, the changes concern us all. Some people will have to leave their homes and look for new places to live. But we are all trying hard. We will then bear a small burden, for example by paying more for electricity, in order to spare us all a heavier burden.

Thus, we need to stay in communication with each other and convey new knowledge to our societies. Together we can build a strong foundation for a sustainable future for the Arctic. We can change a lot for the better for people in the Arctic – and for people worldwide.

If researchers supply their findings for the debate, and if we remain jointly involved in a public dialogue.

The Natural History Museum here in Berlin is devoted to the study of life and planet Earth – its research is open and accessible for the public. This is fundamental to our democratic society.

I now wish you all many interesting conversations and exchanges.