Conference: Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research and Development Cooperation

The focus of the conference was on transdisciplinary sustainability research, which addresses society-based challenges. In transdisciplinary research integrating the knowledge of communities and stakeholders through close cooperation, is essential.

The conference offered the opportunity for strengthening synergies between science and policy makers, which is another bridge that transdisciplinary research strives to build. Core conference themes were poverty, nutrition, health and energy, and how science can contribute to addressing these challenges.

The conference was organized by Bread for the World, Civil platform Forschungswende, the German Commission for UNESCO and the Center for Development Research.

See background documents and conference program.

Conference Summary

Science and research in the context of development are faced with the dual challenge of running good science and offering solutions to socially relevant problems. The guidelines for a problem-oriented research is the principle to identify the right stakeholders and to ask the right questions. The challenge to design a transdisciplinary process is already reflected in detail in many projects of development research and in an excellent way - of which we can still learn a lot for the national process of agenda -setting and development research.

Particularly Switzerland has a long experience in cooperation projects that have been condensed and made transferable into eleven principles and seven main questions. Dr. Bettina Wolfgramm presented them in detail. In the panel discussion, Mr. Krahl as representative of BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) the idea to support these foundations in the German development-oriented research as they are working well and proven.

In addition to developing policy, also research policy frames the German cooperation with developing and emerging countries in a crucial way setting the course for research mode and priorities. Anna Schwachula gave an overview of a possible research development policy and pointed on some discussion points.

Another line of discussion at the root of the event was what we can offer the countries of the South and what they expect from us at all. What does the right to development mean under the conditions of globalization and the planetary boundaries of terrestrial ecosystems? Dr. Imme Scholz pointed out that this question cannot be solved in small projects of development research but raises politically controversial issues to the national policies. What are other policy strategies of the Federal Government such as the High-tech Strategy and the Bioeconomy Strategy? Which consumption and lifestyles are followed and how coherent are these with the global transformation approaches?

A core theme of the conference was also how the development research and development cooperation can be better integrated. Dr. Linda Kleemann presented the results of a study on the touch points between the two communities.

In the working groups in the afternoon these topics and approaches were deepened. Divided into five parallel groups: to poverty reduction and economics; to food security and agriculture; to resources, water and biodiversity, health, and on climate and energy, participants exchanged specific priorities from the field of development cooperation and research, formulating opportunities and obstacles for closer cooperation.

Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge concluded the event presenting a matrix that has proven successful in transdisciplinary research projects, but can be used in the development cooperation or in joint projects as well. This includes " Knowledge for Understanding ", "Knowledge for Doing", "Getting the Right Institutional Arrangements" to the program-specific requirements of team building and evaluation. This also can be very valuable for the national discourse regarding the question of how excellent transdisciplinary research can be designed.

Overall, the day offered much food for thought about the good life in a limited world in which it is necessary to find a corridor that today and in the future makes possible an ecologically, economically and socially just life for all people. In this sense, the division of the world into developed countries and yet to be developed countries no longer makes sense. We will have to shape this world together in increasingly complex interwoven systems where the climate change, resource shortages and nutritional requirements will request our joint problem-solving skills.

After the workshops the exhibition Challenge Yasuni-ITT: Development Research and Buen Vivir was opened by Ecuador's Ambassador to Germany, his Excellency Jorge Jurado. Questions were raised about what the countries of the North can learn from those of the South, and what the values ??of Buen Vivir can contribute to transdisciplinary science. It was called to discuss not only the dependence on the extractivism, but also to implement options for sustainable action at national and international level.

The online forum of the exhibition continues the discussion on the key questions of the conference and how the Yasuní initiative can be approached and implemented: What are the currently emerging research needs from the perspective of development cooperation, and from the perspective of research? Where are development cooperation and researchers already in contact? Where have they established exchange? If there is cooperation, what works well? Which hurdles are to be overcome? If there is no cooperation - why not? How can development organizations articulate their research needs effectively? What platforms of exchange are needed? What incentives could increase the exchange of knowledge between different partners in international research and development cooperations? Which political or structural framework is necessary to implement development and research alliances? What kinds of programs are needed?

We encourage you to add your views to the forum. Your contributions will demonstrate to politics the existing and potential options that arise from increased cooperation between development cooperation and research.