UTFacultiesBMSDept TPSCSTMResearchSustainable production & consumption

Sustainable production & consumption

Sustainable Development Goal 12: Sustainable consumption and productionThe CSTM domain Sustainable Production and Consumption comprises five areas for special attention. In the area of “Environmental policy approaches and their effectiveness”, CSTM researchers analyse ways of changing governmental sustainability strategies towards environmental governance, industrial production and consumption. 
 “Networks and organizations for sustainable development” concentrates on multi-actor/network constellations joining forces and working together in the greening of industry. Furthermore, corporate collaborative strategies of companies are objects of research, especially when network approaches and capacity-building partnerships are used for increasing corporate and product legitimacy.
The firm-level mitigation of environmental impacts of products and production processes – the greening of industry – describes the theme “Environmental management and sustainability at the firm level/Greening of Industry”. This includes among others corporate environmental strategy and environmental management systems. Besides, this area includes topics such as market development/preparation for new products, technologies or services.
Opportunities for better environmental quality that come with socio-economic development and innovations are addressed in the theme of “Green Economy and Eco-innovations”. To decrease social costs and benefits while reducing natural resource use and industrial pollution is at the theme’s heart.
Finally, the theme “Sustainable development” focuses on smart ways for balancing the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable development. For example, the projects “Building with Nature” and “NatureCoast” are long-term research programmes aimed at development and application of new design concepts for the layout and sustainable management of wet infrastructure.

Current projects

  • Sustainable innovation projects

    Energy and water are the subjects of interest in terms of sustainable innovations with the main goal to add value and reduce environmental impacts. Examples of studies are: (1) Financing sustainable innovators, with particular attention to energy transition and local energy initiatives; (2) Value adding wastewater treatment through combination of treatment technologies and services.

  • Costs and benefits of Innovations for Sustainable tourism in national parks

    An emerging subject of studies is land use for tourism, recreation and culture which are fast growing businesses. In these studies CSTM strives for direct involvement of companies in order to strengthen the corporate social responsibility and life cycle management. Hence, studies are based on practices. The methodology of reflective practices is used, it means participation in and reflecting on joint work of stakeholders.

  • Green Economy and Eco-innovations projects

    In this research field, the possibilities of socio-economic development and better environmental qualities are addressed. Herewith, an important role is for innovations. A general issue is how natural resource uses and industrial pollution can be contained at decreasing costs and social benefit, and how economies can become eco-efficient. The social demands for sustainability development are addressed, including changes in socio-economic structures towards more knowledge work and leisure time. Also, supply of creative and novel solutions is studied, including blending of natural and cultural attributes. Important features in the research are innovators networks and possibilities of novel institutions, renewed policies and market arrangements in support of the networks.

  • Product Co-Creation Centres

    Product co-creation centre (PC3) is an interdisciplinary action research project which includes researchers from entrepreneurship (NIKOS) and Design (OPM). It focuses on enabling entrepreneurship by engaging grassroots innovators in designing their own products and services, while considering social and environmental sustainability aspects. Doing so, grassroots innovators and entrepreneurs are supported to create real value with local impact.

  • Managing telecoupled landscapes in Myanmar, Laos and Madagascar

    The debate about Sustainable Development Goals following the United Nations “Rio+20” reveals the difficulty of simultaneously addressing social and economic development challenges and the degradation of Earth’s life support systems. Land systems in the humid tropics illustrate these challenges prominently. Local people’s land use strategies are facing competition from large-scale land acquisition, logging etc., but also biodiversity conservation. Remote decision-makers reshape flows of ecosystem services to their benefit, whereas the consequences hardly reach them. Land change scientists have recently conceptualized this phenomenon under the term “telecoupling”. The project within the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d programme) pursues the overall goal of devising and testing innovative strategies and institutional arrangements for securing ecosystem service flows and human well-being in and between telecoupled landscapes at study sites in Laos, Myanmar, and Madagascar.

    More information

    Project website: https://www.telecoupling.unibe.ch
    Videos: Cash crops: Opportunity or Challenge? Voices from Maroantsetra region, Madagascar

    Key publications

    Andriamihaja, O. R., Metz, F., Zaehringer, J. G., Fischer, M., & Messerli, P. (2021). Identifying agents of change for sustainable land governanceLand use policy100 [104882]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.104882

    Pham-Truffert, M., Metz, F. A., Fischer, M., Rueff, H., & Messerli, P. (2020). Interactions among Sustainable Development Goals: Knowledge for identifying multipliers and virtuous cyclesSustainable development28(5), 1236-1250. https://doi.org/10.1002/sd.2073

    Andriamihaja, O. R., Metz, F., Zaehringer, J. G., Fischer, M., & Messerli, P. (2019). Land Competition under Telecoupling: Distant Actors’ Environmental versus Economic Claims on Land in North-Eastern Madagascar. Sustainability, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030851


  • Transformation towards Challenge-based Learning (2022)

    Transforming a Problem-based learning course into a Challenge-based learning course: UT M-EEM “Challenge-based Sustainability Case projects”

    The Master programme in Energy and Environmental Management (M-EEM) has already had a group-work-based course in each specialisation track in quartile 3 for many years. Traditionally, this has been a problem-based course, i.e. teachers provided research problems including external partners/clients. In the recent past, the courses have already opened up to a more challenge-based structure, especially in the Case Project Water Management, with specific a ‘scoping phase’ at the beginning of the course for students to develop and formulate their own research problems.

    From this academic year on, all three courses are supposed to become challenge-based, adopting tailored Engage-Investigate-Act phases. While the precise temporal segmentation of the available learning time is left to each course coordinator, both the summative and formative assessment have been aligned to include mid-term reports, e.g. proposals (formative), final reports (formative/summative), and a combination of self- and peer-assessment applied at three moments during the quartile (beginning, middle, end). The latter is mainly meant for formative assessment, but we also want to experiment with it to see whether and how it can be used to inform two of the criteria in the final assessment rubric (“personal development” and “group participation”).

    The questions we are interested in are:

    • How can aspects of challenge-based learning be strengthened in the context of three parallel group work courses in the Master programme Energy and Environmental Management?
    • In what way can challenge-based learning be adequately supported by a novel form of formative assessment throughout the quartile?