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Forschung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung

Research for Sustainable Development Framework Program (FONA)

Since 2005, the Research for Sustainable Development (FONA) framework program has promoted research for future-oriented action and innovative solutions for a sustainable society. With the now third framework program FONA³, this sustainability research in Germany is receiving further support from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The focus is on making the actions of all people more sustainable and systematically involving them in the research and dissemination of results. FONA³ systematically links education for sustainable development with research. Successful research should be supported until it can establish itself as a mainstream innovation.

Central elements of the program structure are the three flagship initiatives (Green Economy, Future City, Energy Transition) and the four overarching fields of preventative research (securing and improving quality of life and competitiveness, conserving resources and using them intelligently, protecting the common goods of climate, biodiversity, land and ocean and education and research: together for sustainable development). FONA³ is continuing to use proven elements, such as the joint research funding tool and the high degree of interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, in an advanced form.

Research on global challenges can only be effective and excellent if it is internationally networked. The BMBF brings together the activities of transnational cooperation in three program lines: European cooperation, international partnerships for sustainable innovation (CLIENT) and international cooperation in preventative research. CLIENT II makes an important contribution to the implementation of FONA³ and bundles business-oriented international activities under this umbrella brand.

The FONA³ programme structure includes three systems of high relevance for sustainable development, implemented in the form of flagship initiatives: Green Economy, Future City and Energy Transition. FONA³ is focusing a large part of the funded sustainability research on the implementation of research results into concrete technical and social innovations. A central aspect of this approach is supporting companies in taking up new research findings and applying them as quickly as possible for innovative products, processes and services.

In addition to the three flagship initiatives mentioned above, the research areas of FONA2 are still relevant, and their long-term achievement can only succeed if, in addition to already applicable solutions, the fields of knowledge are advanced and basic knowledge is extended in the research fields.  Following on from FONA2, FONA³ focuses on four overlapping areas of preventive research: Securing and improving quality of life and competitiveness, conserving resources and using them intelligently, protecting the common goods of climate, biodiversity, land and ocean and education and research: together for sustainable development. Research and education are closely interlinked in this framework program, because a sustainable society needs not only technological but also societal innovations. FONA³ is continuing to use proven elements, such as the joint research funding tool and the high degree of interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, in an advanced form.

In order to do justice to the global task of sustainability, the FMER is further strengthening its international partnerships for sustainability with its FONA³ framework program, thereby assuming international responsibility. Within the framework of FONA³, the FMER is supporting the United Nations by promoting the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the World Biodiversity Council (IPBES), to name a couple of examples. In addition, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations and the objectives of the EU Horizon 2020 research framework program are the most important strategic reference points for coherent work on a global scale. In addition, bilateral and multilateral innovation alliances are of great importance. Up to now, the FMER has been investing around 100 million euros annually in international cooperation, especially in developing and emerging countries, as part of its research on sustainability.

The FMER brings together the activities of transnational cooperation in three program lines: European cooperation, international partnerships for sustainable innovation (CLIENT) and international cooperation in preventative research. CLIENT II makes an important contribution to the implementation of FONA³ and bundles business-oriented international activities under this umbrella brand.

The aim of FONA³ is to promote innovation for a sustainable society. In order to ensure the impact of the framework program, the support measures are oriented on clearly formulated goals from the outset and target achievement is systematically evaluated. As far as possible, the respective results and effects of the funded projects should be tracked and documented using the most specific, measurable and temporally-defined indicators. Evaluation and impact analysis will also serve the strategic development of program structure and content.

In addition to the insights gained from the evaluations of current and completed measures, the contents of FONA³ are continuously reviewed to see whether new topics and trends in sustainability should be added.

Tried-and-tested instruments are collaborative projects which are characterised by high standards on transdisciplinary elements, participatory elements and modern scientific communication. Transformative research, such as real-world laboratories, are new elements of project funding in FONA³.