United Nations University (UNU)

The United Nations University (UNU) – the academic branch of the UN – has 13 institutes across the world. Its Vice-Rectorate in Bonn plays a coordinating role in UNU activities mainly in Europe and Africa. This does not result in any direct funding opportunities, but it does open up opportunities for German scientists to collaborate.

UN-Place in Bonn

© Internationales Büro/Sabine Breiderhoff

Role of the UNU

The UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (EHS) has been located on the UN campus in Bonn since 2003; since 2007, the Vice-Rectorate in Europe (ViE) has also been in Bonn, and the Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (FLORES) opened in Dresden in 2012. All institutions are funded by the BMBF, in part as co-funding with the relevant federal states. The IB collaborates with the three UNU institutions both at a technical level – e.g. in projects – and on an administrative level to support the BMBF in funding the UNU.

The UNU is relatively independent within the UN system. Its headquarters are in Tokyo, with a further 14 institutes across the world primarily focused on the sciences. It is viewed as an educational institution offering postgraduate and master’s degrees and as a “think tank” for questions on which the UN is focusing: disaster protection, climate change, resource management, migration, sustainability. The UNU institutes carry out high-level research in specific interdisciplinary “niches”. These are characterised by their efforts to find innovative and targeted solutions together with their local populations. In many instances, the UNU bridges the gap between the civil population, science and politics; between North and South, East and West. As a result, it works on answers to global challenges. In addition, it sets up constructive partnerships with German universities and research institutions. It develops innovative learning concepts, which also add to the German educational landscape.

The findings of its work are e.g. joint study programmes or the establishment of scientific partner institutes in developing countries or emerging markets, which in the medium term are co-supported by the local authorities and universities. The institutes make practical expertise and long-term networks accessible across the whole world, making it a valuable partner for German science. In Germany, the UNU receives funding from the BMBF but also maintains various partnership agreements with universities, research institutions – including the DLR – or authorities such as the Federal Office for Disaster Protection.