History of the ISIE-SEM Conference

The international conference on socio-economic metabolism is the 13th conference of its kind. The history of these conferences goes back to the late 1990s when the project ConAccount, an EU funded concerted action, helped to create an initially European and later global scientific community of scholars, who up to then had been working largely in isolation on novel methods to study various aspects of socio-economic metabolism, in particular material and substance flow analysis. Regular scientific conferences were the main means by which this community was organized. After the funding period expired, the community continued as an informal network organizing biannual conferences in different cities and continents.

In 2009 Prof. Daniel Müller (NTNU Trondheim) and Prof. Helga Weisz (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) successfully completed the transition of the informal ConAccount network into the section Socio-Economic Metabolism (SEM) of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE), founded in 2000. The forthcoming 2019 socio-economic metabolism conference in Berlin is the 5th conference as section of the ISIE, after the ISIE-SEM conferences in Tokyo, Darmstadt, Melbourne and Nagoya and it is the 13th conference, when the previous history of ConAccount conferences is considered.

This conference series is unique in its more than 20 years history of bringing together the leaders, the mid- and the early carrier scientists of a well-defined and well-established interdisciplinary academic field that has gained enormous momentum in the past few years. SEM conferences are rather small, with typically 120 to 150 participants, of which roughly 70-90 are expected to be post-graduate scientists. The main value for the community is in providing a communication space that allows for intensive interaction among active researchers of the international SEM community, to secure the institutional memory of this comparably new international, interdisciplinary field of environmental studies, and to catch up with the frontier science.