- Knowledge transfer supporting sustainable development: implications for regional intermediaries
The increasing transgression of the planetary boundaries vital for human life calls for a fundamental and radical change of current socio-technical systems in the form of transitions. Such sustainability transitions require a knowledge basis of relevant actors in the system, which intermediary structures organizing knowledge transfer can support. Over the last decades, sustainability researchers have not only increasingly studied the dynamics of transitions, but have also gained insights on activities contributing to the acceleration of transitions and the supportive role of intermediaries in that regard. A new sofia paper revisits the literature on the dynamics of transitions and the activities of intermediaries in order to formulate implications of the characteristics of sustainable development and sustainability transitions for the organization of knowledge transfer by regional intermediaries. The paper was prepared as part of the project ‘Indicators on regional knowledge transfer structures for sustainable development’ (IreWiNE) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Find the paper here.
Transformative research paving the way for digital product passports enabling actors’ behavioral contributions to a non-toxic Circular Economy
Presentation at the 6th "Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference" (online, Elsevier)
The talk describes the initial problem, the overarching normative objectives at UN and EU level and their (so far deficient) implementation in current law. The resulting deficits in information exchange have been the subject of several projects carried out in cooperation with industry actors, including the SuSport project (with BSI and TEGEWA) and the project on "More Sustainable Chemistry in the Leather Supply Chain" carried out in the context of s:ne. It shows the potentials of transdisciplinary scenario technique processes that can also be translated into a "Theory of Change". The lecture formulates a future vision for comprehensive traceability of the ingredients of products as a prerequisite for a "circular economy" without problematic ingredients, which preserves the usefulness of the products as long as possible. He concludes with an outlook on the necessary adjustments in the regulatory framework.
To the presentation slides
Feedback on the Revision of the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive
As part of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, which is a key component of the European Green Deal, the EU Commission is currently comprehensively revising the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive from 2000. This initiative stems from the evaluation of the directive in 2018 and 2019, which resulted in a report in May 2021. This report identified various shortcomings of the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive. The current revision proposal, scheduled for 2022, provides for improved collection, treatment and recycling of end-of-life vehicles. It is further intended to encourage the automotive industry to make the design and production of cars (more) sustainable. sofia submitted feedback to the stakeholder consultation from July to October 2021.
Feedback on the Sustainable Products Policy Initiative
The Sustainable Products Policy Initiative is a key element of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, which is part of the European Green Deal aiming to make Europe climate neutral by 2050 while establishing non-toxic circular value chains. The initiative aims to make products fit for a climate neutral, resource efficient and circular economy, reduce waste and ensure that the performance of frontrunners in sustainability progressively becomes the norm. The Research group sofia participated in the public consultation and shares its thoughts with a factsheet. In our view, the core transformation leverage point to making products more sustainable is a trustful value chain communication supported by an IT-Tool. This IT-Tool should be structured based on governance mechanisms representing all relevant stakeholders with a view at assuring confidence in compliance and enhancing manageability towards future customer expectations and regulatory requirements.The biggest challenges regarding the successful implementation of such a Digital Product Passport are to minimize administrative burdens by re-using data already existing, to manage complexity of products, to ensure relevance and reliability of the information included and to link datasets to physical products (e.g., batch-wise).With a general view to policies for more sustainable products, the "detox" of material streams is essential. In this respect, requirements have to address the product as a whole (as in the ELV Directive) and at the same time the detailed article level (as laid down in Art. 33 REACH) as well: Small amounts of problematic substances can contaminate secondary raw material. This is a - if not the - main barrier for business models at the EoL-stage. Furthermore, phasing out of problematic substances hindering material re-use should be part of product specific requirements.
Find the factsheet here.
Advancing REACH on substances in articles
REACH predominantly deals with industrial chemicals and mixtures. The provisions in REACH that concern articles (as defined by Art. 3(3) REACH)appear more like a foreign body in the regulatory framework. This observation contrasts sharply with the challenges to be tackled in this field. Substances embedded in articles can be found in infant cord blood and in lipid tissue of humans and animals around the globe. Against this background, the study analyses the article-related requirements laid down in REACH. The yardstick for the assessment is formulated in the normative objectives of the REACH Regulation. Its purpose is “to ensure high level of protection of human health and the environment” (Art. 1(1) REACH) whilst at the same time “enhancing competitiveness and innovation”. As articles normally face an “end-of-life”-fate a circular economy perspective provides further normative orientation.
The study discusses the definition of the term article, followed by the communication duties and the provisions on the registration and notification of substances in articles. It also covers the authorisation and restriction schemes. Each section assesses the respective legal framework (objectives, mechanism, uncertainties) as well as the state of the art regarding implementation and, based on lessons learned, develops potential enhancements (policy options). Comparative considerations of options are provided, where appropriate.
The report documents the results of one (out of 18) sub package(s) within the project “Advancing REACH“ commissioned by the German Environment Protection Agency (UBA) (FKZ 3717 67 410 0).
Breathing life into consumer rights: smartphone tools facilitating the “right to know” on substances of very high concern in REACH articles
The EU chemicals regulation REACH aims to reduce the usage of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) by firms. Therefore, a consumer right-to- know about SVHCs in articles is intended to create market-based incentives. However, awareness of the right-to-know among EU citizens is low. Moreover, the response window of 45 days afforded to suppliers impedes immediate, informed decisions by consumers. Consequently, despite being in effect for more than 10 years, only few consumer send requests. Civil society actors have developed smartphone applications reducing information search costs, allowing users to send right-to-know requests upon scanning an article’s barcode. Answers are stored in a database and made available to the public immediately. This paper assesses to which extent smartphone tools contribute to an increased use of the right-to-know by undertaking a case study of the application “ToxFox” by the German non-profit organisation Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND). An analysis of the data from the BUND database for the period 2016 to 2018 reveals that about 20 thousand users have sent almost 49 thousand requests. The data indicate that receiving information on requested articles encourages further use of the application. Many suppliers accept the application and pro-actively provide information on articles without SVHCs above the threshold. However, most consumers use the application only for a short time, and suppliers are struggling to reply to right-to-know requests. The paper thus concludes with policy options addressing shortcomings in the status quo.
