The reflections presented here are directly related to the shortcomings concerning welfare and 'green' growth concepts identified in the course of the research project Cornerstones of an ecologically sustainable welfare concept as a basis for eco-political innovation and transformation processes funded by the German Ministry of Environment. The concepts are too simplistic in terms of environmental, economic and social sustainability. Against this background a broader decision model was developed within the project (Meyer et al. 2012c, Meyer et al. 2013). This model provides the reference points for the development of a sustainable welfare concept, which can be used as a political action plan in the context of environmental policy. The development of a normative model for the assessment of alternative courses of action plays a central role in this paper.