In its early years, the FFU was concerned with furthering understandings of the relationship between the economy and the environment and the development of the concept of ecological modernization. Ecological modernization highlights the potential of eco-efficient technologies and processes to strengthen innovative competitiveness, promote sustainable economic growth, and develop global markets.
In contrast to market-driven ideologies, ecological modernization focuses attention on the importance of governments developing supportive policy frameworks.
The FFU became well known as the founder of the “Berlin School of environmental policy analysis” and its study of the factors supporting ecological modernization. In the meantime, as the FFU has grown in size, new research fields have been added. Today, dozens of research projects are conducted at the FFU, often with collaborative partners from around the world.