“Sustainability – Looking beyond 2030”

Program line on future-oriented sustainability work
in cooperation with the emerging initiative “Wellbeing, Sustainability and Equity (WiSE) Transformation” at UNU-EHS

The global sustainability discourse has gained momentum with the Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), drawing from the 1987 Brundtland report’s concept of sustainability, considering present needs without compromising those of future generations. The 2020 Report on the progress in achieving the SDGs does not only show where progress is lacking. It also reveals where the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis have intensified difficulties, e.g., on food insecurity due to disrupted supply chains, violence against women in lock-downs, children deprived of quality education due to missing access to remote learning, reinforcements of mechanisms causing poverty such as job insecurity in the informal economy, or the very unequal access to health services and thus vaccination.

While being widely respected as great achievement of the international community of States that has done much to include different voices, the Agenda has faced criticism from different sides, such as its being dominated by “Northern” and “Western” paradigms. This dominance results in concerns about insufficient inclusion of other worldviews and approaches, such as voices of indigenous populations, and the inability to incorporate other internationally relevant frameworks such as the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

Science’s voice has often been claimed to have been weak in the negotiation process towards the 17 SDGs of the UN Agenda 2030. Notwithstanding, sustainability science has now proliferated universities and think tanks worldwide. It is concerned with sustainable development at the interfaces of the systems of economy, nature and society. Operating in a field of tension of social discourses and value systems, it refers to diverse actors and their interests. Being application oriented and actionable, it requires cooperation with the private sector, policy makers and civil society. It is structured less by disciplines than by concrete problem settings, and thus requires an understanding beyond historically developed “scientific” disciplinary boundaries, of epistemologies and ontologies, and an operation within a scientific multilingualism. Thus touching the very grounds of different worldviews, academia needs to integrate diverse cultural, religious and philosophical perspectives into the discourse, and help to negotiate between concepts and views, navigating in the same value-laden environment as policy and decision makers.

2030 is not far away. In order to be ready for a “post 2030” agenda, we need to think early about  improving existing frameworks and tools, for a system change to incorporate previously neglected themes,  perspectives and voices. More importantly, we should explore new ways of thinking about sustainability and the pathways to achieve them.

The Head Office supports interested colleagues from the Bonn Alliance partner institutions in bundling their contributions to a “post 2030”-perspective under a common umbrella, discussing them with each other and communicating them to a larger audience.

The partners can contribute their own existing events and formats to the S-LB2030 program line as well as organize events and formats independently of existing projects. At regular intervals, the Head Office also organizes formats in this series (see “activities”).

Conceived formats include expert workshops and working groups (closed expert rounds for in-depth work processes) and dialogue events (e.g., panel discussions with a public audience).

The Head Office supports the partners of the Bonn Alliance in designing their formats (if necessary), in addressing Bonn Alliance colleagues, and in event promotion (website, newsletter, social media). S-LB2030-related materials and limited funds for non-personnel expenses (in-kind and travel) are available.

Interest in organizing an event under the S-LB2030 program line should be communicated with the Head Office (s.gilgan@uni-bonn.de) as early as possible. The organizational preparation time is strongly dependent on the format.


Activities 2022

WORKSHOP (tbd, in planning)
“Cultures and contexts in and of sustainability: Scaling up and down between local and global levels”
in cooperation with the “Alternative Sustainabilities” working group

EVENT (November 22, 2022)
“Politics and reality of transfer and knowledge co-production”
in cooperation with the Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, University of Applied Sciences (H-BRS) 

PANEL DISCUSSION (tbd, in planning)
“Opportunities to Address Asymmetries in the Global Science System”
in cooperation with the University of Bonn

LECTURE SERIES (starting June 2, 2022)
“50 years “The Limits to Growth” – Prospects in 1972 and 2022″
jointly organized by the Bonn Alliance and the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

LECTURE (June 2, 2022)
“Limits to Growth – Can the Anthropocene become sustainable?”
jointly organized with the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), the Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, University of Applied Sciences (H-BRS) and the Center for Development Research (ZEF)

CONFERENCE (June 8-10, 2022)
“8th Annual Conference of the World-Ecology Research Network”
organized by the Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies (IOA) of the University of Bonn, partner in the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research

Activities 2021

ONLINE SURVEY (open until October 24, 2021)
“Alternative Sustainabilities”


Managing Director, Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research


Associate Project Manager, Institute for Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University (UNU-EHS)