App for cows and organic lettuce from an Underground tunnel


The first Bonn Conference for Global Transformation in May showed that transforming our world into a sustainable one takes not only time, but also creativity, courage and dialogue across country borders. The conference is set to return in two years' time.

Bonn, 17 June 2015 – 'It is immoral for us to keep exploiting our planet, but it is also immoral to give up on the goal of achieving a sustainable world, believing it to be an impossibility. We all need to continue holding fast to this goal and fight side by side to achieve it.' These were the concluding remarks of Jeffrey D. Sachs, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Advisor on the Millennium Development Goals, in his speech at the first Bonn Conference for Global Transformation. In an interview beforehand, he had stressed that, especially in times of climate disaster, famine and war, taking sustainable action is the only viable option for responding to all these challenges and that sustainability can only be achieved through global cooperation.

Grandmothers as solar technicians

The conference delegates led by example: Su Kahumbu Stephanou, a Kenyan pioneering organic farming in Africa, presented her award-winning iCow mobile app to the 800 delegates from 70 countries. She is exploiting the widespread use of mobile phones in Kenya to recruit farmers to work in organic agriculture. The iCow service sends out text messages three times a week with tips on livestock breeding, opening up new opportunities for even inexperienced individuals to earn a sustainable living from organic livestock production.

There is demand for innovative projects, such as the one in London that is growing organic lettuce in a disused Underground tunnel or the school in India that is using sign language to train up grandmothers from around the world as solar technicians. By training these women, the school is promoting a global energy transition and helping to make lasting improvements to the living conditions of many people in remote regions.

'We need to make sustainability sexy.'

Claudia Roth, Vice President of the German Bundestag, highlighted Germany's key position when it comes to achieving a sustainable world, while 'Alternative Nobel Prize' winner Vandana Shiva underscored the special and unique role played by women in this context. Meanwhile, British PR consultant Ed Gillespie focused on the need to find a new way of communicating sustainability issues: 'We need to make sustainability sexy.' Miguel Lago, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Brazilian NGO 'Meu Rio', spoke about successful sustainability projects in Rio de Janeiro involving cooperation between residents and the authorities.

Videos and photos free to use

Were you unable to attend the Bonn Conference? We would be delighted to provide you with videos and photos (including the raw data upon request): you can find selected speeches and video interviews with the speakers on the conference website or YouTube channel. Photos are also available on the website. Copyright: GIZ/photothek.

About the Bonn Conference

The Bonn Conference for Global Transformation is an international conference series organised by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The Bonn Conference will focus on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. It will take place every two years in Bonn, starting in 2015. The conference series is supported by strong partners: United Nations University, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Deutsche Welle.


Press Release (PDF)

Copyright: GIZ/photothek