Transboundary Learning in UNESCO Biosphere Regions for Sustainable Development under Global Change and Increasing Uncertainty

– DAAD East West Dialogue programme 2020 –

Our world seems to be less predictable than it used to be. Increasing Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA conditions) endanger the implementation of sustainable development. The VUCA concept was first introduced by the US military after the end of the Cold War to describe the conditions of a world that is increasingly difficult to predict and reliable. Since its first appearance in the 1990s, the concept has quickly been adopted by other areas such as strategic decisions, risk management and situational problem solving. We, here, apply it to the context of sustainable development in Eastern Europe.

Because of climate change effects and unsustainable landuse the world is facing tree dieback and other threats that influence the resistence and resilience of forests. Very recently, several thousand hectares of forest have been burning in Ukraine (area around Chernobyl).

The cooperation of international partners is a key condition for studying the occurring changes that impact the ecosystems and sharing knowledge on potential strategies. The project aims at strengthening the cross-border cooperation in research on climate-adaptation measures in forests, with a focus on UNESCO Biosphere Reserves as living  laboratories for sustainable development. The project focuses on the border region of three countries: Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Romania. The project partners are from academia as well as from the administration of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves that have direct influence of the management on the project region.

A special advantage of the regional project partners is that they have already worked together in predecessor projects (see project page of the Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management) and can therefore build on a stable basis of cooperation.

Originally planned Project Measures and adapted Measures due to COVID-19 Situation

Originally, we planned for an international study trip in Ukraine in May 2020 and a joint seminar in Moldova in autumn as well as research and study visits. Due to the new circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project is adapting its measures suited to the current situation.

Instead of the study trip to Ukraine, it is planned to create a virtual road trip through Central and Eastern Europe, and have a week of web-based exchange with all the involved project partners. The virtual excursion includes video messages, films, presentations and webinars about the countries, their people, UNESCO biosphere reserves, and  beech forests.

Whether the further project activities can take place as planned in the second half of the year will become apparent as the situation develops.

Lead: Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Contact: Angela Dichte


Project Duration: 2020

Financed: Germany Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Website: Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management