Online seminar on Sustainable Development Beyond Green Growth

Socio-Economic Metabolism

We know that a ‘greening’ of current economic practices will not suffice to achieve global sustainability targets, such as limiting global warming to well below 2°C and eradicate poverty. A growing body of literature shows that we need to transform not only our energy system and decarbonise industry, but have to rethink our entire economic system including production and consumption as well as our notions of wellbeing and welfare.

Such a major shift includes moving away from a continuously growing linear throughput economy that focuses on efficient new technology only. Detailed and consistent concepts of how sustainable development beyond green growth could look like remain scarce, as do studies to identify leverage points for major changes to the current economic system.

Industrial Ecology Freiburg (Germany) will, in May-July 2023, organise a online/hybrid seminar series on “Sustainable Development Beyond Green Growth”. During five sessions, we will address the following questions from an inter-disciplinary perspective and engage in a scientific debate on them:

  • What new wellbeing and welfare measures exist and to which ethical concepts do they relate to?
  • What is the spectrum of options for change, and what aspects of the system (technology, materials, investments, labour) have to be considered?
  • Would economic growth in such a new system still be possible? And what exactly is economic growth?
  • How can individual action and systemic change reinforce each other?
  • How would necessary investments in the transformation of the infrastructure be financed, and by whom?
  • Who pursues new innovations, and how is the provision of the health and social benefit system financed?
  • What is the potential and what are the trade-offs associated with concepts such as green growth, circular economy, or bioeconomy?

Sessions (list will be updated as the program evolves):

Opening session: Tuesday, May 16, 2023 16:00-18:00 CEST, (Herderbau R101, Zoom: register here)

Stefan Pauliuk, professor for Industrial Ecology, University of Freiburg, Germany: “Sustainable Development Beyond Green Growth: Why do we need to talk about this and what scientific disciplines can contribute?

Ulrich Petschow, Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), Berlin, Germany: “Transitions: social and cultural change for a post.growth world”

Living Well Within Limits: Tuesday, June 20, 2023 16:00-18:00 CEST, (Herderbau R101, Zoom tba)

Julia Steinberger, professor for Societal Challenges of Climate Change, University of Lausanne: “Living Well Within Limits, is it possible, and what would it take?

Katharina Bohnenberger, University of Duisburg-Essen: “Are sufficiency policies implementable? Examples in German housing policy“.

Each talk will last between 30 and 35 minutes, and a general discussion will follow.

Confirmed speakers, details to be announced soon:

Jereon van den Bergh, Elena Verdolini, Basil Oberholzer, Oliver Richters, and Helmut Haberl.


Follow the related blog entry, where the updates to the program and the online meeting registration options are announced!

We plan for five sessions in total.