Overline: Personalia
Headline: Sebastian Unger Appointed Germany's First Special Representative for the Oceans

At a cabinet meeting on 14 September, the German Government appointed Sebastian Unger as its first Special Representative for the Oceans in the portfolio of the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection. Prior to his appointment, Unger worked at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) for a good decade. The establishment of a Special Representative for the Oceans underscores the Federal Government’s recognition of the growing importance of marine conservation and the sustainable use of the oceans.

Sebastian Unger

Federal Minister for the Environment Steffi Lemke: "Healthy oceans are essential to protecting the climate and the habitats of numerous animals and plant species. The Federal Government‘s Special Representative for the Oceans will hold a central position in German marine policymaking. I wish to congratulate Sebastian Unger on his appointment as our first Special Representative for the Oceans. He will be the face and mouthpiece of the German government on marine conservation and will chair the inter-ministerial working group on the oceans. His appointment highlights the importance of forward-looking and coherent policymaking for the seas as a cross-cutting issue for the Federal Government."

The appointment of the new Special Representative for the Oceans and the establishment of a new division for marine conservation within the Federal Ministry for the Environment are important stepping stones towards more effective marine conservation at the national and international levels. Marine conservation is an important focus of the German government: the coalition agreement calls for measures to strengthen the carbon-storage capacity of the oceans by rebuilding natural ecosystems, the creation of a programme to salvage munitions abandoned in the North Sea and Baltic Sea as well as improvements in the quality of marine protected areas in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea.

Steffi Lemke: "We have pledged to protect at least 30 per cent of the oceans effectively by 2030. The Special Representative’s primary responsibility will now be to work with the ministries to develop an ambitious and binding strategy for the oceans that will facilitate their effective protection and advance coherent and targeted cross-sector measures."

The new Special Representative for the Oceans will serve as the German government's representative for marine policy both nationally and internationally. This will further strengthen Germany's engagement in international negotiations in particular.

Sebastian Unger: "I look forward to working closely with other actors within the Federal Government to protect our oceans. I also want to intensify the involvement of and cooperation with environmental and nature conservation associations, Germany's excellent marine research community, and various stakeholder groups. Germany is already a pioneer in marine conservation. We will also continue to strengthen our commitment to ambitious and legally binding international agreements to protect high seas biodiversity, the international deep sea, and to curb marine plastic pollution. The world’s oceans are in a critical state. With overfishing and marine pollution posing an ever greater threat, we need to double down on our efforts to protect marine ecosystems. Only healthy oceans are resilient oceans that can continue to play a role in regulating the global climate and provide marine resources for sustainable use. I will work to achieve this in my new role as the Germany's Special Representative for the Oceans."  

Background: Sebastian Unger has led the division on marine conservation within the Federal Ministry of the Environment (BMUV) since 1 September 2022. He is an internationally recognized expert on ocean governance, marine conservation, and sustainable ocean use. In his previous position as a research group leader at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam, he conducted research on ocean governance and advised governments, European institutions, and international organizations. He will maintain his links to the IASS as an Affiliate Scholar.


Source: BMUV