Socio-ecological research (SOEF) investigates social changes and looks for ways to make them sustainable. At the moment, this refers in particular to a more sustainable business community, the energy turnaround, and urban development. The greatest challenges are, on the one hand, to preserve economic competitiveness and to ensure a good standard of living for all people. On other hand, in order to preserve the environment and to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, it is also important to consume fewer raw materials such as fuels, minerals and metals, but also food, soil, water, air and biomass. Here, scientists are searching for a solution together with governments, industries, and concerned citizens.
Sustainability is also relevant to social cohesion and consumer patterns. Innovation within natural sciences, engineering, and society must go hand-in-hand to ensure a sustainable development of the world we inhabit. Technical inventions will only find widespread use if they are adapted to suit the needs and expectations of society and if there is market demand. This is why the important fields within socio-ecological research also include innovative participation methods to involve the population as well as civil society organisations within change processes such as the energy turnaround.
At the DLR Project Management Agency, we develop and follow funding measures addressing issues such as societal transformation processes in the topical areas of green economy, energy turnaround/climate protection and climate change, as well as sustainable urban development. These measures include the ‘Sustainable business’ funding programme that focuses on the development and deployment of innovative technologies to protect the environment and the climate and to increase their commercial appeal. Viable solutions to current problems associated with implementing an environmentally and socially compatible energy turnaround in Germany are currently being prepared within the ‘Environmentally and socially compatible transformation of the energy system’ measure. There are also inter- and transdisciplinary research projects focusing on the ‘sustainable transformation of urban spaces’.