Among other things, the results are used by the EU-LIFE project "AskREACH", which is developing an EU-wide "Right to know" app. To the article (open access), to sofia Project AskREACH.
Regulatory experimentation as a tool to generate learning processes and govern innovation: An analysis of 26 international cases
Regulatory experiments provide insights into the dynamics of social processes under changing conditions. They thus help to understand the effects of laws, regulations and other sovereign measures in advance. In this way, they can help to steer complex transformation processes towards sustainable development. So far, however, empirical studies with broad and heterogeneous samples are missing. This sofia discussion paper of the REraGI project examines 26 international cases of regulatory experiments in the field of sustainable development. On this basis, the authors provide initial indications of how regulatory experiments can be designed with the greatest possible learning effect.
Find the paper here.
Waste management business models for textiles in the circular economy
The Master's thesis deals with the challenges for waste management business models in the field of textiles in relation to the requirements arising from the developments towards a circular economy as well as potential for improvement in the current framework conditions. The author Rebecca Niebler develops three business models for the target year 2025: an exchange platform for sorters and recyclers, an automatic sorting plant and a plant for fibre-to-fibre recycling of mixed materials. It is clear that these business models cannot meet the target requirements of the Circular Economy. The study identifies the remaining gaps in the framework conditions as a major problem. These gaps can be seen, for example, in insufficient innovation impulses and the lack of competitiveness of secondary raw materials. The author therefore recommends further developing the framework conditions at meso and macro level. A platform for cooperation between designers, the introduction of a material declaration system and an eco-design guideline for textiles represent possible suitable design options discussed in this thesis.
Find the study here.
REACH in the automotive industry: How to ensure effective compliance in global supply chains?
The adapted master thesis compares the requirements for effective compliance management concerning European chemicals regulations REACH and CLP with the actual measures of the automotive industry. With the help of this analysis, which is inter alia based on expert interviews with automotive stakeholders, the author Simon Winkler-Portmann identifies a number of shortcomings. One of these compliance risks is the transmission of material information in the supply chain. The automotive industry operates a powerful global database system called IMDS which, however, has several gaps in the framework conditions. In addition, an analysis of random inquiries to automobile manufacturers identifies an incompliance with Art. 33 REACH. However, the study is not limited to challenges, but also recommends possible solutions and offers a structured presentation of compliance requirements in the form of tables and flowcharts, which actors can use for self-assessment.
Find the study here.
Circular Economy: How can information on problematic substances help to stimulate innovative technologies and business models for waste operators?
This is the question addressed in a feasibility study for the European Commission. Based on twelve case studies for a wide range of product groups, it shows which circular economy potentials could be tapped in the future through improved material information and which improvements are necessary in terms of the extent and transmission of information. For furniture and car parts, the two case studies prepared by sofia, several starting points can be identified.
To this end, the waste operators need to know which problematic substances (Substances of Concern, SoC) the products contain in order to fulfil their reporting obligations (e.g. Art. 33 REACH) and comply with substance restrictions (e.g. Art. 67 in conjunction with Annex XVII REACH). Due to the complex structure of the products, databases are required for this purpose, in which all supply chain players provide material information on their products and which, with the help of a unique product identification, enable rapid allocation in the sorting process. In addition to ECHA's SCiP Database, which is currently under construction, sector-specific solutions of this kind already exist, e.g. the IMDS of the automotive industry. As substance-related obligations change between the manufacture of the product and its re-use, the database entries must be continuously adapted to legal obligations throughout the entire supply chain. This effort can be avoided if the supply chain actors enter the substance contents of their products completely into the database (Full Material Declaration - FMD). The database system can then check the entries for new SoC independently. This reduces transaction costs for waste management companies and ensures high quality of the returned components and materials. The two case studies illustrate how information on SoC contained in products can help to make business models for reuse and recycling economically attractive in the sense of a circular economy.
In addition to the sofia team, RPA Ltd. was also involved in the study, for which Ökopol GmbH was responsible.
Link to the complete study including annexes: www.doi.org/10.2873/873130
- Integrating "Green Chemistry" into the Regulatory Framework of European Chemicals Policy
20 years ago a concept of “Green Chemistry” was formulated by Paul Anastas and John Warner, aiming at an ambitious agenda to “green” chemical products and processes. Assessing the current situation and showing options to further integrate “Green Chemistry" into the regulatory framework of European chemicals policy is the objective of this study commissioned by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism in the context of the second “REACH Review” by the European Commission.
Green Chemistry is the utilisation of a set of principles that reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture and application of chemical products. Putting the concept in a broader market context, however, it can only prevail if in the perception of the relevant actors it is linked to tangible business cases. Therefore, the study analyses the product context in which chemistry is to be applied, as well as the substance’s entire life-cycle. Besides, it emphasises that Green Chemistry requires learning processes by the actors along the life-cycle.
Find the study here.
- Traceability as driver for more sustainable chemistry in the global textile supply chains
Problematic substances in textile articles and related risks for human health and the environment gain increasing attention in societal debates triggering new legal requirements aimed at safe articles and material cycles. Thus, textile brands and retailers are facing new challenges: they have to deal with compliance issues in an industry sector which is characterized by particularly volatile and — up to now — mainly price-driven supply chain relationships. Concurrently, they have to respond to societal demands on a global level. In both respects, acting ‘beyond compliance’ is necessary; first, to be prepared for future legal requirements related to substances in articles and circularity and, second, to tackle even more aspirant market expectations. A sector-wide supply chain communication approach aiming at full traceability of substances in articles is one angle to overcome the outlined challenges, while enabling actors to actively manage substitution strategies with a view to sustainable chemistry. The paper - authored by JulianSchenten, Martin Führ, Silke Kleihauer and Joana Schönborn - is based, i.a., on findings of (transdisciplinary) research projects conducted by sofia; e.g. the SuSport-Project.
Retrieve the paper at the Elsevier Website ...
- Strategies for more sustainable chemistry in the textile industry by 2030
The research project Market opportunities for „More Sustainable Chemistry“ through the REACH Regulation (Sustainable Sporting Goods - SuSport) aimed to support "more sustainable chemistry" in the textile supply chain, by shifting the focus from the reactive compliance position to a more proactive "beyond compliance" perspective. Strategically, this approach is based on the following consideration: If you want to be "Compliant" tomorrow, you must already be "Beyond Compliance" today. Not only does such a strategy ensure legal compliance, it can also create market opportunities. Together with actors from the textile supply chain, the project developed scenarios for the textile industry in 2030 as well as strategies and concrete steps to pave the way to the proactive "boldly ahead" scenario.
