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:
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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: 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.sharetweetmail

The interdisciplinary research team explores the potential for a structural transformation driven by cooperation. In so doing, it takes a transformative approach to a situation characterised by tensions and social conflict. The following three practice-oriented questions guide our transformative research: (1) What kinds of cooperation are conducive to democratic structural change in Lusatia and how can local knowledge be harnessed for this purpose? (2) How do national and international policy frameworks, for example in relation to climate protection, influence transformation in Lusatia? (3) How can tensions between the economic and democratic spheres be addressed to promote a transformation that 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 governance levels. 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.

Through its studies and advisory activities the research group actively shares its expertise with political and civil society actors and is a point of contact for them. Together with the Leibniz Institute for Ecological Urban and Regional Development (Prof. Robert Knippschild), it provides guidance and support to the "Zukunftswerkstatt Lausitz" (Workshop for the Future of Lusatia). The research team, which includes two people working from Görlitz and Forst, also cooperates with many other partners in the region.

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