Sustainability transformations imply fundamental changes in the societal use of biophysical resources. Cur¬rent socioeconomic metabolism research traces flows of energy, materials or substances to capture resource use: input of raw materials or energy, their fate in production and consumption, and the dis¬charge of wastes and emissions. This approach has yielded important insights into eco-efficiency and long-term drivers of resource use. Due to its focus on flows, socio-metabolic research has not yet fully incorporated material stocks or their services. MAT_STOCKS addresses this gap by developing a consistent typology, indicators and databases of material stocks and their services, building upon economy-wide material flow analysis and dynamic modelling approaches. It creates a compre¬hensive, global, national-level, validated material stocks and services database as well as high-resolution maps of material stocks from remote-sensing data. These data allow analyzing the stock-flow-service nexus and underpin highly innovative indicators of eco-efficiency overcoming limitations of current approaches, which mainly relate resource use or emissions to population and GDP. New insights on stock-flow-service relations, the relevance of spatial patterns and options and limitations for decoupling are used to create a dynamic scenario modelling approach to assess option spaces for transformations towards a sustainable socio-economic meta¬bolism. MAT_STOCKS thereby aims to identify bar¬riers and leverage points for future sustainability transformations and the SDGs, and elucidate their socio-ecological and political implications. Unravelling the stock-flow-service nexus provides a crucial missing link in socio-metabolic research because it explains why, how and where patterns of material and energy use change or remain locked-in. Thereby, important analytical insights are introduced into the largely normative and local discourses on the transformation towards a sustainable society.
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Haberl, H.; Wiedenhofer, D.; Erb, K.-H.; Görg, C.; Krausmann, F. The Material Stock-Flow-Service Nexus: A New Approach for Tackling the Decoupling Conundrum. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1049.
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