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Photo: Stephanie Ellers

Mapping our future climate

“It is important to gain observer access to the annual June meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, which we are fortunate to have so close by, and to gain observer status to the annual Conference of Parties (COP), which takes place in many different places of the world, so that our students can join other students from other universities in seeing how their climate future is being mapped," explains Professor Kirk W. Junker, Head of the Examination Board for the International Master of Environmental Sciences (IMES), an international and interdisciplinary program at the University of Cologne.

Science is placing a strong focus on world climate conferences
Centre Pompidou in Paris. Photo: Stephanie Ellers

The World Climate Conferences take place annually in Bonn and in one additional city; last time it was hosted in Paris. "Parties" (states), as well as "observers" (non-governmenal organizations (NGOs), the United Nations (U.N.), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and scientific institutions) take part in the conferences. With the number of participants sometimes exceeding 25,000 the conferences have become a worldwide meeting place for scientists associated with meteorology and related disciplines, such as hydrology, oceanography, political science. The latest research results related to climate change are presented and discussed in what are referred to as "side events". Just having interaction between representatives from developing, emerging and industrial countries is already of significant interest. 

Exchange on current research on the highest international level
Being part of the climate change. Photo:

Students and scientists may likewise present and discuss their own research results or monitor the negotiations between politicians as "observers". Various organizations have their own booths and present their organization at the conference. Here students can come into direct contact with representatives of the organizations.  Representatives of the University of Cologne may participate in the conferences and take advantage of the opportunities offered only if the University of Cologne is registered as an "observer". Through an initiative of IMES such an application has been submitted to the U.N.

Climate, contacts, careers
Networking is a vital part of your career as a researcher. Photo:

Through contact with international networks, the University of Cologne will be able to place research results into context with other universities and, as a consequence, produce results that achieve more respect worldwide. For students, in particular, the opportunity to observe the negotiations of the states and meet the representatives of other institutions ought to be of significant interest as this may lead to internships and jobs and could ease entry into one’s career.