Welcome address by State Secretary Dr. Georg Schütte, Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), at the evening reception in Bonn
Lord Mayor Sridharan,
Honourable council members,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am absolutely delighted that the UNU Council is meeting in the city of Bonn. Welcome! Smart policy decisions that were taken after the Federal Government’s move to Berlin have ensured that Bonn has since developed into a centre of sustainability and science policy in Germany and worldwide. In the world of the United Nations, the city of Bonn now stands for sustainability the same way in which New York is associated with peace and Geneva with the human rights. Not long ago, in November 2017, Bonn hosted COP 23, the UN Climate Change Conference. The new German Federal Government has since written a pledge to promote Bonn as a UN location into its coalition agreement.
You are probably aware of the fact that the region in North Rhine-Westphalia around the cities of Aachen, Bonn and Cologne and their excellent universities is regarded as the location with the highest density of research and technology organizations in the whole of Europe. Bonn, where my Ministry, the BMBF, has its main office, among others, is a centre for science with an international outlook that works to promote sustainable development at the international level. The United Nations is deeply rooted in Bonn and has grown to become part of a centre of competence in international cooperation and sustainable development with a unique profile. The UN campus here in the former government district on the banks of the River Rhine is a visible symbol of this development. 20 UN organizations work here, amidst a network of Federal Ministries and authorities, international governmental and non-governmental organizations, research institutions and businesses. Current deliberations by the United Nations University or UNU for short and the University of Bonn? concerning the establishment of an Innovation Campus for sustainability and global change could strengthen the profile of Bonn further.
UNU institutes here in Bonn and around the world build bridges between the United Nations system and the global academic community. UNU has been promoting collaborative research and teaching since 1975 to help find solutions to the most pressing global issues of human development, security and prosperity. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are currently at the centre of UNU’s research portfolio. Today, the global UNU network consists of 13 institutes with about 400 researchers working on more than 180 research projects.
Germany is proud to host the UNU Vice-Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE) and two renowned UNU institutes, the Institute for Environment and Human Security (EHS) and the Institute for Integrated Management for Material Fluxes and of Resources (FLORES), and is happy to lend our support. The fact that as many as three UNU institutions are based in Germany is evidence of the good conditions for excellent international science in our country.
The Institute for Environment and Human Security (or EHS for short) has a firm place in Germany’s research landscape. Headed by Professor Jakob Rhyner, it cooperates closely with institutions such as the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BKK), GIZ and a number of German universities. I’ll mention only two examples of joint Master programmes offered in cooperation with the University of Bonn: “Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security” and as the latest addition to the portfolio of joint courses: the “Master of Science in Global Health – Risk Management & Hygiene Policies”. Together with the Vice-Rectorate, UNU-EHS is an important bridge builder between the European and the African continent. I’ll point out the participation of UNU-EHS in the WASCAL water management project in Africa within the framework of the Pan African University as just one outstanding example in this regard.
The Institute for Integrated Management for Material Fluxes and of Resources (or FLORES for short) in Dresden has also developed into a widely recognized research institute for sustainable management strategies in the “nexus”, or knowledge triangle, of water, soil and waste resources. Since its inception in 2012, UNU-FLORES has placed its focus on ensuring the high quality of its scientific activities. With the Dresden Nexus Conference, founding director Professor Reza Ardakanian has successfully set up an internationally renowned platform for dialogue within only a short period of time. Today, the Dresden Nexus Conference is the place to be for debating all issues comprised in this knowledge triangle.
Research for sustainable development can only be successful if we take off the blinkers. It is about analysing and recognizing the relations between different factors and actors. Research needs to transcend disciplinary boundaries as well as regional and country borders. The German Federal Government underlines this approach in its Internationalization Strategy which was drafted under the lead responsibility of the BMBF and published in February 2017. We know that we can only find solutions to global challenges in a joint effort and in a constructive dialogue involving you and our research partners – around the globe!
I would like to thank Rector Malone, Vice-Rector Rhyner and all council members and cooperation partners for building these bridges and for your dedication to the continued expansion of the UNU system.
Professor Rhyner, you have been an excellent Vice-Rector and Head of the Institute for Environment and Human Security (EHS). I wish you all the best for the future, in both your private and your professional life!
For tonight, I wish all of you inspiring discussions which will hopefully yield many good new ideas. Thank you for your Attention.
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