A comprehensive final report (pdf - in German) documents the project results. Further information, including the scenarios developed and explanations of the method, can also be found on the project page . A video that concisely summarizes the main results is available here.
- "Proactive Alliance": A global cross-sector communication standard for information on substances in articles
Product manufacturers and retail are facing rising requirements as regards transparency of (problematic) substances present in articles, coming from regulatory developments in the EU and beyond and coming as well from impulses set by consumers and NGOs. Several sofia research projects focus(sed) on this issue (KInChem, SuSport, LIFE AskREACH). At the Chemical Watch Global Business Summit in April in Amsterdam, a group of proactive representatives from various industries gathered (automotive, electrical and electronic, textiles), which sets out to develop a global cross-sector standard for communicating substances in articles information along the supply chains. The research group sofia moderates this process. On May 22, the first technical meeting of this "Proactive Alliance" took place in Frankfurt/Main. There, participants agreed on the longer-term goal of "Full Material Disclosure" (FMD) within the supply chains as regards the components and chemicals present in articles.
- Find more detailed information in the technical meeting protocol.
- Global Business Summit 2018, Amsterdam
In order to enhance the environmental performance as well as identifying business opportunities and adressing risk management issues "Transparency and Traceability of SVHC in Articles" is of pivotal importance. The contribution of Martin Führ to the Global Business Summit (March 2018, Amsterdam), organised by news provider Chemical Watch, adressed not only the legal background but also practical experiences and tools already available.
In essence, his key message to all actors in the various supply chains can be summarized as "be prepared": It is already a major challenge to be compliant with the requirements of REACH Art. 33 (1) und (2). In addition, more is in the regulatory pipeline, e.g. the notification of SVHC´s (substances of very high concern) to a centralized EU database hosted by the European Chemicals Agency as foreseen in the recently amended Waste Framework Direcit (Art. 9 (1)) in the context of the Circular Economy Package of the EU. Some business insiders even consider "Chemicals and health ad the new carbon".
Access the presentation slides here.
- Nordic Chemicals Summit 2017, Copenhagen
At the conference organised by news provider Chemical Watch, Martin Führ under the title "Proactive Supply Chain Management and Consumer Communication" presented "Insights from transdisciplinary research projects" from the research group sofia, namely:
- Consumer behavior and innovation for sustainable chemistry (KinChem), funded by BMBF,
- Market opportunities for „Sustainable Chemistry“ through the REACH Regulation ("SuSport"), including the scenario process regarding textile chemicals management in 2030, funded by DBU,
- the LIFE AskREACH project, funded by the EU LIFE Programme, with the focus on consumer communication and communication in the supply chains.
Access the presentation slides here.
- EU LIFE Ask REACH Project kicked-off
The LIFE AskREACH project, funded by the EU LIFE Programme, has the overall goal to enhance substitution of SVHC in articles by increasing the market demand for SVHC free articles and supporting industrial actors to identify SVHC in their articles. The project does not target industrial processing or particular articles or substances directly, but contributes to exposure reduction by raising awareness and ultimately changing the purchasing behaviour of consumers as well as the approaches to product design by the market actors. The project with 20 partners in 13 EU countries is coordinated by the German Environment Federal Agency (UBA). In the consortium, the Society for Institutional Analysis (sofia) at the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt, i.a. leads the project actions aimed at capacity building in supply chain management and overseas the project impact monitoring.
Click for more information.
- „SustEcon Conference – The contribution of a sustainable economy to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”
International Conference, 25 and 26 September, Berlin
sofia researchers Julian Schenten und Silke Kleihauer took part at the conference and presented the paper „Innovations for Sustainable Production in the Global Textile Supply Chains: Breaking the mould with scenario-analysis“. The paper draws on results from the sofia research project Market opportunities for „Sustainable Chemistry“ through the REACH Regulation ("SuSport")
- Volkswagen definitely is gunning for the “habitual cheater” title.
With this introduction an online-magazin starts its report on the latest news on secret defeat devices installed in vehicles of the Volkswagen corporate group. It continues (referring to an article in Forbes):
"Apparently, no lessons were learned when VW was involved in the biggest, and definitely most costliest cheater scandal the auto industry has ever seen. Volkswagen AG has (so far) “agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, U.S. states and dealers, and offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting vehicles,” wrote Reuters. Volkswagen subjected itself to intrusive oversight, it even offered six mostly mid-level managers as sacrificial lambs, and vowed to go forth and sin no more."
However, VW and other big automotive players are still using illegal defeat devices.
This is the result of a study performed by Martin Führ on behalf of the German Parliament (Bundestag) investigation committee.
A condensed version has been published in a german law journal.
Study and journal article [see also article of Ludwig Krämer, elni-review 2/2016]
- The European Commission Proposals and Legal Requirements Concerning the Determination of Scientific Criteria to Identify Endocrine Disruptive Properties of Active Substances
The EU Regulations on biocidal products and plant protection products oblige the European Commission to determine scientific criteria to identify endocrine disruptive properties of active substances. On 15 June 2016 the Commssion presented legislative proposals in this respect. In addition, the proposal concerning the plant protection products Regulation introduces changes as to the approval mechanism for active substances with endocrine disruptive properties. The legal opinion on behalf of ClientEarth assesses the conformity of such proposals with EU legal requirements.
Click to access the sofia-Studies section (in german).
- Health Impairments, Annoyance and Learning Disorders Caused by Aircraft Noise -
Synopsis of the State of Current Noise Research
Kaltenbach, M./Maschke, Chr./Heß, F./Niemann, H./Führ, M., International Journal of Environmental Protection Jan. 2016, Vol. 6 (1), PP. 15-46.
(contribution to a journal)
The article reviews the results of scientific research on aircraft noise induced health impairments, annoyance as well as learning disorders and summarizes consequences for legislative and political decisions. The association of noise with an increased incidence of chronic arterial hypertension has been shown in large-scale epidemiological studies.
