The ecological transition is a challenge that will be the backbone of collective efforts and will shape the strategic decisions of all societies on the planet over the next three decades. This has been recognised by all governance bodies at all levels, from the international (Agenda 2030, Paris Agreement) to the European level (European Green Pact), as well as the national level at all three administrative levels (Climate Change and Energy Transition Act, Spain 2050 roadmap, regional and municipal climate emergency declarations). The European Green Pact, for example, defines climate change and environmental degradation “as an existential threat facing Europe and the rest of the world”. And in order to overcome this historic challenge, it sets out a series of guidelines and directives that will determine the public policies of all EU member states between now and 2050. Its aim is to decarbonise our economy, close material cycles, decouple prosperity from resource use and negative environmental impacts and ensure that the process unfolds with social justice, distributing the efforts required fairly and without leaving vulnerable groups or territories out of the benefits.

The structural transformations to be driven by the ecological transition encompass a very broad and complex set of tasks, which challenge us beyond technological change. It poses profoundly cross-cutting challenges. Some of the features of unsustainability that we have officially proposed to overcome in the short and medium term are profoundly determining in the material conformation of our societies: fossil energy uses, the linear morphology of production, economic delocalisation… For this reason, their reform in an ecological sense will have a significant knock-on effect on all dimensions of social life. Likewise, as the best available science indicates, we are at a critical point where the negative consequences of ecological inaction are already beyond the parameters of what we have hitherto conceptualised as environmental damage. A failure of ecological transition would seriously compromise the future viability of modern societies.

The CCHS-CSIC Observatory for Eco-social Transition aims to contribute to the mapping of ecological transition processes from the perspective of the social and human sciences. The Observatory is made up of members from different CCHS Institutes in order to facilitate an interdisciplinary approach that promotes communication between different scientific areas. The Observatory’s activities will basically focus on two areas. On the one hand, the organisation of seminars, conferences and debate forums on topics related to the ecosocial transition, with a particular interest in facilitating communication with people and organisations with expertise in applied research from, for example, the third sector, market research or environmental activism. On the other hand, the production and publication of reports on specific relevant aspects of ecological transition from a social and human sciences perspective. Beyond the disciplinary knowledge that can be applied to the development of these activities, the Observatory is constituted above all as a meeting and working space that contributes to strengthening the position of the CCHS as a research centre of reference at national and international level in socio-environmental studies oriented towards just ecological transition.