Ecological structural change

Strategies and recommendations for ecological structural change towards a green economy

Complying with our planet's ecological boundaries and pursuing global and national sustainability goals require deep transformation of existing supply and production structures. This project uses case studies and a broad industry screening to find out which economic sectors are under particular pressure to change and how to design policies for successful ecological structural change.

The project's objective is to find out which economic sectors are under particular pressure to change in terms of sustainability requirements, in order to shape the change here in good time. Another goal is to analyze the conditions and influencing factors for ecological structural change in more detail for selected cases and to derive recommendations how to shape this change.  

Identifying the economic areas that are under particular pressure to change from an environmental viewpoint is based on a broad screening of the literature that is translated into qualitative and semi-quantitative assessments. Fraunhofer ISI was additionally responsible for a quantitative assessment of the environmental impacts of all sectors of the German economy. This was achieved based on calculations using an environmentally extended multi-regional input-output database (EXIOBASE).

The concrete requirements of structural change are highlighted in case studies that deal with the automotive industry, the chemical industry and the second-life use of battery storage systems. The case studies are based on the analysis of literature and statistics as well as interviews of experts and stakeholder workshops. Fraunhofer ISI coordinated the case study in the automotive industry and made a significant contribution to the case studies of the chemical industry and battery storages. In addition, a literature-based evaluation of historical structural change processes shows which political, economic and social factors determine their course, and what lessons can be learned from this for policy making.

The results include recommendations for strategies and actions for the individual case study sectors - for both political actors and stakeholders in industry and society. Conclusions spanning the case studies concern the causes and drivers of change, show possible developments in the sectors, and derive generalized action and strategy recommendations for successfully shaping ecologically motivated structural change processes. The results were presented at a final conference in May 2020.

Brochure, edited by German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt - UBA): "Towards a Green Economy. Successfully shaping structural change"

More results are available on the German website.


from 2018 until 2020


  • Umweltbundesamt (UBA)/Federal Environment Agency

Project coordinator

  • Öko-Institut e. V.