At a Senate reception in the Upper Hall of Bremen Town Hall, the Senator for Science, Professor Dr Eva Quante-Brandt, congratulated the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) on its 25th anniversary. More than 140 guests from the science, political, business and social sectors took part in the celebrations.
In her address, the Senator emphasized the special mission of the Bremen research institute: “ZMT makes a seminal contribution to investigating tropical coastal ecosystems. It combines scientific excellence with cooperation based on partnership, which does not just involve transfer but collaboration on a level playing field, and the mutual sharing of experience,” said Senator Professor Dr Quante-Brandt.
Just how important the Tropics are for the global community as well as for Bremen was discussed by ZMT’s Director, Professor Dr Hildegard Westphal, in her address: “The global community is not only linked by material flows, such as the carbon cycle, but also by the trade in commodities like palm oil and aquaculture products. We consider how coastal protection and coastal use can be organized effectively in the cultural context.” This included understanding the responses of people to coastal changes, the scientist explained.
“ZMT practises what we in the Leibniz Association like to call a collaborative research format, which shapes our everyday research activities: great disciplinary diversity which manifests itself both in ZMT’s structure and in its approach to work. At ZMT, you will find environmental scientists working together with biodiversity researchers and social scientists. Environmental science alone is a multi-disciplinary discipline that investigates the Earth system with all its animate and inanimate compartments and interactions, and this assumes close cooperation between the natural sciences and the biosciences,” emphasized Professor Dr Matthias Kleiner, President of the Leibniz Association. The act of accepting ZMT into the Leibniz Association in 2009, recognized both the supra-regional importance of its research and its status as being in the national scientific interest.
A “powerful blend” was the term Professor Dr Amatzia Genin, Director of the Israel Interuniversity Institute of Marine Sciences, used to describe the interdisciplinary collaboration with ZMT. It went well beyond pure research and demanded special sensitivity, the ability to improvise and original, out-of-the-box solutions, according to the marine ecologist, who has been cooperating closely with ZMT for more than 20 years. Genin ascribes its motivation to the beauty of the marine ecosystems: “Is there another research institute in this country with so many faculty and students who simply love nature and enjoy working in the field? For ZMT people, to protect those beautiful ecosystems and develop their sustainability is not just a goal imposed by the job; instead, it is a mission that each person at ZMT identifies with, heart and soul.”
In the 25 years of its existence, ZMT has quickly developed into an internationally-recognized point of contact for tropical research and has selectively expanded its regional work focus. In close cooperation with partners in the Tropics, ZMT researchers are active in the places where coastal ecosystems are changing and their fragile balance is under threat.
Today, the institute’s research areas span the entire tropical belt. Here, ZMT researchers also support the development of expertise and structures to facilitate sustainable coastal zone management. The majority of the 200 plus staff and students hails from abroad, particularly from the Tropics. In tune with the culture of internationality practised at the institute, the Cuban trio, “Casino” provided a musical accompaniment at the celebrations. After the speeches, anchored by Professor Anna-Katharina Hordnide (head of social sciences at ZMT), guests to continued to share ideas, reflect and discuss the issues.