At its autumn session, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) approved the establishment of two new Senate Commissions. The Permanent Senate Commission on Fundamental Issues of Biological Diversity will provide expert advice on legal and policy developments and represent the interests of basic research. The Senate Commission on Earth System Research will handle topics relating to research on the Earth's surface and interior, water and air. It will have an initial term of six years.
Advising government decision- and policymakers and public-interest institutions on scientific issues is one of the responsibilities defined in the DFG's statutes. Within the DFG, this task is performed by the Senate and the Senate Commissions which it appoints for this purpose. Working in line with scientific standards, they prepare statements on socially relevant issues with a connection to research. The Permanent Senate Commissions have a longer-term mandate and address issues that extend beyond subject-area boundaries and affect society as a whole. The DFG currently maintains two Senate Commissions and seven Permanent Senate Commissions.
"The dramatic loss of biodiversity and its far-reaching consequences for humans and the environment are increasingly in the focus of public perception and political debate," says Prof. Dr. Markus Fischer from the University of Bern, who will lead the Commission on Fundamental Issues of Biological Diversity. Public and political debate on the protection of biodiversity, for example with regard to the impacts and use of new technologies or methods, continually prompts legislative and regulatory processes at international, European and national level. "The Senate Commission will support the interests of basic research in political discussions and in the implementation of biodiversity regulations," says Fischer.
The Permanent Senate Commission on Fundamental Issues of Biological Diversity will function as an independent, interdisciplinary expert forum, continually evaluating and presenting new scientific findings in terms of their social and political significance. The Commission will also advise DFG bodies, government and society on heavily debated topics relating to biodiversity and prepare position papers on behalf of the DFG. The Permanent Senate Commission on Fundamental Issues of Biological Diversity, consisting of 14 researchers, will commence work in early 2018.
The newly established Senate Commission on Earth System Research will start work this year. The 17 researchers that make up this Commission will advise the DFG's statutory bodies on all issues relating to cross-disciplinary Earth system research, for example on topics such as Earth system modelling or approaches to handling large, heterogeneous amounts of data. In addition, it will advise the DFG bodies on the research infrastructures required for Earth system research, such as the modernisation of research vessels and aircraft and their ongoing adaptation to meet the needs of the research community.
"The Earth system consists of a complex interplay of different components and it is altered by various processes such as erosion, volcanism and earthquakes," says Prof. Dr. Monika Sester from Leibniz Universität Hannover, who will chair the Commission. She adds that humans also have an impact on their environment, with far-reaching consequences. "So to promote sustainable development, a better understanding of the Earth system is essential. Only then can we study and investigate the big problems facing humanity, such as climate change and securing energy supplies and resources," she explains. The Commission's aim, notes Sester, is to bring together the geosciences research conducted in many different fields to achieve an integrated approach to Earth system research.
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Contact at the DFG Head Office for the Permanent Senate Commission on Fundamental Issues of Biological Diversity: Dr. Meike Teschke, Tel. +49 228 885-2336, Meike.Teschke@dfg.de
Contact at the DFG Head Office for the Senate Commission on Earth System Research: Dr. Harald Leisch, Tel. +49 228 885-2862, Harald.Leisch@dfg.de
More information about the DFG Senate and its Senate Commissions is available at: