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Developing a German perspective of Future Earth research

2. German Future Earth Summit - World Cafe

Future Earth: a research program which allows to be actively co-designed by scientists and stakeholders worldwide


Inspired by the results of the first German Future Earth Summit the German Committee Future Earth (GCFE) initiated an so far unparalleled process to develop a German perspective on Future Earth research – on the basis of ideas and proposals of the scientific community and in cooperation with political and societal stakeholders including research funders. With different kinds of events, dialogue tools and expert groups (including the working groups of the GCFE) suggestions for research topics are collected, explored and elaborated. The overall objective of the in the year 2014 initiated process is to develop and cultivate a German perspective on Future Earth and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) research in an ongoing participative process.


1. German Future Earth Summit 2014

The national development process of a German perspective for Future Earth research was initiated at the 1. German Future Earth Summit (January 2014). The aim of the conference was to foster exchange about Future Earth, to strengthen the inter- and transdisciplinary research community, and to collect proposals for potentials Future Earth research topics from the German scientific community.

With about 260 participants and 75 topic proposals for the Future Earth core themes Dynamic Planet, Global Development and Transformation towards Sustainability the feedback was overwhelming and manifold. The Future Earth research concept was discussed from several perspectives: members of different research institutions and disciplines, stakeholders from politics and the economy as well as national and international research funders participated in the fruitful discussions.

The proposals of the community for potential Future Earth topics are summarised in the Book of Abstracts of the German Future Earth Summit 2014. The conference outcomes are documented in the Conference Summary Report.


Expert discussions "New key questions for Future Earth" 2014

The objective of the expert discussions was to formulate a comprehensive set of 8-10 key questions which

  • give impetus for research in Future Earth and which are not sufficiently adressed in the global environmental change programmes
  • are societally relevant
  • promote integrative research
  • support Future Earth research from the funding perspective 

Around 20 scientists from various disciplines and institutions, early career scientists, stakeholder from politics and business as well as science funders were invited to develop a comprehensive set of key questions on the basis of the first summit's proposals and insights. As a provisional result two sets of key questions (Leitfragen DKN, 2014) were formulated.


2. German Future Earth Summit 2016

Whereas the first summit addressed Future Earth’s three broad themens (mentioned above), the 2. German Future Earth Summit focussed on the cross-cutting capabilities which are crucial to cultivate for establishing successful integrative research. Therefore, the discussions thematically revolved around research methods and concepts, measures of human well-being and sustainable development, monitoring systems and environmental monitoring, possibilities of data provisioning as well as the improvement of science-society interactions.

Needs that arise in the course of global sustainability research were reviewed and opportunities for further development, including in the context of the national funding landscape, identified. Particularly, the second conference provided an open platform for initiatives from the scientific community. In six side events, three special events, eight World Café tables an with 50 posters the initiators and organisers of the community organised events had the opportunity to bring in and discuss their topics of interest with other participants.

The conference’s outcomes are published in the 2nd German Future Earth Summit Conference Summary Report. The report was co-created by the initiators and organisers of the sessions and events, and issued by the German Committee Future Earth.


In its second term (2016-2018), the German Committee Future Earth will continue to support the self-organisation of the German community. It will strengthen cooperation with other expert groups and intensify the dialogue with stakeholders on a national scale. This will include facilitating discussions about possible contributions to Future Earth’s Knowledge-Action Networks and further development of a German perspective on Future Earth research.


The 3. German Future Earth Summit will be presumably held in early 2018 with a possible focus on research synthesis and policy interactions.



updated, 8.6.2016

See also:

2. German Future Earth Summit 2016 (Conference Summary Report PDF)

Expert discussion: New Future Earth Challenges (2014)

1. German Future Earth Summit 2014 (Book of Abstracts/ Concepts PDF; Conference Summary Report PDF)

Expert discussion: Integrated Research (2013)

German Committee Future Earth Working Groups



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