Research for Sustainability

Through the ‘Research for Sustainability’ (FONA) Strategy, the Federal Research Ministry (BMBF) will double the amount of funding it provides for research on climate protection and more sustainability over the next five years to four billion euros.

Nachhaltige Entwicklung
Saving our planet for future generations is the primary goal of a sustainable development. © Getty Images / Lucas Allen

The future belongs to the next generations. It is our responsibility to ensure that the environment we leave behind is one worth living in. We are currently faced with major challenges – climate change, mass migration and the COVID-19 pandemic all clearly show us the vulnerability of our current models for living and working. We want to learn from this and protect Germany and Europe from future crises. In adopting the 2030 Agenda in 2015, the global community pledged its commitment to creating a better future by pursuing the United Nations’ 17 global goals. We only have ten years left to achieve these goals. We have therefore placed the Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of the FONA Strategy as we focus on the power of research and innovation.

The motto for the new FONA Strategy is “Knowledge for a future that works”. It focusses on creating knowledge. But it also aims to apply knowledge and become faster at translating research findings into practical application. Only by doing this, can we generate green innovations that make our lives better.

The Strategy focusses on forward-looking technologies in the fields of green hydrogen, the circular economy, climate change mitigation and bioeconomy. We want to remain or become technological leaders in the transformation of energy systems, resource efficiency and climate protection.

Germany is a country of innovation. Our innovative strength forms the basis of our economic strength. It is the underlying reason why we are in a position to overcome the major challenges we face. And it ensures cohesion within our society. We are determined not to leave anyone behind. Through the FONA programme, we are working on green innovations for urban and rural areas, we want to strengthen structurally weak regions and achieve equivalent living conditions everywhere. But how do people react to this, how can we encourage acceptance? We are also investigating questions such as these within the scope of FONA. And what’s more, we are thinking beyond Germany. We consider the FONA programme from a European perspective and are working to strengthen international research cooperation so that other countries are also able to achieve their sustainability goals.

With FONA towards a Sustainable Future

The FONA Strategy serves to implement Germany's National Sustainability Strategy and the Federal Government's High-Tech Strategy. Within this document, three strategic objectives have been formulated in which research can play a major role in building a sustainable future:

  • Achieving the climate goals
  • Researching, protecting and utilising habitats and natural resources
  • Developing our society and our economy - ensuring good living conditions throughout the country.

These objectives are described in more detail in eight priority fields of action. For each field of action, we present the individual actions that are planned in order to achieve our goals. The actions are the key tools for implementing the FONA Strategy and are supported by specific implementation steps and milestones that are based on current demands for research and innovation. These actions help to make the contribution of FONA research towards the strategic objectives more transparent and comprehensible. They also mean it is easy to see where we have achieved our goals and where more work may be needed. This enables the FONA programme to fulfil its role as an open framework for action.

The scope of our measures ranges from national and international strategic collaborations to the development of new strategies or roadmaps to research funding and the implementation or dissemination of results. In the form of 25 actions, we present how we will take specific steps over the next five years to help increase sustainability and resilience, not only in Germany, but all around the world. We take a cross-cutting approach to dealing with overarching topics that are relevant to all objectives, fields of action and actions. Within the context of FONA, these topics are digitalisation, the transfer of knowledge and technology, European and international cooperation and the strategic planning of research infrastructures.