InContext – Individuals in Context:
Supportive Environments for Sustainable Living


2011 – 2014


EU (FP7)


Why do policies aimed at initiating local and individual transition pathways towards sustainable development all too often not achieve the expected level of change? How should people be addressed to make them change? These questions will be addressed in the InContext project in theory and practice.

It will do so by addressing the complexity of the contexts of individual behaviour and how these should be taken into account when devising policies for transitions to sustainable development. InContext distinguishes two strands of contexts determining the opportunities (drivers) and constraints (barriers) shaping individual behaviours related to sustainable development:

  1. the external context of individual behaviour: politics, policies, infrastructure, social institutions, culture, habits, lifestyles (societal or structural factors),
  2. the internal context to individual behaviour: knowledge, personal interests, values, priorities and basic needs as the motivational factors for any behaviour (individual or agent-based factors).

InContext will study external contexts and the way individuals respond to them (drivers and barriers), but also acknowledge the internal context by looking at settings needed to allow individuals to shift their perspectives (values, priorities, the way they fulfil their needs). Moreover, it will look at interactions between structural (external context) and agent-based (internal context) factors. The findings will lead to policy recommendations for the EU and local levels that can help addressing the internal context.

UFZ will work out the theoretical foundation of the InContext project, which following case studies and pilot projects as well as derived policy recommendation will build upon. Other project partners include SERI (Vienna), free university of Brussels, Drift (Delft), the polish academy of science, ICLEI and Ecologic (Berlin/project coordination).