The overshoot day marks the date when the used ecological resources and services exceed what Earth can regenerate in that year. For Germany, the overshoot day for 2021 is 5 May, 241 days before the actual end of the year. Amidst such overuse of the planet’s resources, questions such as how to act fast and design effective solutions are of urgency. Our project We #MoveTheDate: Local Responses for a Good Life is working closely with the cities of Aachen and Wuppertal to mobilise city-based initiatives that move the date.

We #MoveTheDate aims to move the date by building synergies at two levels: expanding participation and positioning citizens at the heart of climate engagement. In Aachen and Wuppertal the project is building the necessary frameworks to engage citizens, municipalities, and other relevant actors to promote solutions that #MoveTheDate as well as find ways to multiply them.

“Climate protection is the answer to a social problem that directly affects us all. Therefore, it must become possible for as many different social actors as possible to make climate protection their issue and get involved politically. Especially at the local level, there is great potential to help shape a climate-friendly and resource-conserving future through direct dialogue with city governments. We #MoveTheDate supports such civil society engagement and therefore we are very pleased to support this project,” notes Dr. Lars Grotewold, Head of Climate Protection at Stiftung Mercator, the project funder.

Already, many city-based initiatives are pointing the way to a sustainable future. They can be models for what we need to adopt, expand and replicate to recover from the pandemic and strengthen our resilience. For example, the city of Wuppertal has one of the busiest urban bike paths in Germany despite its hilly landscape. The 23-kilometer Nordbahntrasse has become a popular and fast commuting route for working people and students. The transformation of the former railroad line was initiated by the citizens’ initiative Wuppertalbewegung e.V. and is a prime example of what an engaged civil society can achieve.

“Climate change and exploding resource demands around the world are merging into a perfect storm of resource uncertainty. Fixing our boat and investing in our community is the most obvious way to improve our own chances for a secure future. In doing so, this ‘storm’ also subsides and we can manage its consequences.”, says Uwe Schneidewind, Mayor of the City of Wuppertal

Aachen has laid the strategic foundation for its sustainable and climate-friendly urban development with the Integrated Climate Protection Concept and launched the Öcher Solar Support Program that aims to lower CO2 emissions by 77,000 tons each year. “Embarking on this path is a complex undertaking, but indispensable for a good life now and in the future of our city. Such approaches move the German Overshoot Day,” emphasises Sybille Keupen, the mayor of Aachen.

You can find other inspiring examples of pioneering cities here.

Are you aware of solutions that are moving the date? Let us know! Our contest We #MoveTheDate is looking for inspiring projects, from food rescue to repair cafes, from public projects to neighbourhood initiatives. Submit your entry now on our #MoveTheDate solution map. The best entries posted on the map before the International Environment Day, 5 June 2021, will be shared with wider audiences to inspire and build new synergies.

The project We #MoveTheDate: Local Responses for a Good Life is carried out in partnership with the Global Footprint Network and funded by the Stiftung Mercator.

For further questions, please contact Alexandra Kessler.

Managing emergency situations requires the collaboration and coordination of various actors from different organisations and institutions. Protecting communities and strengthening their resilience is a complex and intricate task. The baseline report of the PathoCERT project describes the emergency management frameworks of five European countries and South Korea. The report highlights the challenges they face and identifies aspects within the existing frameworks that could be further improved.

The six countries analysed in the report – Spain, Bulgaria, South Korea, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Greece – all have unique and complex systems for managing emergency situations. Through exchanges with the respective local project partners, the PathoCERT project has been able to identify how exactly the emergency management processes are structured, which actors are involved and what challenges they face. In the report, we highlight best practices and processes that countries are already implementing as well as leverage points for each pilot region to improve their emergency management frameworks.

South Korea, for example, has created guidelines for first responders on how to react during specific emergency events such as tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, nuclear disasters or chemical leakages. A comprehensive communication system enables direct communication between all types of first responders before, during and after an emergency situation. Citizens are also able to provide real-time information on developing disaster situations to first responders over a website. Practices like these are showcased in the report so that they can be be taken up by other countries and regions.

