Why is social change necessary

Social change

What can humans do to improve their quality of life while preserving nature? Which political and economic frameworks lead to sustainability? When are economic, consumption or lifestyles sustainable at all? The Federal Ministry of Research supports the researchers in answering these questions and finding solutions to keep our environment livable for generations after us.

In order to find the way to a sustainable development of our society, scientific, technical and social innovations have to go hand in hand. Technical improvements and changes in people's behavior have to be intertwined. The Federal Ministry of Research therefore promotes scientific research projects that incorporate experience from everyday life as well as practical experience in business, clubs and associations in order to find solutions for a sustainable society. This is what the “Social-ecological research” research area stands for in the “Research for Sustainable Development” (FONA³) framework program. The research focuses on challenges such as the energy transition, urban and rural development, climate protection and adaptation to climate change, as well as sustainable economic practices.

Help shape the energy transition

90 percent of Germans support the expansion of renewable energies such as wind power, photovoltaics or biogas. In the planning and construction of these systems and also in the expansion of power lines, there is still considerable resistance among the population. Why is that? Which conflicts arise in the implementation of the energy transition and how can they be resolved? What contribution can politics, business and civil society make? BMBF research projects investigate how citizens better understand the energy transition and can actively help shape it. You also look at the German energy system as a whole and are looking for answers to such important questions as: Do we need a centralized or decentralized power supply? How can we store energy? How much does the conversion of the energy supply cost and how can it be financed?

Maintain quality of life and prosperity

Social-ecological research deals with new models that can contribute to a more sustainable economy. The big challenge is to maintain economic competitiveness in Germany, to ensure a good life for all people and to protect the environment in the process. To this end, the scientists are looking for solutions for politics, companies and citizens. For example, it is investigating how business models for sharing, lending and swapping - the share economy - can be successful. Or research is carried out into how our food can be produced and sold in an environmentally friendly manner and how we as buyers can recognize this.

Enabling a good life in cities

Rural and urban areas around the world are currently changing to a greater extent than ever before. Urban and rural areas have to adapt to climate change, the scarcity of certain resources, economic processes and changes in the age and social structure of the population. The aim is to permanently improve the quality of life in the city. To do this, the urban environment, infrastructure and economy must be sustainable and crisis-proof. Citizens have to be able to participate in the decisions in their city and different cultures and social groups have to be integrated. The Federal Ministry of Research supports projects that provide a knowledge base and point out ways for this development: For example, how can the instruments of spatial planning be better used for sustainable urban development? How can citizens be more involved? How can traffic problems be overcome and land and energy consumption in the city reduced?

Living with climate change

Climate change brings new challenges for our society. We have to deal with the consequences of climate change and learn to deal with them. We also have to change our way of life in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are harmful to the climate. The change in our way of life affects, for example, the way we move around, our living situation, our consumption of resources and energy in the production of goods and our consumer behavior. The Federal Ministry of Research is therefore promoting research on possible changes in human behavior towards more climate-friendly behavior.