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Organizing, preparing and coordinating an e-learning module

3. April 2020


ZEU members have been active in developing e-learning modules for many years, such as the module course “Land governance for sustainable land use in Africa”. Senior researcher Dr. Nozila Mukhamedova at the Professorship for Agricultural, Food and Environmental Policy of JLU interviewed ZEU colleague Dr. Irina Solovyeva about her experience in organizing, preparing and coordinating this e-learning module. Irina also shared her personal experience and the latest expertise in setting up virtual learning environments. The interview was conducted in Russian in order to make it available for the current SUSADICA programme (Structured doctoral programme Sustainable agricultural development in Central Asia) and new cooperation partners of the SDG Nexus network in Central Asia. The interview includes English subtitles.

Further information

Presentation - "Limits to Ideal Free Distributions in Pastoralist Systems" by Dr. Sarah Robinson

Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 13-15h

Location: Zeughaus, first floor, room Ze-S4

The research looks at the spatial distribution of livestock in two arid regions of Central Asia under different economic conditions and property rights regimes. Economic theory suggests that exclusive property rights allow land users to capture maximum rents through exclusion of others, and to avoid the tragedy of the commons.  In contrast, ecological theory predicts a spatial matching of consumers and resources called an ideal free distribution which allows consumers to maximise their food intake in a shifting environment. We hypothesise that an ideal free distribution of domestic livestock would be the outcome of a pastoralist system in which property rights are weak or absent and economic costs to movement low. We mapped livestock distributions at case study areas in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, testing metrics related to resource matching using water supply and vegetation datasets. We found that in Turkmenistan livestock owners respond to water and vegetation availability, enabled by large herd sizes, cheap fuel, collective herding institutions and weak cadastral boundaries. In Kazakhstan, herd fragmentation and high costs of site occupation have caused migratory systems to break down, reducing the role of resource density in herder decision making and resulting in a mismatch between grazing pressure and available resources.


Sarah Robinson has worked on rural livelihoods and pastoralist systems in Central Asia since 1997, focussing on the interaction of biological, economic, and political factors on pastoralists and wildlife. She has recently worked on the project ‘Revitalising animal husbandry in Central Asia: A five-country analysis’ at Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO) and is a visiting researcher at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science at Oxford University.

New Competence Centre at Giessen University Takes a Look at UN Sustainability Goals


The goals the United Nations (UN) formulated with regards to sustainable development are to be implemented by all states around the globe until 2030. Disaccords and conflicting goals, though, could hamper the introduction of hugely necessary reforms and could stall the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Consequently, it is all the more important to create an international network as the one at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), which will deal with the relationships between the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Within the framework of the “exceed – University Excellence in Development Cooperation“ programme, promoted by the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD), the JLU successfully proposed its “SDGnexus Network“. For five years, starting in 2020, the DAAD will support the creation of this international research centre dealing with topics of the Agenda 2030 with an amount to the tune of 3.8 million euros.

As one of five supported centres nationwide, the Giessen “SDGnexus Network“ will concern itself with the UN’s 17 goals for sustainable development. The overall coordination at JLU lies in the hands of the Center for international Development and Environmental Research (ZEU), an interdisciplinary research centre based at the point of intersection of natural and social sciences. As early as January 2020, numerous scientists from a total of 21 partner institutions in six countries of Latin America and Central Asia will begin to concern themselves with the question of how to deal with the conflicting goals which have arisen due to contradictions within the UN sustainability agenda.

“The new competence centre of development cooperation is already the third major project within the framework of the DAAD’s excellence promotion formats at the JLU,“ says Prof Dr Dr Peter Kämpfer, Vice President for research and promotion of junior scientists, congratulating all those involved.  Apart from the “SDGnexus Network“, the other DAAD excellence centres of research and academic training are:

  • the excellence centre of marine sciences CEMarin and 
  • the German-Colombian Peace Institute (Instituto CAPAZ).

“In all three cases, the JLU has developed international consortia, in order to address the great challenges of our times in cooperation with strong partners,“ explains Prof Kämpfer the common aim, which is independent of each individual subject.

„The approval of such an ambitious project by the DAAD against the backdrop of a highly competitive procedure is a great honour for development research at the JLU,“ declares the ZEU’s spokesman, Prof Dr Lutz Breuer of the Professorship of Landscape, Water and Biogeochemical Cycle at Faculty 09 – Agricultural Sciences, Nutritional Sciences, and Environmental Management.

“Conflicting goals can be extremely diverse,“ reports Breuer and clarifies this, using the following example: The construction of a reservoir for the production of hydropower may have a negative impact on the availability of water for the people living downstream and on their access to said water. Furthermore, major projects usually involve a number of states.

“Obviously, rivers do not stop at nations‘ borders,“ says Breuer. “Water use conflicts between states may heat up quickly. Thus the potential for conflict has to be evaluated early on.“ Such conflicting goals can be identified for a great number of the 17 individual goals, which is why the envisioned global achievement of objectives of the SDG until 2030 is doubtful, at least in part and from a present-day perspective.

