The scientific goal of POLFREE is the comprehensive development and ex ante evaluation of policy strategies aiming at increased resource efficiency in the European Union. Based on a systematic analysis of present obstacles against the efficient use of resources in specific countries and sectors (WP 1), the Wuppertal Institute is commissioned with the development of future policy strategies and visions that foster a radical increase of resource efficiency (WP 2, management). Guiding research questions are:
- What lessons can be drawn from obstacles, failures and difficulties in the implementation and transition process in different states? In which way do state-specific structural features shape this process when new markets with system innovations in the EU shall be developed?
- How do recent concepts like eco-innovation, industrial ecology and transition management or analytic tools, such as material flow or life cycle analysis, support the development of new framework conditions in order to incorporate radical increases of resource productivity into the development of new products and services?
- How does an integrated vision for a resource-efficient European economy look like enabling the EU to transform the targets formulated in the EU strategy 2020 or the flagship initiative for resource efficiency into real strategies?
- How can the EU take over its international responsibility concerning human rights, resource conflicts and approaches for more transparency in global material flows?
- How and with which instruments can a EU-wide and eventually global transformation process be initiated and become sustainable in the long run?
These strategic policy options are analysed and finally transferred into a model using a combination of ecologic and socio-economic modelling for an integrated analysis of core indicators like employment effects and economic growth on the one hand and physical effects like global material requirements, land- and water usage and greenhouse gases on the other hand. As part of a transformative research the project will finally conduct a series of communication and dialogue processes in order to integrate learning processes of the European Commission, member states and stakeholders.