Publicado 28/10/2018 16:39:10CET
ERFURT, Germany, October 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
The German President presented the DBU's German Environmental Prize today in Erfurt
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier thanked "thousands of people" in Germany for ensuring that "mainstream society has truly become aware" of both the environment and environmental protection. At the award ceremony for the German Environmental Foundation's (DBU) German Environmental Prize that was held today in Erfurt, he emphasized the fact that environmental issues and climate protection affect all of us, and that "every one of us can make a difference." However, we can only combat an issue of this magnitude "if we view the environment and climate protection in a global context. Environmental issues do not stop at national borders, and neither does environmental protection. The effects of climate change are already apparent around the world, and they are a matter of life and death." -Steinmeier personally handed over the richest independent environmental prize in Europe to marine biologist Antje Boetius (Bremerhaven) and an interdisciplinary team of wastewater experts from Leipzig made up of Roland A. Mueller, Manfred van Afferden, Mi-Yong Lee and Wolf-Michael Hirschfeld.
"It will be fatal if one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world withdraws."
In front of an audience of around 1,200 guests, which included the Jordanian Ambassador to Germany, Basheer Zoubi, the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Ali Subah, Thuringia's Minister of Environment, Anja Siegesmund, and previous DBU award winner and former federal minister, Klaus Topfer, Steinmeier, referring to the US, warned that it will be "fatal if one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world withdraws and even goes as far as to call these multilateral partnerships into question." Even though the road to global solutions can be bumpy and we will continue to experience further setbacks, we need to "work together across all governmental and non-governmental levels in order to create a larger working alliance." President Steinmeier: "We are able to and will continue to make progress when all of us who still believe in multilateral solutions work together - and there are a lot of us around the world, even in the US!"
Steinmeier calls on Germany to fulfil its international obligations
The effects of climate change have not merely been calculated or predicted for the distant future. We can already see them for ourselves today: melting glaciers, greater damage from more frequent storms, and shifts in the distribution of vegetation are all tangible signs, and this year, after a record-breaking summer, the topics of water and drought have become "kitchen table issues in Germany as well." We need to work together and act swiftly, Steinmeier warned: "And, of course, we in Germany need to fulfil the international obligations that we have entered into. I feel confident that we can do it! And others are counting on us, with our strong national economy, to continue to take a leading role the way that we did when it came to the introduction of renewable energies and environmentally friendly technology." Conflicts over the climate and environmental protection, such as the recent events surrounding Hambach Forest, are becoming increasingly rancorous. But in order for us to solve the countless, urgent problems that we are facing, all societal actors need to be involved so that we can continue to find a balance between ecological, societal, economical and industrial interests. It is encouraging that that the UN's 2030 Agenda has already resulted in tremendous progress on an international level. The international community is able to agree on shared goals - also when it comes to climate protection. Like any multilateral agreement, the 2015 Paris Agreement was not perfect, but it has served as the basis for all further cooperation - "and it must continue to do so in the future."
"Climate change and water scarcity are forcing more and more people to flee."
Water is essential to our survival, and therefore protecting our water supply is also of central importance. In many parts of the world, more than two billion people do not have access to clean water, making survival a daily struggle. Steinmeier: "Increasingly, we are seeing regions go from receiving very little rain to no rain at all. Climate change and water scarcity are forcing more and more people to flee." For that reason, Steinmeier said, he is unsure if the Northwest Passage becoming more navigable is necessarily good news, but it is certainly proof that large-scale climate change will significantly change the conditions in the Polar Sea, and if the polar ice disappears, this would not only result in an increase in sea levels, and would not only endanger many coastal regions, but would also threaten the existence of entire island communities. Furthermore, if the polar ice melts completely, it could permanently destroy the balance of the earth's climate.
"You are also giving people hope, and that is extremely important."
For this reason, he was pleased to present the German Environmental Prize to scientists who are working to protect the world's fresh water supplies and oceans. Professor Boetius, for example, leaves no doubt as to how advanced climate change has already become, and on the urgency to act. But, despite this, her message is not pessimistic; rather, her optimism has the power to inspire others. For her, the hole in the ozone layer, which has evidently slowly begun to close back up now that the problem has been identified and the international community has introduced corrective measures, is an example that allows us to have hope in the rationality and accountability of our fellow man. The work of the Leipzig-based team of wastewater experts is making a significant contribution towards helping Jordan - one of the most arid countries in the world - move closer to the United Nations' goal of clean water for all, even though the country has opened its doors to more than 650,000 Syrian war refugees, and has unofficially taken on closer to twice that number. According to Steinmeier, the fact that Jordan continues to welcome these refugees is an act of generosity that "cannot be overstated." For Jordan, protecting their valuable water supply is a matter of life and death. With their decentralised, flexible wastewater management systems, they have introduced a paradigm shift with the aim of nearly doubling the amount of treated wastewater in the country by 2025. About the prize winners, Steinmeier said: "They are not only achieving breakthroughs, but are also demonstrating solutions and alternatives, ways in which we can improve our future! And that is incredibly important in this age of crises, upheaval and uncertainty. They are showing us that climate change is not simply a foregone conclusion, but rather that we can do something about it and work to change our future."
Jury praises the prize winners' dedication