Society: Social-Ecological Research
How must a sustainable economy, consumption or lifestyle be designed? Which new technologies, social initiatives or business models could develop into the major sustainability innovations of the future? And which political and economic frameworks have what sustainability impact? The Social-Ecological Research funding priority addresses these and other questions. It makes it clear that sustainable development can only be achieved if scientific-technical and social innovations are interlinked.
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Societal transformation processes guided by the principle of sustainable development are the central focus of the Social-Ecological Research funding priority. It generates knowledge on central sustainability transformations such as sustainable urban and rural development, sustainable mobility or the transition to a sustainable economy. An additional aspect is also the promotion of young researchers in junior research groups. In addition to the thematic research projects, the BMBF promotes the identification of methods and quality standards for successful transdisciplinary research: Project TransImpact – Effective Transdisciplinary Research. TransImpact provides a platform for the linkage of actors in transdisciplinary research.
Due to its complexity, Social-Ecological Research was conceived as a "learning" programme and developed further in a participatory agenda process: The SÖF funding priority started in 1999 with an exploratory phase. The first funding concept for SÖF was presented in 2000. In 2004/2005, an external panel of experts conducted an evaluation of the programme, the results of which were incorporated into the second funding concept in 2007. In 2011, a review of what has been achieved so far in the SÖF was carried out ("Lessons Learnt Workshop"). In 2012, the agenda conference on the further development of the funding priority was held. This was also followed in 2012 by the Memorandum "Understanding – Evaluating – Shaping. Transdisciplinary knowledge for a sustainable society", which was presented by leading actors in transdisciplinary sustainability research and signed by over 1000 people. The results of the agenda process were incorporated into the third funding concept of Social-ecological Research "Funding Concept for Society-Related Sustainability Research 2015-2020".
In 2017 the second agenda process of Social-Ecological Research was launched. The focus is on developing new topics for the future. As in the last agenda process 2011/12, such research topics were developed in a technical discussion that took place in 2017. A series of topic papers were developed which were presented and discussed in 2018 in the online consultation "Shaping sustainability research - Help shape it!" On the basis of the online consultation, the discussion was continued at the Agenda Conference of Social-Ecological Research in September 2018 in Kassel.