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Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures



UBo_18_92_Broschüre Antrag Exzellenzuniversität_Icon Sustainable Futures.jpgSustainable 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, in the Cluster of Excellence PhenoRob, 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.

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

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


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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