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Environmental Policy and the Populist Challenge


Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency) 

Sep 01, 2022 — Dec 31, 2025

Consortium: IFOK, FU Berlin, Das Progressive Zentrum, Ecologic Institute and Öko-Institut

The project focuses on populist and anti-democratic challenges for environmental, climate and sustainability policy in particular, as well as democracy in general. The aim of the overall project is to develop a strategy to strengthen environmental policy against populist and anti-democratic interventions.

The project team at the FU Berlin is investigating the current state of research on populist and anti-democratic movements with a special focus on their positions, strategies and effects on environmental policy. Furthermore, the research literature and gray literature, such as handouts from those involved in promoting democracy, are examined for effective countermeasures. In addition to the literature analysis, individual interviews and focus groups are conducted with employees from the BMUV division and its federal offices, from other ministries, environmental organizations and civil society who are active in the field of democracy promotion.

In this way, previous findings and experiences for current and future environmental policy are processed and the phenomenon of populism and its development in its various facets (scientific skepticism, hostility to democracy, nationalism, extremism, etc.) are understood. Based on structural causes, crises and conflicts in particular are of particular importance for the rise of populist actors and their strategies. This provides an initial basis for developing effective lines of communication and response strategies.