Activities and Events 2019

Laureate Denis Mukwege at Bonn University

On November 26, 2019, Prof. Dr. Denis Mukwege, who received the Right Livelihood Award in 2013 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, visited Bonn University. His speech at the main auditorium of Bonn University was titled “Rape as a weapon of war & the holistic model of care developed at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu/ DR Congo” .

Prof. Mukwege said that “the identity of individuals as well as the social identity of communities is being destroyed by the use of rape as a weapon; e.g. children being born as a result of rape will be excluded from the community because they're not wanted.” Rape often occurs as especially violent group rape and female genital mutilation. With this unthinkable brutality perpetrators aim to destroy the social structure of families and whole communities. Women are stigmatized and physical damage such as infections and infertility is paired with psychological traumata: “When women become victims of rape, also their children, husbands and whole communities are affected, by shame and stigmatisation.”

Prof. Mukwege’s speech attracted wide interest with over 500 attending people.

Meet the new RLC Bonn PhD candidate Ahmed Abdalla from Egypt

How did you become aware of the RLC programme at ZEF and what was your motivation to apply for it?

One of my colleagues suggested to me the RLC and after browsing the website, I found that it fits extremely well with my research needs and interests, in addition to the reputation of ZEF and the professionality of the staff members.

The RLC scholarship aims at connecting young researchers with winners of the “Alternative Nobel Prize”. Which are the partners you will be working with?

My main partner will be the organization SEKEM in Egypt that received the “Alternative Nobel Prize” in 2003. I will also work together with Alexandria University and the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation.

You arrived at ZEF in Bonn only a couple of weeks ago. So how have you experienced your time here so far and what are you looking forward to experiencing?

My experience so far is that ZEF is such a professional institution supported by professional staff members, high quality research and education services. There is great collaboration and an open doors policy among the staff. I am looking forward to gaining more experiences and skills such as research methods, critical thinking, project planning and proposal writing.

RLC Bonn PhD student and ZEFa senior researcher at the RLC Campus in Mumbai

The RLC Campus at the Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai and the RLC Campus at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok organised a collaborative lecture series with international RLC researchers in Mumbai. On Thursday, September 26, two researchers from the RLC Campus at the Center for Development Researchers (ZEF) in Bonn contributed to the conference. Dr. Irit Eguavoen, Senior Researcher at ZEF talked about her current research project with the topic of “Under the constant threat of eviction: Strategies to secure spontaneous settlements in Abdijan, Ivory Coast”. RLC Bonn PhD student Amit Kumar delivered a talk on “Everyday experiences of women waste pickers to Act of Citizenship for Housing Rights Movement in Mumbai: My Journey from TISS to ZEF”.

Prior to their visit at the RLC Campus Mumbai, Eguavoen and Kumar participated in the RC21 conference in Delhi titled “In and Beyond the City: Emerging Ontologies, Persistent Challenges and Hopeful Futures”. Kumar present his paper on “Do not fight, there are other ways: Tracing a slum becoming permanent in Mumbai, India” and also co-convened the panel “Reimagining Urban Politics through Comparative lens”

During their stay in Delhi, Eguavoen and Kumar also visited the informal settlement of Indra Nagar.

RLC Bonn PhD candidate at Columbia University

RLC Bonn PhD student Evelyn Ewere attended the 7th "International Conference on Sustainable Development" hosted by Columbia University, New York. The conference brought together several stakeholders, policy makers and researchers across the different segments of the SDGs including renowned economist Prof. Jeffrey Sachs. She participated in the thematic session on "good practices in sustainable food production" chaired by Prof. John Dilyard and Sintia Molina. The parallel sessions and keynote speeches exposed participants to New technologies, trends and impacts as well as the challenges and opportunities to achieving the global SDGs through sustainable production, consumption and policy making.

2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureates Announced

The Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, announced the 2019 Awardees: 

  • Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara)
  • Guo Jianmei (China)
  • Greta Thunberg (Sweden)
  • Davi Kopenawa / Hutukara Yanomami Association (Brazil).

For more information on the Laureates, please visit


“Greening the Future” – RLC Campus Bonn organised workshop with Tony Rinaudo and The Green Belt Movement

From September 15-18, 2019, the RLC Campus Bonn brought together 18 PhD students from 12 countries in Africa and Asia for an interdisciplinary workshop at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) in Bonn.  Together with two Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award (“Alternative Nobel Prize”) they worked on sustainable agriculture and forestry in drylands.

Australian Laureate Tony Rinaudo gave insights into agricultural restoration methods, including the prime example of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). Apart from the technique itself, Tony reported on his work with farmers, who adopted and spread FMNNR in Niger and beyond. “You want to bring beneficial changes to communities where there might be centuries of conflict and cultural differences. The change with the help of technology will not come over night. It doesn’t matter how good the science is, the technology, the super species of tree we are planting, it won’t work unless we listen and learn with patience”, Tony said.  


