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Interview | “Sustainable use of our resources is of existential importance”

An Interview with Christof Bosch, grandson of Robert Bosch

Developments at Robert Bosch Stiftung

Dr. Christof Bosch, 58, grandson of Robert Bosch, chairman of the Robert Bosch Foundation board of trustees and forester, manages a farm with approximately a hundred cattle in the alpine foothills of Bavaria. In an interview with Julia Rommel he explains that sustainability is a matter of our priorities – and why it is essential for health, education and peace.



In view of major global challenges such as war and terror worldwide, it seems almost a luxury to address the problem of sustainability. Is the subject a luxury in your opinion?

Christof Bosch:  It is a fact that we are increasingly reaching the limits of our natural resources for meeting people’s needs. Sustainable use of our resources is therefore of existential importance. However, we often take only an interest in ‘soft factors’ of sustainability, such as the aesthetics of the landscape, once we meet our basic needs. But securing those basic needs in the long term is precisely the main goal of sustainability. Only from our relatively comfortable vantage point can it look as if sustainability is a luxury problem.


What role does technology play in sustainability?

C. Bosch: The question of sustainability first arises due to technological progress. The subject only arose once people started to interfere with nature, for example, by farming or developing weapons that could be used to exterminate animals. And the process continues at an increasingly rapid pace. As interference with the biosphere increases due to technical progress and technology, it becomes more and more important to consider the sustainability of that interference. Technology is only useful when it does not destroy our livelihoods. However, every land usage system is technical, whether traditional or ultramodern, which is why each sustainability problem can only be solved with the help of technology.


Sustainability is often set in opposition to technology ...

C. Bosch: It is a common misunderstanding that sustainability is synonymous with maintaining the status quo. This cannot be the case, because we live in an evolving world in which the only constant is change. As a result, sustainability has to adapt to evolving conditions. If we were to attempt to bring technological progress to a halt, global population growth would nevertheless remain extremely unsustainable for many years to come. The goal is therefore to shape development rather than impede it. It is true that our use of the biosphere is changing faster and faster, but change has been the case ever since human development began. Even hunter-gatherers did not really have a sustainable lifestyle, because they lost their nutritional resources in many areas due to overhunting.


Many people have the feeling that sustainable behavior primarily means giving things up, for example, driving cars less often or eating less meat. How can this impression be overcome?

C. Bosch: This is obviously only the case for a society that lives in abundance. And upon closer examination it becomes clear that this way of thinking concerns individual purchasing decisions. If I want to take a trip around the world and can afford it, then I will actually take the trip. By contrast, there are other goods that can only be owned collectively. If, for example, I buy a new heater that causes less air pollution rather than traveling the world, I do not automatically receive the clean air I helped make possible. I only get it when other people do the same thing. It’s only because we fail to consider how our decisions affect society as a whole that we get the impression that sustainable behavior is a question of giving things up. The real question is what is more important to me.


Read the rest of the interview in the sustainability magazine of the Robert Bosch Foundation. For the online magazine and PDF version click here.

News | Running up high for a good cause

Bosch fire brigade takes part in the SkyRun 2017

On the occasion of the SkyRun at the Frankfurt trade fair tower, amateur and professional athletes ran up a total of 61 stories, 1,202 steps, and 222 meters in altitude. Initiated in 2007, the annual charity event is Europe’s highest staircase race. Proceeds go toward the  “Arbeitsgemeinschaft für QUErschnittgelähmte mit Spina bifida / Rhein-Main-Nahe e.V. (ARQUE)“, an organization that supports people born with spinal paralysis (Spina Bifida) and hydrocephalus, a disorder that leads to the excessive accumulation of fluid on the brain. As a self-help group, for over 40 years ARQUE has helped children, young people, and adults with disabilities lead independent lives.


Stefan Reinhart (Gerlingen Schillerhöhe),  Florian Eggers (Schwieberdingen), Stefan Marienthal (Gerlingen Schillerhöhe)


More than 1,200 staircase runners ran up the high rise, which is located in Frankfurt’s west end. The Bosch fire brigade from the Gerlingen-Schillerhöhe location took part in the event for the fourth time. In the “sprint” category, Stefan Marienthal and Stefan Reinhart tackled the steep climb. With their colleague Florian Eggers from Schwieberdingen, they were also the fastest team to take part in the “Fire Fighter’s Cup” portion of the SkyRun. The teams of three completed the run in full firefighting gear, including helmets, protective suits, boots. With team member Andreas Quett, the pair also mastered a major challenge in the “FFC-ELITE” category: here, the firefighters completed the entire race with their breathing apparatus, and got air through their breathing masks.


Stefan Reinhart,  Andreas Quett (Gerlingen Schillerhöhe), Stefan Marienthal


In the end, Stefan Marienthal and Stefan Reinhart had completed three races and climbed more than 3,600 steps, 180 stories, and 660 meters in altitude. Their achievement was honored with the XFire-SUPER-TRIPLE-CUP. And their efforts paid off: In total, SkyRun participants raised around 50,000 euros for ARQUE.


Andreas Quett, Stefan Reinhart


More information on the Bosch fire brigade can be found here.

News | On a mission to reduce emissions

Bosch takes a seat at the UN Roundtable to talk about eco-friendly growth

On June 15, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) hosted a roundtable in Moscow that was attended by 50 high-ranking representatives from business, science, and politics. In a plenary session in the Russian capital, the experts discussed eco-friendly growth under the banner of “Business and Climate: Strategies for low-carbon development. Success stories from Russia and the world”.