Other existing processes can always be optimised to ensure maximum effectiveness. For example, in Granada, Spain an improvement of the emergency management system could entail increasing the number of simulation trainings for large-scale hazardous events or exploit new funding opportunities for innovative technological solutions. Additionally, it became clear that the emergency management system would profit from incorporating external stakeholders that are not part of the direct emergency management. This enables more holistic emergency management services and the creation of novel solutions.

The report’s insights lay the foundation for further, country-tailored and multi-stakeholder engagement processes that will be implemented throughout the PathoCERT project.

To read the complete findings, please check out the report in our library.

For further information, please contact Francesca Grossi.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash


Good for [your city], was the motto of the German savings banks (Sparkassen) some time ago, referring to the traditionally strong ties to their respective locations and their broad range of tasks between financial services, services of general interest, and orientation toward the common good. While cities and businesses are facing major transformation challenges, regional banks are also increasingly asking themselves how they can support this process or perhaps even become a driving force.

The list of challenges is long. It ranges from the transition to renewable energy, combating climate change, creating a genuine circular economy, strengthening of social cohesion and the need of a fundamental transformation of our food and mobility systems. What is new, however, is the quality of implementation, which has reached an unprecedented legislative priority, especially with the European Commissions’ Green Deal. These developments do not come by chance either and are an expression of social changes negotiated at a global level (e.g., through the Sustainability Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030 and Fridays for Future), but in many cases also with a strong focus on the local level: city quarters, municipalities and local companies.

Local financial institutions, such as the German savings banks, have always seen themselves as a formative part of the respective city or region. While donations and sponsoring are the main means of support, such banks are increasingly asking themselves what additional design and support options can be used to actively promote the required sustainability transformation in their area. At the same time, external pressure is also increasing: on the one hand, banks such as German GLS Bank have long enjoyed a lively influx of sustainability-savvy customers; on the other hand, the Corporate Social Responsibility Directive Implementation Act (CSR-RUG) requires many banks to report on their corporate responsibility from the 2017 financial year onwards.

A helpful view from the outside

A good starting point is listening to what employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders think. The focus does not always have to be on narrowed-down and pre-defined concepts of sustainability. The “Good for …” principle is suitable for addressing a community’s needs in a more comprehensive way. When is a savings bank good for its city? What is a bank already good at and where does it need improvements? These and other questions can help make sustainability-related fields of activity concrete and tangible – also for wider target groups. In addition, the ability to respond to growing customer demands and expectations can be directly reflected in critical ways. In a first step, this can lead to the identification of important – and potentially new – fields of action.

The institutionalised view from the outside: The Sustainability Committee of Sparkasse Wuppertal

For companies, it is always important to learn about “blind spots” (“Betriebsblindheit”). They need to exchange with people and organisations operating in other networks in order to gain a better view on risks, challenges, opportunities or new approaches and ideas of other sectors that might be of relevance for them, too. In the words of its CEO Gunther Wölfges, Stadtsparkasse Wuppertal wants to “live and promote all three dimensions of sustainability so that prosperity is possible in the long term”. In order to benefit from different perspectives and a wide expertise, a Sustainability Committee was established in November 2020. It is composed of five members with strong scientific and practical expertise in the field of sustainability, among which the CSCP’s Executive Director, Michael Kuhndt. The committee, which meets twice a year, focuses in advancing the sustainability performance of Sparkasse Wuppertal at all levels.

Engage motivated employees and support them in shaping the future

Sustainability is a goal that stretches beyond professional targets. In addition to job satisfaction and good pay, young professionals are increasingly expressing their commitment to contribute to the ‘bigger picture’. Parents, whose children go to demonstrations against climate change, are beginning to question their own professional role, and for many grandparents the desire for a ‘grandchild-friendly’ life and work has already become an important personal guideline. These people exist in all organisations, including financial ones. Taking their concerns seriously and involving them actively has many advantages. In a workshop that we held with bank employees from different hierarchical levels and functional areas, it simply required a brief introduction and presentation of potential fields of action for the participants to become active themselves: What could sustainability and the identified fields of action mean for individual working environments? Which aspects can be meaningfully integrated into existing processes? How can we do so in effective and seamless ways?