Compared to the EU-position paper of 2002 the sound level at a given extent of annoyance (25% HA) is at least 10 dB(A) lower. Impairments of
cognitive performance in children attending schools exposed to high aircraft noise have been demonstrated in national and
international studies up to the year 2014. As consequence of the present knowledge in noise effect research legal and political
decisions must form the base to reduce aircraft noise exposure during the 24h-day to Lden = 50 and during the night to Ln = 45 dB(A).
A pdf-version of the IJEP-article with bookmarks can be found here ...
- Discussion with European Commission on imported articles in REACH
Following publication of the sofia legal opinion "Enhancement of the REACH requirements for (imported) articles," commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), an active exchange with representatives of the European Commission DG Growth started. On 11 September 2015, in Brussels, the authors of the report discussed with representatives of the UBA and the Commission (DG Growth and DG Env) the results of the study and what legal as well as political options follow thereof. DG Growth members referred to the ongoing discussions on a "circular economy package" that could initiate measures for improved communication regarding substances of concern in articles.
Click here to access the slides discussed in Brussles.
- Compact Guidelines: Practical Procedure in Interdisciplinary Institutional Analysis
These guidelines compactly describe how an interdisciplinary institutional analysis is to be implemented in practice: Which steps of analysis and control have to be taken? Which research questions are important and which role do empirical results play in the analysis? The description will be based on the requirements that the legislator has to fulfil with regard to the estimation of effects. The steps of analysis and examination outlined in this paper can be equally used in relation to institutional design problems in companies (like the adjustment of determining factors regarding ‘Governance, Risk Management, Compliance’ – GRC), associations or authorities.
Click to download the guidelines; you can also access a German version ('Kompaktleitfaden').
- Consumer behavior and innovation for sustainable chemistry, using the example of products that contain problematic substances
The project aims to promote the market penetration of "sustainable" products that avoid as far as possible the use of problematic substances. To this end, it addresses deficiencies and gaps of consumer policy approaches that currently primarily relate to the "provision" of sustainability-related product information, using the example of REACH. The project seeks to reduce communication and action barriers on different levels:
(1) between perception patterns and decision-making situations of consumers on the one hand and the (eco) toxicological data on the other;
(2) between proactive companies as well as NGOs and driving actors on the part of regulators and
(3) between the (eco) toxicology "scientific communitity" and transparency mechanisms of REACH to ensure the long-term credibility of the activities on the first two levels.
The project accompanies different information tools that are at least at the testing stage and evaluates them using a wide range of social science methods to develop design options for the REACH system and its institutional context.
The BMBF-funded research project was launched in April 2015. For more information (in German) click here.
- Enhancement of the REACH requirements for (imported) articles Options for improvement of the chemicals regulation
The study on behalf of the German Umweltbundesamt (UBA) investigates how modifications of the REACH and CLP Regulations can contribute to a better protection of human health and the environment against impacts caused by substances of very high concern (SVHC) in articles. The first part of the report is a legal opinion prepared by sofia analysing the conformity with World Trade Organization WTO law (especially TBT Agreement) of an expansion of the REACH provisions concerning authorisation of SVHC to those substances present in articles imported from countries outside the EEA. Additionally, in the second part of the report (chapter 6) researches from Öko-Institut discus how information and communication on SVHC in articles can be improved.
Access the report in English here...
- Scenario analysis of life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of Darjeeling tea
Publication in scientific journal
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment published results from the research project PCF-KMU which was carried out under the leadership of the Society for Institutional Analysis (sofia).
Find the article here and more information regarding PCF-KMU here.
- RESINA project at European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Workshop in Helsinki
On 23 and 24 October ECHA hostet a Scientific Workshop concerning "Regulatory Challenges in Risk Assessment of Nanomaterials". The event included a poster exhibition featuring the sofia research project RESINA.
Click to get to the workshop and to the RESINA poster.
- Strengthening REACH Provisions Concerning (Imported) Articles
One of the main objectives of the European chemicals Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (REACH) is to ensure “a high level of protection of human health and the environment”. Reviewing the seven years which REACH is in force, there are indications that the REACH provisions concerning substances in articles fall short of this target.
Against this backdrop the German Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) has commissioned a research project “Strengthening the Provisions Concerning (Imported) Articles in the REACH Regulation” which is carried out by the Society for Institutional Analysis - sofia together with Oeko Institute. The goal of the project is to investigate how modifications of the REACH Regulation can contribute to a better protection of human health and the environment against impacts caused by substances of very high concern (SVHC) in articles.
The project includes a legal appraisal analysing the WTO conformity of an extension of the REACH provisions concerning authorisation of SVHC to those substances present in articles imported from countries outside the EEA. Additionally, the project focuses on the utility and feasibility of certain possibilities to improve information and communication on articles containing SVHC.
On 9 October 2014 the findings of the resarch project have been discussed with representatives from the European Commission, Industry, NGO, Science and ECHA at a policy workshop at Université Saint-Louis in Brussels.
Click here to get to the presentation slides.
- Patent law and agricultural animal breeding: Principles, issues, recommendations for action. Joint Statement of the research project "Biopatents in Animal Breeding" and the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute for Farm Animal Genetics
The basic idea of patent law is the granting of a temporary monopoly in exchange for the disclosure of new knowledge. In the area of animal breeding and production, however, technical inventions interact with biological processes to create new products and methods. Patent law hence contains a number of specific provisions for agricultural plant and animal production; these are, however, only partially effective due to critical definitions lacking or being unclear. As a result, patent law does not exert the expected incentives for but often even barriers to innovation. On the one hand socially desirable long-term breeding programmes cannot be sufficiently protected. On the other hand there are incentives to use patents and patent applications to firm up market power. As a result, five problem areas have emerged: 1.) ethical objections against the granting of patents on plants, animals and traditional breeding methods, 2.) the granting of invalid patents; 3.) ambivalence when the categories from patent law are applied to animal breeding and production; 4.) asymmetries in the patent procedures and 5.) reinforced large-scale monopolisation in agriculture and negative impacts on the innovation process. To address these problems a number of measures are recommended: 1.) to introduce the concept of ‘registered lines’ as a specific form of protection for animal breeders; 2.) various measures to ensure that applications for biological patents are decided adequately and timely; 3.) conceptual clarification of the concept of ‘animal variety’ in patent law; 4.) a more adequate definition of biological processes which are excluded from patentability; 5.) an effective breeder’s and farmer’s exemption; 6.) international harmonisation of the law; and 7.) support for financially challenged parties in patent proceedings in order to ensure that the patent system is equally accessible to all those affected.
