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SERI Highlight

High Quality of Life and Less Resource Consumption: is that possible?

Terms like „climate change“, „global change“, „carbon emissions“ or „global warming“ are frequently used nowadays, not at least due to the currently happening UN conference on climate change in Cancún (29.11. to 10.12.). It is known that climate change induces pressure on natural systems and many ecosystems face immense challenges. The SERI-Highlight „2010 – The international year of Biodiversity“ has discussed the importance of ecosystems in this context. Not only natural systems, but also social systems are affected by climate change on various levels: Environmental change might lead to forced migration, as certain regions are not able to provide for the livelihoods of their population. The EU project “EACH-FOR” (Environmental Change and Forced Migration Scenarios) analyzed direct and indirect consequences of environmental change for the livelihood of humans.

Climate change has already led to huge economic costs due to damages caused by extreme weather events as well as necessary adaptation measures like the building of dams or the provision of early warning systems („Münchner Re“, the world’s biggest reinsurance company directly relates an annual amount of more than 10 billion to climate change. Since 1980, damages caused by natural disasters – according to company figures- sum up to 1100 billion Euros. Details).  Nicholas Stern has calculated in his famous report that the costs for adapting to climate change are by far higher than those needed to stabilize emissions on a level of 500-550 PPM.

All mentioned examples might still fall into the category “That is not good, but it doesn´t really affect me” But there are numerous examples that (could) affect our daily lives: What do we eat, if the basic components of our nutrition do not grow anymore? What happens if there is no snow in winter? Yes, we would not be able to go skiing any longer, but what are the consequences for the economy and tourism? What happens to those people depending on winter tourism? Asking those questions makes the topic climate change more graspable. You realize that you are part of the bigger picture and that you personally have to deal with the consequences of climate change.

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Fritz Hinterberger at International Media Forum

On October 13th, Fritz Hinterberger gave a presentation at the VIII International Greenaccord Media Forum on “People Building the Future. Boundaries and Values for a Sustainable Lifestyles” in Cuneo, Italy. Each year, Greenaccord brings 150 environmental journalists from 50 countries to Italy in order to facilitate the spread of news on sustainabilty, the environment and energy. Fritz Hinterberger has been a honorary member of Greenaccord since 2007. His input paper and presentation on “Social and Environmental Justice” can be downloaded here.

SERI study “Resource use in Asia” presented at conference in Tokyo

SERI researcher Stefan Giljum was invited to present the results of the study “Resource use and resource efficiency in Asia”, which SERI – in cooperation with the Wuppertal Institute – carried out for the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). The study is presented at a plenary workshop on “Supply and Demand of Resources and Low Carbon Development in the Asia-Pacific Region”, which is part of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) conference held in Tokyo from November 7-9. In the study, SERI analysed the trends in resource consumption and resource productivity in 19 Asian countries over the past 25 years. We found out that Asia is not only the growth centre of the world economy in terms of monetary production and consumption, it is also the world region with the highest growth rates in material and energy consumption. Details and Downloads

SERI researcher Eva Burger received ÖGA-Award

The 20th annual conference of the Austrian association for agricultural economy (ÖGA) with the topic “Agriculture and food industry 2020” took place at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna end of September. Due to the presentation of the research outcome of her master thesis “Kriterien für mehr Transparenz in Carbon-Footprint-Analysen im Lebensmittelsektor”, Eva Burger was honored with the Best Presentation Award along the conference. Moreover, the Austrian association for agricultural economy revered Eva Burger for her master thesis “Carbon Footprint bei Lebensmitteln. Inhaltsanalytische Ermittlung relevanter Berechnungskriterien“ with the ÖGA-Prize for exceptional scientific achievements of young scientists.

SERI at Friends of the Earth event in European Parliament

As part of their campaign on “Measuring Europe’s Resource Use”, Friends of the Earth held a workshop in the European Parliament on December 2nd, entitled “The EU 2020 Resource Efficiency Flagship Initiative: How can we ensure that it makes a real difference?”.SERI is one of the scientific partners of Friends of the Earth in their campaign on “Measuring Europe’s Resource Use”. SERI researcher Stefan Giljum was invited as one of the speakers at the workshop and gave a presentation on the interlinkages between resource use and climate change. The presentation can be downloaded here. For more information on the Friends of the Earth Campaign click here.

Final CEECEC Newsletter online

The final newsletter of CEECEC, an EC-funded CSO capacity building project is now online here. Inside you will find links to the new E-Book, available in English and French, Ecological Economics from the Bottom-Up. This is a unique open access resource for learning/teaching ecological economics through real-life CSO case studies on conflicts in areas such as mining, forestry, transport infrastructure, tourism, waste management, corporate accountability/liability, ecological debt, and protected areas management.

