Prof. Dr Katrin Böhning-Gaese

Director Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre; Professor Goethe University Frankfurt


Born in Oberkochen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Prof. Dr Katrin Böhning-Gaese is a biologist specialising in ornithology, whose research focuses on the influence of changing climate and land use on animal communities.

Böhning-Gaese has been a professor at Goethe University Frankfurt and Director of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre since 2010. In 2018 she became a member of the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) Permanent Senate Commission on Fundamental Issues of Biological Diversity, and in 2022 a member of the scientific advisory board of the Leopoldina Centre for Science Studies.

Prof. Dr Katrin Böhning-Gaese was appointed to the German Council for Sustainable Development in January 2023.

Three questions for Prof. Dr Katrin Böhning-Gaese

Let’s get to it: What does sustainability mean to you? What do you associate with the term?

Prof. Dr Katrin Böhning-Gaese: For me, sustainability means living in harmony with nature, a vision shared by the UN Biodiversity Summit in Montréal, Canada, and a goal that should be achieved for everyone on this planet by 2050. Biodiversity modelling has set out an incredibly clear roadmap of how to get there: more protected areas, rewilding, biodiversity-friendly agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and above all, changes in consumption patterns and diet. This vision represents an entirely different relationship with nature, where we as human beings are able to lead a good life only in harmony with the planet’s other living beings.

What is your personal priority in your work as part of the Council for Sustainable Development?

Until recently, biodiversity has been the poor relation of the sustainability debate. But biodiversity is the very basis of our existence! We need to centre political and societal action around this issue. But in many cases, we will come up against conflicting goals, for example between biodiversity conservation, the climate and food security. I will fight to find win-win solutions for the different goals in the mix – and to identify and promote the tools we can use to implement these solutions.

In the context of sustainability, what do you believe will pose the greatest challenge in the coming years?

We know from biodiversity research that a major transformation, a fundamental change across all sections of society, is a must if we are to preserve the Earth’s biodiversity. In my view, the biggest challenge will be transforming our consumption and diet, as this concerns our very values, culture and ingrained habits. But when I see how today’s young people are making a conscious effort to change their behaviour, and how society and the economy are following suit, I have every confidence we will succeed.

Curriculum vitae

Prof. Dr Katrin Böhning-Gaese detailed CV available to download (PDF, 126 KB)


“For me, sustainability means living in harmony with nature. We as human beings are able to lead a good life only in balance with the planet’s other living beings.”

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Frau Prof. Böhning-Gaese, Photo: © Peter Kiefer

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