The Sustainable Europe Research Institute SERI Germany e.V. is a decentralised, virtual, internet based research centre. Coordinated from a small office in Cologne, Germany, SERI Germany is based on a network of collaborators from a wide range of disciplines. These SERI Germany fellows hold their own academic or other professional positions, and get involved with a part of their working capacity in SERI Germany projects. As a result, we can compose interdisciplinary teams to match the qualification demands of each project, instead of having to hunt for projects meeting the qualification supply of the institute. SERI collaborators come from throughout the European Union and non-EU countries of Europe; in projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America we also work with local colleagues, on equal footing. SERI members have been working on the national, European and UN level.
SERI Germany is exploring sustainable development options for European societies on different scales, on the macro, meso, micro and meta levels of societies and economies, from the Union via countries and regions down to cities and households. We develop integrated scenarios and indicators for sustainability monitoring to be used in conduct sustainability assessments by governments, civil society or business. ‘Integrated’ implies that we combine aspects of social, economic and institutional sustainability with the environmental dimension. Environmental objectives and criteria are derived based on physical criteria, where appropriate guided by the planetary boundary concept limiting the use of environmental space and defining the safe operating space of humankind. Economic sustainability is not understood as economic growth, but as resilience in the face of environmental and social challenges to be solved, as innovation potential and adaptability to conditions of degrowth which most probably will emerge if indeed a decarbonisation of the economy plus a dematerialisation by an order of magnitude are to be realised.
Another, often neglected aspect of sustainable resource use is the prevailing land use patterns and their impact on biodiversity. SERI Germany is involved in research on land use patterns protecting instead of eroding biodiversity and undermining ecosystem services. However, we do not consider monetisation of ecosystem services as the main road to protecting them and the underlying biodiversity, but assess services and biodiversity in their ecological (i.e. socio-environmental) context. Institutional analysis includes not only the sustainability of formal institutions like organisations and decision making mechanisms, but also societal orientations, the value systems people hold. In this respect, philosophy is an important discipline in the SERI Germany portfolio.
As an independent research institute, SERI Germany has no public funding but thrives on projects. Main contractors for research projects have been the European Union (DG RES and DG ENV), the European Science Foundation and in Germany the Ministry for Education and Research and the national science foundation (DFG), in Luxemburg the Ministry for Sustainable Development and Infrastructures. Other projects with SERI member involvement were contracted by UNEP, the OECD, the EEA, Federal States or municipalities, trade unions and their foundation (HBS), environmental NGOs and business associations.
For all clients, science and research institutions, administration and political decision makers, social groups and economic actors (trade unions, business) we offer in-depth analysis, option analysis, communication and sustainability training, and written documentations. However, following the SERI Mission, the results must not be classified – promoting transparency and the common good, final SERI reports all have to be public.
As a not-for-profit institute, SERI Germany is not hoarding money. If any (usually small) surplus emerges from projects, it is spent on sustainable development activities, supporting civil society projects suggested by the SERI membership.
SERI staff members are also available for conference presentations, workshops, sustainability moderation. Prices vary depending on issues and audiences – please call or mail if interested.
SERI Germany is dedicated to public science, transdisciplinary work and open access to information. We offer symposium or conference presentations on all fields of our activity (see this homepage for the SERI Germany portfolio), and access to SERI Material. The presentation-sheets we develop, are available for download via this homepage under Creative Commons license (i.e. free to use if the origin is properly honoured), just as those publications where we are not withheld from making them open access by publishers’ restrictions. However, our publication lists are freely available, and we send every publication on demand, free of charge, by email.
SERI Germany staff members are also engaged in more formal knowledge transfer, by academic teaching in Bochum, Greifswald, and Münster.