DBU project funding

The DBU funds innovative, exemplary and solution-oriented projects for the protection of the environment.

DBU Projektförderung © TSUNG-LIN WU - stock.adobe.com

The funding activities focus on environmental technology and research, nature conservation, environmental communication and protection of cultural assets, with special consideration of small and medium-sized enterprises. 

The current 13 funding topics are:

  • 1. Instruments and competencies of sustainability assessment, and reinforcement of sustainability consciousness and practice
  • 2. Sustainable nutrition and sustainable management of foods
  • 3. Development, design and acceptance of environmentally-friendly movable consumer goods
  • 4. Renewable energies – accelerating a revolution in decentralized heating, optimizing existing facilities and reducing negative environmental impacts
  • 5. Climate- and resource-saving construction
  • 6. Energy- and resource-saving neighborhood development and renewal
  • 7. Reduction of CO2 emissions in energy-intensive industries
  • 8. Resource efficiency through innovative materials technology
  • 9. Flow management and efficient use of phosphorus and environmentally critical metals
  • 10. Reduction of nitrogen use in agriculture
  • 11. Integrated concepts and measures for the protection and management of groundwater and surface waters
  • 12. Nature protection and sustainable use of nature in human-modified environments and protected areas
  • 13. Preservation and securing of valuable national cultural assets against harmful environmental influences

Beyond these areas there is the DBU’s “open topic” support. In this area, any projects with important environmentally-related impacts are supported which are consistent with the statutory goals of the DBU.

Please note our detailed information (in German) at https://www.dbu.de/antragstellung.


Funding criteria

  • Environmental benefit: new measures for the protection of the environment and the reduction of environmental degradation.
  • Innovation: advancement beyond the current state of knowledge.
  • Exemplary and model character: the project should be of broad interest. Market implementation should be possible within a short period of time


Background and goals of our funding policy

On the basis of the foundation’s goals and mission statement, the DBU supports and nurtures innovative, exemplary and solution-oriented model projects for the protection of the environment. It pursues these goals under the rubric of sustainable development in its ecological, economic, social and cultural aspects, with special consideration of small- and medium-sized businesses in their dynamic diversity. In this sense, environmental protection can also be understood as health protection.

The DBU’s support offerings are thus oriented towards interdisciplinary funding topics, which are constantly being adapted to the changing requirements of environmental protection. This also opens up the possibility, by supporting a wide range of research areas, of taking up the innovative ideas of project partners, and encouraging innovative environmental protection initiatives with special significance, which lie in areas outside the narrowly-defined support subjects.

Complex environmental problems can only be brought under control through approaches which integrate interdisciplinary and systemic action with a practical social basis. DBU support programs are intended to set accents, and thus consistently integrate in their spectrum of support areas the statutory fields of endeavor. The DBU sees the crucial challenges above all in the areas of climate change, biodiversity loss, unsustainable consumption of resources, and harmful emissions. The support areas thereby address both current scientific findings on planetary limits, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The research, development and use of new environmentally-friendly technologies and products compatible with precautionary environmental protection, the preservation and restoral of the nation’s natural heritage, and the encouragement of environmental consciousness and related behavior in the population through information and environmental education measures, receive equal consideration and balanced treatment in the support areas. As an important “cross-cutting” issue, digitalization also has a presence.


Submission of applications and procedure

In the submission of applications for funding, natural and legal persons under private and public law are eligible. The support takes the form of an appropriated, non-refundable grant. The grant can be made in various amounts based on project and applicant. The DBU supports additional measures for disseminating and consolidating project results.

The informally submitted application should provide information regarding:
• the funding recipient,
• subject matter and objective of the project,
• the status of the related knowledge/technology,
• the estimated cost of the project,
• the budget broken down by cost type,
• the type of financing,
• the finance plan,
• type and scope of the performance,
• begin date and duration of the project,
• continuation of the project,
• financial aid from other funding programs.

For the purpose of an initial project proposal assessment, the DBU can be given a brief, informative project sketch. If the proposal is basically consistent with the DBU’s support criteria, the business office will request the submission of an extended application.

The DBU evaluates incoming project sketches and applications for support, requests any needed or relevant additional information, conducts technical discussions with applicants, and requests positions and expert opinions from third parties. The Board of Trustees or the General Secretary render decisions on acceptance of the applications.

DBU support is subject to EU eligibility criteria (Art. 107, 108, Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union [AEUV]).

On November 25th, 2015 the DBU Advisory Board unanimously approved the current funding guidelines for the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, DBU), which came into force on January 1st, 2016.

Information on application and project implementation
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