To achieve a sustainable use of natural resources for the well-being of humans and the environment through societal change processes.
We need to understand how stakeholders from the political arena, the economy and society will react to certain environmental issues, which basic conditions and interests propel them to act in the way that they do, how they make decisions and under which circumstances they are prepared to compromise.
Endless demands on nature and society’s insatiable appetite for food, energy, land, (raw)materials and products of various kinds continue to grow and lack sufficient coordination, fundamentally changing landscapes and ecosystems. Harmful substances penetrate into the environment. Human health and well-being are compromised just as much as the integrity of nature – to an increasing degree and globally.
The necessary transformation processes in the economy and to our ways of life will not be possible without resistance or conflicts.
At the same time, democratically legitimate social participation that respects the right of freedom is being given much greater consideration these days in decision-making processes. With the globalization of the economy and increasing cross-border environmental issues, individual countries now have much less influence on relationships between people and their environment. It is evident that the fundamental and necessary transformation processes in the economy and to our ways of life that lie ahead of us will not be possible without resistance and conflicts.
How can this societal transformation be designed and controlled? If traditional national control instruments do not work for environmental issues, which ones will work: requirements, prohibitions, planning? Does the protection of water and ecosystem services require higher prices? Which services do we expect from ecosystems and what would we be prepared to pay for them? How can conflicts be resolved if different stakeholders have different needs and requirements for the utilisation of water and energy resources, land or protected assets? How should cultural, political or religious aspects be dealt with?