GAIA Best Paper Award: Second place for paper on dilemmas of scaling up sustainable alternatives

The editorial board of the journal "GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society", published by oekom-Verlag, gave an honorable mention to the article "From niche to mainstream: the dilemmas of scaling up sustainable alternatives". One of the authors is Markus Egermann from the IOER.

In their paper, the authors address a central question on the path towards sustainability: How to "scale up" sustainable alternatives from a protected niche to the creation of mainstream practices? In other words, how can sustainable action become "mainstream" and thus contribute to societal change?

The team around lead author Karoline Augenstein from the Center for Transformation Research and Sustainability at the University of Wuppertal identifies and describes three fundamental dilemmas of up-scaling. They argue that these dilemmas should be addressed in a more reflexive way by those from the worlds of science and practice who are involved in collaborative research settings. In addition, the authors deliver "practical and wise advice on how to overcome those obstacles," write one jury member, explaining the paper's selection for second place in the GAIA Best Paper Award. The reviewers emphasize that the paper is "of utmost timeliness and relevance, given the less than 10 years remaining for a successful transition towards sustainability." They also recognize that the paper discusses the tension between academic and practical perspectives.

With its Best Paper Award, GAIA's Editorial Board honours the best article(s) of the year. The article(s) are selected for their excellence and/or relevance, which are important criteria in sustainability research. The winner is selected from articles published in GAIA, in the sections Forum and Research. Based on a shortlist drawn up by the Editorial Board, the winner is nominated by a reasoned vote of the members of GAIA’s Scientific Advisory Board.

GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

Original publication (Open Access)

Augenstein, Karoline; Bachmann, Boris; Egermann, Markus; Hermelingmeier, Verena; Hilger, Annaliesa; Jaeger-Erben, Melanie; Kessler, Alexandra; Lam, David P.M.; Palzkill, Alexandra; Suski, Paul; von Wirth, Timo: From niche to mainstream: the dilemmas of scaling up sustainable alternatives. In: GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 29 (2020) 3, S. 143-147.

Contact at the IOER

Dr. Markus Egermann, e-mail:


The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This institute is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.