With the nexus approach, the Giessen network aims to develop possible solutions for this dilemma. At its core, the approach is to examine simultaneously the interactions between a number of sectors. Current quantitative studies show that nexus approaches reveal synergies and may disclose compromises between sectors. Thus, if implemented the right way, these methods can reduce negative surprises and can promote an integrated planning process, administration and governance. Still, the use and implementation of nexus approaches is, scientifically speaking, new ground; the network will approach this challenge purposefully.

In that respect, the SDGnexus Network does not only see its duty in conducting research concerning sustainability, but also aims to meet its own sustainability criteria. This means that, for example, the project’s CO2 footprint is to be quantified from the beginning and will be reduced even further in the long run. A part of the planned activities will be carried our virtually, in order to reduce the number of official trips.

Without close cooperation with already existing projects, such a nexus project could not be carried out successfully. Hence, it is planned to cooperate with JLU‘s already existing prestigious projects, for example with the DAAD Excellence Centre for Marine Sciences CEMarin, the DAAD German-Colombian Peace Institute (Instituto CAPAZ), both situated in Colombia, and with the agricultural doctoral programmes IPPAE at the JLU and SUSADICA in Central Asia. A close affiliation with international partners working in the practical field, as for instance the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the World Bank or UN institutions, has also been planned.

Workshop: "Post-War Land Use Change in Colombia"


The Workshop "Post-War Land Use Change in Colombia" took place on 4th to 6th September 2019 in the Senate Hall of the main building of the Justus Liebig University in Giessen.

The 22 participants from Colombia and Germany discussed the relations between land use and land rights in connection with the ongoing conflicts in Colombia. The Colombian guest professor at JLU, Prof. Dr. Ivan Lizarazo, had in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Lutz Breuer initiated the workshop to work on interdisciplinary solutions.

The president of the JLU, Prof. Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee, emphasized at the beginning of his opening speech that the topic of the workshop was at the heart of the conflict and therefore of great importance. The professors Dr. Francisco Gutierrez Sanin and Dr. Fabio Leiva of the Universidad Nacional in Bogotá, who flew in especially for this event, advanced the workshop with their comprehensive insights into their home country and their expertise.

In addition, many researchers from different disciplines gave talks in which the scientists linked their personal research focuses with the workshop topic so that the multidisciplinary of the meeting became clear. Furthermore, using methodological approaches, the participants developed concepts on topics such as water management, changes in land use and deforestation in Colombia. The scientists now want to develop further research questions that were raised within their newly founded groups and initiate new projects. The results shall contribute to the further development of the peace process in Colombia.


The event was generously funded by the DAAD and the Gießener Hochschulgesellschaft.

Post-War Land Use Change in Colombia3
Post-War Land Use Change in Colombia3
Congratulations to Sarah Hüller for successfully defending her PhD thesis


Sarah Hüller successfully defended her dissertation “Linking Agriculture and Tourism - A Qualitative Study on the Status and Perspectives of the Kazbegi Region in the Greater Caucasus” to earn her doctoral degree today.

The study was developed and implemented within the framework of the interdisciplinary research project "Scenario development for sustainable land use in the Greater Caucasus, Georgia (AMIES II)", which was a cooperation of JLU and three Georgian Universities. 

Thanks to the thesis reviewers Prof. I.-U. Leonhäuser (first supervisor, ZEU) and Prof. J. Aurbacher (second supervisor,  Chair for Agricultural Production Economics).

Thanks are also due to the Volkswagen Foundation for generously supporting the project.

Steffen Müller: Successful PhD Defense


Steffen Müller, formerly employed as a project coordinator at ZEU, successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "Integriertes Wasserressourcenmanagement - Rechtlich-administrativer Rahmen in Deutschland und Europa vor dem Hintergrund internationaler Vorgaben".

He did his research project at the Franz von Liszt-Institute for International and Comparative Law, supervised by Prof. Thilo Marauhn

Saltanat Sabitova: Successfully Defended PhD Thesis at ZEU


Saltanat successfully defended her PhD thesis titled "Implementation of the Kyoto protocol and post-Kyoto commitments in Kazakhstan: legal implications for land use".

The thesis was one of the results of the PhD programme "Land Use, Ecosystem Services and Human Welfare in Central Asia" for Central Asian junior scientist, funded by the VolkswagenStiftung.

The aim of the study was to explore to what extent the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities could be implemented in Kazakhstan within the legal framework of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. The research addresses political, legal and institutional problems of Kazakhstan's participation in the global climate change regime.