Click here to access the Discussion Paper (in German; with English summary)
- Public expenditure and behavioral economics – the psychology of public spending. Current knowledge and spending related political implications.
Knowledge generated by behavioral economics has gained momentum in comparison to the traditional economic approach for some time now. The development of the neoclassical model (complete rationality, utility maximization, time consistent preferences) cannot be restricted to macro- and microeconomic fields. There are also behavioral economic analyses of public finance that point to the need for completion or even correction of the present knowledge level in this field. Against this background, the article provides an overview of behavioral economic studies on public spending and the financial policy implications that can be derived from them. In doing so, the focus is put on the behavioral economic aspects of the development of public spending over time. Moreover, its impact is analyzed while taking into account results from psychological investigations into the individual decision behavior. On the other hand, a behavioral economic extension of the traditional political economic analysis of the democratic decision-making process with view to the level and structure of public spending is provided. Beside the budget decisions of politicians and bureaucrats, special attention is given to voting behavior. More...(in German)
- Technological Law and Standardization
The analysis in the enzyclopedia of European law by Martin Fürst is mainly motivated by the challenges technological law – which is aiming at risk control – and the narrowly connected attempts of standardization have to face. The main focus is put on the question of how the law can influence on “risk influencing factors”. Therefore, the contribution presents different risk elements and the corresponding behavior of the actors in a systematic way (see overview paragraph 64).
On the basis of a risk related notion of technique, the article discusses possible starting points of regulatory influence on the behavior of the different actors. Moreover, their cooperation in generating the necessary knowledge base and controlling the identified risks in an appropriate way is analyzed. The article presents the variety of challenges the society has to deal with (also in a historical context) and describes the responses given by law de lege lata. Moreover, function and limits of standardization are analyzed to finally formulate the requirements for the development of technical law. The contribution is published in Volume 8, Europäische Querschnittpolitiken (published by Bernhard Wegener) § 4, Baden-Baden 2014, pp. 207 - 304.
Reading extract (in German)
- Municipal finance innovations: typology, determinants, innovation behavior over time and its economic assessment
The article examines innovation behavior with view to the distribution and perception of municipal tasks and expenditures as well as their financing within the federal fiscal equalization scheme in Germany. The typology of the municipal finance innovations that will be developed is derived from economic innovation research. Furthermore, important players and determinants of fiscal innovations are presented. Finally, their efficiency implications are analyzed, adopting the point of view of the economic theory of the fiscal federalism in the time period between 1949 and 2013.
- Intelligent energy use in the facility management - iENG
Research project (BMBF: energy system transformation)
About 40 % of all energy in Germany is used in buildings. On the same time, they offer also important saving opportunities as well as possibilities for the active use of different energy sources. In the status quo, the single-building represents the connecting factor of technical, legal, economic and organizational structures. However, much potential can only be detected if a wider perspective is adopted. This is only possible if different players cooperate and if new players join in some circumstances. The technical solution related to housing though does not correspond to the currently dominant standards that are partly required by law. With view to the exploitation of new potential, this research project examines how the legal, economic and organizational basic conditions of the actors can be adapted in a way such that also alternative, for example “cybernetic” (cf. the model of the redevelopment of a building from the 1950s that is supported by the German Federal foundation for the environment), approaches to increase the energy efficiency can be used.
- Sustainable innovations – perception of chances and risks
Closing meeting of the BMB- research project „responsive monitoring of the sustainable innovation behavior” (ReSINa) at the protestant academy Loccum
Change processes towards a sustainable economy need technological and social innovations. The questions of where one discovers innovation opportunities and which ones are finally realized depend, besides other factors, on the legal framework and on the players’ perception: Within the funding priority of the BMBF “economics in favor of sustainability”, the society for institutional analysis (sofia) at the h_da (FB GS) together with the universities of Göttingen and St. Gallen were investigating into the question of how proactive behavior and the alignment of innovation processes with criteria of sustainable development can be promoted. The results were discussed by high-level representatives of the European Commission and German policy as well as scientist and business representatives in the protestant academy Loccum on the 20th to 22nd January 2014. For more information concerning the closing meeting, please click.
- Publication of the study „Evaluation of the Use and Effects of the Scope for Class Actions under the German Environmental Appeals Act (UmwRG)”
The study was jointly conducted by Sofia and the Öko-institute. It was especially dealt with the question of how legal remedy in line with UmwRG – as well as the sole right to judicial remedy – contribute to a better respect of material and procedural legal environmental requirements in the conception period, the administrative process or by the result of the respective legal remedy procedure than it would be the case without the contribution of an association under the UmwRG. The study of the legal actions that were brought between 2006 and 2012 under the UmwRG reveal that 48 % of all actions were fully or partially successful. Moreover, concerning Prof. Dr. Martin Führ (Sofia) in a press release, the fear that the class action would bring about a blocking of investments or overworked courts can be refuted by empirical results. On the contrary, many things are taken into account thanks to objections by environmental associations that have not been considered by the project manager in the beginning.
Study (includes English summary)
- Fiscal federalism and macroeconomic evolution. Basic needs for reform in the Austrian Financial compensation system.
Concerning the macroeconomic impact of fiscal federalism, the contribution points to the current need for reforms in the Austrian financial compensation system with view to efficiency and growth aspect.
- Problem oriented consumer policy. The contribution of behavioral economics to a better consumer protection
The text shows which knowledge can be generated by behavioral economic approaches in order to provide a wider economic basis for the justification and the operation of national consumer policy.
- Publications concerning Product Carbon Footprint (PCF)
In the context of the research project PCF-SME, “Product Carbon Footprint: advantages of companies thanks to environmental management in the value creation chain and to consumer information”, three publications concerning PCF have been developed. The project has been supported by the BMBF and realized by the Universities of applied sciences of Darmstadt, Bingen and Pforzheim.
