Our Mission

Social-Ecological Transformation

Located in the heart of the Asia-Pacific, Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing regions. Yet it is increasingly exposed to social and ecological problems associated with this ongoing economic development. Climate change poses a major challenge to the world's natural resources, biological diversity, human and environmental health, infrastructure, and food systems. The livelihoods of many people are threatened, with Southeast Asia being one of the most affected regions and Vietnam one of the most affected countries. Under current development models, economic growth is for the most part uncontroversially seen as a positive indicator for progress and thus included in most developmental policies. But while a growing gross domestic product (GDP) is celebrated as an indicator of improved living conditions in a specific county, resources are systematically withdrawn from the earth and the source of our livelihood is destroyed to achieve this growth.

Staff picture Nguyen Van Tung

SET is the potential solution to secure the equal access to resources and green development achievements also for vulnerable groups.

Tung Nguyen - RLS Project Manager

We discuss social-ecological transformation (SET) with our partners as an alternative development paradigm that measures the quality of development instead of indispensable economic growth. We believe that a different conceptualization of development is necessary that results in lower emissions, protects vulnerable groups, and goes beyond short-term economic timeframes. The approach is geared towards the enforcement of social rights, ecological sustainability, local economic cycles, and mutually beneficial international trade. Together with our partners, we organize workshops and conferences and publish research papers in order to facilitate discussion of alternatives and build capacities of political actors.

“Socio-ecological transformation towards a more balanced development when economic indicators are achieved at a moderate level, in the meanwhile, minimize the negative impact on the social and ecological aspects. To reach this target, we need reasonable policies based on the actual socio–ecological situation”

Hoàng Hão Trà My - RLS Project Manager

Social-Ecological Transformation – Experiences from Asia and Europe

“The Social-Ecological Transformation must comprise all spheres of Planet Earth. Otherwise it will be impossible to mitigate or stop climate change, the deterioration of the waters and soils, and to improve the evolutionary conditions of the natural world.”

- Elmar Altvater, January 2018.


Read more or view all publications on Social-Ecological Transformation here.