Major changes are occurring in the global environment, human activities, the legal regime and the socio-political situation. All of these changes have an impact on the Wadden Sea system and none is restricted to one country only.These changes require new internationalresearch
The Wadden Sea Region (WSR) comprises major touristic destinations, oversea ports and a population of about 3.5 Mio living in low lying marsh areas and on dune islands belonging to Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands. The future of this thriving coastal region is challenged in the long term by an accelerating sea level rise in the wake of global warming. This will predictably require far-reaching adaptations to manage a coastal rise in synchrony with that of the sea.
Most of the natural part of the WSR has become a World Heritage in 2009 and presumably this will be regionally extended in 2012/13. At the 11th Trilateral Governmental Conference on the Protection of the Wadden Sea ministers reaffirmed the joint declaration to protect and manage the Wadden Sea as a single ecological entity, welcomed the cooperation to further the international protection of tidal areas and their biodiversity, and expressed their concern about the possible impacts from human uses, invasive alien species and particularly climate change.
A lack of trans-boundary studies as well as studies including both, the aquatic and terrestrial parts of the coast have been identified as limiting factors in understanding major drivers of change and to find potential adaptations towards sustainable development. Comparative studies between different parts of the region are seen as essential to explain the behaviour of the entire Wadden Sea ecosystem.
Two main risks resulting from global change processes - georisks and biorisks - and the success of regional nature management have been selected for trilateral research in the Wadden Sea Region. This research is urgently needed for proper coastal adaptations to accelerating change and to provide an internationally outstanding example of coastal sustainability. BMBF supports the transnational Wadden Sea research within the framework of its national programme "Research for Sustainable Development", specified in detail by the upcoming "Coastal Research Agenda North and Baltic".