The first part of the event focused on national emission reduction strategies. In addition, the participants discussed tools that can be applied to support emission reduction initiatives. The contributions of Russian delegates as well as representatives of the German and British embassies, Ellen von Zitzewitz und Philip Douglas, were the main subjects of discussion. The embassies of both countries helped organize the discussion forum.

The afternoon was then dedicated to the world of business. More specifically, discussions focused on the profitability of companies against the backdrop of increasingly demanding climate protection requirements. In addition to this, the forum addressed corporate systems for the management of greenhouse gas emissions. Hansjürgen Overstolz, President and CEO of Bosch Russia, spoke about how the carbon footprint of companies can be reduced throughout the value chain.

From 2007 to 2016, Bosch reduced its CO₂ emissions relative to value added by 30.6 percent. By 2020, the figure is expected to be 35 percent. To achieve this goal, Bosch has made growing use of renewable sources of energy and implemented energy-saving measures at many of its locations. More information on the ways in which Bosch is contributing to SDG 13 and thus supporting the United Nations’ sustainability targets can be found in the Sustainability Report 2016.

News | The highest standard in environmental protection

The future ISO 14002 will support the operational set-up of ISO 14001

The transitional phase is ongoing: for almost two years now, it has been possible for organizations that obtain ISO 14001 certification to implement the 2015 version of the norm. This process must be completed by September 15, 2018. For this reason, the revised requirements of the world’s most important environmental norm are gaining significance for some 300,000 companies around the globe that operate in line with ISO 14001. At its plenary session in Halifax, Canada, which took place from June 7 to 16, 2017 the ISO/TC 207 technical committee thus initiated activities that will help companies meet future requirements. These include the drafting of the ISO 14002 norm, which Bosch is helping develop as part of Working Group 11.


250 experts from 40 countries travelled to ISO/TC 207’s plenary meeting in Halifax, Canada. The picture shows the German delegation.


ISO 14002 focuses primarily on improvements in the practical implementation of ISO 14001: 2015. The guideline norm also aims to help users gain a better understanding of the relationship between environmental factors and environmental conditions. The first part of ISO 14002, which was initiated in Halifax, will provide the basis for this. The parts to follow will address different environmental factors, such as water, resources, and biodiversity. Part 1 of ISO 14002 will be completed by 2020.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, companies, public authorities, and other public institutions around the world have been able to have their environmental management systems certified with the ISO 14001 standard. The version from the fall of 2015 brought forth changes in four areas: not only is the ecological impact of business activities included, the standard now also considers the ways in which organizations respond to changing environmental conditions. It now also focuses less on improving environmental management systems, and more on optimizing environmental performance. In addition, the revised standard requires that top management assume greater responsibility for environmental issues by driving this process of optimization forward. Finally, companies need to apply the revised requirements to their organizations’ internal and external communication.


Anne Marie Warris (left)), chairperson of the ISO/TC 207’s subcommittee 1 for the standardization of environmental management systems, and Sheila Leggett, the new chairperson of the ISO/TC 207 technical committee, with Bernhard Schwager.


Around 300,000 organizations around the world have ISO 14001 certification, 120,000 thereof in Europe. In Germany alone, over 8,000 organizations use this standard. And Bosch is among them: all locations have already implemented environmental management systems based on ISO 14001. By the end of 2016, more than 296 locations, or 87 percent, had been externally certified.

More information on systematic environmental management and the Bosch Group’s corporate environmental key figures can be found in the Sustainability Report under Sustainable Development Goal 13.

News | Chatting for your health

Bosch launches online social counselling for associates

Last year, members of Germany’s public insurance companies missed an average of 36 days of work for mental health reasons. According to the BKK Health Report 2016, the number of sick days due to psychological ailments more than doubled between 2005 and 2015. With the aim of helping its associates even more, Bosch is now the first company in Germany to offer its in-house social counselling service for associates online. “In-house social counselling can contribute to maintaining the health of our associates,” explains Christoph Kübel, member of the board of management and director of industrial relations at Robert Bosch GmbH. “With the online offer, it is now even easier for them to get support“.



Easy access, low inhibition threshold

On the new social counselling website, more than 100,000 Bosch associates in Germany can now get in touch with the experts at the company’s in-house social counselling service. The new point of contact makes it easier for associates to get advice. They can use the service from anywhere at any time, also from their smart phones and home computers. Associates and counsellors communicate via email, or live in individual and expert chats. Just like personal meetings, all digital conversations remain confidential. This makes it easier to talk about sensitive issues related to mental health, stress management, and crisis management.  “With our online counselling services, we are reaching associates who may have been too afraid or ashamed to seek help in the past,” says Michaela Noe-Bertram, head of in-house counselling services at Bosch.

Comprehensive healthcare

With its online counselling services, Bosch has further expanded its healthcare services for associates. In 2015, the company added prevention, rehabilitation, and integration measures related to mental health. The aim is to detect psychological problems early on, raise awareness among associates and their supervisors, and make integrated help services available. In addition to the in-house counselling service, the network also includes Bosch health services and the company’s more than 400 sport and leisure time groups.

More information on the new online social counselling service be found here (Only available in German).