BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — Achieving a more environmentally sustainable future requires a collaborative effort, said Barbara Hendricks, German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) on Tuesday at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) conference in Bonn, Germany.
The forum, a movement that aims to engage 1 billion people enables structured dialogue on environmental concerns, which can then be implemented on the ground, Hendricks said in an address to more than a thousand delegates.
Germany’s environment ministry is fully committed to the GLF through $5.5 million in funding, an amount matched by the country’s international development agency (GIZ). The country is one of 175 to sign a 2015 agreement forged at U.N. climate talks in Paris to keep global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to pursue efforts to limit increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Although everyone agreed to the 2 degrees goal, it does not mean that everyone is working in concert,” Hendricks said, adding that the GLF will lead to valuable synergies on all sides, enabling the world to master multiple challenges related to growing population, economic activity and the environment.
“The Global Landscapes Forum creates space for innovative ideas that can then be implemented on the ground,” Hendricks said. “The overarching goal is to learn from one another and take action.”
Integrating the environment into economic and financial decision-making is key to advancing towards more sustainable systems — faced with resource depletion and climate change, societies will change, either by disaster or by design,” she said on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2015.
Hendricks, who became minister of BMUB in 2013, previously served as treasurer of the Social Democratic Party (2007-2013) and Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Finance Minister (1998-2007).
From her perspective, achieving sustainable development calls for reassessing economic systems and fostering a socially-inclusive growth that respects the planet boundaries —the biophysical processes that underlie the stability of the Earth, such as the climate.
“Only a profound transformation can shift our economies onto a sustainable and resilient path,” Hendricks said at a 2015 UN General Assembly side event on inclusive, sustainable growth.
At the time, she also pointed out that “economic and financial decision-making often happens beyond the radar of sustainability considerations,” a challenge she herself has faced as environment minister, especially with regards to matters concerning agriculture, transport and energy intensive industries.
Over the past few years, Hendricks, born and raised in Kleve, a city close to the Dutch border in the Lower Rhine region, has taken a stand on a number of wide-reaching issues, including efforts to phase out coal; ban weed killer glyphosate; prohibit shale gas fracking, and discouraging the use of especially polluting automobiles, among others.
At the 2017 G20 Summit in Italy, she said: “the process of transformation to carbon-neutral, climate-resilient economies can only be achieved if all global finance flows are diverted in the direction of sustainable investments, without exception.”
As environment minister, she has contributed to shape Germany’s Climate Action Plan 2050, and has championed the decoupling of growth from resource use —for example, through renewable energies and the creation of markets for secondary raw materials to boost the circular economy.
A proponent of a green economy, Hendricks has supported energy efficiency innovations, and has fostered the export of green technologies to disseminate environmental standards and technical know-how.
She has also played an active role on the international stage. For example, by urging the G20 countries to join efforts against global warming, and by stressing the need to coordinate climate action and biodiversity conservation efforts.
“I hope that we’ll be able to step up in the coming years,” Hendricks said in her address to the forum.