UN Day Dresden Highlights Biodiversity and Awards Local Initiatives

  • 2020/10/24     Dresden, Germany

    By Eric Siegmund

    As we continue our annual tradition to commemorate UN Day (24 October), this year’s celebration of 75 years of the UN took on a different form with a hybrid format on 13 October. Given the current pandemic circumstances, the evening ceremony was held both in person, for a limited number of guests in a socially distanced setting, as well as virtually and could be followed via live stream.

    At Dresden’s city hall, experts and politicians in their respective fields addressed the overarching theme of “Biodiversity”. This year marks the close of the UN Decade on Biodiversity, with its primary goat to mainstream biodiversity at different levels. Afterwards, local initiatives received recognition for their commitment and fight for a more sustainable and biodiverse future. Seventy people attended the event on-site and drew considerable attention online.

    The ceremony kicked-off with greetings from Ms Eva Jähnigen, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Municipal Utilities, City of Dresden. She recognised the city’s early response to decreasing biodiversity and noted a growing interest in the topic within civil society. UNU-FLORES Director Prof Dr Edeltraud Guenther introduced the work of UNU-FLORES and, more specifically, the Institute’s projects on biodiversity in Namibia and on the local level. Keynote speaker Prof Dr Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) presented the global assessment report published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), outlining the current state, and making recommendations for policymakers.

    “The challenges of climate change, the deterioration of nature, and achieving good quality of life for all are interconnected. They must and can be approached synergistically.”

    Dr Josef Settele, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

    In the panel discussion that followed, all speakers exchanged ideas and provided insights on the local perspective of biodiversity. They addressed questions from the online community, collected via social media in the run-up to the event. Prof Dr Settele stressed the necessity to act immediately on the global level to preserve biodiversity; not acting could have long-lasting consequences which the world is experiencing right now considering the ongoing pandemic.

    The award contest organised by the Lokale Agenda für Dresden e.V. and the Lions Club Dresden Agenda 21 recognised four initiatives from Dresden and the region for their activism and engagement in strengthening civil society and its role in preserving biodiversity at the local level. Musical performances from the band Youkali accompanied the event.

    UN Day Dresden is celebrated annually in the context of the official UN Day (24 October) and provides the opportunity to raise awareness for specific topics that are of great interest and concern to the international community, but often do not receive the necessary attention. Among the organisers of UN Day in Dresden are UNU-FLORES, the Lokale Agenda 21 for Dresden e.V., City of Dresden, the Regional Association of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia of the German United Nations Association (DGVN), the UNICEF Working Group Dresden, the Lions Club Local Agenda 21 Dresden e. V., and the Centre for International Studies of TU Dresden.

    If you have missed the ceremony or if you wish to watch it again, find the link to the live stream (in German) here.