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NCCR North-South - Research Partnerships for Sustainable Development

Thank you for visiting the website of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South. The NCCR North-South programme formally ended in June 2014.

Please note that the content of this website will no longer be updated.

Publications: Books

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Guidelines for Integrative Training in Inter- and Transdisciplinary Research Settings: Hints and Tools for Trainers of Trainers

Karl Herweg, Natalie Schäfer, Anne B. Zimmermann, 2012

Research on global change and sustainable development issues requires a transdisciplinary approach, which implies close cooperation both between different scientific disciplines (interdisciplinarity), and between scientists and other societal actors. This, in turn, calls for a training approach that supports this type of research. We refer to this training as “integrative training”, i.e. training that integrates students from different scientific disciplines, brings together researchers and practitioners, and takes into account different cultures in academic training. The training is based on “case-study-based learning”, implemented in 8- to 10-day courses in environments that offer options for 2- to 3-day fieldwork activities on complex global change issues. The present guidelines offer practical assistance for trainers who wish to design, plan, and conduct training events in complex research settings. Print copies are available at: nccr-north-south[at]

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Handbook of Transdisciplinary Research

Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn, Susette Biber-Klemm, Walter Grossenbacher-Mansuy, Holger Hoffmann-Riem, Dominique Joye, Christian Pohl, Urs Wiesmann, Elisabeth Zemp, 2008


Handbook of Transdisciplinary Research: The emergence of Transdisciplinarity as a Form of Research

Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn, Susette Biber-Klemm, Walter Grossenbacher-Mansuy, Holger Hoffmann-Riem, Dominique Joye, Christian Pohl, Urs Wiesmann, Elisabeth Zemp, 2007

By transgressing disciplinary paradigms and surpassing the practical problems of single actors, transdisciplinary research is challenged by the following requirements: to grasp the complexity of the problems, to take into account the diversity of scientific and societal views of the problems, to link abstract and case specific knowledge, and to constitute knowledge with a focus on problem-solving for what is perceived to be the common good. Transdisciplinary research relates to three types of knowledge: systems knowledge, target knowledge and transformation knowledge, and reflects their mutual dependencies in the research process. Research that addresses problems in the life-world comprises the phase of problem identification and problem structuring, the phase of problem investigation and the phase of bringing results to fruition.

In: Hirsch Hadorn G et al, editors. Handbook of Transdisciplinary Research. Springer Verlag.

Available from: Springer Verlag.

La reconstrucción de lo público

Movimiento social, ciudadanía y gestión de agua en Cochabamba

Sabine Hoffmann, Bernardo Rozo, Luis Tapia, Jorge Viaña, 2006

La Paz, Muela del Diablo

¿A dónde va Bolivia?

Gobernancia, gobernabilidad y democratización

Marc Hufty, Claude Auroi, Manuel de la Fuente, 2005

La Paz: Plural Editores, NCCR North-South

Jeux de gouvernance

Marc Hufty, Alexandre Dormeier Freire, Vanessa Neumann, Pauline Plagnat, 2007

Paris, Karthala, iuéd

A World Soils Agenda

Discussing International Actions for the Sustainable Use of Soils

Hans Hurni, Konrad Meyer, 2002

Bern, Geographica Bernensia

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Context, conceptual framework and sustainability indicators. Agriculture at a crossroads. Global report. Chapter 1.

Hans Hurni, 2009



Global Change and Sustainable Development: A Synthesis of Regional Experiences from Research Partnerships

Hans Hurni, Urs Wiesmann, 2010

Humankind today is challenged by numerous threats brought about by the speed and scope of global change dynamics. A concerted and informed approach to solutions is needed to face the severity and magnitude of current development problems. Generating shared knowledge is a key to addressing global challenges. This requires developing the ability to cross multiple borders wherever radically different understandings of issues such as health and environmental sanitation, governance and conflict, livelihood options and globalisation, and natural resources and development exist.

Global Change and Sustainable Development presents 36 peer-reviewed articles written by interdisciplinary teams of authors who reflected on results of development-oriented research conducted from 2001 to 2008. Scientific activities were – and continue to be – carried out in partnerships involving people and institutions in the global North, South and East, guided by principles of sustainability. The articles seek to inform solutions for mitigating, or adapting to, the negative impacts of global dynamics in the social, political, ecological, institutional and economic spheres.

For the print version, please send your order to: (price: CHF 45.00 / EUR 30.00, excluding postage)

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Land Degradation and Sustainable Land Management in the Highlands of Ethiopia

Hans Hurni, Salomon Abate , Berhanu Debele, Ernst Gabathuler, Eva Ludi, Brigitte Portner, Birru Yitaferu, 2010

The Ethiopian Highlands cover over 50% of the country and are home to more than 90% of Ethiopia's population of over 80 million people (estimate for 2010); 60% of the livestock and 90% of the area suited for agriculture are also located here. Although more than 90% of the Highlands was once forested, today a mere 20% of this area is covered by trees, and the percentage
of forest cover is less than 4%. This is evidence of a high incidence of degradation of vegetation in the past, which has continued to the present. Land-use and land-cover changes have been particularly dynamic in the 20th century, during which climate change also began to have effects; wildlife in natural habitats have been restricted to those few areas that were preserved naturally due to rugged topography or natural aridity. Soil erosion has been severe throughout the Highlands, but mainly on agricultural land; the current
severity and extent of soil degradation seriously threaten food security. [...]

In: Hurni H, Wiesmann U, editors; with an international group of co-editors. Global Change and Sustainable Development: A Synthesis of Regional Experiences from Research Partnerships. Perspectives of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South, University of Bern, Vol. 5. Bern, Switzerland: Geographica Bernensia, pp 187-207.


Research for Mitigating Syndromes of Global Change

A Transdisciplinary Appraisal of Selected Regions of the World to Prepare Development-Oriented Research Partnerships

Hans Hurni, Roland Schertenleib, Urs Wiesmann, 2004

Bern, Geographica Bernensia

Soil erosion and conservation in global agriculture

Hans Hurni, Karl Herweg, Hanspeter Liniger, Brigitte Portner, 2008

Land-use change is one of the main drivers of many environmental change processes. It influences the basic resources of land use, including the soil. Its impact on soil often occurs so creepingly that land managers hardly contemplate initiating ameliorative or counterbalance measures. Poor land management has degraded vast amounts of land, reduced our ability to produce enough food, and is a major threat to rural livelihoods in many developing countries.
To date, there has been no single unifying volume that addresses the multifaceted impacts of land use on soils. This book has responded to this challenge by bringing together renowned academics and policy experts to analyze the patterns, driving factors and proximate causes, and the socioeconomic impacts of soil degradation. Policy measures to prevent irreversible degradation and rehabilitate degraded soils are also identified.

In: Braimoh AK, Vlek PLG, editors. Land Use and Soil Resources. Dordrecht, The Netherlands; London, UK: Springer, pp 41–71.

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Soils on the global agenda

Developing International Mechanisms for Sustainable Land Management

Hans Hurni, Markus Giger, Konrad Meyer, 2006

Bern, Geographica Bernensia on behalf of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS)

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The NCCR North-South is hosted by the University of Bern
and funded jointly by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation