Interview with Professor Christa Liedtke

The Green Talents awardees 2019 have been selected by a high-ranking jury of renowned German sustainability experts. Prof. Christa Liedtke is Director of the Division Sustainable Production and Consumption at Wuppertal Institute and one of these experts. After the jury chose this year’s Green Talents, Prof Liedtke was so kind as to answer questions about the competition and how the German research landscape benefits from it.

How would you summarise the opportunities that the Green Talents Competition provides for young international researchers?
As a result of the increasing global resource consumption and the resulting damage to our ecosystem in the form of extreme weather events and global conflicts, we need sustainable, transboundary solutions more urgently than ever. Climate impacts and protection do not stop at borders, but can only be addressed globally in research and development.
It is the future of this planet that is at stake – that is why young interdisciplinary and highly motivated young scientists are of great importance for overcoming global challenges. Their generation is the future.

The Green Talents Competition offers these young scientists an ideal platform to present and discuss courageous and sustainable research questions and concepts, thereby making a valuable contribution to science, civil society and politics. However, science also means critically questioning oneself and one's approach – this is supported by the intensive exchange between the participants and research institutes. Science thrives on discussion and constructive debate to find the best solutions.
In addition, intercultural and interdisciplinary exchange promotes the networking of international junior researchers and thus makes a decisive contribution to further cooperation and projects. In the sense of SDG 17, it is precisely such cooperation that can develop the foundation of a peaceful world if they make SDG 1-16 the basis of cooperation.

In which way does the German research landscape benefit from this programme?
In particular, the interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange helps to understand and discuss sustainability issues of our time across national borders. Germany, anchored in Europe, is thus broadening its perspective on global social, economic and ecological situations and their link with its own actions in science, business and society.
The international junior researchers stand for the excellent research of their countries and regions - cooperation, exchanges, new multilateral projects up to clusters of excellence can make a valuable contribution to international and German sustainability research and its contribution to climate change in the future.

What strikes you as the most remarkable characteristic of the Green Talents Competition? What is unique?
The applications of the young researchers show a broad spectrum of research disciplines – from spatial planning, governance research, sociological and cultural studies to economic as well as natural sciences and engineering – from application-oriented to basic research. The international sustainability and climate research is diverse and technically well positioned to meet the global challenges. All regions of the world are represented and the gender situation is almost balanced. The result is an exceptional, globally composed group of young people with excellent education and a high level of commitment to sustainability, whose connection with one another through this programme will be singular and formative for their lives. What a unique opportunity!

In what way does the Green Talents Competition contribute to better international research cooperation?
Bringing together talented and innovative young scientists from different countries and cultures helps to take a globally differentiated approach to sustainability issues.
In this way, country- and culture-specific differentiated measures can be derived that can bring about global thought-provoking impulses and changes through the networking of the international participants in the Green Talents competition. At the same time, they encourage the emergence of international collaborative projects and cooperation. For me it would be very interesting to see if the BMBF would continue to accompany the alumni paths and evaluate the concrete contributions that the participants are making and have made to the SDG – in their countries and globally.

Please complete the following sentence: Green Talents means to me…
young researchers with heart and mind, critical and courageous, curious and committed, who face the global challenges with openness and global tolerance in appreciation of cultural and ecological diversity and actively and critically advance the achievement and further development of the SDG globally as scientists. Green Talents are the Green Scientist and Professionals of today and tomorrow.