Invest, request, inspire

The results of such group work and discussions are often practical suggestions enriched with an operational implementation perspective. In addition, such approaches are much better accepted than top-down ones. Surveys conducted at the end of such workshops regularly revealed that dealing with sustainability issues and their concrete implementation was experienced as very motivating and meaningful by the participants. Their insights have also proven to be key for integrating sustainability in a cross-sectional way, as the ultimate goal is that in everything we do, we ask ourselves: Is it possible to do it more sustainably?

A holistic approach like this enables strategic results that go far beyond what can be achieved through donations and sponsoring. Local sustainability transformations need trendsetters and role models. Firmly-rooted banks with regular contacts to citizens and communities, crafts enterprises and other companies have a special role to play. The following chart summarises the various starting points. Not everything can be implemented quickly and comprehensively. The key, though, is to engage in transformative learning and experimentation processes together with customers, city administrations, and other businesses and to better understand and use the available levers and opportunities.

For further information and to engage with us in accelerating the sustainability transformation, please contact Stephan Schaller.

Photo by Julius Döllefeld on Unsplash


How can digitalisation promote transparency, sustainable value chains and resource efficiency? How does digitalisation support the transition to a circular economy? What does the EU Green Deal mean for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and what role does digitalisation play in this? Do you also ponder these questions? What else is relevant for your business? Join our Competence Centre online barcamp, 6 May 2021, and shape the discussion together with peers and experts.

There are many inspiring examples from business that have managed to adapt to new circumstances by adapting digital solutions, be it regarding new ways of working, producing, or communicating with customers. Likewise, there are many challenges on the way, especially for SMEs. Our Competence Centre online barcamp wants to provide a platform for business representatives to share their stories and viewpoints and exchange with sustainability and digitalisation experts to make the most out of these megatrends.

“It is always great to get in touch with those working in different economic environments and hear how the topics of digitalisation and sustainability are relevant for the business success of SMEs and how to be innovative and forward-looking”, says CSCP’s Thomas Wagner, expert on sustainable digitalisation and co-host of the barcamp.

The participatory format of the barcamp allows the participants to pitch workshop sessions and bring their own topics forward. An interview with representatives of the food packaging company Maag will kick off the event. Maag has recently implemented a digital solution to improve their operations and reduce packaging and food waste. Following the interview, the participants can propose further topics and jointly shape the sessions.

Date: 6 May 2021
Time: 10:00-14:00 CET
Place: Online
Language: German
Cost: Free of charge

Are you looking for exchanges with peers and experts, new perspectives or a platform to discuss topics that you are burning for? Then, our barcamp is the right place! Sign up now by visiting our Competence Centre website!

For further questions, please contact Thomas Wagner.


How can we bridge the attitude-action gap among consumers toward more sustainable, circular behaviours in Europe? Our academy will take you there!

In a Eurobarometer survey, 94% of respondents considered protecting the environment as important to them personally and many associated it with the need of engaging with circular behaviours, such as sorting their waste for recycling (Eurobarometer, 2017). Does this mean that we are on track to mainstream circular and more sustainable behaviours in Europe? Not quite. It is increasingly understood that such positive attitudes do not necessarily equate to action. In fact, food, mobility, and housing are the most impacting areas of consumption, as well as the ones characterised by less durable products and higher use intensity (JRC, 2019). There is a large gap between favourable attitudes and actual consumption of better performing, circular products and services.

