About the LiLi project

The Living Well Within Limits (LiLi) project is a Leverhulme Research Leadership Grant awarded to Dr Julia Steinberger. LiLi addresses crucial but understudied questions:  What are the biophysical resources, more specifically energy, required to achieve human well-being? What influence do social and technical provisioning systems have on the levels of resource use associated with well-being? If remaining within planetary boundaries requires rapid decreases in resource & energy use, how could these scarce resources best be employed to enhance and preserve well-being?

The principal motivation for this project is the lack of coherent approaches, combining environmental, engineering, economic and social sciences, which would allow comprehensive answers to these questions. An enormous body of scholarship exists connecting economic activity to energy and material use, whereas very little research has been carried out on the biophysical requirements of the well-being of the humans within those economies.

The LiLi project’s ambitious aim is to construct the conceptual and methodological framework upon which this type of research can be carried forward, and to apply it using both quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse and model the energy requirements of well-being.  LiLi’s focus is relevant to recent high level comprehensive policy goals, such as the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the EU’s 7th Environmental Action Programme.

Research questions & Analytic approaches

Research questions Analytic approach
[1] What are the biophysical resources, more specifically energy, required to achieve human well-being? Quantitative, empirical, comparative analysis: econometric & industrial ecology toolkit.
[2] What influence do social and technical provisioning systems have on the levels of resource use associated with well-being? Qualitative, empirical, comparative analysis: political economy, participatory & fieldwork tookit.
[3] If remaining within planetary boundaries requires rapid decreases in resource & energy use, how could these scarce resources best be employed to enhance and preserve well-being? Scenarios & modelling: participatory scenario development, systemic quantitative modelling.