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Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures

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Sustainable development is the endeavor to make use of resources in a way that satisfies present needs and does not compromise future generations from also meeting their needs. It addresses global challenges of poverty and hunger, food production, demographic change, health, environmental and climate change and viable use of resources.

The research agenda on sustainability at the University of Bonn focuses the technological and social innovations in science needed to contribute to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set out under the auspices of the United Nations, with headquarters in Bonn, and endorsed by heads of states from around the world as a broad political framework. Bonn is positioned exceptionally with a strong sustainability-related science agenda that uses foundational, solution oriented, and interdisciplinary research capacities from across the University.

One SDG connected to a set of other key goals, is to end world hunger and improve sustainable land use and agriculture. A major challenge is to increase crop production with limited arable land, while also reducing the environmental footprints. Here, science plays a key role to overcome critical trade-offs among goals, such as between poverty reduction and environmental impacts of growth, or between food security and sustainable land use. To achieve this, the University is developing methods and technologies to monitor, analyze, and individually treat plants using new technologies. Fields are surveyed from the air and provide information that allow robots to perform targeted treatment with minimal user intervention. This can enable farming to be extremely efficient and to reduce the use of chemicals. It is just one example of how Bonn pools its expertise and resources to provide methods and solutions for sustainable development.

Other examples of research include, but are not limited to, environment monitoring, institutional innovations to enhance social and economic sustainability related to land and water use and forest protection, the development of bio-friendly materials, approaches to a sustainable bio-economy, understanding the impacts of dietary influences on brain health, or the understanding of drivers of migration and the consequences for local economies.

Along with expertise from all faculties, the University of Bonn has strong research networks. Among others, through its Center for Development Research (ZEF) and engagement in the international research organizations of Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP). A unique strength is the cooperation with the UN University and other UN agencies in Bonn and their global linkages. Importantly, Bonn’s research profile is also coherent with the federal government’s Research Platform on Sustainability and the recommendations by the Hightech Forum on research and innovation policy, which focuses on sustainable production and consumption and the bio-economy as a promising innovation.

International Doctorate Program at Center for Development Research (ZEF)

"We all have the goal to help shape a sustainable future." - Dr. Günther Manske, Academic Coordinator. Find out more about ZEF's Doctorate Program.

Meet Poornima Thapa, ZEF Doctoral Candidate

“In my research, I focus specifically on the everyday experiences of women, which usually tend to get overlooked or under-examined within the development discourse.”

Importance of Sustainable Development Goals

Professor Dr. Joachim von Braun, from the Center for Development Research (ZEF), outlines the significance of the UN's sustainable development goals for global development.

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