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It is becoming increasingly clear that environmental and climate protection and social justice are two sides of the same coin and can only be advanced together. In order to usher in the necessary substantive steps, new institutional structures are needed to consolidate interministerial cooperation, particularly between the environmental and social policy ministries, the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and the Open Society Foundations recommend in a policy briefing published on September 2, 2021. They advise policymakers to develop the climate cabinet into a comprehensive transformation cabinet in which social policy actors are also included which is currently not the case. This cabinet should receive advice from citizens' councils and societal commissions including interest groups, policy makers as well as civil society organizations. Trade unions, social, welfare and environmental organizations should also initiate overarching processes of communication, capacity building and working together. In this way, the just transition – a socially just ecological transformation of the economy and society – can succeed. more

 

From Amazon to Zalando, online platforms are shaping our society. Corona has given a further boost to many digital corporations. Shaping and regulating the platform economy politically is a generational task. Based on current research, the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) recommends that Germany and the European Union should focus more on the common good and user participation in platform policy. The market power of a few dominant monopoly-like platforms must be reduced. Democratically constituted platform alternatives should be strengthened so that users can become more independent and participate more. And the public sector should create its own offerings in critical areas as a service of general interest. more

 

Certain large enterprises in the European Union are required to publicly disclose sustainability information. In this way, especially financial market participants shall obtain a more comprehensive picture of the sustainability risks enterprises are exposed to and of the impacts they have on environment and society. A recent study by the German Environment Agency (UBA), carried out by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) together with the management consultancy Arqum and the Fair Finance Institute, shows that even though German companies increasingly report on climate, water, resources and waste, significant gaps remain. Only about 20 percent disclose information on air pollution and biodiversity. Apparently, the identified gaps in corporate reporting are often due to insufficient legal provisions. UBA suggests, among others, to require more detailed reporting on individual environmental topics at EU level. more

 

Communities or individual citizens producing, using and selling their own renewable energy could provide up to 89 percent of the electricity demanded in the residential sector by 2050. The European research project PROSEU carried out in cooperation with the IÖW has concluded that, in the coming years, European, national and local governments have a unique chance to support ‘prosumerism’ and thus an effective and socially just energy transition. more

 

A solution for pressing sustainability challenges? Or an impediment for socio-ecological transformation? As of today, it is rather impossible to draw an overall conclusion on how digitalisation affects sustainability. In this first digital and open access issue of the journal Oekologisches Wirtschaften (Ecological Economy), the authors argue that there is no “black and white” answer to this question; instead, the answer is complex and overarching. The issue is edited by the research group “Digitalization and Sustainability”, a cooperation project between the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF)/Technical University of Berlin and the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW). 12 articles present the topics of the group’s science-policy workshop series “Forum Bits & Bäume“ (Forum on Digitalisation and Sustainability); the research group is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). more

 

After it has triggered significant debate in Germany, the report on the precautionary post-growth approach is now published in English language. With it, the researchers are seeking a new consensus in the sustainability debate at a crucial time when billions are being poured into economic stimulus programs. more

 

The circular economy is a concept that not only can help us reach climate neutrality and reduce environmental burden, but also support European economy to be innovative and competitive. The report “Products and circular economy“ presents the findings from more than one hundred EU-funded research and innovation projects, highlighting product circularity ideas related to design, manufacturing, use and afteruse. An independent expert report was compiled by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission. IÖW scientist Dr Frieder Rubik contributed among nine independent experts to the identification of key lessons for policy makers with regard to possible future research and policy action. more

 

In their book „Smart Green World“, Steffen Lange and Tilman Santarius investigate how digitalization influences environmental and social sustainability. The information revolution is currently changing the daily lives of billions of people worldwide. At the same time, the current economic model and consumerist lifestyle needs to be radically transformed if society is to overcome the challenges humanity is facing on a finite planet. Can the much-discussed disruption potential of digitalization be harnessed for this purpose? The book is published in May 2020 and is result of the project „Digitalization and socio-economic Transformation“. more

 

In order to offer an alternative to the platform capitalism of Amazon, Facebook & Co., there are efforts in many countries to build democratic platforms. What are the legal obstacles for democratically controlled online platforms? And by what means can such alternative platforms – among them platform cooperatives – be politically promoted? IÖW scientist Jonas Pentzien spent last year as a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy of the New School in New York City. Pentzien's conclusion: Although platform cooperativism is a global phenomenon, it is always a result of the socio-political context and national framework conditions in which it emerges. Existing global scenarios must therefore be supplemented by context-specific narratives. more

 

For her entry “How does a future-fit economy take root? An analysis of diffusion and adoption of future-fit business practices” IÖW scientist Sabrina Schmidt receives the GAIA Masters Student Paper Award 2020. In her thesis, Sabrina Schmidt examines pioneering companies which deploy sustainable production and business practices. She asks how these future-fit approaches spread within the economy. She showed that a successful diffusion of these approaches may be more complex than commonly assumed. For example, conventional companies tend not to adopt sustainable business practices just because there are some future-fit small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that promote them. more