Wycliffe Matika, Executive Director of the Kenyan Green Belt Movement, funded by “Alternative Nobel Prize” Laureate Wangari Maathai, reported on his grass-root-work towards converting the ecological debate into mass action for reforestation and livelihood security. “You cannot change the people unless you empower them. You have to understand the issues around their livelihood security and also give them tools so that environmental actions and efforts are more sustainable”, Wycliffe said.

The four-day workshop was facilitated by Laurens van Veldhuizen, rural innovation specialist at the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam. He used interactive and participatory approaches for strengthening the participant’s knowledge and understanding of forestry concepts in a development context. PhD students presented their topic-related empirical research findings and gained valuable advice from the invited Laureates.

The RLC Campus Bonn workshop was a unique opportunity for both PhD students and “Alternative Nobel Prize” Laureates for mutual exchange of expertise in research and practice. “It is crucial to link what is theoretical or more academic with experiential learning. The Awardees, like The Green Belt Movement, are bringing years of experience and the nexus of practicability. But also we need knowledge on innovations, so that we drive sustainable”, Wycliffe commented. Tony added: “If the Award I received and the work that I have done can be used to inspire and perhaps to guide and to give council to others, then bring it on, let’s have more of it, because young people can really benefit from programmes like this”.

The workshop was embedded in a series of cultural events, press meetings, and a Public Talk at the Old Town Hall of the City of Bonn. This event titled “‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ for Greening the Future in Africa” was moderated by Dr. Irene Quaile-Kersken (Deutsche Welle) and attracted more than 130 guests.  

The RLC Campus Bonn is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The Public Talk was organised in cooperation with the City of Bonn.

Expert workshop with Alumni from sub-Saharan Africa

From July 1 to 3, 2019, the RLC Campus Bonn organised its first Alumni workshop focusing on “Agricultural and Social Transformation – Securing Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa”. 17 (development) academics and practitioners from more than ten countries in Sub-Sahara Africa presented innovative projects in the areas of natural resource management, agricultural transformation, as well as cross-cutting fields like education, health, and governance. Two representatives of ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’-awarded organisations attended the event;

Dr. David Amudavi, Executive Director of Biovision Africa Trust, Kenya (Right Livelihood Award 2013), gave a talk on the trend towards ecologically sustainable agriculture in Africa. Mr. Jumanta Gakelebone reported on the struggle of the First People of the Kalahari (Right Livelihood Award 2005), and critically discussed the consequences of “development” and “modernisation” to rural communities in Botswana.

Dr. Fidelis Allen, Acting Director of the Centre for Conflict and Gender Studies and Coordinator of the RLC Campus at Port Harcourt University, in Nigeria presented his research on environmental and social consequences of oil extraction in the Niger Delta in Nigeria.

During the three-day programme, the RLC organised trans-disciplinary discussion groups as well science-practice networking meetings at the Federal Office of Agriculture and Food (BLE), the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and IFOAM Organics International.

The event was an excellent opportunity for RLC alumni to establish new professional contacts and exchange knowledge with representatives of ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’-awarded organisations Award, as well as federal offices, ministries, and NGOs working in the areas of development cooperation, agriculture and food.

Laureate representatives discuss alternative development pathways in Africa

On Wednesday, July 3, representatives of ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’-awarded organisations and RLC Campuses spoke about alternative development pathways in Botswana, Kenya, and Nigeria, at a public RLC panel, hosted by the Adult Education Center (VHS) in Bonn.

Dr. Amudavi, Director of Biovision Africa Trust (’Alternative Nobel Prize’ 2013) informed about his actions to improve livelihood and technology transfer among smallholder farmers in Kenya and beyond and said: “Ecological organic agriculture, which is based on agro-ecology, balancing what people do with the environment and the society, is the most appropriate model to peruse for sustainable development.”

In addition, Kenyan researcher Dr. Juliet Wanjiku, RLC Campus Bonn PhD Alumna, talked about her research findings on productivity and sustainability of Ecological Organic Agriculture Systems in Kenya, which she conducted in cooperation with Biovision Africa Trust. “Organic agriculture in Kenya is not organic agriculture in Germany. Not using synthetic fertilizers does not make small-scale farming ‘organic by default’.”

Jumanta Gakelebone, representing the Bushmen’s organization First People of the Kalahari (’Alternative Nobel Prize’ 2005) in Botswana, reported on the consequences of “development” and “modernisation” to his people, urging to include local communities in modernisation processes in all African countries. “When our people are being relocated by the government, they live on government handouts. They now see a new way of life they don’t understand. Development should be a choice.” 

Dr. Fidelis Allen, Acting Director of the Centre for Conflict and Gender Studies and Coordinator of the RLC Campus at University of Port Harcourt, in Nigeria described the various environmental, political, and social impacts of oil extraction in the Niger Delta: “In Nigeria, there is no adequate preparation for alternative means of income for the government. The government is intensifying the effort in oil exploration. There are more than twenty oil-producing countries in Africa with huge proven oil reserves, which they hope to assess so they have more growth and more money.”  

