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Wadden Sea countries agree on improving protection of Wadden Sea World Heritage

Wattenmeer in der Nordsee im Sonnenuntergang
At the end of the Wadden Sea Conference in Wilhelmshaven, a new integrated Wadden Sea plan was adopted and a trilaterally coordinated research program initiated.

Conclusion of the 14th Trilateral Governmental Conference in Wilhelmshaven

At the end of the Wadden Sea Conference in Wilhelmshaven from 28 to 30 November, a new Wadden Sea Plan was adopted. With this plan, the three Wadden Sea states Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands will further improve their management coordination for the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site to better protect it in light of the threat of rising sea levels and increasing anthropogenic uses. The natural ecosystem services of the area must be preserved in effective protected areas. In addition, climate adaptation measures in the form of nature-based solutions are urgently needed. At the close of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Conference, the Wadden Sea countries initiated a trilateral research programme for this purpose with a funding volume of 15 million euros. Germany will contribute 11 million euros to the effort. In the joint research initiative with the Netherlands and Denmark, the aim is to develop principles and possible measures for making the Wadden Sea more climate resilient and preserving it as a natural heritage site for the long term. The Federal Environment Ministry and the Lower Saxon Ministry for Environment hosted this conference.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke commented: "In light of the crises of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, the pressure on the Wadden Sea and its biodiversity is growing. This means it is all the more urgent that the three Wadden Sea countries – Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands – work together to improve protection of our seas and coasts. The Wadden Sea can make a valuable contribution to the efforts to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. As a natural, species-rich ecosystem, the area is able to store considerable amounts of greenhouse gases in its salt marshes, seagrass beds and intertidal mud flats. We want to work with Germany’s coastal states to strengthen these services with comprehensive measures under the Federal Action Plan on Nature-based Solutions for Climate and Biodiversity. Nature-based solutions help us achieve our climate targets while also protecting important ecosystems that are threatened by the climate crisis."

Federal Environment Minister Lemke also made it clear that it is particularly important to learn from one another at trilateral level and ambitiously implement jointly developed approaches in light of the increasing pressure due to use.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke noted: "With the experience of the Climate Change Conference in Egypt behind us and the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal ahead, we want to show how nature-based solutions and the protection of a unique ecosystem can be successfully combined in the joint, integrated management of the Wadden Sea. This also means we are living up to our local responsibilities."

To achieve this, a single integrated management plan for the Wadden Sea World Heritage was drawn up under the German Presidency. The plan addresses key topics such as fishing, shipping, tourism, energy and coastal defence in a trilateral, coordinated manner and also aims to achieve better coordination of various management approaches.

Under the header "Together for One Wadden Sea World Heritage", the three countries and the German federal states responsible for the Wadden Sea national parks, Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, met in Wilhelmshaven with over 250 representatives from municipalities, associations related to nature conservation, the environment and land use, the scientific community and young people to discuss options for the long-term protection and conservation of the outstanding universal value of this sensitive and globally unique ecosystem in light of increasing threats.

The conference motto, "Together for One Wadden Sea World Heritage", reflects another focus of the four-year German Presidency, which will come to an end at this conference as Germany passes the baton to Denmark. Involving partners more intensively in future and fostering a broad partnership network is also evident in partner projects, for example, the Dark Sky Initiative against light pollution, which is supported by municipalities and environmental associations.

The Wadden Sea countries also received guests from Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and Senegal and were able to strengthen their long-standing partnership to enhance the protection of migratory birds along the East Atlantic Flyway. Increasing international cooperation and improving monitoring in this area is planned, as is support for West African countries in protecting habitats.

Ship safety was also on the conference agenda. Lessons learned from the MSC Zoe disaster were presented. It was agreed to intensify dialogue with shipping and port management, to evaluate the efficacy of the Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) designation for the Wadden Sea and to potentially propose new measures for enhanced protection to the International Maritime Organization.

The BMUV also invited 50 young adults from the three Wadden Sea countries to a multi-day youth conference on protecting the Wadden Sea held in September in Sankt-Peter-Ording. The participants explored the Wadden Sea and discussed how the engagement, ideas and requests of the younger generation can be integrated in the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation. The Wadden Sea countries have responded to their desire for greater involvement.

30.11.2022 | Press release No. 167/22 | Marine Conservation
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