Societal Transformations towards Sustainability

Increasing societal demands on scarce environmental resources, their unequal distribution and wasteful use are leading to environmental problems and intensifying conflicts of use. This affects the quality of human life as well as societal development opportunities and requires a change of direction. Together with stakeholders from politics, administration and civil society, we develop recommendations for action for social transformations towards a more sustainable management of environmental resources and multifunctional landscapes.

The loss of biodiversity and accelerating climate change threaten human well-being and the development opportunities of future generations. It has long been recognised that they are the consequence of society's current approach to nature and its ecosystem services. A profound societal change – a Great Transformation – is necessary to achieve sustainable ways of living. But how far have we already come with our efforts? What challenges lie ahead? What promotes and what hinders the implementation of sustainability transformations? What are suitable options for achieving the manifold and ambitious sustainability goals?

Balancing the use of environmental resources and the conservation of biodiversity and its services to humans requires an understanding of the interplay of the complex social, technical and ecological aspects of the human-nature relationship. To this end, we analyse in our social science research how social change processes take place, which factors influence environmentally relevant behaviour and what significance narratives and governance structures have for sustainability efforts. In cooperation with other research units of the UFZ and in direct exchange with societal actors, we develop recommendations for a more sustainable organisation of human coexistence and use of environmental resources.

We bundle our research on the Integration Platform "Societal Transformations towards Sustainability". Here, we are working in five projects to develop inter- and transdisciplinary solutions for important societal challenges:

Schema: Projects of IP6