On the other hand, there is still limited research and action on behaviour change and consumer engagement with specific regard to the circular economy. With the new EU Green Deal, however, this is radically changing and consumers are increasingly under the spotlight. The EU Circular Economy Action Plan is clearly focused on “empowering consumers and providing them with cost-saving opportunities” as a key building block towards the circular economy (EC, 2020). As put in the European Environment Agency 2019 circular economy report, “consumer behaviour is one of the key levers for enabling the transition to a circular economy” (EEA, 2019).

In this context, the central question is: how can we bridge the attitude-action gap towards more sustainable, circular behaviours? That’s a complex question, as behaviours are shaped by a combination of drivers that influence people’s capabilities, motivation and opportunity (Michie et al., 2014) to engage with the circular economy. However, there is a growing evidence base informed by behavioural science showing the way forward in terms of approaches that might work best and aspects that have limited impact and need improvement.

Based on this know-how, building the capacity of stakeholders in learning about and integrating consumer behavioural insights into their circular economy strategies. Outreach is therefore needed, in order to generate greater impact with their initiatives and, ultimately, to drive more circular behaviours. Throughout the entire chain, skill development and capacity building play a key role in equipping stakeholders in making circular behaviours possible – including repairing, sharing, leasing, reusing, recycling and maintaining for longer.

Realising this opportunity, a leadership group at the heart of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform has taken up the mandate to make such skill building possible. The group is called Retailers, Consumers & Skills, led by the CSCP and composed of a high-level stakeholder group including organisations such as EuroCommerce, RREUSE and the European Environment Agency. The Retailers, Consumers & Skills will be responsible for planning and running the Circular Academy.

The training modules to be prepared by the group are aimed at enabling stakeholders to design and plan for circular behaviour change. The group will start by focusing on capacity building for behavioural solutions in the electronics sector, targeting retailers and city authorities as the initial training audience.

A first EU circular talk will be organised by the group and take place in May in order to share further insights about the initiative and its next steps.

Found it interesting? Are you keen on learning more about the initiative and getting engaged to make it happen? Let us know!

For further questions and how to engage, please contact Imke Schmidt.

Photo by PR MEDIA on Unsplash


Mainstreaming sustainability – that is, upscaling solutions that support social and environmental sustainability – is a complex task. Recent research of our project Urban Up takes a closer look on upscaling obstacles and identifies strategies to overcome them.

There are so many solutions out there for a sustainable living, yet the hoped-for- change on a greater scale is far from reality. The reasons are manifold. The recent publication of the Urban Up project “From niche to mainstream: the dilemmas of scaling up sustainable alternatives“ sheds light on the common misunderstandings in upscaling processes and provides recommendations for solutions.

The paper, which received the second place in the Best Paper Award of the journal “GAIA – Ecological Perspective for Science and Society” for 2020, contributes to the debate on the urgency of upscaling sustainable solutions. This is especially relevant in the light of the short time frame left for reaching the Paris agreement targets. A key argument that the paper puts forward is acknowledging the intricacy of societal change: “Considering the complexity and non-linearity of co-evolutionary processes, the aspirations of policymakers, scientists, or actors from civil society to proactively and strategically foster a specific type of radical change are questionable or at least highly challenging.” Thus, processes of innovation and transformation are not projectable nor controllable. This challenge is demonstrated in three common dilemmas:

The paper offers numerous recommendations to overcome these challenges, including:

To read the full paper, please go to our library.

The latest research insights of the Urban Up project as well as resources, such as the framework for the social impact assessment tool, can be found on the Urban Up website.

Urban Up is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMFB) as a junior research group within the framework of social and ecological research.

For further information, please contact Alexandra Kessler.

Scientific data shows that the planet’s resources are being vastly overused. This is our context. How can we then build a future that is both socially as well as environmentally sustainable? The CSCP has joined forces to find creative solutions that move the date of the German and the Earth Overshoot Day.

