Ladies and Gentlemen,
The only way forward is together. That is the lesson of the past years and decades. The quintessential experience has been that we all depend on each other.
Civil war in Syria and drought in the Horn of Africa mean that life in Hamburg cannot just carry on as if nothing has happened. That has been common knowledge at the very latest since the summer of 2015 when, day by day, hundreds of refugees arrived in the city carrying a rucksack or a bag containing virtually everything they had. Providing the basic essentials in such a situation was only possible by pooling all the available resources. Volunteers and public administrations, chambers and churches, entrepreneurs and artists all rolled their sleeves up and joined in. The fact that it proved possible to put together such a broad-based alliance surmounting all differences of opinion was a key experience.
The only way forward is together. The G20 states bear a common responsibility for Africa, for the climate, for global trade. No one at the meeting can completely escape this responsibility or get round the struggle to find solutions. It is essential that the states should be sat around one table in Hamburg.
It is good that the meeting is taking place in a democratic country with a strong civil society and a vigilant general public. The world community of nations needs a global public which formulates its expectations of the political actors and monitors the results.
But an active civil society requires a structure with a legal framework in order to focus efforts, develop an agenda and generate the necessary financial resources.
Foundations are a major driving force in the resolution of today’s global challenges. I am delighted that Hamburg is home to some 1,300 foundations which carry out not-for-profit projects and work to resolve social challenges.
I am impressed by the resolute manner in which you have proceeded. It is just a year ago that the Foundation for Sustainability joined the Michael Otto Foundation in providing the initial impetus for the F20 Foundations Platform. Special thanks are due here, on behalf of all those involved, to Klaus Milke from Germanwatch. Within a very short period of time you managed to bring together 45 foundations from Germany, India, the USA and other countries bent on achieving the targets of the 2030 Agenda.
The supporters of the platform – to name just a few – include the German Federal Environment Foundation, the Mercator Foundation, the European Climate Foundation, die 2 Degrees Foundation, the ZEIT Foundation, the World Future Council and the World Wide Fund For Nature. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund from the USA is represented, as are the Shakti Foundation and Tata Trusts from India, the C Team from China and the Avina Foundation from South America. The Russian Carbon Fund is also on board. Almost overnight the F20 Foundations Platform has become, as it were, an internationally significant bridge between science and business, the G20 states and civil society.
It is good if a G20 summit is held in countries in which people are free to express their opinions and where civil society organisations can exert influence on politicians. A strong civil society is an effective catalyst in advancing existential causes such as climate protection. It is also indispensable for democracy. In recent months we have seen populists and autocrats attempt to undermine the liberal democratic order. But we have also seen the difficulties they run into when constructive civil and political forces join to confront them. That should be a source of encouragement for us.
We will have to put out all the stops if we are to achieve the two-degree target. But it will be possible if we take the right measures. For a city like Hamburg that means, for example, promoting innovative renewable sources of energy, expanding the public transport system, pioneering electromobility and becoming the first major port in Europe to offer cruise liners the opportunity to fill up with liquid gas which is a better option for the environment.
We are convinced that climate protection and economic growth go hand in glove and we act accordingly. However, we also know that individual local measures are not enough. There is no way around the G20 nations abiding by the Paris Agreement, resolving to take further steps and getting the USA, this powerful economic nation, back on board in the long term. We must make sure that climate protection remains a priority for the G20 nations during the next presidency.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There are just three days to go to the G20 summit in Hamburg. I have the utmost respect for what the F20 Platform and many other civil society associations have achieved in the run-up to this meeting. In many countries, civil society has come under pressure, and that includes some countries in Europe. But the G20 summit in Hamburg is a demonstration of how convincing and advantageous a strong, critical civil society can be.
It is a good sign that the F20 has been able to bring together so many well-known and significant personalities for the conference in Hamburg.
Today the proposals made by the Foundations 20 Platform will be presented to the German Federal Government, which holds the presidency this year. Then it is up to the Heads of State and Government to agree amongst themselves and adopt the right measures.
It is my particular wish, however, that the F20 Conference should mark the start of a long-term commitment to the G20 process and the UN climate negotiations. The F20 Platform is not yet an official participant in the G20 dialogue processes, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that that will change soon. I am confident that you will achieve a great deal in the future. And when you do, don’t forget that the Foundations Platform was launched here in Hamburg.
I wish you every success.