The „Altona Declaration“: German coastal research presents future concept
42 German research institutions together with numerous stakeholders intensively cooperated over a two-year period to develop a research agenda for the coming decade. Highlight of the agenda process was the symposium “Coast 2025” in April 2015 in Hamburg-Altona. On October 6, the resulting “Altona Declaration” was presented to representatives of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) in Berlin.
70 per cent of the world’s population is living near coasts. As population densities increase, coastal areas worldwide are exposed to an enormous utilisation pressure, being used as living space, economic zone and natural environment. Furthermore, threats caused by climate change, such as sea-level rise or the increase of extreme natural phenomena like storm tides and tsunamis, pose a colossal challenge to coastal protection.
The extent and the complexity of the situation necessitate a closer cooperation of research institutions, authorities, stakeholders, and society. The “Altona Declaration”, which has now been presented to the BMBF by the German Marine Research Consortium (KDM), aims at laying the foundation for such a comprehensive collaboration in German coastal research in the coming decade. It identifies five priority fields of action: “climate change”, “biodiversity”, “matter and energy cycles”, “sustainable resource utilisation”, and “management of risks and natural hazards”. In each of these fields there is an urgent need for research to develop viable solutions for the problems at hand. Additionally, it will be essential to establish joint infrastructures and use new technologies for furthering dialogue and discourse with society and securing an excellent education for young scientists.
“With the ‘Altona Declaration’ we accept the responsibility of reinforcing the role of coastal research as a vital instrument of public service,” says Ulrich Bathmann, director of the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) and KDM chairman. Right from the start, the IOW had been actively involved in the two-year agenda process, which included over 40 research institutions and additional stakeholder groups. It closely cooperates with public authorities in its research focus “coastal seas and society” and therefore has become an expert in providing a scientific basis for measures in environmental politics. Through its interdisciplinary, systemic approach, the IOW also offers valuable insights into fundamental Baltic Sea processes, which are of particular importance for users as well as stakeholders, and many of these findings can be transferred to other coastal systems.