ZMT Mission and Values

The Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) is Germany-wide the only and unique research institute for the study of tropical marine ecosystems and their services to human societies.

The mission of ZMT is to provide a scientific basis for the protection and sustainable use of tropical coastal ecosystems by conducting research, capacity development and consulting activities in close cooperation with international and national partners.

As one of the first research institutes in Germany, ZMT, from its very beginning in 1991, genuinely brought together the key disciplines for the holistic assessment of marine resource use and management in the tropics. Today, ZMT continues to play a leading role in the integration of social and natural science approaches, as well as transdisciplinary stakeholder involvement processes bridging the science-practice gap.

With its inter- and transdisciplinary approach to the study of tropical coastal systems, ZMT has earned a special position within the German marine research environment and plays a vital role in setting the agenda for coastal science cooperation between Germany and partner countries in the tropics.

The Articles of Association (Gesellschaftsvertrag) lay out the mission of ZMT as follows:

  • fundamental scientific research in priority areas of tropical marine ecology and related fields
  • scientific assessment of applied projects in the field of tropical marine ecology and related areas
  • academic education and training in Germany and tropical countries
  • transfer of research results
  • provision of expert scientific advice
  • advice in particular to the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and the Federal Government on issues of marine research, especially its expansion and development as well as on matters of scientific cooperation with countries in the tropics


ZMT regards its mission as a great responsibility to conduct excellent research and to sustain its credibility. Its institutional culture is determined by self-responsibility, transparency, respect, reliability and an eye-level communication.

Capacity Development

Following its mission to provide a scientific basis for the sustainable management of tropical coastal ecosystems, ZMT is  deeply convinced that the internalisation and application of sustainability principles in management are connected intimately with a thorough and holistic Capacity Development (CD) at all societal levels. ZMT is contributing to this by strengthening academia in Tropical, mainly Developing Countries putting special emphasis on the empowerment of women.

Capacity Development Strategy Brochure


Bremen Criteria

ZMT conducts research projects in close cooperation with the partners from the tropics. In order to provide a clear guidance to these projects to implement the cooperation goals, ZMT has developed specific criteria. These "Bremen Criteria" contribute to meeting the scientific and developmental needs of the tropical partner countries by promoting the establishment of long-term projects with intensive involvement of partner scientists and unrestricted exchange of data and information.

Bremen Criteria


Impact Assessment

In 2019, ZMT published the brochure "Concepts, Collaborations, Common Grounds – The Impact of Our Work Beyond Research and Academia" to illustrate how research, capacity development and consulting activities lead to long-term effects. The narratives are often more suitable to map out the impact of a completed project and to serve as impact assessment. Success stories include, among others, the development of an academic infrastructure in Brazil, the ongoing scientific collaboration between the Red Sea countries Jordan and Israel, the scientific advice mechanism of the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) in Southern Africa, and the establishment of a BSc course in Papua New Guinea.

Brochure "Concepts, Collaborations, Common Grounds – The Impact of Our Work Beyond Research and Academia"

Sustainability @ Leibniz

Sustainability is an important guiding factor for the Leibniz Association and its member institutions. As a research organisation, the Leibniz Association contributes to sustainable development in the fields of research and knowledge transfer, as well as through its management and operations. The political frame of reference is provided by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which guide the Leibniz Association’s actions – through sustainability research and through sustainable research processes and operations.

Leibniz Sustainability Mission Statement

The Sustainability Mission Statement provides a framework for a ‘culture of sustainability’ in the Leibniz Association and its member institutions – a culture that must be established and continuously built on within the various spheres of activity. The mission statement is also intended to encourage the employees of the Leibniz institutions to reflect on their actions and to contribute to the sustainable development of the association.

See also: CAMPUS AWARD: Research for a sustainable future by the KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION FOR CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT, the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) and the University of Bremen.

Civil clause: Peaceful research

Research at ZMT serves exclusively peaceful purposes. This is the reason why ZMT principally does not accept any grants for armament research.

In many calls for projects, it is not clear from the beginning whether they will end up serving military and/or civilian purposes. As scientific results cannot be protected from being misused, ZMT associates the freedom of science and research guaranteed by Article 5 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany with a great responsibility for itself and its scientists.

All third-party funds must serve both ZMT's mission and the strategic goals as outlined in the programme budget which is reviewed internally in each individual case.  Our research clearly prioritises the promotion of peace, human security and sustainability. Risks and opportunities must be weighed critically in each individual case. This is done at ZMT also under consideration of the Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice as well as the guidelines of the Leibniz Association on the topic of Research ethics. Moreover, ZMT's scientific community openly discusses and, if necessary, rejects projects the results of which could be misused.


ZMT Vision

Our complex and connected world is facing essential ecological, social and economic challenges. A type of science is needed that not only generates knowledge but also builds bridges between research and implementation. ZMT will contribute to this by concentrating on coastal tropical research – combining high-level science with the most advanced data technologies and a trans- and interdisciplinary network. We constantly challenge the status quo and strive for independent and curious science.

ZMT will establish itself as a model for interdisciplinarily integrated scientific knowledge production on and with the marine tropics, ONE World collaborative partnership research as well as individual, organisational and institutional capacity development. The meeting of global standards of scientific excellence will be enabled by and coupled with the active bridging of science-policy divides in Europe and countries of the tropical belt, as well as conscious efforts for the strengthening of the science and marine resource related management systems in our partner countries. As part of this, ZMT will become the hub of tropical scientific data including an open-access data portal.

In 2025, ZMT's interdisciplinary research, as well as the shaping of science-policy and science-practice interfaces will have succeeded in establishing a system of good scientific practice in the border region between disciplines, high level science and international partnership that enables the world’s society to take an active step towards a socially and ecologically possible planetary future.