Trilateral Wadden Sea community mourns the passing of Klaus Töpfer

The former Federal Minister for the Environment, Prof Klaus Töpfer, was a pioneer of the trilateral Wadden Sea policy, played a crucial role in the creation of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site, and instrumental in shaping the German national park landscape. We got to know and appreciate Klaus Töpfer, Federal Minister for the Environment from 1987 to 1994 and Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) from 1998 to 2006, as a man of vision and perseverance. He passed away on 8 June 2024.

Töpfer represented Germany at the 1991 Trilateral Governmental Conference in Esbjerg, a milestone event that laid the groundwork for the area's UNESCO recognition in 2009. The 1991 declaration was the first to envision the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site and introduced the "Guiding Principle" for Wadden Sea protection “to achieve, as far as possible, a natural and sustainable ecosystem in which natural processes proceed in an undisturbed way”.

Töpfer's dedication to environmental conservation was evident in his frequent visits to the Wadden Sea national parks. His influential closing speech at the 11th International Wadden Sea Day in Husum in 1991, titled "How much undisturbed nature can we afford?" underscored his enduring commitment to protecting Germany's natural landscapes.

The impact of Klaus Töpfer's work continues to be felt today. The Klaus Töpfer Fellows, a group of junior nature conservationists, will visit the Wadden Sea this September. The Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation and National Parks mourn the loss of a reliable partner, advocate, and comrade in the ongoing struggle for effective environmental protection.