Whether "sharing", "prosumer", "regional" or "resilient" economies: there are a multitude of current buzzwords and practical examples that can be summarized under the concept of "alternative economies". This diversity of partly similar and partly competing approaches makes the complex concept of alternative economies unclear and confusing. In addition to that, depending on the interpretation, there may be a considerable overlap with the so-called "Green Economy", which often focuses on technological efficiency strategies in order to achieve positive economic and ecological effects. However, a supplementation of these technical innovations through social innovation cannot be ruled out. For this reason, a systematization of the existing approaches with regard to their otherness (What actually makes them "alternative"?), their overlap with the Green Economy (How do they differ from the "classic Green Economy"?), their sustainability impacts (social, economic and ecological) (What is the resulting ecological relief?) and their required actions, is advisable for a development-oriented state policy in NRW. For this reason, in this very heterogeneous field of alternative economies, different approaches to measure the social, economic and environmental effects are required.
Especially a federal state like North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), which as the most industrialised and populous state in Germany is experiencing a structural change like no other, offers various points of contact for approaches of alternative economies. The potentials and effects for a state like NRW, which will result from the approaches of alternative economies and their positive and possibly negative impacts, are to be examined in the exploratory study proposed here.
The aim of the exploratory study is to gain a basic understanding of the different approaches of alternative economies. In doing so, these approaches, especially in those fields which are relevant for sustainable development, i.e. mobility, food and housing/energy, shall be analysed and assessed in their importance for NRW.
Ulrich Petschow (IÖW - Institute for Ecological Economy Research) supports the WI team with economic science expertise.
Ministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Landwirtschaft, Natur- und Verbraucherschutz des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen