VisionThrough our research, Research Unit (RU) Environment and Society aims to develop recommendations and solutions for the sustainable use of natural resources for the well-being of humans and the environment.
To achieve this, a better understanding of how political, economic and societal actors interact with the complex environmental relations and processes on local, region, and global levels is required. Our research fosters innovative strategies and instruments which integrate ecological processes and social needs.
Usage of energy, land, water, raw material, and ecosystem services is rising at an ever increasing rate. Scarcity and the unequal distribution of resources lead to conflicts, which influence the foundations of humanity and threaten the quality of life. These conflicts are particularly observable in urban areas. Living spaces and ecosystems are damaged and pollutants seep the environment. It thus appears meaningful to call for fundamental socio-ecological transformation processes to develop and design human-environmental relations in a sustainable manner. This requires a far-reaching system-wide understanding of processes of sustainable transformation as well as integrated analyses and assessments towards developing environmental governance processes that secures the participation of civil society into decision making processes.
RU Environment and Society addresses many research questions related to how societal transformations towards sustainability can be designed and fostered. The questions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Who are the drivers of societal transformations?
- If traditional national policy instruments do not work for environmental issues, which ones will work?
- What are best solutions for environmental problems and at which scales (from local to global)?
- How can technological solutions contribute to transformations?
- How should the spatial dimensions of sustainable transformations be taken into account to make specific ecological and social costs assessable?
- Which services do we expect from ecosystems and what would we be prepared to pay for them?
- How can conflicts and trade-offs be resolved if different stakeholders have different and even contradictory knowledge sets?
- Can different needs and requirements for the utilization of water and energy resources, land or protected assets be responsibly integrated?
- How can socially just environmental processes be fostered?