Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Germany’s bid to host the IPBES Secretariat

28.03.2012 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

my colleague Norbert Röttgen,
Mayor Nimptsch,
Ladies and gentlemen,

In less than two weeks’ time, representatives of your countries’ governments will gather in Panama City from 16 to 19 April to decide on the location of a new body dedicated to protecting biodiversity. This is the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services or IPBES.

The job of this new body is to inform policy-makers and the public at large about the situation and current trends as regards biodiversity and so help feed such information into decision making. As a provider of scientific expertise and policy advice, IPBES has a crucial role to play in preserving biodiversity, in very much the same way as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has in protecting the climate. In 2007 the Panel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of the vital work it does. I hope IPBES will raise public awareness of biodiversity issues and help place biodiversity firmly on the political agenda.

We have invited you here today because the German Government has offered our UN City of Bonn as the headquarters of the IPBES Secretariat. We would like to spell out the arguments in Bonn’s favour and ask for your support in this connection.

Global policy-making for sustainability is an area in which Bonn is already highly active. For many years now the Federal Republic of Germany’s former capital has hosted a large number of UN bodies concerned with environmental, climate and nature conservation issues as well as many other international organizations.

Bonn knows how to be a good host to the world. Nearly 900 staff of international organizations have made it their home. Visitors, too, are struck by the highly productive and open-minded atmosphere at the constantly expanding UN Campus there. You’ll hear the same story from many of your countries’ experts and officials now based in Bonn. Their families, too, enjoy living there.

Once the World Conference Centre Bonn (WCCB) is completed in the first half of next year, Bonn will also have ideal facilities for staging major international conferences.

Bonn stands for a free and democratic Germany firmly rooted in the European idea. The so called “Bonn Republic” charted new ground in bringing nations, countries and systems closer together and promoting reconciliation in Europe and the wider world after the horrors of the War. The city’s atmosphere and the outlook of its residents still bear witness to these endeavours. This makes Bonn in my view particularly well suited to host international organizations and welcome people from all over the world in a spirit of friendship and tolerance.

For IPBES we can offer premises in superb location. We will also support the work of IPBES with an annual contribution of one million euro for the voluntary trust fund as well as additional funding for concrete projects. Germany is willing, furthermore, to grant IPBES staff and family members the usual privileges and immunities afforded UN personnel. All these facilities in Bonn will be offered in a political environment which makes sustainability, conserving resources and protecting the climate and environment a higher priority than perhaps anywhere else in the world.

One thing that will be of vital importance for the success of IPBES is close cooperation between scientists and policy-makers. With its dense network of national and international organizations staffed by experts in environmental protection and nature conservation as well as a wide range of scientific disciplines and technologies, Bonn is, in this respect, too, an ideal location.

In view of the many advantages the UN City of Bonn offers and the German Government’s active and long-standing commitment to international biodiversity policy, I would greatly appreciate your support for Germany’s bid to host the IPBES Secretariat.

Germany is keen to live up to its global responsibilities in the environmental field in a whole variety of ways. So I would like to use this opportunity today also to draw your attention to another candidature centred on Bonn. We are currently preparing our official bid to host the Green Climate Fund. The decision to set up this Fund was taken at the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban. The new Fund is intended to help developing countries fund the switch to a low-carbon economy and adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. We will be providing you shortly with more details of our bid to host the Green Climate Fund. Here, too, I hope we can count on your support for Bonn as the location for this new body.

Thank you for your attention.

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