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New building of the iDiv research center inaugurated

Three prime ministers honor international biodiversity research

Michael Kretschmer, Bodo Ramelow, and Dr. Reiner Haseloff with DFG Secretary-General Heide Ahrens officially opened the new research building of the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) on Wednesday. More than 100 guests attended the event, which took place under strict hygiene protection measures. They learned about iDiv's contribution to solving the global biodiversity crisis and its plans. German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel sent a message of greeting. The new building at Leipzig's Alter Messe is designed as a place for the exchange of ideas and integrative research for scientists from all over the world. Starting in 2024, the three states plan to take over the financing of the research center together with other sponsors.

Die drei Ministerpräsidenten und die Generalsekretärin der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) eröffneten heute das neue iDiv-Forschungsgebäude an der alten Messe in Leipzig; Foto: Swen Reichhold
The three Minister Presidents and the Secretary-General of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) today opened the new iDiv research building at the Old Trade Fair in Leipzig; Photo: Swen Reichhold

After welcoming the guests, iDiv spokesperson Prof. Christian Wirth presented a so-called "map of life" showing the diversity of all known living things. Large holes gaped in the map, symbolizing the endangerment of this diversity. During the tour of the new research building, the guests learned how science contributes to its preservation.
German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel acknowledged this contribution to science in a video message.

Dr. Angela Merkel: "The center is still young. It was founded in 2012. But it has already earned an excellent reputation. It advances our knowledge of the diversity of life, its change, and loss. Nearly one-third of all animal and plant species are considered endangered. This development is dramatic because the preservation of biodiversity combined with climate protection is an existential task for us humans. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that biodiversity research promotes the understanding of the stress limits of our ecosystems and contributes decisively to raising awareness for sustainable management and behavior."

iDiv's role in solving the global biodiversity crises was a topic of a press conference with the three minister presidents, the Secretary-General of the German Research Foundation (DFG) Heide Ahrens, and iDiv spokesperson Christian Wirth.

Michael Kretschmer: "With the new research building of the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research, an internationally highly respected center has been established in Leipzig. It is an important building block in the transnational research landscape. It demonstrates vividly which synergies can be unleashed if universities, research institutions, and politics work together across national borders."

Dr. Reiner Haseloff: "The success of iDiv impressively proves that top research is possible in eastern Germany. The Halle-Jena-Leipzig region is at the forefront of biodiversity and climate research, also and especially in interdisciplinary collaboration with the social sciences. We would like to expand this. iDiv demonstrates how integrative research works. 

Bodo Ramelow: "The iDiv in Leipzig is at the center of the crucial future issues of this and the coming decade. Biodiversity, climate change, agricultural turnaround - all these are the very concrete topics with which iDiv researchers are making a contribution to our societies. In addition to its outstanding contributions to biodiversity research and new solutions for preserving the world's biodiversity, iDiv represents an important impetus for transnational cooperation in central Germany, which should also serve as a model for other policy areas, outside of science."

Dr. Heide Ahrens: "When we set up the iDiv in 2012, we were guided by the idea of creating a long-term place of exchange on biodiversity issues that would enable the diversity of disciplines and methods to be theoretically and systematically related to each other. This should also enable reliable and serious forecasts and options for action in the future. After all, far-sighted political decisions in the field of environmental policy are only possible based on the best and most interdisciplinary research."

Prof. Dr. Christian Wirth: "The coming years and decades will determine our quality of life and that of future generations. Politicians and researchers have a responsibility, on the one hand, to offer immediate solutions, and on the other hand, to develop sustainable answers with innovative basic research on how we can economize with biodiversity in the future - and not against it."

The new iDiv building at the Alte Messe in Leipzig forms the "heart" of the iDiv consortium in the three states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. After a two-and-a-half-year construction phase under the direction of the Sächsisches Immobilien- und Baumanagement (SIB) state enterprise, most of the nearly 300 employees have been working here since last fall. The architecture design should promote communication. With 5,000 m² of space, state-of-the-art laboratories, offices and seminar rooms, and above all a spacious, multi-story foyer as an attractive meeting place, the building offers ideal conditions for the creative exchange of researchers from a wide range of disciplines and nations. The construction costs amounted to 34 million euros.

Background information
The global biodiversity crisis is one of the major problems of our time. I the current election campaign, the biodiversity crisis plays only a minor role in the shadow of the climate crisis. But it is no less acute. According to the World Biodiversity Council, around one-eighth of all animal and plant species are threatened with extinction - which brings consequences for the functioning of ecosystems. Overexploitation, pollution, and climate change threaten habitats, species, and genes; they endanger the basis for the existential things we need to live. Since 2012, iDiv scientists have been researching and developing responses to global changes in ecosystems and biodiversity. In just nine years, the DFG research center has become one of the world's most recognized sites for biodiversity science. Nearly 300 employees from 30 nations now work for the DFG Research Center. In addition, more than 100 member groups of the scientific network conduct research at various locations in Halle, Jena, and Leipzig. iDiv is supported by our members Leipzig University and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), as well as the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. In addition, several Leibniz and Max Planck Institutes are involved as cooperation partners.

 

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