Research Division Profile

Sustainable Productionand Consumption

The research priorities of the Sustainable Production and Consumption Division aim at the development of technological and social innovations for a resource-light and sustainable economy and life.

The Division's scientists are researching how to balance diverse lifestyles with the goal of climate and resource protection and how to develop a possible steering effect for a combined social-ecological transformation and innovation strategy.

Actor-integrated research requires "co-design processes", in which users and stakeholders are actively involved in the (design) development process. For this purpose the Division work with:

  • Companies in transformative research – companies can evaluate their product portfolios and develop sustainability strategies and management systems. Innovation approaches for sustainability are developed Living Labs in cooperation with participating actors from private households, local authorities, the entire value chain, and politics. Together they also develop and test business models and market development concepts.
  • Households and neighbourhoods in transformative research – households and neighbourhoods can evaluate their lifestyles, participate in shaping their life contexts through participatory design, and contribute their visions and ideas. This results in product-service structures that enable sustainable lifestyles. The common goal of co-design processes is to harmonise the diversity of lifestyles with the aim of protecting the climate and resources.
  • Policy in transformative research – from the research in the real laboratories and living labs, structural requirements for governance and policy instruments, measures and recommendations as well as standardisation and certification approaches can be derived. These are particularly necessary as stimuli and regulatory frameworks because climate and resource goals have not yet been achieved. In this way, sustainable product-services systems and narratives of resource-light living and economy are created that gain acceptance, promote shaping competencies and are lasting.
Creating innovation and enabling transformation

The Research Unit Innovation Labs analyses, accompanies, and designs innovation processes for the development and diffusion of more sustainable products, services, business models, and social interventions, especially in companies and neighbourhoods/municipalities.
The underlying approach is real-world laboratory research, in which actors from science and practice come together for collaborative, intervention-oriented research and design to jointly develop and test solutions to a sustainability problem. In particular, the researchers pursue the innovation approach of "Sustainable Living Labs" that focuses on the actor and the user-integrated development and design of products and services in a real-world context. For this purpose, the transition design approach is used.

Overview of research content:

  • Realising transformation / designing products
  • Enabling innovation / developing business models
  • Creating infrastructures / expanding competencies

more about the Research Unit Innovation Labs

Evaluate lifestyles and enable sustainable product services

The Research Unit Production and Consumption Systems evaluates societal and technological changes to achieve a climate-neutral and resource light society and enable 1.5-degree lifestyles. To design sustainable products and services, it is necessary to know about their material basis and the socio-technological potential for changes towards sustainability. In this context, the researchers analyse the material and carbon footprints of products and technologies, companies and value chains as well as households and lifestyles. Based on this, they design roadmaps and scenarios. This requires an evaluation of the impact of existing and redesigned production and consumption systems on sustainable development and the conservation of the climate and resources. Additionally, it is necessary to assess and analyse possible rebound effects. Together with the involved actors, the researchers develop transformational knowledge. This is crucial in order to test and anchor more sustainable products and services in society. Overview of research content:

  • assessing sustainability and resource use / developing roadmaps
  • enabling sustainable lifestyles / making sustainability goals manageable
  • assessing sustainable investments

Furthermore, establishing a joint dissertation scheme of the Division Sustainable Production and Consumption jointly organised by the Wuppertal Institute and the Folkwang University of the Arts (FUdK) is in focus.

more about the Research Unit Product and Consumption Systems

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