Methods

The FFU uses a variety of methods belonging to political sciences and other fields to study the diverse aspects of environmental policy from different perspectives and approaches. Among the methods used are discourse analysis, evaluations and policy assessments as well as many others. Transdisciplinary research is very important for the FFU.

Please click on the methods in the left menu to view the pertaining projects. A list of all projects is available at "All Projects" to give you an overview.

Comparatistics

International comparison is one of the most important methods of the empirical-analytical environmental policy analysis. Based on a systematic comparative view on different national environmental policies it is possible to make general statements about the conditions for success as well as the restrictions of environmental policies. Also, this view allows to understand the causal mechanisms of change in national environmental policy. Since its foundation in 1986, comparative studies about environmental policies in industrialized countries are one of the central research topics of the FFU. Recently, the comparison of newly industrializing countries, developing countries and sub-national entities like cities or communes is becoming more and more important.
Extensive data bases about intrastate diffusion and convergency of environmental policies or local climate politics are just one example for the work of the FFU. In addition, there are comparative studies about the efficiency of national, regional and local climate and sustainability programs, case studies of environmental or climate policies in model communities as well as investigations into the relationship between decision makers on different levels.
Employees of the FF are responsible for teaching "Comparative Analysis of Political Systems" in the Bachelor's and Master's programs of the Institute for Political Sciences (OSI).

English version coming soon!

Das FFU führt im Rahmen des Gesamtprojekts eine Studie durch, die Best Practices auf internationaler Ebene identifiziert und analysiert. Es werden zehn Nachhaltigkeitsstrategien betrachtet, die sich in der Literatur eine Reputation als besonders erfolgreich bzw. erfolgversprechend erworben haben.

Laufzeit: 01.07.2013 - 31.12.2013

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The Environmental Policy Research Centre is involved in the Alliance with a comprehensive project from the political science perspective. The project will investigate new governance requirements for the electricity system restructuring.

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REALISE FORUM (Renewable Energy and Liberalisation in Selected Electricity markets–Forum) attempted to establish a basis for coherence for national renewables policies in the view of a possible harmonisation or coordination of financing mechanisms and support scheme for RES-E.

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The GTZ-pilot project "Environmental Policy and the Promotion of Strategy Processes for Sustainable Development" (Rioplus) aimed at delivering policy advice regarding the development and implementation of sustainable development strategies.

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Discourse Analysis

At the FFU we work in different projects with a discourse analysis approach. The objective of discourse analysis is to analyse how different actors perceive and conceptualise (‘frame’) complex issues, for example climate change, the use of natural resources or the Euro crises. Discourse analysis is a method to systemise debates, this means, to characterise the positions of the different actors and to identify the different lines of argument (‘discourses’).
Discourses contain views on the nature of and causalities that lead to a problem; on adequate policy goals, indicators and instruments; and whose duty it is to eliminate the problem (addressees).To enforce one discourse over another discourse – the so called, “framing” of a problem – is hence a political act, which is closely connected to the interests of the actors. In other words, in a discourse analysis we research the societal and political effects of discourses, i.e. the effects of power from discourses.

The project aims at supporting and stimulating the emerging political and social debate on resource policies from a political science, legal and economic perspective. For this purpose the discussion on targets and indicators will be analyzed and options identified for selecting, operationalizing and prioritizing targets on resource policy.

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The Environmental Policy Research Centre is involved in the Alliance with a comprehensive project from the political science perspective. The project will investigate new governance requirements for the electricity system restructuring.

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In the light of the upcoming Rio 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the study explores the stances of European civil society actors on issues related to the Green Economy as part of Sustainable Development.

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Evaluation

The evaluation analysis method examines the systematic and transparent achievement of objects in political and administrative actions actions. Side effects are recorded and evaluated.

We evaluate both planned (ex-ante evaluation) and already implemented measures (ex-post evaluation) in the areas of environment, climate and sustainability policy in terms of their potential or actually achieved effects.

Based on our evaluation, we develop suggestions for improving the design or implementation mechanisms of the analyzed policies.

The IKI is active in three fields: promoting climate-friendly economies, fostering measures to adapt to the effects of climate change and ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of natural carbon reservoirs, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

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The National Climate Initiative (NKI) addresses consumers, industry and municipalities as well as social and cultural establishments. The Initiative supports programmes and provides backing for clusters of comparable projects and individual specific projects.

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The aim of the Peer Challenger Report is to review the actual implementation of Germany’s sustainability goals and to improve the governance approaches of public and private actors regarding sustainable development.

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The Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management ("Life Ministry") appointed an interdisciplinary group of independent experts to evaluate implementation activities under the Austrian Sustainability Strategy.

