"Climate change, water shortages, a loss of biodiversity and a lack of raw materials – all urgent social challenges which the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research aims to draw to the attention of science, business and politics in Germany in its second programme supporting "Research on sustainable development". Achieving sustainability, however, is a global undertaking. Schemes like Green Talents help to promote that cultural plurality and creativity which encourages the development of global solutions. That is why we intend to intensify global exchange between young researchers in the field of environmental and sustainability research," explained the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Thomas Rachel, Member of the German Bundestag at the award ceremony in Berlin.
The year 2011 was the third time that the BMBF had organised the international competition, which is aimed at exceptional young scientists active in the field of sustainable development. A total of 331 young researchers from 58 different countries entered. A jury made up of high-ranking German experts including Professor Dr Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Professor Dr Achim Bachem, Chairman of Forschungszentrum Jülich, and Professor Dr Jürgen Schmid, Director of the Fraunhofer IWES, selected the 20 prizewinners. The jury sought out research projects that have the potential to answer global social challenges such as global warming, energy shortages and massive environmental contamination. These new Green Talents bring the number of young sustainability researchers in the BMBF's global network up to 55 awardwinners from 19 different countries.
Before the award ceremony in Berlin, the Green Talents were invited on a journey across Germany as part of a ten-day science forum hosted by then Germany's Federal Minister of Education and Research, Professor Dr Annette Schavan, who also was the patron of the competition. The Green Talents visited internationally important research facilities, universities and companies, getting to know pioneering projects in various areas of technology and enjoying the opportunity to network with renowned German experts and other young scientists.