Together with the Global Footprint Network, that has successfully implemented sustainability metrics, including the ecological footprint, and engaged with more than 70 countries and 80 organisations, we want to find out how citizens can become drivers of the transition toward more sustainability. The newly-launched pilot project We #MoveTheDate aims to engage and empower cities and their citizens toward being active participants in, rather than observers of, the sustainability transformation. Through this shift in perception, the project plans to meaningfully address the emerging risks of living in a world with massive overshoot.

A key objective of the project is to generate ownership among citizens  and support the creativity and ability of urban actors to find solutions that #MoveTheDate of the Earth Overshoot Day. The Earth Overshoot Day marks the date of the year when human demand exceeds what Earth can renew in an entire year. This bottom-up engagement will help decision makers realise that advancing the transformation is not only a noble act to do, but also a necessary and even essential one. We #MoveTheDate wants to move the date by building synergies at two levels: expanding participation and positioning citizens at the heart of climate engagement.

On the one hand,  the project is based on a participation process in climate engagement activities with selected civil society organisation in two cities in North Rhine Westphalia. In a dialogue, the project engages local community groups on topics that they already advocate for. The process identifies potential catalysts and roadblocks for a sustainability transformation. Equipped with the learnings from the community groups and partners in the field, the pilot will also engage the cities’ administration by sharing citizens’ insights and finding opportunities to align them with the cities’ agenda towards a one-planet compatible city. Moreover, through an idea competition, community groups can share their most creative visions of their city with their city administration. This will facilitate a fruitful collaboration between citizens and cities that in turn helps move the #MoveTheDate.

On the other hand, the project will develop and communicate new and empowering storylines for climate action to make the Earth Overshoot Day (and German Overshoot Day) even more transformational. For this campaign, the pilot project will emphasise one theme per each participating city. Building on insights gained from cities and the citizen groups, it will position climate action as economically essential for individuals, cities, and countries. The project will also promote city-level possibilities that can help to #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day.

The project is funded by and carried out in close collaboration with the Stiftung Mercator.

For further question, please contact Alexandra Kessler.

A single German citizen generates over 220 kilograms of packaging waste per year, according to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). In response, the German federal government launched a new packaging act (VerpackG) in 2019, which along with the new EU strategy for plastics is set to increase recycling rates and boost reusability. This has led many food retailers and companies from the business-to-business (B2B) sector to look at ways to reduce the growing amount of packaging waste. Collaboratively with Transgourmet Germany, a leader in the food retailer market, the CSCP has developed and implemented an assessment methodology that advances their sustainable packaging efforts.

A specialist in the large-scale supply of a full range of products in the gastronomy and communal catering sectors, Transgourmet has more than 41,000 customers. The full range of around 15,000 articles includes not only foodstuff but also commodities and consumables as well as catering equipment and services. Considering the high amount of packaging involved, Transgourmet is committed to a long-term strategy that relies more on sustainable packaging materials. The CSCP has supported Transgourmet in achieving this goal by developing criteria for a sustainability assessment of the packaging portfolio with a special focus on its private label, to-go packaging as well as fish and meat packaging.

During the course of the two-and-half-years project, the CSCP developed and implemented the assessment strategy on a wide range of the Transgourmet packaging portfolio. The strategy was developed in close exchange with Transgourmet, to understand the specific needs of key actors, for example handling and logistics.

“We have very much valued the CSCP’s ability to step into our colleagues’ and customers’ shoes to customise the methodology and the advice to foster the procurement of more sustainable packaging. This sets the collaboration process apart from purely scientific external support or a classical consulting approach”, says Melanie Prengel, Head of Sustainability at Transgourmet Germany.

The final assessment methodology was created in a way that follows a holistic approach focusing on recyclability and toward enabling the circular economy. Thereby, it is in line with the demands of the EU’s plastic strategy and also contributes to the goals of the EU Green Deal to reduce packaging on one hand and increase the amount of recyclable packaging on the other.

Transgourmet Germany belongs to Transgourmet Central & Eastern Europe and is a leading multichannel supplier for customers in gastronomy and hotel sector, catering, social organisations, retailers and other industries.

