Dr Heide Hackmann to lead new Africa-Europe Cluster of Research Excellence on Politics of Sustainable Development

Dr Heide Hackmann, Director of Future Africa at the University of Pretoria, has been selected to lead the new Cluster of Research Excellence (CoRE) titled “The Politics of Sustainable Development: Squaring the Circle of Science and Democracy” in collaboration with Professor Dan Banik at the University of Oslo’s Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM).

This development follows the launch of three pioneering Africa-Europe CoREs by the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild), on 25 September 2023.

The new CoRE will bring together a diverse team of researchers from various academic disciplines, including the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and law to uncover the nature of politics around sustainable development, how it affects political decisions, and how these are contested. The team will also develop new PhD programmes with a focus on leadership for sustainable societal transformation.

“The politics of sustainable development has often been overlooked,” says Dr Heide Hackmann. “Despite initial euphoria, progress on achieving the 2030 Agenda and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been decidedly mixed. We aim to generate original research that directly relates to policymaking and public action. We are also committed to ensuring that the voices and priorities of Global South nations, particularly regarding energy security, agriculture, and healthcare, are heard in global discussions on sustainable development.”

The CoRE team will focus on developing a knowledge base on governance for sustainable development and strengthening the science-policy interface required for societal transformation. In addition, the team will also train a minimum of 40 PhDs at participating universities in Africa over 10 years. These future leaders will receive training in applying evidence-based research findings to design and implement policies related to climate and sustainable development in Africa and Europe.

Apart from the University of Pretoria and the University of Oslo, the CoRE will include collaboration with partners from these institutions: University of Nairobi, the University of Addis Ababa, UCLouvain, the University of Malawi, and Utrecht University.

About the Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence (CoRE)

The Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence (CoRE) brings together distinguished researchers from universities and research institutes across both continents, from ARUA, The Guild and beyond the two networks. Each addresses a key societal challenge, framed by the Global Gateway’s AU-EU Innovation Agenda, in the context of local perspectives to ensure maximum scientific and societal impact. Since the launch of this Africa-Europe research cooperation initiative in June 2022, there are now 20 CoRE’s, involving over 250 researchers in 60 Universities as well as research institutes.

Read more about the new CORE launch here


We aim to generate original research that directly relates to policymaking and public action.

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Dr Heide Hackmann- Director of Future Africa and Strategic Advisor on Transdisciplinarity and Global Knowledge Networks at the University of Pretoria