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Back | Programme Area: Research-Related Activities, Translating Research into Policy and Practice—Bonn Programme

Integrating Knowledge and Capacity Development for the SDGs (Bonn Programme)

  • Project from: 2019 to 2021

The work programme of the UNRISD Bonn office aims to create new interagency collaborations and further enhance synergies between research and learning activities—simultaneously maximizing the uptake and impact of evidence-based analysis and knowledge production on the social dimensions of sustainable development, and contributing to training and capacity development of the highest possible quality and relevance.

Background and context

With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs, national governments and their development partners in the UN system, civil society and the private sector have embarked on an ambitious pathway of transformative change which requires profound shifts in thinking, policies and practice. These policy and decision makers need the best possible knowledge and evidence base for their efforts to combat contemporary challenges and achieve more equitable, inclusive and sustainable development outcomes.

One way that UNRISD seeks to contribute to evidence-based implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs is through the uptake and use of our research findings and analysis in training and capacity development. Because we don’t have this mandate ourselves, we seek collaborations with other entities that do have this mandate.

With this new programme of work—supported by the German Development Ministry (BMZ) and Federal Foreign Office—led from an office in Bonn, UNRISD is well positioned to engage directly with the actors and partners of the UN’s sustainability hub.


The work programme of the UNRISD Bonn office aims to create new interagency collaborations and further enhance synergies between research and learning activities—simultaneously maximizing the uptake and impact of evidence-based analysis and knowledge production on the social dimensions of sustainable development, and contributing to training and capacity development of the highest possible quality and relevance.

The work programme has three objectives:
  • Strengthen the Bonn ecosystem for sustainable development through an integrated approach to knowledge and skills development, where research feeds into training and capacity building activities and is informed by their needs.
  • Elaborate a joint research-capacity building strategy through identification and mapping of relevant knowledge gaps and the implementation of corresponding research activities.
  • Improve evidence-based SDG implementation and research uptake by UN and other development partners through collaboration with partner organizations in Bonn.

Expected results and beneficiaries

Successful delivery of the programme will produce new interagency collaborations and synergies, improving the efficiency and coherence of delivery of our mandates. It will generate integrated perspectives, new working modalities, innovative strategies that anticipate knowledge gaps and upcoming skills needs, original research findings and analysis, and reduced bottlenecks and obstacles in implementation.

Beneficiaries of better integrated knowledge and capacity development on the social dimensions of the SDGs include national governments and their development partners in the UN system, civil society and the private sector.

Activities and outputs

Specific activities and outputs are designed to fulfil the programme's objectives. These include networking, outreach and communication activities; advisory and consultancy services in areas of UNRISD expertise; provision of lecturers / resource persons / inputs for training courses; webinars; tailored dissemination products (briefs, videos, e-learning, podcasts, etc.); as well as research whose findings can inform learning and capacity development activities for SDG implementation.


Global Research and Action Network for a New Eco-Social Contract
UNRISD, in partnership with the Green Economy Coalition (GEC), is building a Global Research and Action Network to explore the promise of a new eco-social contract as a way of responding to pressing social and ecological challenges. The network is a space for dialogue, debate, co-construction and action around the meaning of a new eco-social contract; good practices for its design; and mechanisms for its application. Research, practice, advocacy and policy decision-making communities working for social, climate and environmental justice are invited to join in this endeavour.

→ Watch the project trailer
→ Read the think piece Joining Up the Dots Between Social and Climate Justice: Time for a New Eco-Social Contract

Power, People and Planet. A podcast about how we fix the world, from the Green Economy Coalition
Listen to Kumi Naidoo, former director of Greenpeace and Amnesty International, for a series of frank conversations with activists, artists and community leaders on the front lines of building a new social contract around the world. https://www.powerpeopleplanet.org/


Institute for Ecological Economics: Eco-social contracts and fair transitions
17 May 2021: Speaker at an online workshop organized by the Institute for Ecological Economics at Vienna University of Economics and Business, alongside inputs from Degrowth Vienna and Oikos (Belgium). Speakers at the workshop discussed the potential of the eco-social contract to bring about a fair transition to a low-carbon society as compared to other similar concepts.

Sustainability and eco-social contracts in Africa
6 May 2021: Online presentation to students studying for a Bachelors in Global Environmental and Sustainability Studies at Leuphana University, Germany on key concepts and initiatives for sustainability from the African region and how these connect to the emergence of new ideas such as UNRISD’s eco-social contract.

Training for International Diplomats
UNRISD has been invited to present research results and implications for policy to the young foreign diplomats gaining professional experience in Germany who attend the Training for International Diplomats provided by the German Federal Foreign Office and their partners. These are the presentations given so far:
  • Programme on Global Health – A Foreign and Security Policy Issue. UNRISD presentation: Gender-health-inclusion nexus: The hidden costs of sexual violence (25 November 2020).
  • 17th International Futures Programme, held on 25 September - 2 October 2020. UNRISD presentation: Confronting violence against women, the power of women’s movements (2 October 2020).

Women in Economics Initiative (WiE)
20 November 2020: In partnership with the Economics Student Association (Fachschaft VWL) at the University of Bonn, the Women in Economics Initiative, which was established to advance gender equality in the field of economics, invited Isabell Kempf to give a presentation, titled Gender equality and diversity in the economics profession, in a series of talks by successful women who have studied economics and would like to share their experiences to inspire young economists.

European Forum on Science & Education for Sustainability 2020
6 October 2020: The UNRISD Bonn Office contributed to a workshop on reversing inequalities as part of the European Forum on Science & Education for Sustainability 2020 organized by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. At the workshop we were able to demonstrate how research on inequalities contributes to achieving SDG 10 “Reducing Inequalities”, as well as identify thematic gaps and develop ideas for future research questions and funding and transfer instruments. The results of all Forum workshops are summarized in a short conference paper.

Managing a Just Transition to Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies
26 May 2020: Isabell Kempf was the keynote speaker for the webinar on Module 1 (Global Context and Agenda) of this ITC-ILO training course. See the presentation on Just Transition in Different Contexts and Its Potential to Transform Economies.


Financial Crises, Poverty and Environmental Sustainability in the Context of SDGs and Covid-19 Recovery
Book → Edited by Andreas Antoniades, Alexander S. Antonarakis and Isabell Kempf, Financial Crises, Poverty and Environmental Sustainability: Challenges in the Context of the SDGs and Covid-19 Recovery (2022, Springer) discusses the interplay among financial crises, poverty dynamics and environmental sustainability; details how poverty and environmental sustainability interact in specific social contexts and financial crises; and addresses how social and environmental interactions must be managed. See the Table of Contents and get the full book here.

Webinar → 30 November 2021 (11.00 - 12.30 EAT/UTC+3): This webinar, the fourth in a series coordinated by the joint UNDP-UNEP Project Poverty-Environment Action for the SDGs, looked at how financial crises impact on the environment and sustainability transition. Participants developed recommendations on how to effectively manage poverty-environment dynamics in the context of a green and fair recovery from the pandemic. Watch the recordings here.

Fostering Evidence-Based Decision-making for Sustainable and Just COVID Recovery and Transformative SDG Implementation
7 July 2021, 14:00 to 15:45 EST (20:00 to 21:45 CEST) - UNRISD is a co-organizer of this SDGs Learning, Training and Practice Session at the 2021 United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF), with a special focus on SDGs 8, 13 and 17. Our partners for this event include International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), World Benchmarking Alliance, GRI, UN Global Compact, FEMNET, Danish Institute for Human Rights, Women’s Major Group, Geneva Science-Policy Interface and Simon Institute for Longterm Governance, UNOSAT and UK Space Agency.

UN Association webinar on SDG 10
16 June 2021: Participation as a discussant in a webinar organized by the United Nations Association of Germany, together with academic experts and a member of the German parliament. The webinar assessed the intention and effectiveness of SDG 10 in reducing inequalities.

Special Virtual Event at HLPF 2020 - SDGs Learning, Training & Practice
10 July 2020: Sustainable and Just Economies: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Crisis, and Enabling Factors for the SDGs (Session number 8), in partnership with the ILO Green Jobs Programme and the International Training Center of the ILO. Webcast available on the the HLPF website. 📺 Watch the recordings of the session. 📗 Read the results of the satisfaction survey of the SDGs Learning, Training & Practice.


SDG Global Festival of Action
25 March 2021, 14:35 CET - A New Eco-Social Contract for People and Planet. Deep Dive Discussion at the SDG Global Festival of Action, on visions and actions for building a new eco-social contract for just, inclusive, sustainable and resilient economies. Panellists also present just and green implementation pathways not only for the SDGs but also for Covid-19 recovery. Speakers: Isabell Kempf, Kumi Naidoo, Mueda Nawanat, Najma Mohamed, Paul Ladd, Rhoda Boateng. Languages: English, French, Spanish, International Sign. Hosted by UNRISD and the Green Economy Coalition.

Bonn Symposium 2020
5-6 November 2020: Under the theme of Reducing Social Inequality – Strategies at Local Level, UNRISD gave a presentation on Climate Change and Air Pollution – The Local Environment and Inequality at the Bonn Symposium 2020. The Symposium brings together local-level policy makers, scientists and activists to share, discuss and debate initiatives at the local level to combat inequalities. View the video of the presentation. Read the report (in German).

2020 Virtual UN Summer Academy
26 August 2020: UNRISD hosted a "Social/Professional Networking Session" on integrated policies for environmental action and social protection. Participants brainstormed examples of environmental action where social protection was lacking, and discussed those with two guest speakers who presented more positive case studies from their countries where environmental action was accompanied by social protection.


Sustainable Development Journal
Special Issue: The Poverty‐Inequality‐Environment Frontier in the Age of Crises. Volume 29, Issue 3, May/June 2021.

Blog post in the UNRISD Covid-19 series
We Need a Green and Just Transformation to Recover from Covid-19, by Isabell Kempf and Dunja Krause.

World Environment Day 2020
UNRISD has signed on to a statement, COVID-19: Ten Priority Options for a Just, Green and Transformative Recovery, by Partners for Inclusive Green Economy, launched on World Environment Day (5 June 2020). It is a call for recovery efforts that take account of the interdependencies between human and environmental health, and aim to build resilience to even more profound risks on the horizon - biodiversity loss, widening inequality and climate change, while recognizing that transformative change tackling their root causes will be the only just and sustainable long-term solution.


The Bonn team aims to send regular newsletters to its partners to keep them updated about its progress and activities.

Networking and partnering

Partnering and building networks are important ways that the Bonn programme seeks to co-create mutual benefits. A range of joint initiatives under the programme's different workstreams are being carried out / explored with:
  • Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research
  • CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs)
  • German Diplomatic Academy
  • GIZ⁠ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit)
  • Global Policy Forum Europe
  • Green Economy Coalition
  • ILO Green Jobs Programme
  • International Training Centre of the ILO
  • Partners for Inclusive Green Economy
  • Robert Bosch Stiftung
  • Stiftung Entwicklung und Frieden / Development and Peace Foundation
  • Sussex Sustainability Research Programme
  • UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Action for SDGs
  • UN SDG Action Campaign
  • UN System Staff College - Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development


The UNRISD Bonn Programme has received funding from Germany's Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Federal Foreign Office.