Walter R. Stahel


  • On 10 April 2013, Stahel was admitted to the degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa by the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.
  • In 2013, Stahel was elected Full Member of the Club of Rome.
  • In 2014, Stahel was nominated as a finalist of the Fortune Awards for Circular Economy Leadership 2015, in the context of the WEF 2015 Davos.
  • On 3 May 2016, Stahel was awarded a doctorat honoris causa by the Université de Montréal, Canada.


  • In 1982, with a paper "The Product-Life Factor", Stahel was one of the laureates of the Mitchell-Prize Competition on sustainable societies in Houston, TX, USA. Other laureates included Amory and Hunter Lovins and Peter Senge.
  • In 1978, together with Peter Perutz, he won a first prize in the competition of the German Future's Society, Berlin, with a paper on “Unemployment, Occupation and Profession”.


  • Alumni of ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Zurich, where he received his diploma in architecture in 1971.
  • Stahel has worked as Founder-Director of The Product-Life Institute Geneva since its foundation in 1983 and continues today to promote the ideas of the Product-Life Institute through conference presentations and publications. Founded by Stahel and Orio Giarini, The Product-Life Institute is the oldest established consultancy in Europe devoted to developing sustainable strategies and policies.
  • In 2005, Stahel was appointed as a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences of the University of Surrey, Guildford, for the period 1 September 2005 to 31 August 2008. The appointment has been renewed regularly, until 31 August 2017.
  • Since 2005, Stahel has been a member of the Verbraucherkommission Baden-Wüttemberg, Stuttgart, nominated by Ministerpräsident Oettinger. (Consumer Commission)
  • En 2016, Stahel a été nommé Professeur Invité de l’Institut EDDEC (Environnement, Développement Durable et Economie Circulaire) de l’Université, HEC et Polytechnique de Montréal.
  • Among his publications are the Performance Economy (2006/10) and The Limits to Certainty, facing risks in the new Service Economy (1989/92, with Orio Giarini).

From 1986 to 2014, Stahel invested his time in teaching assignments and research for:

  • The Product-Life Institute Geneva, with partner institutes in Tokyo and Vienna, and
  • The Geneva Association, established 1973, the world’s leading think-tank on economic and risk issues concerning the insurance sector, financed by its members, the CEOs of the eighty biggest insurance and reinsurance companies worldwide, where he was director of research on risk management and vice secretary-general.

Prior to 1973, Stahel worked as an architect in London and Switzerland.
In 1973, he joined the Battelle Geneva Research Centres as project-manager in the fields of business strategy and feasibility studies. He left Battelle in 1980 to become controller and personal assistant to the CEO of a holding company with worldwide activities shipping, real estate and the World leader in in-situ rail grinding.
Since 1984, Stahel has been active as business consultant in most European countries, the USA and Asian countries in the fields of:

  • developing strategies, policies and tools to foster sustainable development (sustainable production and consumption issues) through sufficiency and efficiency solutions,
  • researching utilization-focused technologies such as the re-use, repair, reprocessing and technological upgrading of components, goods and systems, combining corporate strategies of technical and marketing nature with industrial design,
  • risk management and the insurability of risks and their relevance for the shift from an industrial (or river) to a service (or lake) economy,
  • regional economic development and job creation.


A consultant on the policies and strategies of a sustainable development to the European Commission in Brussels, he participated at its 'Futures 2010' project (on the panels ‘natural resources and the environment’, ‘European technology map’, ‘financing the societal bills’), as well as on ETAN and STRATA projects on research policy, risk management and global climate change, and on the issue of sustainable and competitive production. He was an associate member of ESTO, the European Science and Technology Observatory and acted as expert for the European Parliament in Strasbourg and the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels.

His latest contributions were to several foresight studies, including chairmanship of the 2015 report on the Junction of Health, Environment and Bioeconomy

He has worked as a consultant on strategic issues for:

  • a number of large industrial companies (including BP, CORUS, Cookson Plc in the UK; Eastman Kodak in the USA, Fuji-Xerox in Japan, Grundfos in Denmark);
  • small and medium sized enterprises in Germany, Austria, India and Japan;
  • national and regional governments in Europe (UK House of Commons, London; Ministry of the Environment Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart; Federal Ministry of Innovation and Technology, Vienna; Federal Ministry of Research and Education, Bonn, Germany; Ministère de la Recherche, Paris),
  • professional organisations (including the UK Design Council, the U.S. IDSA (Industrial Designer Society of America), the Austrian ‘WIFI’ (office of economic promotion), and CIDA, the Chinese Industrial Designer Association) .