For further information about SERI projects please check

SERI Projects

New project started: InContext – Individuals in Context: Supportive Environments for Sustainable Living

Why do policies aimed at initiating local and individual transition pathways towards sustainable development all too often not achieve the expected level of change? How should people be addressed to make them change? InContext will address these questions by dealing with the complexity of the contexts of individual behaviour and how these should be taken into account when devising policies for transitions to sustainable development.
SERI is responsible for one of the three pilot projects that will incorporate the theoretical findings into a transition management process at local level. The Austrian pilot project will be implemented in Gmunden (Upper Austria) and continue the work done in Lebensklima. First activities will happen in spring 2011. Details

Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment

The Arctic environment is affected in various ways by EU activities. As a first step towards reducing its environmental impacts, the EU has now analysed its footprint on the Arctic. Many experts from academia, government and civil society were welcomed in Brussels on November 18 to discuss the results of the project EU Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment, where SERI researcher Martin Bruckner presented the outcomes of the study. Please find further information about the event in the press release. The study shows that the EU is responsible for around 20 to 50% of the global environmental impacts in the Arctic. The EU is already trying to solve many environmental problems, but certain new and growing impacts must be addressed, both through EU and multilateral efforts. Climate change will cause substantial changes in the Arctic. Potentially it could create new opportunities, but threats to biodiversity and local communities are also likely to increase due to warming and pollution. Find more results here.

New project website: Citizen action for sustainable energy

How does citizen action in the field of energy influence the development of energy sensitive lifestyles? How can citizen action be promoted? These questions are the focus of the BENE project, which started in spring 2010. Now, the project website is online here. There you can also find an English summary on objectives, methods and expected results. SERI is currently conducting 40 interviews in the case study regions in order to analyse, if the style of energy use of energy-active citizens differs from the average. First results are expected end of 2010.

MELIA project – Capacity Building Training Seminar in Venice

On 24 – 29 October 2010 the EU-FP5 project MELIA organised the Capacity Building Training Seminar on Integrated Water Management in the Mediterranean. The Melia project has gathered valuable knowledge on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Mediterranean in the past few years. To share this knowledge among the partners, but also with others who are working in the field of water management a Capacity Building Training Seminar (CBTS) on IWRM was organized. Central to the seminar were the results of the MELIA Project, while valuable input from similar FP Projects was added to complete the picture.
Stephan Lutter from SERI gave a presentation in the session “Modelling, data collection and sharing” on SERI’s work on “Measuring EU’s resource use in a workable and effective way”. Details

Green Brands

In the last few months SERI had an advisory activity concerning the development of the Green Brands system. GREEN BRANDS is an international and independent brand-marketing organisation with its headoffice on the “Green Island” – Ireland. A set of criteria for companies and products was elaborated in cooperation with ALLPLAN (Society for Technical Services and Environmental Management, Vienna) and a Green Brands Index was developed. Nominated companies or labels have to pass a wide-ranging validation process which determines the Green Brands-Index. Finally, a high-level jury decides whether a label is allowed to bear the Green Brands seal of quality or not. Details

New project for the update of

In November 2010, a new project was launched which aims at carrying out a new data update of the database on worlwide resource extraction,, and at setting up a new visualisation tool called Worldmapper. The website was first published by SERI in 2006 and aims at providing worldwide data on resource extraction for free download in order to achieve a wider application of the material flow analysis (MFA) approach. Apart from carrying out a new data update of the database, the aim of the new project is to provide users with a new visualisation tool called Worldmapper which is used to create world maps where a country’s share in the world’s total continental area is set into relation with e.g. the country’s share in worldwide resource extraction. The project will be finished by the end of May 2011.

For further information about SERI projects please check or


“Sustainable Development: Capabilities, Needs and Well-being”

In October 2010 the book „Sustainable Development: Capabilities, Needs and Well-being“ co-edited by two SERI colleagues (Ines Omann and Johannes Frühmann) and Felix Rauschmayer has been published by Routledge. Sustainable Development (SD) is most prominently defined with respect to the needs of current and future generations. Political and scientific discussion, though, refrains from this concept, even though much can be gained by referring to needs. This book brings together chapters that clarify the concept of needs directly or relate it to other scientific approaches. On the one hand, there is the capability approach which is widely used by human development studies and politics and can thus be utilized for bringing the Brundtland definition of SD into practice. On the other hand, meeting needs is intrinsically linked to well-being which is the main driver for human action. Details

New Book: "Ausbruch aus dem Hamsterrad", ed. by Anneliese Fuchs and Alexander Kaiser

The Book "Der Ausbruch aus dem Hamsterrad - Werkzeuge zur harmonischen und befriedigenden Verbindung von Leben und Arbeit" is a new book with the aim to make readers recognize and communicate their needs, show them methods and tools to break out of the rat race or to avoid getting into one. SERI researchers Johannes Frühmann, Sigrid Grünberger, Fritz Hinterberger, Ines Omann and Andrea Stocker made contributions to the book which was presented on 29 November in Vienna. Details (in German)

How does your lifestyle contribute to climate change? Final project report available now

The project was surveying the relationship between climate change, lifestyles, quality of life and social capital in two regional case studies- Gmunden (an example of a small urban region) and Graz (urban agglomeration). Pupils interviewed people from their surroundings about their attitude towards life, their opinion on environmental protection, and their well-being and sustainable lifestyle. Citizens of Gmunden and Graz participated in the interviews and interactive workshops. Based on the results of the survey the interviewees have been clustered in so-called “lifestyle cultures”. Six cultures have been investigated: prosperity culture, emotional culture, experience culture, entertainment culture, relaxation culture, and organic- nature culture. Further, specific measures for both regions have been developed. Details and Downloads

For further publications please check

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