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Foresight/Scenarios

Policy makers are confronted with new and extraordinary developments caused by complex economical, ecological and societal changes which might accelerate even more in the next years. "Foresight" is an umbrella term for different methodological approaches to prepare organisations in time for potential developments in the future or new, unknown challenges in the present. It aims at identifying risks and possibilities as early as possible to maintain a sphere of influence especially for environmental policies. Systematic, multi-disciplinary research and analysis processes with different methods are central for Foresight. Scenarios in this context are mostly quantitative, model-supported approaches. They are typical instruments used in Futurology. Supposed frame conditions and different options for actions like "business as usual", compared to pro-active actions, are the starting points. From here, several prospective variants of developing ecological processes or societal systems emerge. It is important to note that Foresight today is not only about probable trends in the future, but also about trend reversals, "weak signals" and occuring or growing topics.

The main reasons for the construction of a Horizon Scanning System are the apparent acceleration of ecological processes on the one hand and socio-economic changes on the other hand. For politicians, this raises the question of whether reactive breathlessness can be countered by earlier problem solving.

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The project aims at supporting and stimulating the emerging political and social debate on resource policies from a political science, legal and economic perspective. For this purpose the discussion on targets and indicators will be analyzed and options identified for selecting, operationalizing and prioritizing targets on resource policy.

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The project aims at expanding the period of time covered by Germany’s Sustainability Strategy to the year 2030 and at sketching out the development until 2050. To do this, major issue areas and challenges need to be identified, and strategies and sub-targets for their implementation have to be developed.

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Currently, an environmentally recyclable concept of a socio-ecological, sustainable growth and social model is missing, which would be a reference point for future economic and social prosperity and corresponding transformation processes. With this background, the main point of this study is the technical analysis and discussion of the following aspects:
1) theoretical and practical approaches of ecological and sustainable-oriented social and economic models – based on a national or macro-economic view.
2) conceptual and empirical reform efforts for the measurement of social welfare and economic prosperity.

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The project "Scenarios for an integrated sustainable development policy using the example of the Sustainable City 2030" contributes to the development of strategies for the design of sustainable urban living environments by applying empirically based and participative scenario methods.

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The effects of environmental tax reforms on economic growth, economic competitiveness, employment, environmental quality and quality of life are at the heart of this programme.

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Impact Assessment

Policy impact assessment is a research method to support the development of new policies, instruments and measures. As a formalized process for knowledge-based (see also: knowledge-based environmental policy) of  Impact Assessment of policy development in the European Union, it has been introduced in all OECD countries and beyond.

The impact assessment process usually follows a series of standardized steps: first, the policy problem is to be addressed and identified; then targets are defined and options are identified which may be appropriate to achieve these goals.

These options are then analyzed and compared in terms of their contribution to achieving the objective and their likely impact on the economic, environmental and social issues. The goal is not only to detect unintended effects, but also to capture the possible side effects and their adverse effects on environment and society. On this basis, the policy options are compared and identified for possible synergies and trade-offs with other policy objectives and flanking measures to minimize adverse effects. In this way a foundation is to be provided for the assessment of policy options that are best suited to achieve the regulatory target and to develop the smallest possible unwanted side effects.

The FFU deals with the processes and tools of impact assessment of policy in various jurisdictions and in the comparative perspective. A special focus is given to the consideration and integration of sustainability aspects into policy impact assessment.

In addition, tools and methods are being developed that can be used to carry out policy impact assessments. In this way, we combine basic research on processes, methods and tools with their practical application in the impact assessment.

The Framework Contract with the European Parliament includes external expert services in the fields of impact assessment and European added values in a broad range of areas. (more)

The project will develop methodological approaches towards analyzing distributional effects of environmental policies that considers qualitative as well as quantitative income and employment effects.

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It is the aim of the study to analyze actions as well as quality goals of national and European sustainability policies with regard to their compatibility with the overarching guiding principles of European environmental programs. In this way the project aims at improving governance and steering among them.

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The Environmental Policy Research Centre gives an overview on the recent developments in sustainability impact assessment (SIA). The study looks at innovations in SIA processes within the European Commission and five European countries.

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Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is already a standardised and institutionalised framework, which has been in place for decades and has been integrated in legislation and regulation for many years. However, EIA has also been thoroughly criticized for being a marginal and disconnected procedure with no real influence on decision-making processes.

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The aim of this project is to identify means for improving the effectiveness of RIA in enhancing policy coherence in the design and implementation of regulatory and environmental policy.

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The aim of the project is to improve the operational relevance and use of IA tools by uniting the multi-disciplinary competences of large European institutes in the field of IA tools.

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On behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation the Environmental Policy Research Centre examined options for the implementation of a sustainability impact assessment within the German legislative process.

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One important analytical tool among different Life-Cycle Approaches is Life Cycle Assessment as described and standardised by ISO.

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The I.Q.Tools project developed an internet-based software designed to support the process of Impact Assessment within the European Commission.

