The first ECO-WISEs (work integrating socio-economic eco-enterprises) appeared in Europe during the 1980s. Their development can be seen as a reaction on the demands of the labour market policy of that period and the nascent environmental movement.
The goal of ECO-WISEs is to improve the inclusion of people with special needs into society, e.g. long-term unemployed, by providing jobs in the field of environmental sustainability. In addition, these organisations launch and develop new markets by offering new products and services (e.g. the trash design manufacturing 2).
Over the last few years these organisations have been discovered as a strategic reserve to strengthen the environmental, social and economic pillar of society. They are seen as best practices that accomplish a general objective of the European Commission (EC), specifically in the sense of combining social, economic and ecological trajectories in line with the concept of sustainable development. But it’s a fact, that these ECO-WISEs have only marginally been investigated, so their potentials and requirements to balance the social, economic and ecological goals have remained unnoticed.
At this point a research project, analysing the situation in Austria has its source.