klimafit Wins the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the AWI’s Transfer Prize 2020

10 March 2021

34 community colleges in 2020 – 66 community colleges in 2021, 61% learning success in the area of climate protection and adaptation, and 50% learning success in the area of regional effects, as well as 1,000 multipliers trained to date – those are results to be proud of.

Background of the prize
Knowledge and technology transfer activities from science to society are becoming increasingly important at the AWI: science-based political decisions and technological and social innovations are vital components of ensuring the continuing existence of societies that are highly technological and globally more and more complexly interconnected. However, the core funding of our academic system (university and non-university institutions alike) is still largely evaluated and secured on the basis of scientific excellence. In comparison, technological inventions and innovations, as well as work at the interface between research and applications in society, are considered lower priorities. With its Transfer Prize for AWI employees’ outstanding knowledge and technology transfer efforts, the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the AWI seeks to raise awareness for the importance of this area, both within the AWI and beyond, and to increase its visibility. By doing do, it also underscores how the AWI is embedded in society and provides additional motivation for these activities in the future.  

The klimafit project
Climate protection is a joint effort, and the Paris climate goals can only be achieved with active public participation, particularly at the local level. In the context of this goal, ‘klimafit – Climate change on our doorstep. What can I do?’, a project jointly coordinated by the Helmholtz Climate Initiative ‘Regional Climate Change’ (REKLIM) and the WWF Germany, has been doing vital work in adult education on the topics of climate change and climate protection since 2018. klimafit trains new multipliers for climate protection in local communities, and as such plays an important part in helping society develop in a more sustainable direction.

Climate education takes place at community colleges, which collectively represent Germany’s largest adult education institution. The project is supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation and Klaus Tschira Foundation. Over six evenings, the course not only explains the scientific basics, but also provides opportunities for networking with regional experts, climate initiatives and local authorities. A core element of the course focuses on how to become personally involved in climate protection. In this context, klimafit has developed the klimafit Challenge, which allows individuals to calculate and reduce their CO2 emissions using 15 practical, everyday measures. By expanding on the tried and tested course format, the aim of klimafit is to provide a substantial number of citizens, a ‘critical mass’, with the necessary skills and knowledge to support the implementation of the German federal government’s 2030 climate protection programme at the local level over the next decade. In the long term, the plan is for 20-30% of the more than 900 community colleges across the country to offer the course. Since being introduced, the project has been improved and adapted to suit participants’ needs on the basis of continuous evaluations; further, its impact has been assessed as part of accompanying sociological research by REKLIM’s project partners at Universität Hamburg. As a result, the entire chain, from knowledge to action, to changed behaviour, is visibly implemented in the field.

“The prize is an especially appreciated acknowledgment of the successful, years-long work done in klimafit. Knowledge transfer – as an increasingly important aspect of research – must be kept in mind, implemented and recognised. In this context, the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the AWI’s Transfer Prize is an important tool!” says Dr Klaus Grosfeld (Managing Director of REKLIM), explaining the significance of the award.  

Dr Renate Treffeisen, klimafit Project Manager at the AWI, adds: “We plan to use the money attached to the prize to support the klimafit association, which we founded last year. The purpose of the association is to secure funding for the klimafit project, and to use that funding for courses at the local level.”

The entire klimafit team, which includes a diverse range of supporters, helpers and contributors, is thrilled and proud to have received the award. The core klimafit team consists of: Dr Renate Treffeisen, Dr Klaus Grosfeld and Nadine Hillenbrand from the AWI; the cooperation partners Bettina Münch-Epple, Nadja Kulikowa, Cindy Klettke and Tina Harms from the WWF Germany; and Prof Beate Ratter and Dr Martin Döring from Universität Hamburg. Other important partners include the community colleges and the regional klimafit Hubs. The project is the outcome of bringing together a broad range of competencies and passionate, dedicated colleagues, whose blood, sweat and tears are what made it into what it is today.

Dr Klaus Grosfeld and Dr Renate Treffeisen accept the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the AWI’s Transfer Prize on behalf of the klimafit team.

Contact: Dr Klaus Grosfeld und Dr Renate Treffeisen