Coal mining has played an important role in Lusatia for decades. The coal phaseout now presents opportunities to cultivate sustainable ways of living and doing business.
Coal mining has played an important role in Lusatia for decades. The coal phaseout now presents opportunities to cultivate sustainable ways of living and doing business. istock/KnutBurmeister

Headline: Social Transformation and Policy Advice in Lusatia

Duration:
to

Over the last three decades, the social fabric, economy and landscape of the eastern German region of Lusatia have changed dramatically. German reunification precipitated a drastic reorganisation of Lusatia's economic system, which resulted in population loss and unemployment. At the same time, new industries and landscapes emerged. Through all these upheavals, two things remained constant, albeit on a smaller scale: coal production and coal-based electricity generation. Now, as the coal-mining industry winds down, the region is losing not just an important economic sector, but also a cornerstone of its identity. What does this loss mean for Lusatia? How can it be turned into an opportunity for sustainable living and working? And how can we pave the way to this goal? These are the questions that this BMBF-funded project is concerned with.

The interdisciplinary research team will explore the potential for transformation based on cooperation and identify development paths that take account of various lines of conflict. Research and policy advice are interlinked in this project, and the following three practice-oriented questions guide our work in both areas:

(1) What kinds of cooperation are conducive to democratic structural change in Lusatia and how can they be fostered? (2) How do national and international policy frameworks, for example in relation to climate protection, influence transformation in Lusatia? (3) How can innovative approaches to democratic participation be employed to ensure that regional economic development is both fair and sustainable? The task of ensuring that the transformation of Lusatia is not only effective and sustainable, but also democratic and fair, is a challenge for all those involved. Regional lines of cooperation and conflict in the economy and society, the national and international political context, historical influences, and current dynamics are just some of the many factors that determine the impending changes. Dealing with such complexity is a democratic, economic and social challenge. The multifaceted transformation of Lusatia can only succeed with input from local people and other regional actors.

The project team actively shares its insights with political and civil society actors and is a point of contact for them. The „Zukunftswerkstatt Lausitz", which is funded by the Federal Government and the states of Brandenburg and Saxony, is an important project partner. Together with the Leibniz Institute for Ecological Urban and Regional Development (Prof. Robert Knippschild), the IASS project will support the Zukunftswerkstatt.

For research-related enquiries, please contact Jeremias Herberg. For questions concerning policy advice, please contact Johannes Staemmler.