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Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschnung (ZEF)

The Center for Development Research (ZEF) was founded in 1995 and started its actual research activities in 1997. ZEF's research aims at finding solutions to development-related issues.

ZEF's organizational structure

ZEF has, in accordance with its three major research areas, three departments, which work conjointly. The three departmental heads form the ZEF Board of Directors. The Director of UNU-EHS is an ex-officio member of the directorate. ZEF is an institute affiliated to the University of Bonn by being directly subordinated to the University's senate. The three departments cooperate closely with the University's respective faculties. The work of the Center is supported by an external, international Advisory Board, which was inaugurated in 1999. On the strenght of its members' professional competence and reputation, the Board has the task and responsibility of monitoring and evaluating ZEF's activities as well as advising and supporting the Center in its current work and future strategy.


By covering three main research areas, which are interrelated through interdisciplinary research projects, ZEF offers a broad and integrated perspective on development. Since development is rarely constrained by a single problem within a single discipline, ZEF works on crosscutting themes of central importance for the developing world. The research programs build on the methods and analytical styles of the disciplinary research areas and link and integrate knowledge and capacities from these different areas. ZEF's three research departments are:

  • Political and Cultural Change (ZEF A)
  • Economic and Technological Change (ZEF B)
  • Ecology and Natural Resources Management (ZEF C)

Results of ZEF's research are published in its own book series, in the ZEF Discussion Papers on Development Policy, in renowned academic journals and books.

Capacity Building

Through its Bonn Interdisciplinary Graduate School for Development Research (BiGS -DR), ZEF contributes to strengthening the international development research community in Germany, Europe and the developing world. The program is educating highly qualified academic staff, advisers, and managers for both the private and public sectors. In its interdisciplinarity, size and concept the program is unique and has become an internationally renowned institution.

Policy Dialogue and Public Awareness

ZEF maintains an active dialogue with representatives from governmental and non-governmental bodies, as well as with national and international organizations for science and development cooperation and with the private and business sectors. The Center organizes international conferences and expert rounds on development issues and is involved in processes with a policy impact on topics such as Biodiversity and Land degradation. To reach out to a non-scientific audience, ZEF organizes Lecture Series, publishes Policy Briefs, a newsletter (ZEF news) as well as an Annual Report. The ZEF homepage provides up-to-date information on ZEF's activities and staff.

International Networking

Collaboration with outstanding academics and scientists from research centers in developing countries as well as other countries all over the world is an important part of the partnership effort. About 50% of ZEF's staff is recruited internationally. ZEF strives at involving both private sector and government organizations in development cooperation to benefit from its activities.



Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF)

Walter-Flex-Straße 3
53113 Bonn

Tel.: + 49 (0) 228 / 73-18 46
Fax: + 49 (0) 228 / 73-18 89
E-Mail: zef(aTPhoiNvpW7xw1zSjBuwn)uni-bonnde


Alma van der Veen

Tel.: + 49 (0) 228 / 73-18 46
Fax: + 49 (0) 228 / 73-18 89
E-Mail: presse.zefaTPhoiNvpW7xw1zSjBuwnuni-bonnde