Stahel regularly lectures at universities and conferences in Europe, Asia, the USA, Canada and Australia on subjects ranging from the insurability of risks as the borderline between State and the economy, risk management and loss prevention to eco-design, waste prevention and strategies for a more sustainable development. He was Manager of the IFG Forum 1992/93 and its award programme (International Design Forum Ulm – the successor of the IHG Ulm) on the theme of ‘Common utilization versus singular consumption’. Teaching assignments in alphabetical order:

  • CIDA, Chinese Industrial Designer Association in Taiwan, 1996, Lecturer on Eco-Design;
  • Ecole des Mines Paris, lecturer at the ISIGE Fontainebleau (2000 - 2005);
  • Fachhochschule Anhalt, Dessau (University of Applied Sciences Dessau); Lehrauftrag im Fachbereich Design 1998;
  • Fachhochschule Köln (University of Applied Sciences Cologne), lecturer on architectural design 2003;
  • Hochschule der Künste Berlin, Lehrauftrag für das Fach 'Zukunftswerkstatt Design' 1993/94 (Professor Roehricht Ulm);
  • Hochschule Pforzheim, Germany (Lehrbeauftragter 2007)
  • HSR Hochschule Rapperswil, Dozent im Nachdiplomstudium Ressourcenbewirtschaftung (post-graduate course on resource economics 1998);
  • IFG Ulm, manager of the one-year award programme 1992-93;
  • Tohoku University, Japan, guest lecturer since 2005;
  • Tongji University, Shanghai PRoC (2007);
  • University of Surrey, Guildford/UK, Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences since 2005;
  • University of Wisconsin Madison, USA (regularly since 1994);
  • Université, HEC et Polytechnique de Montréal;
  • University of South Australia.
  • utls - université de tous les savoirs, Ministère de la Culture Paris, France 2000;
  • utt - université de technologie de Troyes, 2000-2005, lecturer on the subject of l’économie de fonctionnalité’):


A number of ‘case studies’ can be downloaded from the website

Confidential research reports include (selection)

  • ‘Products into Services in the EU to 2010’, for DG JRC, EU Commission, IPTS Sevilla, 99.
  • Multi-client study on the shift from manufacturing to a service economy, 1998 to 2010, 2001.
  • Vienna Trees, Eco-design decision trees to develop sustainable solutions, Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour, Vienna, Austria, 1995.
  • The impact of shortening of the life-time of products and production equipment on industrial competitiveness and sustainability, for DG Industry, EU Commission, Brussels, 1994.
  • Report on Energy in Construction (ECUP Energy Capital per Unit of Performance ratio), for the Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Oho, USA, 1976.

Published research reports (selection)

  • INTEREST (INsurance, TEchnological Risk and Emerging Science and Technology policies), research Project for the STRATA programme of DG Research, EU Commission, Brussels, jointly with PSI Policy Studies Institute London, the Swedish Council for Planning and Coordination of Research Stockholm, Technopolis France, Paris, 2003.
  • ‘Sustainable Production – challenges & objectives for EU Research Policy’. Report of the Expert Group on Competitive & Sustainable Production and Related Service Industries in Europe in the Period to 2020. Published as EUR 19880, July 2001, DG Research, European Commission, Brussels (member of the expert group).
  • Langlebigkeit und Materialrecycling (long-life goods and material recycling). Three case studies on re-design of goods for higher resource productivity: washing machines, power tools, personal computers, translated into English by R&D office, U.S. EPA, Washington D.C., 1990.
  • Handbuch Abfall 1, Landesanstalt für Umweltschutz Baden-Württemberg 1995 (a collection of 300 examples of a higher resource efficiency). Revisited in 2004 for ASKB, Aachen.
  • The Potential for Substituting Manpower for Energy; study no. 76/13, for DG Manpower, European Commission, Brussels, 1976.


Since 1980, Stahel has authored almost 400 books and articles on policies, strategies and tools to foster an economic and societal development towards a more sustainable society, in English, German, French, Italian, Japanese and Chinese. A complete list of publications can be found on the website

Stahel was Editor of the Risk Management Newsletter of the Geneva Association 1986-2014 (; member of the editorial board of the Journal of Industrial Ecology, Yale/USA (MIT Press), of the 'International Journal for Disaster Prevention and Management', Bradford/UK, the Int’l Journal of Performability Engineering, India, the Chinese Journal of Population, Resources and Environment, the ‘Müllmagazin’ Berlin.

