Sustainable development requires comprehensive strategies for the integration of ecological, economic and social issues. The German Sustainability Strategy and the EU Sustainability Strategy alike intend to focus on an increase of resource productivity. Parts of research also regard resource productivity as an important factor for increasing competitiveness, innovations, environmental protection, and employment. Three main theses constitute the project's background:
A significant increase of resource productivity requires an abolishment of counterproductive incentive structures and the establishment of supporting incentive systems instead. It has to be analysed where favourable incentives should be enforced and where, as far as possible, counterproductive shifting effects, e.g. negative rebound effects have to be reduced. The combination of financial, legal and informational incentives is crucial.
Parts of the economy actively work on the increase of resource productivity. Few successes of pioneers, however, do not suffice for followers and diffusion effects, the more so as signals of the economic framework are not precise. The task is to develop increase rates of resource productivity such as those realised in labour productivity systematically.
A new incentive structure is required for the increase of resource productivity. Its dynamic is essentially spurred by the private economy. It generates positive macroeconomic effects and minimises intersectoral and interregional shifting of environmental damages at the same time. A new incentive structure has to boost both the supply and demand side market forces.
The project shall develop options on how to reconfigure the framework of economic action in connection with entrepreneurial and sectoral strategies aiming to result in a radical increase of resource productivity.