Sustainability in Research

Our Vision

Through its high-level research, the University of Bonn will act as an agent of change, helping to lay the foundations for transformation processes affecting the whole of society. Many of our researchers are studying sustainable development issues, thus establishing a valuable knowledge base for debates, political and personal decision-making, and answering pressing social questions. In particular, we are supporting inter- and transdisciplinary research and promoting the transfer of research findings into day-to-day work and society.

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© Universität Bonn

We are formulating our sustainability strategy in a continuous participatory process as part of the University’s own sustainability platform, known as BOOST (Bonn Program for Sustainable Transformation). Strategic objectives and measures for research are being developed in a dedicated working group.

News from Research
Land tenure drives deforestation rates in Brazil

Tropical deforestation causes widespread degradation of biodiversity and carbon stocks. Researchers from the German Center of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Leipzig University were now able to test the relationship between land tenure and deforestation rates in Brazil. Their research, which was published in Nature Communications, shows that poorly defined land rights go hand in hand with increased deforestation rates. Privatising these lands, as is often promoted in the tropics, can only mitigate this effect if combined with strict environmental policies.

Close alliance in Earth System Science

The University of Bonn, the University of Cologne and Forschungszentrum Jülich are placing their joint Center for Earth System Observation and Computational Analysis (CESOC) on a new contractual footing. As a joint scientific facility of the three partner institutions, an internationally visible focal point has been created to globally observe and comprehensively understand the Earth system and to predict changes. The center is additionally strengthened by a memorandum of understanding now signed with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), which has moved to Bonn in 2021.

1 million-year-old marine DNA found in Antarctic sediment

A new study led by the University of Tasmania – with the participation of the University of Bonn – discovered the oldest marine DNA in deep-sea sediments of the Scotia Sea north of the Antarctic continent. The material could be dated to one million years. Such old material demonstrates that sedimentary DNA can open the pathway to study long-term responses of ocean ecosystems to climate change. This recognition will also help assessing current and future change of marine life around the frozen continent. The study appeared in the journal Nature Communications.

Economist Julia Mink is new Argelander Professor

How do pollution and climate change affect health and the associated costs? How do people adapt to their environmental conditions, and what factors are crucial for such adaptability? Julia Mink, new Argelander Professor at the University of Bonn, addresses these and other questions. In the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Individuals, Institutions and Societies", she will work at the interface of environmental and health economics.

High-Level Inter- and Transdisciplinary Research

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6 Clusters of Excellence

How can technologies unlock sustainable crop production? How do policy instruments impact social and economic inequality? These and other questions are being addressed by researchers from various disciplines in the University of Bonn’s six Clusters of Excellence.

The Robotics and Phenotyping for Sustainable Crop Production cluster, or PhenoRob for short, is Germany’s only Cluster of Excellence in the agricultural sciences. 

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6 Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs)

The University maintains six Transdisciplinary Research Areas in which researchers from all its faculties are studying cross-cutting issues together. This transdisciplinary approach is producing innovative research that reflects a variety of perspectives.

Sustainability issues also play a major role in terms of content here, such as in the Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures TRA.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

Research in collaborative projects

As a University of Excellence, the University of Bonn is among the universities with the strongest track records for research in Europe. It is known for its high-level research, which is underpinned by an international network and an innovative and cosmopolitan research culture.

The University conducts research into sustainability issues as part of numerous collaborative projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the European Union (EU) and other third parties.

Selected Institutions

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Center for Development Research (ZEF)

The Center for Development Research is an institute at the University of Bonn that conducts trans- and interdisciplinary research. The researchers at the ZEF devise scientifically sound answers to questions of development policy. Doctoral students, researchers and partner institutions from all over the world come together at the ZEF to work toward solving global challenges.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Volker Lannert

Klein-Altendorf Sustainability Campus

The Klein-Altendorf Campus (CKA) is one of the Faculty of Agriculture’s three off-site laboratories. It hosts numerous tests and experiments by the University’s institutes and partner research institutions. 

Issues connected with crop production are its main focus.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
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Sustainable AI Lab

Outstanding researchers from various disciplines are working together in the Sustainable AI Lab to study the environmental, social and economic consequences of designing, developing and using artificial intelligence (AI). 

The laboratory is the brainchild of AI ethicist Prof. Dr. Aimee van Wynsberghe, Director of the Institute of Science and Ethics at the University of Bonn. 

Networking and Transfer

Partnerships for meeting sustainability targets

The University of Bonn collaborates with a wide range of partners in order to advance sustainability research at a local, national and global level and transfer research findings to the economy and society. We make the most of the unique advantage that Bonn offers us as a UN city.

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enaCom Transfer Center

The enaCom Transfer Center sees itself as an intermediary, translator and catalyst between science and other stakeholders whose purpose is to make research findings available for the benefit of society.

Part of Research and Innovation Services, the enaCom Transfer Center is the first port of call for any questions about knowledge and technology transfer.

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Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research

With its six partner institutions, the Bonn Alliance combines basic and applied research conducted by both universities and non-university institutions.  It takes account of the complexity of the problems and issues presented by the sustainability landscape by adopting an interconnected approach to science and research. Its common aim is to provide scientific support to the implementation of the UN’s Agenda 2030 on every level from the local to the global. The Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research was set up at COP23 in November 2017 under the overall leadership of the University of Bonn.

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Research networks 

The universities of North Rhine-Westphalia have joined forces in the Humboldtn network in order to share responsibility for sustainability issues of relevance to the future. 

The University of Bonn is also an active member of other German and international sustainability networks, including the German Association for Sustainability at Universities (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltigkeit an Hochschulen, or DG HochN) and the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN).

since 1819

Sustainability research at the University of Bonn

1934

Foundation of the Faculty of Agriculture

2017

Founding of Bonn Alliance for the Sustainability Research in context of COP23

Work in progress

This web page will be added to gradually. 

See also

Sustainability in teaching at the University of Bonn

Vice Rectorate for Sustainability and Sustainability Unit

Bonn Program for Sustainable Transformation—BOOST

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