CLEVER featured at the University of Bonn’s International Days 2023

Every year, the University of Bonn in Germany celebrates its international projects and partnerships with renowned universities around the world at the event called “International Days”. The University is closely linked to over 70 universities on all continents within the framework of cross-faculty cooperation agreements. Partnerships with Ghana and Brazil were particularly highlighted in the International Days 2023, which took place at the University on October 20th. The Vice-Rectorate for International Affairs invited the PhD candidate Fernanda Martinelli, to represent the EU-funded project CLEVER: Creating leverage to enhance biodiversity outcomes of global biomass trade, as one of the partner projects with a Brazilian university. At the occasion, she discussed with other students and researchers the current challenges and future opportunities in international cooperation – especially with partners from the so-called “Global South”, and offered a comprehensive information about perspectives from both sides. Find more about the International Days from University of Bonn here.

Reflections on the global discussions on biodiversity and trade

Every September, New York City hosts the UN General Assembly and countless events on sustainable development. It is easy to imagine the city as a real debate arena, where politicians negotiate solutions for the multi-crises of the planet, while the entire world watches, expecting tangible outcomes to materialize . The debate reached its peak over a span of three days (18-20 September), when worldwide representatives had to juggle their schedules to attend various equally relevant events, such as the High-level UN Meetings (including the SDG Summit), the Climate Week NYC and the Columbia’s International Conference on Sustainable Development. I attended sessions of these three events, which made me reflect on the role of those policy meetings on protecting biodiversity under trade agreements. These are my main impressions:

There is a clear effort to respond the critic that global multilateral meetings privilege discourse over actions. The SDG Action Weekend and the Climate Week were specifically designed for participants to develop actions together, avoiding speakers to use this space only to reiterate the already-known sustainable development challenges. However, little of those actions addressed the role of trade on biodiversity loss, even on specific biodiversity events. Speakers rather emphasized trade as an instrument for boosting economic development, or, more often, for reducing emissions on agri-food systems throughout value chains. Indeed, climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, however biodiversity loss and climate change are twin crises, and should be addressed together.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s growing influence in foreign affairs has not gone unnoticed, as it assumes leadership roles within both the G20 and BRICS. With the world’s attention focused on the country with the highest biodiversity, there has never been a better time to generate knowledge in support of nature protection. Projects like CLEVER highlight the importance of conserving biodiversity under trade in Brazil while influencing the political agenda by informing policy-makers on trade’s biodiversity impacts.

I left New York City without any doubt that the intentions and knowledge to put the world back on track to achieve the SDGs are there. However, the world is in a hurry and I expect that events like these, above all, accelerate decisions to safeguard future generations. This year, the events took place against the backdrop of a year projected to be the hottest ever on record. Their results should nothing less but guide political agendas with science-based knowledge and urgency.

Learn more about the mentioned NYC sustainability events:

Written by Fernanda Martinelli / University of Bonn

Photos by Fernanda Martinelli / University of Bonn

Efforts to fight global deforestation need trust-building dialogue

CLEVER representatives met with policy makers, civil society and other academia stakeholders on 13th of June in Berlin to discuss the new rules on sustainability of international agricultural value chains. The focus was at the EU’s landmark decision on its deforestation regulation in December 2022, and the impacts in Brazil. This regulation intends to increase the consumption of ‘deforestation-free’ products, by prohibiting specified commodities and products from being imported into the EU. If in one hand, the regulation comes with a good intention and in a proper political momentum for Brazil, on the other hand, such a unilateral measure can promote a “diversion trade”, which means, Brazil can shift their exports to a less demanding trading partner with lower incurred costs. Other points raised at the meeting were the lack of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of this type of policy, and the challenge of tracing the product from the plot of land to the EU.

Among the solutions, one word was often repeated and took centre stage: “partnerships”. Partnerships to develop traceability tools, platforms, and to increase the interoperability between traders. Overall, partnerships to support exporter governments to improve their own efforts to conserve the forest. One thing is clear: without this joint effort, the final goal of decreasing deforestation cannot be achieved. That is why, while the new EU regulation is not into force, all relevant stakeholders are increasing the dialogue to prepare the ground to conduct strict due diligence. In this setting, CLEVER project results will be key to provide to those stakeholders evidence-based information on potential impacts of this new regulation in both sides of this trade coalition.

The event was hosted by SWP, organized by APD Brasil, and supported by the GFA Consulting Group, IAK Agrar Consulting, GIZ, and BMEL.

Photo by Fernanda Martinelli

Written by Fernanda Martinelli – University of Bonn

Featured image by Adobe Stock/FootageLab

Data Management in projects: enjoyable or unavoidable?

Have you already faced the situation when someone asks you about your original data, but you don’t even remember what your excel file names mean anymore? Or the data is deposited in a public database but nobody can sort it out anyways? These are common practical challenges in the research world. Not only we deal with increasingly larger and more complex data sets, but we also often cannot find effective ways to organize them. That is why the TRAs (Transdisciplinary Research Areas) of the University of Bonn came together to organize TeRAbytes, an interactive workshop on strategies for data science and data management, with more than 100 participants, on January 17 and 18 of 2023.

The workshop had among the goals to identify common strengths, challenges, and development directions, and provide feedback to the university on future requirements for an excellent digital infrastructure. Besides an entire afternoon with concrete examples from NFDI Projects, the highlight of the event was the sharing of services and infrastructure available at Bonn University to support scientists on these matter, presented by Dr. Christian Bittner and Dr. Sergej Zerr.

Naturally, workshops are always better with visual examples. At the end of the first day, there was a poster session when participants could get an overview of the ongoing activities at the university and exchange of ideas and common challenges. Fernanda Martinelli, from the CLEVER Coordination team, presented the Data Management Plan expected to be implemented at this EU-funded project, adapted from the work of Ines Jendritzki. Check it out:

Photo by Fernanda Martinelli
Fernanda Martinelli

Fernanda Martinelli – University of Bonn

Featured image by our-team on Freepik