Photo: Brussels © Helmut Haberl, 2017

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.

Preparatory studies:

Krausmann, F., Wiedenhofer, D., Lauk, C., Haas, W., Tanikawa, H., Fishman, T., Miatto, A., Schandl, H., Haberl, H., 2017. Global socioeconomic material stocks rise 23-fold over the 20th century and require half of annual resource use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114, 1880–1885. 

Görg, C., Brand, U., Haberl, H., Hummel, D., Jahn, T., Liehr, S., 2017. Challenges for Social-Ecological Transformations: Contributions from Social and Political Ecology. Sustainability 9, 1045.

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.

Methodological foundations:

Wiedenhofer, D., Fishman, T., Lauk, C., Haas, W., Krausmann, F., 2019. Integrating Material Stock Dynamics Into Economy-Wide Material Flow Accounting: Concepts, Modelling, and Global Application for 1900–2050. Ecological Economics 156, 121–133.

Krausmann, F., Schandl, H., Eisenmenger, N., Giljum, S., Jackson, T.D., 2017. Material Flow Accounting: Measuring Global Material Use for Sustainable Development. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 42, 647–675.