Sustainable use of resources

Sustainable use of resources

There is a general consensus that problems related to resources cannot be dealt with technically alone. Therefore, the relationship between the social organisation and the use of resources needs to be examined, especially regarding individual behaviour, the structures effective on the social level as well as the political, legal and economical framework conditions.

Behavioural and individual level
On the behavioural and individual level, the values, attitudes, interests, knowledge and incentives need to be examined. With a sustainable society in mind, sufficiency should be taken into account in addition to efficacy. Sufficiency describes a careful handling of the natural resources in support of their preservation also for future generations.

Societal level
On the social level, established structures that entail path dependences and the organisation of material flows (circular economy, cradle-to-cradle economy) are of interest. Only if these path dependences are unlocked and the material flows organised in a way that the whole value chain, from raw material extraction to waste disposal, becomes part of the recycling process, can recyclable products and processes develop that protect the environment, that are healthy for human beings and reap economic benefits (Environmental Humanities).

Past activities

2015: World Resources Forum, Davos: 11.-16. Oktober 2015
2015: Workshop eco-naturkongress, Basel «Gut leben: Mit Suffizienz gegen Verschwendung»
2015: Tagung, Basel «Nachhaltige Ressourcennutzung – Von der Evidenz zur Intervention»
2014: World Resources Forum, Arequipa (Peru)2012: Studie Schmid & Stauffacher
2013: World Resources Forum, Davos
2013: Kongress der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Soziologie «Ungleichheit und Integration in der Krise»: «Social Inequality and Environmental Justice / Soziale Ungleichheit und Umweltgerechtigkeit»
2012: World Resources Forum, Peking
2012: Tagung, Bern «Nachhaltige Ressourcenverwendung und umweltfreundliche Lebensstile» 
2012: Studie Schmid & Stauffacher

Aims of the focus area sustainable use of resources

  • Support and long-term strengthening of research projects at different universities in humanities and social sciences networks that deal with the resource issue;
  • Visibility, integration and strengthening of this research area;
  • Elaboration of a common research agenda in humanities and social sciences research on the topic of resources in Switzerland.

Supporting instruments

Programmes of the Swiss National Science FoundationSinergiaNCCR North-South (University of Berne), National Research Programmes (NRP)


Dr. phil. Manuela Cimeli

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin Sektion 3

Haus der Akademien
Laupenstrasse 7
3001 Bern

manuela.cimeli [at]

++41 (0)31 306 92 50/53


Stand der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschung zur Ressourcenverwendung

Eine Studie zur sozial- und geisteswissenschaftlichen Ressourcenforschung in der Schweiz. Von Dr. Michael Stauffacher und Dr. Franziska Schmid, ETH Zürich, im Auftrag der SAGW

Ergebnisse der Studie

Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences

L Main topic «Ressources and sustainability»
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