Dr. Vadim Ni (2nd supervisor), Saltanat Sabitova, Prof. Thilo Marauhn (1st supervisor) (left to right)
Impacts of home gardening on human nutrition in developing countries yet to be clarified:

ZEU members participate in workshop on ‘Home Gardens as a Coping Strategy in Crises and Humanitarian Emergencies’


Date: 27/04/19


The international workshop ‘Home Gardens as a Coping Strategy in Crises and Humanitarian Emergencies’ took place on the 2nd and 3rd April at the Welthungerhilfe headquarter offices in Bonn, Germany. The workshop was organised by the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ), led by Tilman Brück, as well as Professor Martin Petrick, member of ZEU and Dr. Heinz Peters from Welthungerhilfe. In total, more than 35 experts, from more than 10 countries from Europe, Asia and Africa, participated. 

The overall objective of the workshop was to advance knowledge of home and school gardens, resilience, food security, and related interventions. To do so, researchers and practitioners, who are working on the topics of home gardens in emergencies gathered at the workshop to deepen the understanding of how informal small-scale home gardening acts as a coping strategy to strengthen food and nutrition security as well as resilience of vulnerable households living under extreme uncertainty. Furthermore, the role of school and home gardens and its possible effects beyond food security, such as women empowerment, were also discussed. According to the workshop results, the evidence is still incomplete whether home gardening initiatives do improve the nutritional status of households in developing countries. However, several high-quality studies are currently underway to shed further light on this question. Prof. Dr. Martin Petrick, Gracia M. Glas and Tina Koch participated as ZEU members in the workshop.

The workshop in Bonn was the second meeting within the Home Gardens for Resilience and Recovery (HG4RR) network, after the Kick-off Workshop was held on the 13th and 14th December 2018 in Kathmandu. HG4RR aims to establish an international network of experts of researches and practitioners to enhance knowledge on topics related to home gardens, resilience and food security.

For more information.

Internship Possibilities

Internship possibilty


Usually, the ZEU internships last between 6-12 weeks. The internship will familiarize the intern with the ZEU’s current projects in, if possible, all its sections and to make him or her contribute to the projects’ preparation and implementation.


Professional, personal and formal requirements


You should 

  • be able to contribute professional know-how in development and environmental research;
  • have a good command of English;
  • be able to work in a team;
  • be able to work full-time at the ZEU (part-time work or a 4-day-week cannot be offered);
  • be enrolled as a Master student ;
  • provide verification that you will be serving an obligatory internship.


If you want to apply, please do so by an informal letter, containing information on the requested period of your internship,
  • your internship’s focus,
  • a short CV,
  • verification that your internship is obligatory; to this end, please refer to the relevant part of your study’s/faculty’s examination regulations.

For further information, please contact the ZEU’s managing director Dr. Matthias Höher .

For Giessen students only: Please note that FB 09 of JLU will not accept internships at the ZEU as it is an institution of JLU. Still, all students of FB 09 are also welcome at the ZEU!

For applicants of other universities: Please clarify with your faculty’s internship and examination office whether internships at the ZEU, as a university institution, will be accepted.



Please note: Free spaces available

as of October 1, 2020

Collecting folder-persons

Prof. Dr. Breitmeier appointed as a new board member

Date: 20/03/19

Helmut Breitmeier

Prof. Dr. Helmut Breitmeier was unanimously elected as a new member of the Executive Board on 13 February 2019 by the Center Council. Congratulations from the whole ZEU team, we are looking forward to a good teamwork.

Prof. Dr. Martin Petrick is the new Programme Director of MSc. "Transition Management"

Date: 19/03/19

Prof. Dr. Martin Petrick, professor of agricultural, food and environmental policy at Justus Liebig University Giessen, has been appointed by the Dean of Studies, Prof. Dr. Matthias Frisch (Faculty Agricultural Sciences, Nutritional Sciences, and Environmental Management), as the new Programme Director of the Master Programme "Transition Management".

Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU) – The Film

Collecting folder-events

Summer school “Climate Change Impacts on the MED Agro-Food Chain”

9-14 September 2019 at the Schloss Rauischholzhausen, in Hessen, Germany.

Justus-Liebig-University Giessen and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki organize the international summer school “Climate Change Impacts on the MED Agro-Food Chain” that takes place 9-14 September 2019 at the Schloss Rauischholzhausen, in Hessen, Germany.

Scientists from the two universities joined with renowned international experts, focus on the Mediterranean basin and share their knowledge and expertise to train postgraduates and prepare them for a future interdisciplinary thinking and research that optimally address the challenges of the agro-food chain in the Mediterranean.

International young researchers (master and doctoral students as well as young postdocs) from the broader climate, agriculture, nutrition, social sciences, economics, geography and relevant disciplines are welcome to participate to the school.

Application deadline: 2nd June 2019

Registration fee: 150 EUR (covers accommodation, meals and reading material).

Information and application available at:

Alumni Event 2019

In 1998, the Center for international Development and Envi­ron­mental Research (ZEU) was founded as the successor of various other research institutions. This makes it the oldest center at Justus Liebig University. Now, after 20 years, alumni had a chance to celebrate with their ZEU, to meet friends, acquaintances and former principals, and to gain insight into the Center’s current activities.

Photo album