Understanding the Evolution of an Economy towards Dematerialisation (Factor X), Employment, Safeguarding Competition and Prosperity.

In many industries service orientation (Rifkin) and a reduction of material flows by a factor of 10 is more than achieved. New technologies will allow for further increases in labour and resource productivities.

But this development will not lead automatically to an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable development. It seems that an overall and absolute reduction of material flows through industrial economies is by no means being achieved without policies deliberately aiming at such a reduction: rebound effects eat up the gains. And the access to these services/technologies is unevenly distributed (digital divide).

These problems are a challenge to individual goals and efforts as well as for policy.

The aim of this research theme is therefore to bridge the gap between environmental and economic policy. The challenge is

  • to understand the role of material flows in modern economies (theory)
  • to develop quantitative and qualitative scenarios for possible futures of the economy-ecology-relationship (data)
  • to make concrete suggestions for policies to reconcile the goals of dematerialisation and socio-economic development (policy), intervene in socio-economic processes.

Project Areas

Objectives, Indicators and Scenarios for Sustainable Development

This research area deals with the quantification of environmental, economic and social effects of policy measures on the macro level, disaggregated by economic sectors. The research applies scenario techniques, comparing sustainability scenarios to business-as-usual trends. Thereby, SERI aims at exploring the development of a resource-optimised knowledge-based service society in relation to all dimensions of sustainability by way of applying a backcasting methodology to identify gaps between desired futures and current trends.

MacroSD: The Macroeconomics of Sustainable Development

A network of European researchers on the macoeconomic conditions for sustainable development.

Sustainability Science

Sustainability science considers the environmental, social, economic and institutional dimensions of future development pathways, using participatory and place-based approaches to link science and policy. This poses new challenges to the design of research projects and to the interaction between researchers and relevant stakeholders. A reorientation is needed that addresses the need for interdisciplinarity and societal integration of research.



Want to learn more?

Long text version of the theme-description Ecological Economics
[pdf ]

SERIs flyer on Ecological Economics
[pdf 80 kB].






Fritz Hinterberger - Andrea Stocker

Have a nice day - Your SERI-Team.

last update 21-Dec-2004