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Welcome to the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW)

The IÖW is a leading scientific institute in the field of practice-oriented sustainability research. It devises strategies and approaches for viable, long-term economic activity – for an economy which enables a good life and preserves natural resources.

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Conventional food production and consumption accounts for one third of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. It contributes significantly to biodiversity loss and can be detrimental to human health. In many cases, it does not ensure fair economic returns and livelihoods for those involved in the industry. The European Commission has set out a programme for sustainable food systems with the ‘Farm to Fork Strategy’ as part of the European Green Deal, and set ambitious goals in developing an EU legislative framework for sustainable food systems this year. A new report from the European Environment Agency shows that this shift to sustainable food systems will require huge changes in the ways food is being produced and consumed. more


From 2000 to 2021, at least 145 billion euros in damages were caused by the consequences of heat, drought or floods. 80 billion of this since 2018 alone. These extreme weather events are becoming more likely due to climate change. By the middle of the century, researchers expect cumulative economic losses of 280 to 900 billion euros, depending on the extent of global warming. This is the result of a recent study presented today in Berlin. The study was carried out by the IÖW, the Gesellschaft für Wirtschaftliche Strukturforschung (GWS) and Prognos AG; it was commissioned by the BMWK and technically supported by the BMUV. In addition to the financially measurable damages, there are numerous health impairments, deaths from heat and flooding, the strain on ecosystems, the loss of biodiversity, and the reduction of quality of life. more


Large fossil-fuel power plants still stabilize the power system in the event of fluctuations in the energy supply. But there are increasingly renewable replacements: More and more German households have their own photovoltaic system with battery storage. If these storage systems are virtually connected with each other using digital information and communication technologies (ICT), they can take over such stabilizing services for the energy system. The Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) has now conducted a detailed life cycle assessment to evaluate the environmental effects of such virtual pools. The conclusion: there are major benefits for climate protection and the environment as a whole. more


Repairing is in vogue. While new Repair Cafés are opening every week, the "Screw loose!?" initiative is making inroads into the European Union with its demand for a right to repair. Is this the renaissance of a cultural technique that was thought to have been lost, or merely a short-lived hype? In the book "Verhältnisse Reparieren," researchers Melanie Jaeger-Erben and Sabine Hielscher delve into the world of amateur repair and do-it-yourself. Above all, the two authors are concerned with one thing: describing how repairing and DIY can have a positive impact on identity and also improve social relationships and the troubled relationship between people and the environment. more


„Die Bits dürfen uns nicht die Bäume kosten.“ Diese Forderung brachte am vergangenen Wochenende über 2.500 Teilnehmende zur Konferenz für Digitalisierung und Nachhaltigkeit „Bits & Bäume“ nach Berlin. Auf Einladung von 13 Organisationen aus Umwelt,- Klima- und Naturschutz, Digitalpolitik, Entwicklungszusammenarbeit und Wissenschaft, darunter das IÖW, trafen sich Wissenschaftler*innen, Aktivist*innen und Politiker*innen, um politische Forderungen und Handlungsansätze für eine nachhaltige Digitalisierung zu diskutieren. In Zeiten von Klima-, Energie- und staatlicher Vertrauenskrise müssten digitale Technologien vor allem dem sozial-ökologischen Wandel dienen, anstatt durch explodierenden Energiebedarf und Ressourcenverbrauch und immer mehr Überwachung die Krisen weiter anzuheizen, so der Appell der Konferenz. more


Overheated data centers, massive CO2 emissions generated by large language models, extraction of natural resources and automated inequality: It sounds like AI will contribute to the planet’s demise, rather than save it. But all the talk about the sustainability of AI so far has remained largely theoretical and imprecise. In the midst of a climate crisis, where everything is on the line, the discussion deserves more accuracy, scrutiny, and evidence. There are ways to make AI more sustainable, reduce its resource consumption, include affected communities in its development, and respect people’s autonomy. The SustAIn Magazine from Algorithmwatch, IÖW and DAI-Labor of TU Berlin gets real and cuts right to the chase. It includes interviews with experts in the field of sustainable AI and practical examples that are already making a difference. more


In his opening statement, Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck made it clear that new instruments are needed to expand renewable energies more quickly and achieve Germany's climate goals. The Bündnis Bürgerenergie has provided a proposal with its energy-sharing concept. The Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) has now investigated the potential of involving citizens in the energy transition through energy sharing. According to the IÖW study, there are suitable locations throughout Germany, so that more than 90 percent of people could join together in "renewable energy communities." more


Our Responsibility

The IÖW also endeavours to make its own work as sustainable as possible. And at the same time we try to consider the social concerns of our employees. Read more here.

IÖW – Partner in Ecornet

The IÖW is a partner in Ecornet, the network of leading non-university institutes of sustainability research in Germany.