Recent publications in English include:

  • Stahel, Walter R. and Clift, Roland (2016) Stocks and Flows in the Performance Economy; in: Clift, Roland and Drukman, Angela (eds) (2016) Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology. Springer Berlin.
  • Stahel, Walter R. (2016) COMMENT – a new relationship with our goods and materials would save resources and energy and create local jobs; Nature, 24 March 2016, Vol 531, pp. 435-8.
  • European Commission (2015) The Junction of Health, Environment and Bioeconomy; foresight and implications for European Research & Innovation Policies. Report by an expert group chaired by Walter R. Stahel, rapporteur Ozcan Saritas. DG for Research and Innovation, Brussels, Foresight Programme. ISBN 978-92-79-44579-8.
  • Stahel Walter R. (2013) Policy for material efficiency—sustainable taxation as a departure from the throwaway society; in: Philosophical Transactions A of the Royal Society, London.
  • The Performance Economy, Palgrave McMillan, London (2006, second enlarged edition 2010);
  • ‘Managing Risk and Sustainability’; in: Feiler, Karin (ed.) 2004, Sustainable Wealth, a report to the Club of Rome, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht;
  • ‘The Functional Society: the Service Economy’; in: Bourg, Dominique and Erkman, Suren (eds.) 2003, Perspectives On Industrial Ecology, with a Foreword by Jacques Chirac, President of France; Greenleaf Publishing, 384pp, ISBN 1874719462. pp. 264-282;
  • ‘Metals in Product Design’; in: von Gleich A. et al (ed.) 2003 Sustainable Metals Management, Kluwer Academic Publishers Dordrecht;
  • From ‘Design for Environment’ to ‘Designing Sustainable Solutions’; in: Tolba, M.K. (ed.) 2001 Our Fragile World: Challenges and opportunities for sustainable development. Forerunner to the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems. UNESCO and EOLSS Editors, Cambridge UK. pp. 1553-1568;
  • ‘Sustainability and services’; in: Charter Martin and Tischner Ursula (eds) 2001, Sustainable Solutions – developing products and services for the future. Greenleaf Publishing. pp. 151–164;
  • Incentives for loss prevention instead of disaster management by the state in the case of catastrophic risks; book chapter in: Coles, E.L., Smith, D. Tombs S. (ed.) 2001, "Risk Management and Society", Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp. 81-100;
  • The Limits to Certainty, facing risks in the new Service Economy, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Boston, London; 2nd revised edition 1992, co-author Orio Giarini, preface by Ilya Prigogine.


Stahel is a member of:

  • The Club of Rome,
  • the Editorial Board of the Chinese Journal of Population, Resources and Environment, since 2008,
  • the Environmental Council (Umweltrat) of the UmweltBank, Nürnberg, Germany since its foundation in 1997 (chairman 2001 to 2003);
  • l’Institut Fredrik R. Bull in Les-Clayes-sous-Bois near Paris’ (membre honoraire).

Stahel was a member of:

  • the Environmental Council of the German Railways, Berlin 1996-2000;
  • the Jury of the Sustainable Growth Awards 1996, 1998 and 1999 of DuPont de Nemours, Wilmington, DE, USA;
  • the Strategic Audit to promote research into a sustainable economy, BMBF 2003;
  • the ‘Work and Environment Initiative’ of the School of Industrial and Labour Relations, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., USA;
  • the executive committee of SRA-E, the European chapter of the world society for risk analysis (2003-2005).
  • the Nanomed Roundtable, a ‘Coordination and support action’ under the Seventh Framework Programme FP7 of the European Commission (Nanoscience, Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Technologies Theme), since 2007,
  • the Eco-Dream-Team of Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface Inc, Atlanta GA;
  • the Comité Scientific et Technique de la Cité des matières in France;
  • the Advisory Board for Earth Care in Santa Fee, NM;


Stahel participated as a juror in a number of Design and Solution Competitions:

1991, Design Center Stuttgart, Jury of 'Design-Auswahl';
1993, 1994 and 1995 Jury of the Austrian 'Staatspreis für Design';
1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000/2001: Jury of the Austrian 'Eco-Design-Prize';
1996 - 97, Jury of the Design-Prize Baden-Württemberg,
2001, R.I.O. Innovationspreis der Aachener Stiftung Kathy Beys,
2001 - 2006, Waste Prevention Competition of the Town of Vienna, Austria,


Stahel gives about fifty conferences and workshops per annum in Europe, North America and Asia, in English, German and French, on the issues he researches and writes about.


Born: June 5, 1946, in Zurich, Switzerland, Swiss Citizen
Address: 7, chemin des Vignettes, CH-1231 Conches, Geneva, Switzerland
Phone: +41.22 346 86 84, mobile +41 78 765 67 94



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