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The proposed research project aimed at developing a contribution for an implementable consideration of the requirements of sustainable development in new policy initiatives of the different branches of administration.

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Indicator Development

Indicators are used to show ecological or societal phenomenons that are not directly visible in a quantitative form. They simplify reality and are thus social constructs, despite their statistical and scientific appearance. Normally it is not about individual indicators but about sets of indicators or aggregated ratios that are summarised into an index. Indicators are a central part of periodic, systematic and all-embracing coverage in modern societies. This coverage is used to inform political decision makers. It is also a basis for further research studies and can be used to inform the public about processes of change in the quality of the environment, the socio-economic development or political change. Research at the FFU using indicators concerns mostly three areas:

1) Research and analysis of existing indicator systems, their performance and their practical use;

2) (Co-)Development of indicators, mainly in the context of sustainability strategies on the national level;

3) Use of indicators combined with other political instruments like Impact Assessment to perform an economical, ecological or societal impact assessment of planned measures or laws.

The project aims at supporting and stimulating the emerging political and social debate on resource policies from a political science, legal and economic perspective. For this purpose the discussion on targets and indicators will be analyzed and options identified for selecting, operationalizing and prioritizing targets on resource policy.

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This project contributes to measurement of progress towards Green Economy and its understanding for political decision making process in Germany. Based on a synopsis of rele-vant measurement concepts it identifies deficits of available concepts and develops suggestions for an adequate indicator system.

December 15, 2011 - September 30, 2014

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The IKI is active in three fields: promoting climate-friendly economies, fostering measures to adapt to the effects of climate change and ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of natural carbon reservoirs, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

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The study recapitulates the most important shortfalls and vacancies of the GDP figures. Founded on this analysis, the question of possible complementary indicators has been discussed.

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This project aimed to report and revise the existing sustainability indicator for bio diversity, considering the next report of progress by the federal government on the occasion of the National Strategy of Sustainability 2006.

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The industrialized countries in particular will have to address the issue to which degree they have come closer to an ecologically sustainable development and which areas need further action in the future. Clarifications in this respect require a system of control and measures that allows for documentation and evaluate trends over an extended period of time.

Term: 01.11.2002 - 01.07.2004

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The aim of this research and development project has been the development of a species-specific indicator for the Federal Government sustainability strategy.

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English version coming soon!

In dem Forschungsvorhaben wurden beispielhaft für Deutschland anhand des Umweltausschnittes "Agrarlandschaft und Agrarökosysteme" Indikatoren des Umweltzustands entwickelt.

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Stakeholder Dialogues/Platforms

There are many dialogues going between different stakeholders. The "Hochschultage" of the Sustain It Initiative are a good example for such stakeholder dialoges. You can find the documentation of the Hochschultage here:

HST 2011
HST 2012

The project aims to analyse how stakeholders deal with the problem, and which kinds of barriers and channels do exist when behavior modification is suggested.

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REALISE FORUM (Renewable Energy and Liberalisation in Selected Electricity markets–Forum) attempted to establish a basis for coherence for national renewables policies in the view of a possible harmonisation or coordination of financing mechanisms and support scheme for RES-E.

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Transdisciplinary Research

Currently, there are no projects in this category.

Scientific expertise is now regarded as an important resource in order to develop solutions to societal problems. They should inform political actors and the public about associated problems, develop solutions and highlight areas of action to be taken. A science which aims to be relevant in society, therefore must make these social problems their starting point.
Whereas traditional research disciplines concentrated on the (intra-disciplinary) specialization of knowledge, transdisciplinary research exceeded limits. These are not only disciplinary boundarieswithin science, but also the boundaries between science and society.The interplay of socio-political and scientific analytical decision-making and the problem solving processes is an essential characteristic of transdisciplinary research.
The issues which are being discussed here are directed to a sustainable society. Firstly, they apply to the processes, institutions and structures which determine the current situation of problems and the further development of influence (‘system knowledge’), secondly, the knowledge about options for a sustainable society (‘target knowledge’), and as well the know-how on how these goals can be achieved (‘transformation knowledge’).
Research which has environmental and social dimensions as the starting point, and its changes as an aim, can thus make a direct contribution towards a sustainable society. This environmental policy analysis is however not only transdisciplinary oriented, but is also the purpose of fundamental research. The FFU has on the one hand the requirement for the implementation of principles for transdisciplinary research in research projects, and on the other hand participates also in the development of these principles and approaches.

The 2016 Berlin Conference invited scholars and practitioners to discuss questions arising from the new and universal global climate agreement adopted at the UN climate change conference in Paris on 12 December 2015. In the light of the continuity and change that Paris will bring, the discussions and knowledge exchange evolved around international climate policy and politics in the larger context of global governance and the challenges of a transformation towards sustainable development in a turbulent world.

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