Annual Review 2022 and Future Vision 2023

The year 2022 is coming to an end. It was a crucial one for the Bonn Alliance, as we celebrated our 5th anniversary. Let’s seize the moment and look back together at the Bonn Alliance’s milestones to this point:

Since its founding in 2017 at COP23, the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research has established itself as a strong brand in the greater Bonn area in terms of institutional networking and cross-cutting collaboration on sustainability topics. These topics include especially those that challenge and change our view on societal transformations and sustainable development of societies and their systems, such as technological innovations and alternative sustainability concepts.

In 2019, the team consisting of the then newly established Head Office (Sandra Gilgan and Una Kliemann) and the Scientific Director (Jakob Rhyner) started to build joint research and structures in the network with a variety of network-oriented formats. As a pilot project, “digitainable – Digitalization and Sustainability” has been launched to explore the hitherto little considered interface between digitalization and sustainability, using the UN Agenda 2030 as a benchmark. The project was successfully concluded in mid-2022, resulting in the Digitainability Assessment Framework, a comprehensive scheme to assess the sustainability of digital tools and services. A follow-up project is under discussion with an industrial partner.

In the times of digital corona distance in 2020, the Bonn Alliance has moved closer together on the subject area of mobility and migration. Based on a broad research mapping, well-established structures as well as gaps in interaction and transfer have been examined and discussed. In 2022, under the leadership of BICC, these considerations have been incorporated into a joint proposal for a thematically oriented cooperation platform.

In 2021, the Bonn Alliance Head Office launched a new program line “Sustainability – Looking beyond 2030”. This program line is a platform for the partner institutions to contribute and discuss their own work and views concerning the future mission for sustainability research and a post-2030 sustainability agenda, independently of existing research projects and agendas. The goal is to stimulate discourse on these topics in the research landscape and enable research to have a stronger voice on these important issues. The idea grew out of productive collaboration with the new “Well-being, Innovation, Sustainability, Equity (WiSE) Transformation” initiative at UNU-EHS. In addition, following the successful establishment of an internal network working group “Alternative Sustainabilities” under the leadership of the University of Bonn, a DFG-funded working group on the topic “Alternative Sustainabilities. Between local contexts and global measures” has been started, which will be hosted by the German Committee for Sustainability Research in Future Earth (at the interface of science and policy).

Thus, in 2022, some key milestones for the Bonn Alliance have passed from the phase of establishment and consolidation into thematic deepening and structural integration. The cooperation environment is also marked by an increase in expertise and practical work on sustainability, especially also as an institutional transformation principle. This is demonstrated by the information sheet “Paths to Sustainability in the Bonn Alliance” compiled in 2022.

Following these successes, the Bonn Alliance may now set itself new goals. In this spirit, the year 2023 will be an exciting one for the network, in which new horizons of cooperation will be explored and elicited together. The Head Office will end its work and the Bonn Alliance will be managed by the Scientific Director Jakob Rhyner and his office.

Sandra Gilgan and Una Kliemann will devote their time in the Rector’s Office of the University of Bonn to setting up the “Bonn Research Alliance” (BORA), which aims to link the regionally based non-university research institutions of the four major non-university research societies in Germany (Fraunhofer, Helmholtz, Leibnitz, Max Planck) and others, e.g. the partner institutions of the Bonn Alliance, more closely with the university landscape.

The team of the Bonn Alliance Head Office wishes you happy holidays and a Happy New Year 2023!

Jakob Rhyner, Sandra Gilgan, Waltraud Eßer, Una Kliemann & Roza Helin Dere