Ecological modernisation of society – without neglecting the human need for social justice and prosperity – is one of the most diverse and, at the same time, relevant research topics. Innovation within the natural sciences, engineering and society as a whole must come together to ensure that developments in the way that we live can be socially and ecologically compatible. This prompted the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to initiate a focus on ‘Socio-ecological research’. Our experts at the DLR Project Management Agency have advised BMBF on the best means for the comprehensive development and execution of this research topic since 2007
Socio-ecological research brings a broad variety of disciplines together and involves partners outside academia, as well as key social stakeholders such as consumers, municipalities, businesses and civil society in the research process. This area was designed as a field of ‘learning’ to adapt funding activities to the broad variety of processes. Our experts support BMBF in the design and implementation of a participative planning process. Within this framework, the experts regularly pool their experience on current advancements in research to reflect on the effectiveness of funding instruments. The ‘lessons learnt’ form the basis of future funding policies. In short, we hold regular workshops and expert and technical panel discussions on behalf of BMBF, prepare their contents, and evaluate the results as the underlying basis for the next steps. Before these events take place, we identify the key experts in the respective disciplines and recruit them for the planning process. In 2012, for example, the proposals developed in this way culminated in a planning conference that the DLR Project Management Agency designed, and for which it booked the necessary speakers. Comprising roughly 200 participants, the conference brought together an important group of key figures working in this discipline. The insight acquired in the years that followed is currently being incorporated into a new funding concept for socioecological research, developed jointly between the DLR Project Management Agency and BMBF.