Knowledge. Transformation. Berlin.
(Ecornet Berlin)

Transdisciplinary Research for a Social and Ecological Metropolis

2020 ongoing // Funding Agency: The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Senate Chancellery – Higher Education and Research // Partners: Institute for Ecological Economy Research, Ecologic Institute, IZT – Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment, Institute for Applied Ecology and Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU)

Ecornet Berlin is a research partnership comprised of five Berlin institutes working in transdisciplinary sustainability research. The network, which is unique in this form, provides impetus for Berlin’s transformation into a metropolis that is socially and environmentally sustainable. The institutes pool their research expertise in the research fields of social climate transformationsustainable economies and digitalization with the aim of enhancing Berlin’s role as a pioneer in the development of innovative approaches for a liveable, solidary, “resource-light” and climate-neutral urban society. Working together with urban stakeholders, the research partners want to drive Berlin’s sustainable urban development, focusing on social and environmental change and the related issues of participation, distribution and justice.


Transformation Pathways to a Green Economy

2015-2018 // Funding Agency: German Ministry for Research & Education // Partners: adelphi, Borderstep Institute & IZT – Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment

The Green Economy and related concepts such as Green Growth and the Green New Deal were seized upon with increasing frequency during the recent global financial and economic crisis. The concept of the Green Economy aims to identify new ways in which economic growth can go hand in hand with ecological sustainability, social inclusion and fairness.

Germany’s sustainability strategy and the implementation thereof have again received praise in the second international peer review published by the German Council for Sustainable Development. At the same time, however, it was recommended that the German Federal Government may want to both set up a long term framework for implementation and rebuild capacities. Moreover, a glance at the last sustainability strategy progress report shows that progress is by no means to be observed in relation to all indicators. In other areas, these indicators show that the progress made has not been sufficient. The reasons for this are diverse and the contexts are often complex. The insufficient progress in energy productivity, for example, can be explained via technical and economic path dependencies; the limited uptake of croplands for organic farming is based not least on this having become less of a political priority. These and other examples drawn from actual practice show that a holistic concept for the transformation of the economic system can only be effected by bearing in mind the various opportunities and barriers involved in the diffusion of technical, social and systemic innovations in all their diversity.

The research project Evolution2Green is carried out by adelphi together with the Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment and the Borderstep Institute, and has the following goals:

  1. to develop a comprehensive strategy for the transformation of Germany’s economic system towards a green economy,
  2. to make a contribution to the evaluation and measurability of progress towards a sustainable way of doing business,
  3. to develop suggestions for a green economy-orientated model of management, and
  4. to gain new insights into consumer behaviour, thus connecting with existing BMBF initiatives.

The project’s potential for application is to be found first of all in the political arena. Additionally, the project’s findings will help businesses and NGOs to better perceive their role in the transformation to a Green Economy.


Sustainability policies and strategies
Opportunities and Challenges

2015-2017 // Client: German Ministry for the Environment / UBA // Partner: IÖW – Institute for Ecological Economy Research

The project supports the Federal Environment Agency and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety in the further development of the sustainability and environmental programs with regard to the timeframe of 2030 and beyond. The project analyses how effective basic principles and guiding concepts of environmental politics have been so far and discusses whether modern environmental politics needs further guiding principles.

Moreover, the project aims at identifying which opportunities and risks would arise if sustainability politics pursued such goals as quality of life, welfare, happiness or flourishing of life. Finally, the project discusses how to conceptualize sustainability policy that aims at a good life for all


Sustainability 2.0
Updating the German Governments‘ guiding vision for sustainable development

2014-2017 // Client: German Ministry for the Environment / UBA // Partner: IZT – Institute for future studies and technology assessment

With its guiding vision for sustainable development (Leitbild der Nachhaltigen Entwicklung, hereafter LNE), routed in the German government’s strategy for sustainable development, Ger- many set its strategic orientation on sustainable development policy just over one and half dec- ades ago (Bundesregierung 2002). The vision has not been revised or modernized since its orig- inal formulation in 2002. Since that time, a diverse set of developments have taken place with regard to both strategy and implementation. Given these developments, the failure to achieve targets in many areas, and the pressing need to strengthen the LNE’s effectiveness, a compre- hensive update of the LNE for the future direction of environment and sustainability policy appears crucial.

The project “Sustainability 2.0 – Approaches to modernisation of the guiding vision of sustainable development” aims to stimulate a discussion on an LNE update. It aims to contribute to the process of updating, supplementing and strategically optimizing the LNE while bringing the guiding vision closer to current political and societal processes. In the context of a planned update of the national sustainability strategy, adelphi and the Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment Berlin have designed concise political recommendations for the further conceptual development and implementation of the updated LNE.