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Fäuste in Solidarität

Adjusting screws of the transformation

Design together!

Levers for successful transformation

Against the background of the obstacles identified in the study, key levers are defined. These can significantly promote the necessary socio-ecological change if they are considered and addressed together in their interdependencies. As not all consequences are foreseeable, the reforms must be designed as a continuous learning process. Immediate adjustments are urgently required.

01/ Create a regulatory framework that promotes innovation and the common good

The basis for the social-ecological transformation is a regulatory framework that creates incentives for social and technological innovations that promote the common good. Established routines need to be adjusted. Political and economic “free riders” who gain short-term advantages at the expense of socially weaker people, future generations or the environment must be put in their place by changing the framework conditions. Only then will it be possible to ensure polluter-pays pricing of environmental and resource consumption, social balance and civic participation.


In order to promote the common good and advance social and technological innovations, not only bold investments in education, infrastructure and public services, but also innovative policy instruments, appropriate control and participation opportunities for civil society, and more international cooperation and solidarity are necessary. Establishing future-proof technologies and incentive structures usually requires a longer start-up time and good coordination until they work together effectively at a national and international level.


This becomes clear using the example of the pricing of climate-damaging emissions: After the introduction of EU emissions certification trading, it is now important for further development to set quantities and, where possible, prices quickly based on scientific data and independently of day-to-day political business, and to include emissions that were not previously recorded (traffic, buildings) should also be subject to CO2 pricing. With regard to global pricing, multilateral agreements on minimum CO2 prices, supplemented by transfers for investments in renewable energies, are recommended. Poorer countries in particular, where there is the greatest need for investment and the most cost-effective application potential for renewable energies, must be enabled through partnership-based cooperation to apply these technologies across the board and (further) develop them themselves. In the interests of a fair distribution of the burden, the governments, companies and financial institutions of wealthy countries should make a much greater contribution to the fight against poverty and climate change through technology and financing aid.

02/ Fairly distribute unreasonable demands and new opportunities for action

Sustainable development is a question of justice. In view of the distributional conflicts described in the study, honest transformation policy is always a policy of fair distribution of unreasonable demands, which also opens up new opportunities for action for everyone involved. To do this, it is necessary to involve those affected by the various distribution conflicts in design processes and to hold them accountable. The so-called “stranded assets” are playing an increasingly important role. For example, anyone who owes their wealth to the ownership of fossil resources or the use of technologies that are no longer up-to-date cannot simply reject restrictions in their current business model as “cold expropriation”, but has a special responsibility to participate constructively in innovations and reforms that promote the common good.

Anyone who wants to shape the transformation must also identify the associated power issues in order to successfully identify and overcome barriers and counterforces. In order not to be paralyzed by the inevitable distribution conflicts, it is helpful to convey to the affected interest groups at an early stage that, under the right conditions and appropriate social balance, the restrictions are not only manageable, but also open up new, fairly distributed perspectives.

03/ Promote social support through transparency and participation

A lack of political design and communication in dealing with the above-mentioned distribution conflicts contributes to the loss of trust in transparency and participation (two basic promises of the democratic state). Political populism profits from fear of material and ideal loss. Populism therefore deliberately shifts responsibility for complex problems, and thus also the personal responsibility of the individual, to global enemies and offers temptingly simple, often nationalistic answers.

The study sees the answer to this loss of trust in three steps: firstly, to recognize this shock, secondly to improve information, participation and participation opportunities and thirdly to expose populist instrumentalizations that increase this loss of trust for their own benefit and have no interest in constructive solutions . Therefore, the contradictory attitudes of right-wing populism regarding climate change must be revealed and concrete transformation projects must be designed as participatory as possible. “Education for sustainable development”, which awakens a desire for change and conveys a sense of success, is not only an effective means of countering populism, but also strengthens the ability and willingness of future generations of politicians, multilaterally, rule-based and in close partnership-based exchange civil society to work together.

04/ Taking transformation seriously as a cultural task

The cultural dimension of change is often neglected in individual reform proposals and is therefore easily co-opted by populist movements. Although populists like to give the impression that they are preserving religious or cultural traditions, in reality they often betray the values that underlie these traditions. Anyone who wants to advance socio-ecological transformation must value the “cultural fabric of meaning”, which often changes only slowly and is therefore sluggish but also sustainable. Life and consumption styles often initially change in “niches”; It is important to perceive them sensitively and ask: Why did these “niche” changes occur, what factors favored them - and learn how to design structural enabling and incentive conditions in order to spread them beyond the niche?

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