In cooperation with partners from industry, the project aims to assess to which extent the Product Carbon Footprint represents an appropriate means for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to assess the possible climate impact of everyday products in their life cycles (resources, production, distribution, use and disposal). Beside the quantification of the climate relevance, it was tried to identify optimization possibilities in production and distribution and to communicate the results to the consumer.
The study “Carbon footprint assessment for organic products” first analyzes how information for the calculation of the impact by everyday products on the environment can be procured and which specificities may exist for organic products. The main part presents the life cycle of two organic products, Darjeeling tea (in comparison to the traditional cultivation) and T-shirts, and the results from the climate impact calculations in a detailed way. More Until now, studies on the impact of product labelling and on possible political initiatives to make the information concerning the PCF-value obligatory for companies bring about rather skeptical results and recommendations. Product information seems to be taken into account by consumers only in a selective manner. Moreover, generalized information concerning a label that only serves as a signal but does not contain pure informational values rather lead to confusion.
The study “consumer information about product carbon footprint of everyday products” therefore tries to indentify the expectation of consumers with regard to the presentation of costumer information. On the other hand, the motives and calculations consumers base the choice of their everyday products on are assessed. To this aim, in summer 2011 three group discussions with citizens were organized in the cities of Darmstadt and Bingen. Around 43 persons participated.
More To evaluate the PCF of a product, the producer needs data on greenhouse gas emission at every step of life cycle. However, stake-holders in the product value creation chain are often not willing or not able to provide these data. Consequently, the producer has to think about ways to motivate the other actors to become involved as partners. To make these attempts successful, the producer should know the specific incentives and impediments of the other stake-holders. A corresponding evaluation is provided by the discussion paper “Product Carbon Footprint and the incentive situation of the actors in the value creation chain” that is based on empirical results generated especially by interviews with representatives of associations.
- Future development of private expenditures on transport in Germany due to the demographic change
Germany is part of the industrial states where the demographic change is in an advanced stage. The phenomenon - without migration flows from the exterior - of a shrinking population that is getting older is due to the rise of life expectancy and a decrease in the fertility rate. However, not only industrial states like Germany are affected by this tendency. The resulting demographic trends represent challenges in various ways. Against this background, the study focuses on private household expenditures on transport where, according to the available study, important changes will occur due to population ageing.
- Capital market forecast simulation game An empirical comparison of the forecast ability of amateurs and experts.
Successful capital market forecasts are of outstanding importance to managers of active securities funds, within the maturity transformation process of banks or for investment decisions of companies or individuals. However, there are mainly of poor quality. Moreover, they are characterized by specific qualities like systematic errors or present-oriented price adoption. Beside numerous evaluations of expert forecasts that generate this observation, certain aspects are also analyzed with means of laboratory experiments. However, they are subject to the usual restrictions like the short time plan and the question to what extent the obtained results mirror reality. Against this background, the study is based on the results of an unusual method of data collection: during a whole semester, students forecast a share price within a simulation game.
- Fracking: substance law contributions to regulation
In the context of the information and dialogue process concerning the security and the environmental impact of the fracking technology that was initiated by ExxonMobil Sofia has prepared a brief report on the contribution of substance law to risk control. The substances the company wants to use have been analyzed according to the requirements by substance law (REACH/CLP) The study is also available in the online offer of the dialogue process.
The report leads to the following conclusions: without a previous chemical safety assessment their notification to the ECHA, it is not allowed to use substances subject to registration under REACH, whose registration does not account for their use in racfluids. If these requirements are not respected, the use of the substances in fracking projects is contradictory to substance law and its principle of “no data, no market”. The last sentence of the summary of the results says that, according to the conception of the unity of the legal framework, authorities must not allow any fracking project that is not in accordance with the requirements made by substance law.
- What is the impact of the German unity on the Länder in the federal fiscal equalization scheme?
A financial analysis of the case of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Sofia Report 05
The considerations and results discussed in the book aim at an audience that is interested by the question to what extent the German unity has burdened the Länder within the federal fiscal equalization scheme. The investigation can thus be considered as a complement to the regular but controversy discussion on financial burdens put on certain Länder in the context of the federal fiscal equalization scheme.
- John Maynard Keynes and the Treaty of Versailles. A behavioral economic reconstruction
Thanks to his evaluation of the Treaty of Versailles, John Maynard Keynes became one of the most known economists of his time. Directly after the closure of the conference, Keynes, who was member of the British delegation and therefore participated in the negotiations, criticized the Treaty. In his point of view, due to cognitive mistakes by the negotiating parties, the treaty was not able to offer a basis for a stable post-war order. With view to this critic, the logic of Keynes’ analyses is reconstructed from a behavioral economic position. In doing so, it can be shown that his perspective is in line with the results of current behavioral economic studies that focus on distortions of perceptions, on decisional errors as well as on the importance of the context for actors’ behavior in complex negotiation situations.
- Public expenditure and behavioral economics – the psychology of taxation (and debts). Current knowledge and spending related political implications.
Knowledge generated by behavioral economics has gained momentum in comparison to the traditional economic approach for some time now. The development of the neoclassical model (complete rationality, utility maximization, time consistent preferences) cannot be restricted to macro- and microeconomic fields. There are also behavioral economic analyses of public finance – especially with view to the theory of optimal taxation- that point to the need for completion or even correction of the present knowledge level in this field. Against this background, the study provides an overview of behavioral economic studies on the various kinds of public finance (taxation, debts, charges and contributions) and the implication that can be deduced. The focus is put on the behavioral economic justification and the impact study of taxation as well as the psychological explanation for tax resistance, tax avoidance and taxpayer morale.
To read the Sofia study, please click.
- Substance-related environmental criteria
In different environmental legislations (water, soil, air, chemicals), there is no homogeneous procedure to assess substance related environmental criteria until now. However, some fields show methodological accordance, but also differences in defining limits, thresholds etc. On the basis of the REACH regulation, which serves as benchmark, the sofia-report analyzes the methods used in the different rules and regulations (method comparison). The report originates from the project “Determination of substance-related environmental criteria- a method comparison of national and international assessment criteria” that was realized in cooperation with the Fraunhofer institute IME and commissioned by the Federal Environmental Agency.
To read the study, please click.
- Project FORUM Project report available at other publisher’s.
The report of the project “FORUM: Tradable Planning Permits – technical preparation of a supra-regional model test” is now available on the media database of the Federal Environmental Agency.
