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Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures_old



UBo_18_92_Broschüre Antrag Exzellenzuniversität_Icon Sustainable Futures.jpgThe University of Bonn contributes to the emerging field of sustainability science through its Transdisciplinary Research Area “Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures” (TRA 6). TRA 6 stands for research into institutional, science, and technology-based innovations. We prioritize the strategic challenges related to demographic change, poverty, nutrition and health, environmental and climate change, and unsustainable resources use (e.g., soil, water, biodiversity). Our strength is the combination of sound basic, applied, and interdisciplinary research capacities across faculties that are important for making progress towards the corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). A unique feature of the University of Bonn is the cooperation with UN agencies in Bonn and their global linkages. The University engages in global networks, for instance through its Center for Development Research (ZEF), faculties and others, including the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP), and many more.

The principles of this TRA include a focus on:

(1) emerging fields of science and technology with expected transformative potentials for sustainable futures, while paying attention to responsibility in technology development and gender as well as other diversity dimensions;

(2) coherence with sound theories of development and sustainability, while allowing for multiple epistemological perspectives;

(3) the adoption of innovative approaches and models to obtain, access, use or generate new data and information to support the design and governance of innovations for a sustainable future.

These principles are reflected in the five closely related core research areas and sub-themes of TRA 6:

I. Modeling, Foresight, and Risk Assessment Capacity: (1) Monitoring and modeling terrestrial and aquatic earth system components (e.g., in the Research Unit on Global Calibration and Data Assimilation - GlobalCDA). (2) Forecasting actors’ choices and footprints under social, economic, and biophysical constraints (e.g. in the BioSC Competence Platform Transform2Bio).

II. Technology & Digital World Innovations: (1) High-precision and/or distributed sensing, data interpretation, technology and autonomous robots that allow for a more detailed view of systems, leading to improved model building capability (e.g. in the Cluster of Excellence PhenoRob). (2) Research on developing bio-friendly materials offering potential to reduce the future impact of humans through sustainable consumption and production patterns. (3) New technologies that address the societal changes, risks, and resulting challenges towards long-term sustainability, including automation of tasks such as health care and service robotics and digital security  (e.g. in the Program of Accompanying Research on Innovation in food and agriculture – PARI).

III. Institutional Innovation, Behavior and System Transformations: (1) Sustainable behavioral change in domains like food and financial choices and interdisciplinary perspectives on trust and resilience. (2) Societal transformation toward a more bio-based economy (bioeconomy), low-waste circular economic systems, and eco-efficient crop production. (3) Transformation and resilience of urban and rural systems including research into citizens’ involvement, regional identity and regional networks (e.g. in the Collaborative Research Center “Future Rural Africa”). (4) Research on governance and international security (CSIG, BICC, UNU).

IV. Nutrition and Health: (1) Emerging infectious diseases that are linked to global and local environmental change. (2) Unhealthy diets’ causes and their influences on related diseases incl. brain health, especially incidence in older age groups in Europe, and on overcoming undernutrition in developing countries. (3) Causalities of health and diseases through their root causes embedded in the societal, economic and ecological systems (One Health, e.g. the ONE-Health Graduate Program.

V. Development and Change: (1) Understanding drivers and consequences of migration locally and internationally for livelihoods with a focus on youth and women. (2) Role of markets and services for development, including infrastructure, political and institutional constraints with foci on public and ecosystem services (e.g. in the Program on Volatility in Markets). (3) Technical, institutional, and societal transformation through governance and incentive schemes. 


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.

Women are overlooked - Meet researcher Poornima Thapa

“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.”

Doing it for the kids - Meet researcher Dr. Oliver Kirui

“Through my research I am able to contribute to sustainable agricultural growth and food and nutrition security in Africa and India.”

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.

Research Projects

EXC 2070 - PhenoRob - Robotics and Phenotyping for Sustainable Crop Production

SFB/TR 228 - Future Rural Africa: Future-making and social-ecological transformation

GRK 2064 - Water use efficiency and drought stress responses: From Arabidopsis to Barley

FOR 2589 - Near-Realtime Quantitative Precipitation Estimation and Prediction (RealPEP)

FOR 2535 - Anticipating Human Behaviour

FOR 2630 - Understanding the global freshwater system by combining geodetic and remote sensing information with modelling using a calibration/data assimilation approach (GlobalCDA)

SPP 2115 - Polarimetric Radar Observations meet Atmospheric Modelling (PROM) - Fusion of Radar Polarimetry and Numerical Atmospheric Modelling Towards an Improved Understanding of Cloud and Precipitation Processes

BMBF: WASCAL - West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (Kompetenzzentrum)

BMBF: GlobE - Wetlands in East Africa: Reconciling future food production with environmental protection

BMBF: BiomassWeb - Improving food security in Africa through increased system productivity of biomass-based value webs

BMBF: Soil3 - Sustainable Subsoil Management

BMBF: NACHWUCHS - Nachhaltiges AgriUrbanes ZusammenWachsen

BMBF: NamTip

MACSUR - Modelling European Agriculture with Climate Change for Food Security

SUSFANS - Metrics, Models and Foresight for European SUStainable Food And Nutrition Security

SUSTAg - Assessing options for the SUSTainable intensification of Agriculture for integrated production of food and non-food products at different scales

BLE (BMLE): VITAPALM - Improving nutritional quality and stability of palm oil produced by African smallholders to fulfil African consumers

BMZ: PARI - Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation

BioSC - Competence Platform Transform2Bio

ONE-Health Graduate Program

Program on Volatility in Markets




Prof. Dr. Joachim von Braun
Center for Development Research (ZEF)

Prof. Dr. Jan Börner
Institute for Food and Resource Economics

TRA Manager
Division 7 Research and Support Management

Section 7.1 Research Support

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