Strengthening socio-ecological forms of cohabitation and community orientation

The road to sustainable development involves various stakeholders. In recent years, numerous sustainable development initiatives have emerged that play an important role in the environmental and social policy of the present and the future through socio-ecological forms of cohabitation and community orientation. These initiatives often arise bottom-up out of citizens’ realities. Today, there are numerous examples of innovative forms of community-orientated initiatives: multi-generational housing, co-housing and co-working, open workshops and creative neighborhood centers, community gardens and online platforms for sharing, renting and co-creation.

These socio-ecological initiatives and their social-digital innovations make an important contribution to solidarity in living together. The federal government recognises their potential for a socio-ecological change and addresses them directly in the National Programme for Sustainable Consumption. There is a push for environmental policy which actively contributes to the strengthening of community-orientated initiatives and networks. At present, these initiatives are still in niches and have to deal with manifold challenges when trying to stabilise and disseminate.

This project explored innovative forms of community-oriented initiatives in our society, their contribution to social and ecological community living, the conducive and obstructive conditions towards the development and establishment of those initiatives, as well as the role of digitisation in this context. Representatives from politics and science, as well as committed actors leading the initiatives, took part in a joint learning process. adelphi and its partners accompanied this process in a scientific and an administrative manner, with adelphi focusing and providing expertise particularly on the topics of digitalisation and social-digital innovation. The results of expert talks, the “Zukunftsforum” conference, a population survey and a reflection on transdisciplinary workshops contributed to the foundation of the initiatives. In addition, the project led to a strategy paper which provides suggestions for the initiatives and encourages environmental policymakers to examine and expand their repertoire of policy instruments.