Cutting-edge research on sustainability

Transdisciplinary Research Area Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures

Sustainability means using resources in a way that the needs of today are met without neglecting or even disregarding the needs of future generations. This raises questions in a wide range of areas: poverty, hunger, food security, demographic change, health, protection of the environment, climate change and the responsible use of resources pose a global challenge for us all. To achieve progress with regards to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, our researchers apply an interdisciplinary approach focused on solutions combined with basic research, actively engage in global networks and collaborate with Bonn-based UN organizations.

© Bialek/Uni Bonn

About the TRA 

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Research Professorships of the Transdisciplinary Research Area

Prof. Ina Danquah
© Gregor Hübl/Universität Bonn

Hertz-Chair "Innovation for Planetary Health”
Prof. Dr. Ina Danquah

Ina Danquah sets a focus on „Planetary Health” within TRA Sustainable Futures

Wolfram Barfuss
© Gregor Hübl/Universität Bonn

Argelander-Professorship “Integrated System Modeling for Sustainability Transitions”
Jun.-Prof. Wolfram Barfuss

Wolfram Barfuss strives to reshape human-environment modeling to identify critical leverage points for sustainability transitions.

Our TRA: Transcending classical disciplinary boundaries for the future

Unsere TRA: Für die Zukunft klassische Disziplingrenzen überschreiten

At the last Bonn Science Night in summer 2022, the speaker of TRA Innovation and Technology for a Sustainable Future Prof. Jan Börner (Institute for Food and Resource Economics) and the former speaker Prof. Joachim von Braun (Center for Development Research) came to speak. Why is there a need for transdisciplinary research areas like the ones at the University of Bonn? What are the questions and problems that can only be addressed through a transdisciplinary perspective and cooperation? And what can transdisciplinary research look like?

The nutrition epidemiologist and recently elected speaker of the TRA Innovation and Technology for a Sustainable Future, Prof. Ute Nöthlings, presents the COPLANT study, which shows how transdisciplinary work can develop innovative approaches in research for important current problems.


Call for Postdoctoral Researchers: The application deadline was September 13, 2023. Further information can be found here.

Save the date: The next General Assembly of TRA Sustainable Futures will take place on December 13 at 1 PM.

Missed a presentation from our lecture series "Innovation Pathways to Sustainability"? Videos of the presentations are available for viewing here, even after the event.

Members directory: From now on, members of TRA Sustainable Futures can be found by name or by their research focus.

Our Open Call for seed funding is still available to all TRA members. Please feel free to contact us in advance if you have any questions.

General Assembly (July 2023) of TRA Sustainable Futures

The semi-annual General Assembly of TRA Sustainable Futures took place on 11 July 2023. After the welcome by the spokespersons of TRA Sustainable Futures Prof. Dr. Ute Nöthlings and Prof. Dr. Jan Börner and a short report on the activities of TRA, the recently newly elected Argelander Professor Wolfram Barfuss was introduced.

In the interactive poster session that followed, members were able to gain an insight into some of the research projects funded by TRA Sustainable Futures and also take advantage of the opportunity for exchange and networking. The next General Assembly will take place on 13 December 2023.

Press releases
Study calls for improvements in climate protection

Projects that reduce deforestation often sell carbon credits - for instance, to consumers purchasing airline tickets. However, over 90 percent of these project credits do not actually offset greenhouse gas emissions. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands), the University of Bonn, the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) and the European Forest Institute in Barcelona (Spain). It was carried out on an exemplary basis for 26 projects in six countries. The results have now been published in the renowned journal Science.

A Compass for Successful Climate Adaptation

Work to adapt to climate change is becoming increasingly important across the globe. Ensuring that these efforts are effective and have no unintended negative consequences is a vital part of this process. Researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands have joined forces with colleagues from France, Kenya, India, South Africa, the US and the University of Bonn to propose a framework that they call “Navigating the Adaptation-Maladaptation Continuum” (NAM). This tool will aid decision-making on climate adaptation measures and help promote a more equitable and more sustainable future. Their findings have now been published in the journal “Nature Climate Change.” 

Measuring the Extent of Global Droughts in Unprecedented Detail

While some parts of the world suffer extreme heat and persistent drought, others are being flooded. Overall, continental water volumes vary so much over time that global sea levels fluctuate significantly too. By combining the hydrological model WaterGAP with GRACE satellite data, a team of geodesists at the University of Bonn have come up with a new set of data that shows how the total distribution of water over the Earth’s land surfaces has changed over the past 20 years more accurately than ever before. Their findings are now being published in the “Journal of Geodesy.”

Study: When Introducing Bioeconomy Get People on Board

Innovative production methods are needed in order to tackle global challenges such as climate change, population growth and ecosystem loss. This has put strategies for a sustainable bioeconomy that place greater emphasis on using renewable raw materials firmly on the political agenda, both in Europe and around the world. When pursuing strategies of this kind, however, it is important to get the people who will be affected on board first. This is the finding from a study that three researchers from the Institute for Food and Resource Economics at the University of Bonn have recently published in the journal “Technology in Science.”

Press review

Members of TRA Sustainable Futures in the media (in German)


Prof. Dr. Ute Nöthlings
Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences (IEL) - Nutritional Epidemiology

Prof. Dr. Jan Börner
Institute for Food and Resource Economics (ILR)


Ruben Greif
Phone: +49 228 73 54476

Hanna Zimmermann
Phone:  +49 228 73 54469
Mobile: +49 151 221 406 26

Strategic Development and Quality Assurance
Vice Rectorate for Research and Early-Career Researchers

Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn 
Poppelsdorfer Allee 24
53115 Bonn  


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