The evening was moderated by Dr. Joe Hill, former Senior Researcher at ZEF.

RLC Bonn: “Mobilization for Change”-Workshop 2019

“All the research you are doing is for becoming an actor of change. We have heard about 14 different countries over the last three days, all with the same problems. With one common action we can create change”, said Helen Mack Chang, Laureate the Right Livelihood Award in 1992, about the RLC Bonn workshop “Mobilization for Change: Marginalized people and their access to opportunities and resources in a developing world” in May.

Mack Chang worked with 16 PhD students from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, who presented and discussed their applied research and, during the four-day workshop, built bridges between academia and activism.

The workshop was linked to the Global Media Forum of Deutsche Welle, which this year focused on shifting global power relations and its implications on media and civil society. Mack Chang participated in the TV show “Is civil society driven by networks?” (Sociedad civil: ¿amplificada por las redes?), which was aired all over Latin America and North America.

RLC Bonn PhD candidate conducts field work in Nigeria

Evelyn Ewere Anyokwu, RLC Bonn PhD student, started her field work in Nigeria on oil exploration and bio-economic transition in Nigeria. She conducted interviews with representatives of the Ministry of Energy and Environment, the Energy Commission of Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and bio-refineries. Evelyn works together with “Alternative Nobel Prize” Laureate Nnimmo Bassey who received the Prize for promoting environmental rights and opposing the harmful effect of oil exploration in Nigeria, as well as with the RLC Campus in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The research is carried out as part of the STRIVE (Sustainable TRade & Innovation Transfer in the Bio Economy) project at ZEF.

RLC Bonn Workshop with RLA Laureate Helen Mack Chang

From May 26-29, 2019, the RLC Campus Bonn organises a large international workshop on “Mobilization for Change: Marginalized people and their access to opportunities and resources in a developing world”. PhD students from all over the world will present and discuss their ongoing research works.

With her long experience and great expertise in the context of Human Rights Right Livelihood Award Laureate Helen Mack Chang is going to support the students with feedback and advice.

The workshop is linked to the Global Media Forum (GMF) of the Deutsche Welle. On the one hand, Helen Chang is going to talk on “Civil society: Driven by networks?” as part of a TV-recording; on the other hand, the workshop participants will also have the opportunity to explore various panels of the GMF with the overall topic of “Shifting Powers”.

RLC Bonn at "Scientists for Future" Protest

The RLC Campus Bonn and the Center for Development Research joined the "Fridays for Future" Movement of pupils and youth as "Scientists for Future" within the 2nd Global Climate Strike. They wanted to express support to the young people and show that “Scientists for Future” are producing important knowledge on climate change impacts, and may suggest effective mitigation and adaptation strategies – all of which will be of no use if not followed by climate action.

It is not knowledge uncertainty but clearly the lack of political will by law makers, municipalities and enterprises that prevents climate action. And policy and legislation need to be implemented and practiced, which forms another challenge in countries of the Global North and Global South alike.

Meeting with Denis Mukwege’s Université Evangélique en Afrique

On January 14, 2019, the RLC Bonn hosted a work meeting with representatives from the Université Evangélique en Afrique (UEA). Denis Mukwege, who received the Right Livelihood Award in 2013 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, is the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health of the UEA.
During the meeting, Dr. Germaine Furaha (Mukwege`s Professorship-UEA Manager) , Rudolf Heinrichs-Drinshaus (international cooperation manager at UEA) , Dr. Till Stellmacher (RLC Bonn coordinator), and Tiemo Pokraka (RLC Global Secretariat coordinator) and discussed possibilities of cooperation between UEA and RLC.

RLA Laureate’s feature documentary screening in Bonn

On Monday, March 25, 2019, the Adult Education Center in Bonn showed the feature documentary on RLA Laureate Yacouba Sawadogo: “The Man Who Stopped the Desert”. Directed by Mark Dodd, it tells Yacouba’s incredible story in Burkina Faso, turning barren land into forest and demonstrating how farmers can regenerate their soil with innovative use of indigenous and local knowledge.

After the film, RLC Bonn Coordinator Dr. Till Stellmacher (RLC Campus Bonn) and Dr. Viridiana Alcántara Cervantes (Federal Office for Agriculture and Food) discussed how Yacouba’s technique can tackle climate change and desertification.

PhD student Alejandro Mora-Motta publishes article on tree plantations in Chile

RLC PhD student Alejandro Mora-Motta (Bonn and Valdivia) published an article on "Tree Plantations in Chile: Towards a more sustainable model". The article addresses Chilean pine and eucalyptus plantations and the restructuring of forestry policy from extractivism towards a more sustainable model. Mora-Motta argues that the practical and discursive elements of forestry policies offer opportunities for a new expansive phase of plantations.

Please click here to retrieve the full article in Spanish.

Bibliographical Note:
Mora-Motta, A. (2019) "Tree Plantations in Chile: Towards a more sustainable model". In: Gestión y Ambiente, Vol. 21/2 , pp. 100-111.

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