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Sustainability at GFZ

As one of seven centers partaking in the Helmholtz research field "Earth and Environment", the GFZ is per se committed to the issue of sustainability. Hereby, our focus is on a development that shall secure sustainable resources to meet the needs of future generations in a humane and appropriate manner. For us, sustainability includes ecological, economic and social aspects on an equal footing.

In line with its overarching strategy, a key research goal of the GFZ is the creation of a sound scientific basis for a sustainable use of planet Earth – "research for sustainability" – which increasingly includes "sustainable research". The GFZ is already successfully implementing sustainability measures in the central areas of activity i.e. oorganizational management, research work, personnel, buildings and infrastructures, in addition to supporting processes. Details can be found in the GFZ Sustainability Report (dt. DNK), which has been elaborated in accordance with the German Sustainability Codex for the reporting year 2019.

Research topics related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to promote sustainable development worldwide at the ecological, social and economic levels. Our research contributes to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. On the following pages, the individual Departments of the GFZ present which research areas can make a concrete contribution.

Research sustainably│Areas of Activity

In their systematic sustainability management, the research centers of the Helmholtz Association follow so-called action fields, which are explained in detail in a handout (only in German).

Organizational leadership: Governance processes define the framework within a research organization. For the integration of sustainability into organization practices, the management level holds responsibly for establishing integrative strategic planning and participatory organizational development. Other tasks include promoting a culture of compliance and strengthening knowledge transfer and exchange with society in general.

Research: By striving to integrate sustainability in the sense of assuming social responsibility in research, three fields of action have been defined: While a culture of scientific integrity to implement good scientific practice forms the basis, "Research with social responsibility " goes beyond this and aims at the systematic reflection of social responsibility in the research process, i.e. "how" research is done. The issue "Contributions to solutions for societal challenges" focusses on "what” we do in research, i.e. science-based solutions and contributions to relevant topics and themes.

Human resources:
The fields of activity in this functional area emphasize the organization's responsibility as an employer toward its employees and, thus, focus on the social goals of sustainable development. A prerequisite for this is professional human resources management that has sufficient resources to strategically plan and implement human resources management activities. Activities in this area relate, among others, to supporting staff in career development, responsible handling of temporary employees, equal opportunities and appreciation of diversity, health-preserving working conditions, and skills development.

Buildings and infrastructures:
This functional area deals with the sustainable planning, construction and operation of infrastructures. The aim here is to provide a future-oriented work environment that satisfies existing demands while assuming responsibility for environment and society. This includes meeting technical and functional requirements as well as user satisfaction, energy and resource efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and design and urban development quality. The areas of activity accompany the life cycle of buildings and infrastructures: from planning and structural design, construction and modernization, operation and management, to demolition and disposal of deconstruction waste.

Supporting processes:
This functional area concentrates on the procurement processes and occupational mobility of research organizations and their indirect impact on the environment and society. The purchase of products and services and the mobility needs of employees must be met in an environmentally friendly and socially acceptable manner.

Sustainability in Action at GFZ


Helmholtz Documents and Videos referring to Sustainability

Other Initiatives and Programs

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