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The bioenergy village in Germany: The lighthouse project for sustainable energy production in rural areas

Looking at the brute fact that global carbon dioxide emissions have almost doubled since the UN Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 – despite the ambitious Agenda 21 document – one may ask whether fundamentally new societal approaches are needed to solve the global problems. One new strategy within science is “sustainability science”, first formulated in 2001. Essentially five methodological principles of traditional science are replaced in this approach, because the solving of global problems – based on nonlinear, complex processes, and including long time lags between actions and their consequences – requires more than developing and testing hypotheses in laboratories. Instead of regarding scientific activities as valuefree endeavours that work in a mainly monodisciplinary, analytical and linear way, with basic research and a strict division between research and application as the ideal, sustainability science (1) acts explicitly to support sustainable development, (2) works in synthetic and parallel ways, (3) takes an interdisciplinary approach, (4) is transdisciplinary and (5) combines research and application in action-oriented research, during which scientists initiate sustainability changes in a society and simultaneously perform research (Sheldon et al., 2000). The main reason for this new orientation within science is not that the traditional approach of science is wrong, but that it is too slow in solving actual global problems. If scientists want to contribute substantially to the sustainability revolution ( McKenzie-Mohr, 2002), they have to act as citizens initiating changes toward sustainable development, in addition to their traditional role as scientific analysers.

Related Subject(s): Economic and Social Development
Sustainable Development Goals:
Countries: Germany
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