Ecologic Institute's roots stem from the early 1970s. In the wake of the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, many countries began developing their environmental research, policies and institutions.
In 1976, Konrad von Moltke and others founded the Institut für Europäische Umweltpolitik (IEUP) or Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) in Bonn with a mission to promote environmental policy in the European Union (EU). It spawned a network of similar institutes in various EU Member States. Today, Ecologic Institute is the German member of the network and closely cooperates with the IEEP in many projects. Ecologic Institute shares the Brussels office with IEEP London.
In 1995, the IEUP in Bonn closed and Ecologic Institute opened in Berlin, in parallel to the moving of the main seat of government after German unification in 1990. Initially six private citizens from Germany and the US created Ecologic as an independent not-for-profit research organisation and think tank on international relations and sustainable development:
- Sebastian M. Büttner, as of 1995;
- Alexander Carius, 1995-2001;
- Maria Ivanova, as of 2009;
- Christine M. Jasch, 2002-2014;
- R. Andreas Kraemer, as of 1995;
- Sandra H. Lustig, 1995-2007;
- Anja von Moltke, as of 2008;
- Konrad von Moltke, 2002-2005;
- Sascha Müller-Kraenner, as of 1995;
- Jörn Schnutenhaus, as of 2002;
- Detlef F. Sprinz, 1995-2002.
They intended to establish a research organisation and think tank for applied policy analysis, consultancy and advocacy that would work on the interface between science and policy. The purpose was to bridge the divides between policy fields and scales or levels of government using inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary approaches in science and fresh thinking to bring solutions to global challenges.
The founders chose (German) company law for flexibility and efficiency over the laws of associations or foundations, thus strengthening Ecologic Institute’s operational capacities. From the beginning, Ecologic Institute was officially recognized as a non-profit entity and to be in the public interest.
The founding capital trebled from 50,000 DM in 1995 to 120,000 Euros in 2009. The initial seed, plus reserves and leverage, today allows for carrying out projects with a financial volume of around 6.5 million Euros per year (2010), supporting a staff of professionals with various backgrounds.
The first grants in 1995 and 1996 were received from the French Ministry of Environment and the European Commission (Directorate-General Research), and the first contracts from the German Federal Ministry for Environment and the German Federal Environmental Agency. The diversity of sponsors and clients today is evidence of the range and relevance of our work.
Dedicated also to education, Ecologic has from the beginning employed students and supported them in their studies. The institute is involved in the training of lawyers (since 2001), providing a focus on international and European environmental law. Fellowships and internships, with financial support, have been offered since 1997, notably in the Ecologic Transatlantic Program.
From 1995 to 1999, Ecologic Institute supported and operated out of the Haus der Demokratie in the political heart of Berlin, a symbol of citizen’s peaceful resistance to the former East German regime and a melting pot for civil society organizations from East and West. The Ecologic Institute moved into larger premises in Berlin in 1999 and opened its Brussels office in 2001, in Vienna in 2007, and initiated the establishment of Ecologic Institute in Washington, DC, in 2008.