15. November 2023

Debating the role of science in UN policy processes Debating the role of science in UN policy processes

Co-Organized by the Staff Unit for the Bonn Research Alliance (BORA)

Debating the role of science in UN policy processes
Debating the role of science in UN policy processes © Universität Bonn / Volker Lannert
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In a conversation with researchers who are actively involved in the UN science-policy-frameworks, we discussed the role of science in UN conventions, questions around opportunities and challenges of collaboration in science-policy contexts, engagement and transparency of UN processes.

The primary objective of this event was to raise awareness of the UN Framework Conventions and highlight the role of science in UN processes. Furthermore, we engaged participants in a dynamic and inclusive dialogue that encouraging critical and constructive discourse.

Background Information
Climate change, desertification and biodiversity loss are closely linked and pose existential challenges to humanity. In response to these challenges, governments established three “Rio Conventions” at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

  • the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, also known as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change),
  • the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, also known as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity),
  • the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

A UN convention is a binding agreement between different countries. Under such conventions, countries adopt major goals at annual conferences of the parties (COPs) and report regularly on progress toward those goals. Each Rio Convention has a supporting secretariat that has the task of organizing the annual COPs, which are attended by national delegations and numerous participants from observer organizations, including academia, business, and civil society.

Why did we have this conversation in Bonn?
The United Nations is represented by 25 organizations in Bonn. UN Bonn works in the areas of climate change, desertification, biodiversity, global volunteer work, health, human security, disaster risk management and satellite-based information systems, vocational training, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Probably the best-known agency in Bonn is the UN Climate Secretariat. It coordinates the work around the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in which scientific organizations can participate as so-called observer institutions, as well as the Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD). The University of Bonn has been active in UN processes for several years, and its researchers are also invited to contribute to the high-profile reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity (IPBES) due to their outstanding expertise. Research on science-policy interfaces (SPIs) and the role of science in public policy-making at the university’s Center for Development Research (ZEF) complements this engagement with evidence-based knowledge.

The role of science and science-based recommendations for (global) policy action is a central one in the face of the globally significant climate and biodiversity crisis(es). We provided more in-depth background information on and concrete insights into UN processes.

Speakers and Conversation Partners

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Lisa Biber-Freudenberger,
Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn;
Research Group Leader in the project LANUSYNCON

Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Froitzheim,
Institute for Geosciences, University of Bonn

Dr. Isimemen OSEMWEGIE,
Assistant Programme Coordinator, CABES Senior Researcher, Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany

Prof. Dr. Lisa Schipper,
Geographical Institute of the University of Bonn GUIB

Prof. Dr. Zita Sebesvari,
Deputy Director of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) & Professor at the University of Bonn

Sara Velander,
Junior Researcher at the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, in the project LANUSYNCON

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