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24.09.2021 12:40

Human activity and biodiversity: Leopoldina Annual Assembly discusses the value and protection of diversity

Caroline Wichmann Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina

    The decline of biodiversity is one of the greatest societal challenges of the 21st century. This is why "Biodiversity and the Future of Diversity" was chosen as the topic of this year's Annual Assembly of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, which is being held in Halle (Saale) on Friday, 24 September, and Saturday, 25 September. Researchers are coming together for two days to discuss why biodiversity must be preserved and promoted and how this can be achieved. Anja Karliczek, the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, and Dr. Reiner Haseloff, Minister-President of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, gave opening remarks in the morning.

    "The loss of biodiversity has significant negative impacts on our planet’s ecosystems and living beings ‒ including humans. This is why the onus is on all of us to act with urgency. It is of great importance that the Leopoldina’s Annual Assembly is bringing together outstanding scientists to discuss the future of biodiversity," says Prof. (ETHZ) Dr. Gerald Haug, President of the Leopoldina.

    Topics covered by the scientists attending the Annual Assembly include the impact of human activity on biodiversity, suitable methods of gathering relevant data as well as measures to promote biodiversity. Other issues include the role of biodiversity in food production, the influence of plant protection products, the role of the human microbiome as well as psychological processes that influence the environmental behaviour of people. The biologist Prof. Dr. Ulf-Ingo Flügge, member of the Leopoldina, has been responsible for the scientific coordination.

    Prof. Dr. Christian Wirth, a spokesperson for the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig/Germany, will deliver today’s evening lecture, 24 September at 8:15pm. Under the headline "Biodiversity ‒ impact and change", the biologist will be speaking about humanity’s relationship to biodiversity and how this relationship has changed over the course of the last 30 years.

    Yesterday, on Thursday, 23 September, the Leopoldina’s Senate elected the paediatrician Prof. Dr. Jutta Gärtner as new Class III Secretary ‒ Medicine. She will succeed the ENT specialist Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Zenner who has been a member of the academy’s Presidium since 2010. The human genetics specialist Prof. Dr. Claus R. Bartram was re-elected as Class II Secretary ‒ Life Sciences. The Senate also re-elected the geophysicist Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Baumjohann as Presidium representative of the Austrian academy members.

    This morning, the Leopoldina honoured nine outstanding researchers with prizes and medals for their contributions to science. You can find all press releases on the laureates at (only available in German). The biodiversity researcher Dr. Patrick Weigelt received the "Leopoldina Early Career Award" endowed with 30,000 euros, financed by the Commerzbank Foundation. In his lecture, he presented findings from his research on island plant diversity. Moreover, Prof. Dr. Jörg Hacker, former president of the Leopoldina, was presented with the Order of Merit of Saxony-Anhalt.

    The Leopoldina offers a livestream of the Annual Assembly on their YouTube channel at This feed is available from 9:00am on both days of the event. The lectures are held in German and English and are simultaneously interpreted. You can find the full programme for the Annual Assembly and further information on the Leopoldina’s website at

    About the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
    As the German National Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina provides independent science-based policy advice on matters relevant to society. To this end, the Academy develops interdisciplinary statements based on scientific findings. In these publications, options for action are outlined; making decisions, however, is the responsibility of democratically legitimized politicians. The experts who prepare the statements work in a voluntary and unbiased manner. The Leopoldina represents the German scientific community in the international academy dialogue. This includes advising the annual summits of Heads of State and Government of the G7 and G20 countries. With 1,600 members from more than 30 countries, the Leopoldina combines expertise from almost all research areas. Founded in 1652, it was appointed the National Academy of Sciences of Germany in 2008. The Leopoldina is committed to the common good.

    Media Contact:
    Caroline Wichmann
    Head of the Press and Public Relations Department
    Tel.: +49 (0)345 472 39-800

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