A threefold strategy is needed to achieve sustainability: efficiency is widely accepted, consistency relates to the transition to technologies that work in harmony with nature – but without sufficiency, both miss the mark.
Sufficiency is about finding the right balance when it comes to consumption and production. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that sustainability goals cannot be achieved through technological innovations alone. Instead, incorporating sufficiency strategies is seen as key to limiting the demand for goods, which is increasing from year to year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has now recognised that sufficiency has a critical role to play in achieving the climate targets. In Germany and around the world, sufficiency is being integrated into more and more climate and energy scenarios.
The Wuppertal Institute defines sufficiency as a strategy for reducing consumption and production levels through changes in social practices. The approach has two aims: firstly, to stay within Earth’s planetary boundaries by adopting sustainable consumption patterns and, secondly, to ensure that all human needs are met. Efficiency and consistency help us to do things right, but sufficiency helps us to do the right things. To achieve the climate targets and avoid the risk of delaying facing up to problems, much more attention must now be paid to the opportunities offered by sufficiency and how they can be realised.
Sufficiency research is conducted within all of the Institute’s divisions. In addition to projects with an informative and educational purpose, their work also focuses on how to avoid unnecessary journeys and facilitate a shift to more eco-friendly modes of transport, reduce living space requirements by means of intelligent housing management, improve the availability of returnable and reusable products, and intensify product use.
One example of the Institute's sufficiency-related projects is UrbanUp. Here, the researchers investigated the transformative potential of sharing among neighbours in community gardens, for instance, and assessed these activities from a life cycle perspective. Another example is the junior research group EnSu, which integrates assumptions about social change and sufficiency policy into transport, building and energy system models.
Questions addressed by sufficiency research include the following:
Here you find publications on sufficiency.
Here you find research activities in the field of sufficiency.