News from DIE’s management

DIE’s Director as expert in the BMBF’s Sustainability Working Group

On 24 March, Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge contributed to a meeting in camera of the Sustainability Working Group at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with an expert impulse. The event’s focus was on the exchange of ideas on key points for readjusting German education, research and innovation policy regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In her contribution, the Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) focused on three points:

(a) the need to methodically develop interdisciplinary scenario research based on social, cultural and natural science data and to promote it with reference to global megatrends and their mutual twists.

(b) the tension between Germany’s high-tech and excellence strategy towards the local context: This tension repeatedly led to innovation development that no longer met the requirement of being locally suitable. Thus, it could only insufficiently shape the transformation processes within this research. The impact of the innovations themselves was thus very limited. The projects often compensated for this by means of intensive capacity development on the ground, making key contributions to educating social groups that may once drive transformation processes forward. The problem, however, was the poor fit of the innovations and apoliticisation of the research itself, with international scientific standards and the German high-tech strategy being the reference framework for the research, much less the context that the research itself was supposed to shape.

(c) Global science was characterised by massive discrepancies. In simplified terms, this became apparent in the large differences in the funding scheme of science systems of different countries. However, they led to strong asymmetries between national science systems and to disciplinary differences within science systems, which stood in the way of a global common ability to speak for transformation processes towards sustainability. A recent example was the strong disparity in vaccine access, which could be explained by the different performance of different science systems. However, this discrepancy again represented a global common challenge.

Keynote by Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge at the International Club La Redoute in Bonn

The International Club La Redoute in Bonn invites one guest speaker to give a short talk in their event series “International Roundtable” every month. The steering committee of the International Club La Redoute invited Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge to give a talk on her experiences and ideas regarding the future role of German development policy in the “International Roundtable” on 19 April. With her keynote address “Development Research, Development Policy in the ‚New Normal‘ of the 21st Century”, the DIE Director highlighted the three megatrends “Resource Degradation”, “Global Social Inequalities” and “Digitalization & Knowledge Societies” through the lens of empirical research in West Africa, on the global science system, as well as with reference to current vaccine distribution debates. Anna-Katharina Hornidge concluded the presentation with, on the one hand, structural considerations on the global science system and international science practice for global common good, and, on the other hand, a self-positioning on future German policy for sustainable development. She made seven points:

  1. Development is not geographically bound, it is a universal challenge and at the same time, every human being worldwide has the right to develop, to be self-determined. This right of each individual aims at ensuring personal, emancipating freedom of action (education, rational thinking & factual orientation, civil rights, human rights and common good as a duty of the state). “Development” as a concept is thus to be understood in the tradition of the Enlightenment. It must not and cannot be reduced to a basic income of 1.90 USD per capita.
  2. This also means that development should not be understood as economic growth or reduced to poverty alleviation. Instead, development is to be conceived as the processes of thinking about and realizing sustainable futures.
  3. Ensuring the ’sustainability‘ of these futures – sustainability as conceptualised in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and in the German Sustainability Strategy – is a task that crosses departments, scales and internal as well as external policy fields. It can only be achieved through the interaction of different departments, decision-making levels (national, regional, global) and social sectors (politics, business, society). Sustainability thus requires a strong governance architecture, equipped with the appropriate decision-making powers and resources with regard to implementation.
  4. Futures are context-specifically diverse and can only be reached if they are embedded in local actor structures that drive their realisation. This means that futures cannot be prescribed or achieved from outside, but require local ownership. Development policy efforts are limited to partnership-based exchange and dialogue if the initiated processes of change are to shape the future locally and sustainably in the long term.
  5. Policies for sustainable development and global common good in the 21st century must take a planetary perspective. Thematic priorities thus consist in dealing with global common goods such as global-societal cohesion, social equality and poverty reduction, climate, biodiversity, etc.
  6. The key levers for sustainable management of global commons have been highlighted again by the COVID-19 pandemic. They include sustainable financial instruments, digitisation, science, migration policy, and international partnerships.
  7. Development policy, which sees itself as a policy for developing and enabling sustainable futures in the sense of a global common good, should – with regard to its institutional structure – see multilateral cooperation as the norm and bilateral cooperation as merely an accompanying and supporting exception.

Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge gave a lecture at CAPAZ

The German-Colombian Peace Institute CAPAZ hosted an open lecture of the course “Management and Governance of Knowledge for Peace Building” with a live webcast and livestreaming on 20 April. The director of DIE Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge was invited to speak on the topic of “Diverse Knowledges for Sustainable Natural Resources Management and Development”. The focus of her presentation was particularly on knowledge and innovation systems characterised by their epistemic diversity and the interplay of diverse types of knowledge (scientific, non-scientific, everyday, productive, and religious). Here, Anna-Katharine Hornidge referred to her past research of agriculture in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and fisheries in West Africa.

Keynote by Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz at the ESD festival NRW

On 16 and 17 April, the virtual festival on education for sustainable development (ESD) North Rhine-Westphalia took place in the run-up to the UNESCO World Conference. The ESD festival placed focus on topics of climate protection, the future of forests, nutrition, and digitisation. On 16 April, Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz opened the event with a keynote speech on the importance and status of sustainable transformation for our society, especially in post-pandemic times. In particular, she addressed the importance of learning processes in politics, public administration, business and society, and of educational concepts that motivate and enable individuals to take charge of shaping the future and break with routines. For such political action, the new sustainability strategy with its designation of six transformation areas offers good starting points, which correspond to the thematic focal points of the festival.

Following the keynote of Imme Scholz, Prof. Dr. Ute Stoltenberg (Leuphana University of Lüneburg) held a precis introduction focusing on the potential of education for sustainable development, which is still too often hindered by the current education system. In the subsequent panel discussion with State Secretary Heinrich Bottermann (Ministry of the Environment NRW), Prof. Dr. Ute Stoltenberg, and Stefan Rostock from Germanwatch, these considerations were continued. Stefan Rostock explained that UNESCO’s ESD concept is based on action-oriented learning that enables to experience political interrelationships and involves superiors in organisations, in order to concretely identify and address the need for change.

COVID-19 recovery and leverage points for transformation: Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz at UNSSC

The UN System Staff College (UNSSC) invited Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz to give an introductory lecture on the requirements and opportunities arising from the 2030 Agenda for more integrated and effective action by UN Country Teams. The COVID-19 pandemic is increasing pressure on the UN to better align support services on the ground with concrete needs on the field, while not losing sight of structural transformations and more effectively combining the use of resources and capacities of different UN agencies. As co-chair of the UN Scientists‘ Group developing the next Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), Imme Scholz focused on the findings of the GSDR 2019 on key transformation areas and levers and how these can be applied in the German sustainability strategy to advance systemic integrated action. At the end of her lecture on 10 April, Imme Scholz shared interim findings from the DIE research team, led by Dr. Silke Weinlich and Dr. Max-Otto Baumann, which is studying the work of various UN country teams as part of the DIE’s Postgraduate Programme to examine progress or difficulties in implementing UN reforms in the development sector.

Expert panel on “Sustainability in the Soy Supply Chain?”

On 23 April 2021, the German Society for Development Cooperation (GIZ) hosted an expert discussion on the question “Sustainability in the Soy Supply Chain? – Options for German Development Cooperation”. Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz participated as a speaker in the panel focusing on the EU’s options to minimize commodity-induced deforestation, the role of the German government, and in particular the role of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as the perspectives for further action in this area.

Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz at the train-the-trainers seminar on the relevance of megatrends

Since 2018, DIE has been supporting a network of institutes and individuals from China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa to make public administration capable of implementing the 2030 Agenda, in particular through training activities. This network is closely linked to the Managing Global Governance (MGG) Academy at DIE; another cooperation partner is the Training Institute for the UN System (UNSSC) in Bonn, which focuses on learning for sustainable development. At the train-the-trainers seminar on 26 April, hosted by UNSSC, Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz gave a presentation on the relevance of different megatrends for the transformation to sustainability in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus was both on understanding the structure-changing power of so-called first-order megatrends – climate change, demographic change, and geopolitical power shifts – as well as on the possibilities of shaping them and, to this end, also using the positive potential of other megatrends such as urbanisaation, migration, and digitalisation.