Strong Collaboration between Environmental, Economic and Social Departments: Lower Austrian Best-Practice Project of “Social Production” shall be further Expanded


The Austria-wide unique best-practice project of sustainable cooperation between economy, public institutions and social enterprises will be further expanded in Lower Austria. At a visit at the Emmaus Community in St. Poelten, the responsible regional ministers, Mag. Barbara Schwarz (Social Affairs), Dr. Petra Bohuslav (Economy), and Dr. Stephan Pernkopf (Environment) were delighted with this sustainable project and its possibilities of development. "Social initiatives and projects offer many sustainable products and services. By a targeted intervention this offer for public and private clients will be expanded, and in the future it shall be used more often using the approach of "Social Production", according to the conviction of these three Lower Austrian regional ministers.

„Social Production" is a best-practice project of regional economy with a social component, which has been developed in Lower Austria by three regional departments (environment, economy, social affairs) in public-private partnership (PPP) with the KOMUNITAS OG.

Social institutions of the 2nd and 3rd labour markets produce quality products for private and public clients under technical supervision and according to sustainable criteria with commitment and creativity. Needs and opportunities of this cooperation have been put to the test in a large number of examples in practice. The results show that all participants benefit from the model of "Social Production":

Social enterprises and the people employed there generate a higher internal cash flow, meaningful work, and a broader offer of qualification of the co-workers.

Economic enteprises and public institutions receive meaningful products and services from the region fulfilling CSR requirements, instead of cheap no-name products from the Far East.

Recycling or even upcycling of company waste into new quality products, and the support of eco-design of new products meet environmental requirements.


Implemented projects

A large number of sustainable projects and products have been developed in the field of public clients as well as in the field of private economy. Such for instance a soil colour paint box has come into existence including a sustainable system of ordering and delivery for schools, as well as the "waste container recycling" project (production of recycled snow shovels out of used waste containers). In case of the projects in the private sector, the scope ranges from the processing of truck canvas into bags, disassembling and revitalizing of monitors and computers within the framework of a "social computer cycle of the region" up to the development of design products out of various kinds of company waste. Up to now, the projects of "Social Production" have shifted a volume of far more than 300,000 Euro.


Good cooperation as basis for success

A basis of project success is the close cooperation of the responsible regional ministers and technical divisions, respectively and the KOMUNITAS OG in the form of the "Social Production" joint venture. The Department of Rural Development is project sponsor of this project, which has in the meantime been acknowledged as the "lighthouse project of the Austrian Strategy for Sustainable Development" (OeSTRAT). Within the framework of EU projects, the idea of "Social Production" shall be developed further and linked with further provinces, with Hungary and finally with the entire Danube region.

Regional Minister for the Environment Dr. Pernkopf: "The project idea of "Social Production", which stems from the field of environment and soil protection, is a good opportunity to achieve benefits for all participants. Especially in times of global economic crises it is obvious that clean environment is not sufficient. Meaningful work and regional value creation is required for a life worth living in the long run."

Regional Minister for the Economy Dr. Bohuslav: "For many decades, social institutions have executed orders from economic enterprises and public clients. The new and promising approach for all participants is the approach of a joint elaboration of the optimum possibilities. The target in the long run is to expand cooperation of economic enterprises with social enterprises. It is a matter of developing sustainable products and services of high quality, and furthering their marketability."

Regional Minister for Social Affairs Schwarz: „It is a matter of creating a stable network which will be able to fulfill the increasing demand for sensible products and services from social enterprises for an increasing number of interested parties from economy and the general public. The perceptible commitment of the participants is a good basis for an expansion of the project according to the slogan value creation by appreciation!"


Scientific Support

"Social Production" means conscious cooperation of the protagonists at eye level. Economic enterprises, public institutions and social enterprises have to communicate with each other, so that the creative potential can also be put into practice", states Franz Rybaczek from the KOMUNITAS OG, which has developed the model. In parallel a scientific supporting project is planned together with the OeIN (Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development). End of March 2012, an international expert meeting on the topic of "Social Production" shall take place in St. Poelten. As a small, but important stone on the way towards sensibly using and carefully protection resources, and appreciating objects and humans.

Below you will find some pictures of the visit of the three regional ministers at the Emmaus Community St. Poelten on November 24:


Fotos © ARGE sozial produziert / Nadja Meister 2011