Social-ecological transformation - what does it mean?
In the German-speaking world, the terms "transition" and "transformation" are usually used equally to describe far-reaching processes of social, economic, cultural and political change, according to the final report of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU 2011). When this report appeared, the term "socio-ecological transformation" was already known but not yet in common use; the WBGU therefore usually spoke of a "major transformation" as a "fundamental change that envisages a restructuring of national economies and the global economy within these [planetary] boundaries in order to avoid irreversible damage to the Earth system as well as ecosystems and their impacts on humanity."
In the English-speaking world, the term "socio-ecological transformation" was mostly used with a different meaning in the 1970s. At that time, "socio-ecological transformation" described the historical transformation of individual countries from agricultural cultures to industrial societies. From the 1980s onward, the term was gradually used in its current sense: "socio-economic transformation" as a description of current (and future) change toward a more sustainable society.
The "Expert Group on the Global Economy and Social Ethics," which has been advising the German Bishops' Conference since 1989, uses the term "socio-ecological transformation" to emphasize that the transformation to a sustainable society will only succeed if social and ecological concerns are given equal consideration. An efficient economy is part of this concept, so one could also speak of a "socio-ecological-economic transformation," but a strong economy is not an end in itself here, but should serve people and nature.
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