For further information, please contact Patrick Bottermann.

It is particularly in times like these that keeping and nourishing a sense of community is of special value. Not only because togetherness is so paramount to us as humans, but also because there are goals that we can only achieve as communities. A good and inclusive life is one of them. In spite of the difficult circumstances, our project Day of the Good Life is keeping up its work of engaging communities in Wuppertal’s Ostersbaum to shape a future that is socially and environmentally sustainable. In a series of virtual walkshops held since early 2021, citizens came together to discuss their visions for the good life and how to put them into life.

The Day of the Good Life, the all-day event in Wuppertal during which citizens reclaim the streets and design public space according to their needs and wishes, is scheduled for 20 June 2021. More than a just a day, the project is about a process aimed at engaging citizens and supporting and strengthening initiatives that promote a sustainable, climate-friendly and socially-just life in Wuppertal.

To accompany citizens in the creative process of developing their own visions for a Good Life in Wuppertal, visioning walkshops were held. The goal was not only to support citizens in developing creative ideas to redesign their neighbourhoods, but also to enable them bring those ideas to life by forming local groups. The walkshops showed how creativity and local knowledge can generate new ideas for a better life for all.

To support the newly-formed groups, neighbourhood meetings are held each week to further develop ideas not only in view of the Day of the Good Life in 2021, but for a long-term engagement. The implementation of the emerging ideas, such as murals, benches, swings, and high-beds, will be accompanied by local artists and craftspeople. To participate in any of the online neighbourhood meetings – please register here!

If you are a citizen of Wuppertal Ostersbaum and have an idea how to improve your neighbourhood, share it with us until 15 April 2021!

The Day of the Good Life is a joint project of the CSCP and its partners, the Nachbarschaftsheim Wuppertal e.V., Idealwerk and the FSI Forum für Soziale Innovation gGmbH. The project is funded by the Stiftung Umwelt und Entwicklung NRW.

For more information contact Alexandra Kessler. 

Having previously trained over 100 representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from more than 25 countries, the Academy of Change (AoC) capacity building programme has launched its third round. The programme, a uniquely designed format, supports NGOs to increase their impact by integrating behavioural insights into their work.

The third round of the Academy of Change (AoC) has gathered 45 NGOs from around the globe, including representatives from Greenpeace International, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Care International. The goal of the programme is to unlock the power of practical applications of behavioural knowledge in accelerating the transition toward sustainable behaviours and lifestyles that really matter.

At the virtual launching event, the AoC team and the participants explored the principles of behaviour change and the key elements of successful behavioural interventions. The potential of behaviour change in limiting global warming to within the 1.5-degree limit and facilitating a broader systems change was also discussed.

“A system is full of and shaped by the behaviours of the people within it – everything is connected to everything else. Therefore, it is important to think about the position and role of behaviour chain within a system”, notes Rob Moore from Behaviour Change, our AoC partner.

During the opening workshop, the participants were introduced to common misconceptions, such as mistaking information provision as the ultimate step to effective change, and had the opportunity to share some of their country/culture specific perspectives. Ethical considerations were also highlighted as essential whenever using behavioural insights to change consumer behaviours.

Through the course of the next four months, the AoC participants will have the opportunity to follow a full-fledged programme consisting of seven different modules, covering the following topics: behavioural and decision-making insights, models and tools of understanding and addressing behaviours, designing and implementing behaviour change interventions, as well as impact evaluation. You can find detailed information about the Academy of Change programme here.

The Academy of Change (AoC) was launched in 2017 and has since become a flagship programme for integrating behavioural insights into the everyday work of NGOs. In 2019, the AoC launched Catalyst, another programme that fosters a better incorporation of behaviour change know-how and practice into the work of NGOs.

The Academy of Change (AoC) is a non-profit initiative of the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Behaviour Change (BC) and the International Civil Society Centre (ICSC). The AoC is funded by the KR Foundation.

For further information, please contact Mariana Nicolau.