Dynamic policy mixes for absolute decoupling of environmental impact of EU resource use from economic growth (DYNAMIX)

Funded by: European Commission, DG Research & Innovation


September 2012 to December 2015

PSI researchers:

Roger Salmons

Martha Bicket

Robin Vanner

Background, summary and aims

A number of major EU political strategies share the common objective of decoupling economic development from resource use and environmental degradation in absolute terms. While existing policies have delivered some improvements in relative resource efficiency, absolute decoupling is likely to require the introduction of innovative policies and policy mixes. To this end, the main objectives of this pan-European research project are:

  • to carry out a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of existing resource policies and inefficiencies in resource use;
  • to propose dynamic and robust policy mixes for resource efficiency and assess their efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability and contribution to eco-innovation, incorporating novel concepts and paradigms for absolute decoupling;
  • to establish a sustainable mutual learning process with policy-makers, scientists and other stakeholders, supporting the development of pathways to resource use and decoupling.

The project is funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), with partners drawn from eight different member states. It is led by Ecologic in Germany.

Project Design

The project comprises six inter-linked research work-packages:
WP1 establishes a common understanding of key concepts among consortium partners and builds a common approach for the ex-post and ex-ante assessment frameworks used in following work-packages.
WP2 identifies inefficient uses of resources over their lifecycle, in order to assess the magnitude of the problem and to analyse the main underlying reasons for the inefficiencies.
WP3 provides a comparative analysis of some current resource policy mixes, based on a series of case studies and ex-post quantitative modelling, in order to gain insights regarding common success factors and the potential for replicating policies.
WP4 defines pathways towards absolute decoupling and identifies the most promising policies and policy mixes to move along these pathways and how they might evolve over time.
WP5 provides a qualitative assessment of the impacts of the proposed policy mixes, focusing on the environmental, economic and social impacts, and addressing potential legal barriers and public acceptability issues.
WP6 provides a quantitative assessment of the impacts of the proposed policy mixes in both the short-term (2020) and the long-term (2050, using computable numerical models.  

PSI has a cross-cutting role in the project, focusing on behavioural aspects and paradigms.

The project places great emphasis on close interaction with policymakers and other relevant stakeholders throughout the course of the project. In addition to their involvement through the project Advisory Board, four face-to-face Policy Platforms provide a forum for knowledge exchange and mutual learning.

Importance of Research

Decoupling economic development from resource use and environmental degradation is a vital prerequisite for long-term sustainable development. The insights generated by this research project should make a significant contribution to the achievement of this objective. In particular, the project will develop new paradigms and policy mixes to accelerate the transition towards a resource efficient and innovative European economy. The integrated involvement of policy-makers and other stakeholders throughout the project will improve not only their understanding of the issues and the potential policy responses, but also their awareness of the limitations of the research methods employed and the underlying assumptions.