- Sustainable urban development exemplified by the industrial estate Siekhöhle in Göttingen
The contribution provides a fiscal impact study using the example of the industrial estate Siekhöhle in Göttingen. The principles of sustainable urban development as well as the corresponding industrial district development will be discussed briefly. On this basis, the main attention lays on the empirically determined job effects as well as the fiscal effects of the industrial estate Siekhöhle over the time period analyzed. Furthermore, recommendations are presented that discuss criteria for a sustainable industrial estate development. Finally, a short summary provides an overview for the reader. To read the study, please click
- Integration of the new Länder in the federal fiscal equalization scheme – An empirical assessment of the costs of unity for the western Länder.
The study deals with the notion of “burden of unity”. The main questions is whether the economic understanding of burdens can be restricted to the simple capturing of financial flows or whether it is also important to consider other aspects. Moreover, a methodic approach is developed in this article that serves for the empirical quantification of burdens of unity that directly result from the horizontal Länder fiscal equalization scheme.
To read the study, please click.
- Regional economic impacts of unconventional natural gas production (hydraulic fracturing)
The motivation for the study stems from the controversial discussion concerning the extraction of unconventional natural gas by means of the hydraulic fracturing method (short: fracking). To accompany the discussion, an information and dialogue process was initiated by ExxonMobil in 2011. Especially objective experts have been participating. In the US, it could be seen that communities profit from more jobs and tax inflows during the drilling and fracking period. This has raised the question if similar effects can be expected in Germany. To give a reply, a preliminary study has been conducted.
To read the study, please click
- Schumpeter and the theory of entrepreneurial innovation – main statements, critical dissociation from other approaches and elements for its development.
On the one hand, the study shows that approaches originating in Schumpeter’s evolutionary theory are marked by incompleteness or inconsistency. Consequently, it tries on the other hand to identify components for the development of a theory of entrepreneurial innovation that follows Schumpeter’s approach. At the same time, these benchmarks should correct inherent failures and inaccuracies (however not completely).
To read the study, please click
- Burdens of unity stemming from the fiscal equalization scheme - an empirical quantification of the example of North Rhine-Westphalia
The article deals with the financial assessment of the burden of unity that comes from the fiscal equalization scheme. The main questions is whether the economic understanding of burden can be restricted to the simple capturing of financial flows or whether it is also important to consider other aspects. Moreover, based on the case study of North Rhine-Westphalia, a methodic approach is developed that serves for the empirical quantification of burdens of unity.
- Urban Research: The city as a subject for interdisciplinary research – a simple change of perspective?
The discussion paper “urban research“ was developed in the context of the research priority “inherent logic of cities”. It provides propositions for a methodic integration of other disciplines in the urban und spatial sociology concept of “inherent logic of cities”. An actor- and institutional oriented approach is adopted.
- Nanomaterials in REACH. Does registration promote sustainable innovations in nanotechnology?
The article responds to the question made in the title by a jurisprudential examination of the REACH- requirements and an analysis of the incentives and impediments of potential registrants of nanotechnologies. Moreover, it was possible to base the contribution on the first results of an enterprise survey. The study was conducted in the context of ReSINa, a project supported by the BMBF.
- Future perspectives for electromobility – Driving forces and obstacles from an economic point of view
Nowadays more and more attention is attributed to “electromobility”. Likewise, countries such as Austria and Germany have set ambitious goals concerning the future share of electric vehicles in the total amount of existing cars. With view to this phenomenon, the article seeks to give an economic reply to the question whether the different forms of electromobility have a realistic chance to gain important market shares in the next years.
- Four years of REACH – an interim evaluation
This was the title of Martin Fürst’s talk at the 27th colloquium of Trier about environmental and technical law, hold on the 1st and 2nd September. Taking into account the report concerning art. 117 p. 2 REACH by ECHA as well as the “final evaluation” of the 6th environmental action day of the European Community, conducted by the European Commission, his assessment of the first years of the implementation is rather positive. Moreover, taking the perspective of the year 2020, he tries to “look back” on the next two implementation periods.
- Intellectual property vs. social interest of developing countries – patent law and its implications on food security
Claudia Fricke’s study analyses the impact of patent law on food security. The main question is whether patents for genetically modified seeds represent a threat to food security. First, genetic plant resources and food security is placed in the international legal framework. Upon this base, the analysis of the legal conflict is performed exemplified by the use of intellectual property rights in agriculture. The examination brings about solution models and considers their suitability with the help of case studies from Brazil or China. The aim is to derive design recommendations so that patents for seeds and food security can coexist in developing countries. The study has been conducted in the context of a diploma thesis in the study of Informational law at the University of Applied Science Darmstadt.
- Nanodialogue 2009-2011 closing conference
On the 2nd of February, the closing conference of the nanodialogue 2009-2011 was held in Berlin. The final report was presented by the nanocommission that highlighted the most relevant results and gave recommendation concerning the sustainable use of nanomaterials.
The nanoconference represents a stakeholder dialogue where representatives from all fields of society – science, consumer and environmental associations, industry, administration and the church – can exchange their views. Four interdisciplinary panels were formed that discussed criteria for the interim evaluation of nanomaterials concerning their impact on human beings and the environment. Prof. Dr. Martin Führ, head of sofia, participated in panel 3, in charge of the control of nanomaterial and nanoproduct regulations. The discussion led to a consensus of all stakeholders concerning the modifications of the “chemical regulation” REACF that have to be made. The final report of the nanocommission as well as the individual panel reports can be found here.
In this field, the society for institutional analysis – sofia- is additionally involved with different projects concerning nanomaterial regulation. Thus, the current ReSINa project deals with the question of how regulations for genetic engineering, chemicals and nanotechnology have to be designed so that the goal of product and process sustainability in entrepreneurial innovations is pursued from the beginning on. More information concerning the project can be found here. Moreover, the legal opinion on nanotechnologies (ReNaTe), commissioned by the Federal Environmental Agency, has been drawn up in cooperation with the Öko-institute in 2006. For more information, please click here.
- Biopatents in Animal Breeding - applicability of patent law and recommendations for the future development of the regulatory and legislative framework
The project is funded by the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Nutrition (BLE) and aims to generate scientific evidence to support policy decisions on biopatenting in animal breeding.
