With the FONA strategy published at the end of 2020, the BMBF has aligned its research funding for climate protection and greater sustainability with the United Nations' 2030 Agenda. The FONA Strategy focuses on the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and formulates three strategic goals to which research can make a decisive contribution. The goals are concretised in eight priority fields of action. For each field of action, it is shown here how it is underpinned by concrete actions to achieve the strategic goals.
Global warming is mainly due to an increase in man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The consequences can already be observed worldwide. In Germany, too, we are feeling the effects of climate change: the incidence of heavy rainfall, drought and heat records is increasing, and sea levels are rising.
Germany aims to be largely greenhouse gas neutral by 2050. To achieve this, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels in accordance with the Federal Climate Action Act. This requires competitive measures with a high leverage effect in terms of the potential to save and avoid greenhouse gases.
Extreme weather events such as heat waves and droughts, heavy rainfall, floods and storms cause billions of euros in damage, some of which is life-threatening. Knowledge is therefore needed about how climate change affects the frequency and intensity of extreme events and how people, infrastructure and goods can be protected from these extremes. Preventive research on climate adaptation includes health considerations. This is because the increase in extreme weather events – for example, the rising number of hot days – also has direct effects on human health.
To achieve an effective international climate policy, political decision-makers need reliable forecasts of global climate developments, including in the marine and polar regions.
Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are the basis of all life. However, due to rapid population and economic growth and the consequences of climate change, they are highly vulnerable. Globally, water scarcity, water pollution and land degradation increasingly threaten our ecosystems and affect the economic and political stability of entire regions and countries. The protection and sustainable use of natural resources is therefore a central theme of the 2030 Agenda – and also of FONA.
The current decline in biodiversity and changes in terrestrial, inland aquatic and marine ecosystems are unprecedented in history. The rate of species loss calls for action.
The global demand for resources already exceeds what the Earth itself can renew. Global population growth will further increase pressure on natural resources such as clean water and usable land. Water resources musttherefore be used more efficiently, pollution – including plastic debris in the oceans – must be minimised, andthe proportion of treated wastewater must be increased. In addition, the possibilities of water extraction, forexample through saline water treatment, must be improved and used on an industrial scale.
The 2030 Agenda addresses the issue of a sustainable and decent life for all people regardless of their place of residence and social background through a number of SDGs. The challenges of achieving this also exist in Germany. There are considerable regional differences in terms of economic performance and innovative strength. Strong economic areas stand in contrast to regions – both rural and urban – with lower income and employment opportunities. About 40 per cent of the population in Germany lives in structurally weak regions. These include old industrial centres, rural areas and numerous border and coastal regions in the east and west.
Making an innovation-oriented, sustainable and socially just future possible – that is our declared goal. To this end, sustainable and future-proof scientific and economic structures must be created in Germany and unequal developments within society, between urban and rural areas or between structurally strong and weak regions must be counteracted.
The cross-sectional topics address issues of sustainable development that play a role across the board in all of the actions. These topics are therefore a connecting element between the individual actions and are essential for the success of their implementation. By taking account of these cross-sectional topics in all of the actions, we are ensuring that research in FONA is networked, effective and geared to the future.