SDG Graduate Schools

Network Meeting SDG Graduate Schools 2019

The programme seeks to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations. Thus, bilateral partnerships between higher education institutions in Germany and developing countries are supported in order to establish bilateral SDG graduate schools in developing countries.


In 2015, the United Nations followed up on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by passing the development agenda “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. A total of 17 are formulated as joint requirements for industrialised, emerging and developing countries within the framework of a global partnership. The requirements of the 2030 Agenda cover a broad range of themes and social issues, highlighting key challenges on the way to sustainable development:

  • end hunger and poverty and ensure human dignity, equality and health (people);
  • environmental protection, e.g. through sustainability in consumption and production and sustainable resource management in tackling climate change (planet);
  • development and well-being in economic, social, and technological terms (prosperity);
  • the promotion of peaceful, equitable, and inclusive societies (peace);
  • the establishment of a global partnership for sustainable development (partnership).

The goal of quality education with equal opportunities (SDG4) is of great importance: “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Furthermore, education is seen as an important cross-sectoral issue that has to be addressed in order for us to achieve further goals.

Excellent, dynamic universities and highly-qualified professionals and managerial staff are extremely important when it comes to working together to address challenges for development policy and achieve the SDGs. In this context, the DAAD has implemented the Bilateral SDG Graduate Schools programme funded by the (BMZ). The programme is especially intended to assist universities in developing countries fulfil their role as an important driving force for sustainable development (globally and locally).

Programme objectives

The programme aims to contribute to achieving the new development goals by supporting bilateral university partnerships. Hence, SDG graduate schools in developing countries are established.

The regional focus is on Africa; there are four bilateral SDG graduate schools in Africa, two SDG graduate school in Latin America, and one in Asia. The partner universities can flexibly use a broad range of DAAD instruments for the establishment and further development of the SDG graduate schools.

The programme aims to offer qualified postgraduate students high-quality training in development-related degree courses. In the short and medium term, the bilateral SDG graduate schools are expected to increase teaching capacities by incorporating information and communication technologies (ICT). At the same time, research structures necessary for postgraduate education should be strengthened. The SDG graduate schools work together with relevant employers and stakeholders from politics, industry, and/or civil society, developing innovative financial and strategic concepts to ensure the sustainability of the graduate schools.

The long-term objective of the programme is to contribute to sustainable development in line with the SDGs and to the development of top-quality, cosmopolitan universities. Professionals and lecturers trained at the graduate schools are expected to work on solving development-related problems. Teaching and research related to the SDGs at the graduate schools of the partner universities should be strengthened structurally by enhancing quality and relevance. In sum, the SDG graduate schools should be competitive and sustainable.

Funded projects and partners involved

The programme supports bilateral partnerships between higher education institutions in Germany and those in developing countries by providing relevant, high-quality educational offerings of structured study courses on interdisciplinary research topics. The graduate schools are to train specialised experts and lecturers at masters, PhD and postdoc level, thus contributing to the joint development of innovative solutions for key SDG themes. The degrees will be awarded by the partner university in the developing country.

Since the key focus of the partnership is on the struc¬tural development of teaching and research at the partner institution abroad, this is also where the core activities should take place. In order to promote the internationalisation of the project and scholarship holders, however, participants should aim to spend some time in Germany, as cross-cultural skills and experience in international teams are a key factor to success in many projects.

This forms the basis for a coherent future concept which, in cooperation with partners in the developing countries, ensures the sustainability of the SDG graduate schools after the funding period has ended.

The following projects are being funded:


The RoHan DAAD SDG Graduate school is a cooperation between the University of Rostock together with the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis in Rostock and the Hanoi University of Science and Technology and Vietnam National University – University of Science in Hanoi, Vietnam. It enables the development and establishment of catalysis technologies and processes through the training of qualified Vietnamese scientists able to assume leadership positions in both industry and academia.


DSSP is a training and research program developed and operated by the University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF) and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL), Institute for Environmental Studies (IDEA). The program focuses on territorial rights, land use, access to and the extraction of natural resources that are deeply entrenched with diverse forms of violence, reproducing structural inequalities and conflicts.


trAndeS is a structured research and training program conducted by the project partners Freie Universität Berlin and Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) in Lima.
trAndeS focuses on the multidimensional social inequalities of the Andean region and their impact on the opportunities for the realization of the SDGs.


The German-Ethiopian SDG-Graduate School entitled ’Climate Change Effects on Food Security’ (CLIFOOD) aims at empowering young academics of HEIs on the African continent focusing on SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), 13 (climate action), 15 (life on land) and 17 (partnerships for the goals).
CLIFOOD was jointly established by the Food Security Centre, University of Hohenheim in Germany and Hawassa University in Ethiopia.


The interdisciplinary Graduate School ‘Performing Sustainability’ is a collaborative training network for graduate students operated by the University of Hildesheim (Germany), the University of Maiduguri (Nigeria) and the University of Cape Coast (Ghana).
The initiative focuses on innovative research that brings together approaches from performance, arts and culture to bear on sustainable development as defined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A specific focus lies on issues of peace and conflict resolution.


The Yaoundé–Bielefeld Bilateral Graduate School Natural Products with Antiparasite and Antibacterial Activity (YaBiNaPA) is a collaborative project between Bielefeld University (Germany) and the University of Yaoundé 1 (Cameroon).

South Africa

The Wits-TUB Urban Lab programme is built on a partnership agreement between the Habitat Unit at the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) and the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits). The overall objective of the collaboration is to contribute to the implementation of urban relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA) on the sub-Saharan African continent.


In order to achieve the intended programme objectives even more efficiently, the DAAD targets the needs of developing and newly industrialised countries with its funding instruments and evaluates the impact of its funding programmes. In 2014, the DAAD introduced a comprehensive in order to further improve the quality and transparency of its work.

Supported by:

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development