The research will run for a period of 2 years until the end of 2012.
The consortium consists of researchers from Cardiff University, the Technical University of Munich and sofia - Society for Institutional Analysis at the University of Applied Sciences, Darmstadt.
(1 June 2011)
- The European Impact Assessment and the Environment
The European Commission requires an impact assessment report for any regulation proposed. This book analyzes the quality of impact assessments and discusses deficits and possible improvements. Based on 30 case studies of impact assessments, an institutional analysis of the relevant actors is conducted, which shows that there are many shortcomings, among them an incentive problem concerning desk officers in the European Commission. The book includes various articles which address controversial problems and possible solutions. It offers a comprehensive overview of the practice of impact assessment in the EC, as well as an institutional analysis of the processes involved and of the checks and balances between politicians and their administration. More...
(2 September 2010)
- Simulation and Evaluation of Better Regulation of Converging Technologies (SEBEROC)
The SEBEROC project is carried out on behalf of the SKEP Network and aims at a better regulation of converging technologies.
The research will run for a period of 2 years until the end of 2011.
The consortium brings together researchers from Austria (ifz - Inter-University Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture, Graz), Finland (SYKE – Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki), Germany (sofia - Society for Institutional Analysis at the University of Applied Sciences, Darmstadt), the Netherlands (University of Amsterdam and VU University Amsterdam) and the United Kingdom (Cardiff University).
(5 July 2010)
- Nanomaterials on the market:
What regulators need to know (15.10.2009)
The European Commission organized a conference in Brussels which adressed the following questions:
- Which information do we have?
- Is REACH sufficient?
- Need for strengthening information reporting?
The topic "Does REACH provide the necessary answers? What is and is not covered by REACH" was adressed by Prof. Dr. Martin Führ (download of the presentation).
Further information can be found under www.nanomaterialsconf.eu
- International research project: clima-pro (23 February 2009)
The research-project clima-pro deals with the question of "Developing instruments to improve the business cooperation of German enterprises in terms of environmental and climate protection projects in developing and newly industrializing countries."
More information about the project clima-pro.
- New study: Legal appraisal of the proposed REACh-Annex XIII revision (10.12.2008)
The summary of the study "Legal appraisal of the proposed REACh-Annex XIII revision" by Martin Führ on behalf of WWF European Policy Office has been published as sofia - Statement Nr. 08-2.
Download under "publications".
- The research project "Evaluation of the German Act on Environmental Impact Assesment", granted by the German Federal Environmental Protection Agency (Umweltbundesamt, FKZ: 205 16 104), is finished. The following research questions were investigated: What benefits are associated with EIA and what expenditure? What deficiencies and positive effects are identifiable with regard to the EIA and what can they be traced back to? What incentives are available for the project participants to actually fulfil the requirements of the EIA? What modifications can be recommended in respect of the legal embodiment and/or implementation practice?
Download: Study (2009, german)
Download: Publication in Environmental Law Network International 2007 , p. 25 - 29 (Methodology of the Analysis, engl.)
- International workshop "Improving the Integrated European Impact Assessment" - Berlin, 15-17 September 2008
The international workshop "Improving the Integrated European Impact Assessment", Berlin, 15-17 September 2008, explored means and possibilities to strengthen the environmental aspects within the EU Impact Assessment System. Are environmental aspects covered appropriately by actual assessements of impacts? This and further questions were discussed during the workshop.
- Sofia contribution by Stefanie Merenyi to the Korea-EU Joint Workshop in SEOUL, Dec. 3rd-4th 2007 as outlined in the program.
- In context of the German EU-presidency a workshop with Member States experts from environmental authorities took place at October 11 - 12, 2007 in Berlin.
Consequences of REACh for other legal and administrative environmental instruments - Evaluating the Environmental Effectiveness of REACh
- Legal appraisal of nano technologies
Existing legal framework, the need for regulation and regulative options at a European and a national level.
Findings of a study on behalf of the German EPA (Umweltbundesamt).
Download of the study (pdf, 440 KB, 75 pp.)...
Download of the presentation (pdf, 197 KB)...given by Prof. Dr. Martin Führ, Stefanie Merenyi and Andreas Hermann LL.M. at the elni-forum in Brussels December 6, 2006.
- Project on Risk Management and Capacity Building under REACh
Title: Guidance for the implementation of a successful risk management under REACH
Study on behalf of the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA).
(FKZ 205 67 462/05)
Short description in German.
Short description in English (pdf, 490 kb). see also: REACh as a paradigm shift in chemical policy - responsive regulation and behavioural models Führ, M./Bizer, K.; in: Journal of Cleaner Production (JCLP), 15, 2007 (4), 327-334, Elsevier, Exeter (UK) (pre-version pdf, 400 kB)
- Mind the Gap - Interface Problems between EC Chemicals Law and sectoral environmental legislation
Führ, M./Merenyi, S.; In: Review of European Community and International Environmental Law (RECIEL), 15, 2006 (3), 281-292 (Blackwell Publishing).
- Implementation of risk reduction measures under REACh
Toxic ignorance has become a major issue in the current debate on chemical policy both in the EU and the US. The term refers to a lack of knowledge of the health and environmental properties, as well as the mechanisms of action, of Existing Chemicals. There can be little doubt that this term also goes to the heart of the problem facing us today. However, the availability of such data – at any rate for individual substances – gives rise to a new problem, which is that such data must now be evaluated in light of the actions that need to be taken. Here the legal interface with other sector of environmental legislation are crucial.
"Inter-face problems between REACh and sector specific environmental legislation (IPPC/WFD)" is the titel of a study carried out on behalf of the German Federal Environmental Agency.
Download of the english version: UBA - Text 04/2005 (pdf, 1,5 MB).
German Version: UBA - Text 03/2005 (pdf, 1,5 MB).
- elni forum
On June 30, 2005 the study "Interface problems between REACh and sector-specific environmental legislation (IPPC/WFD)" carried out on behalf of the German Federal Environmental Agency was presented at the elni forum in Brussels, hosted once again by the Centre d'étude du droit de l'environnement at the Faculté de droit des Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis.
Download of the presentation at the elni forum or visit the official elni-Website.
Latest update on: 10 December 2009
For further news see also: german version.