Accelerating Sustainability

Our focus on accelerating sustainability recognises this as one of the greatest challenges of our age. Climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and land degradation are all linked, and affect people across the world. The Sustainable Development Goals have established a vital agenda for all of humanity, but how to realise these huge ambitions is less clear.

Busy street scene in Bangladesh

Our research therefore focuses on how urgently-needed transformations towards sustainability can be achieved. This requires an understanding of diverse pathways, and the political-economic and social processes that facilitate or block them. Sustainability and ‘green’ transformations may be technology, market, state or citizen led – or a combination of all these, depending on the context.

Sustainability is understood in diverse ways by different groups of people, and engaging with these different perspectives is essential to both research and action. Equally, how transformations influence different people is important, and issues of distribution, social justice and the politics of resource use will be central to our work.

Our work on accelerating sustainability in this strategy period builds on a long tradition of environmental social science analysis at IDS, and, over the last decade, in the ESRC STEPS Centre - a joint initiative of IDS, SPRU and Global Studies at the University of Sussex.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement

The Paris Agreement was adopted at COP21 on 12 December 2015, and entered into force on 4 November 2016 at the COP22 UN Climate Conference in Marrakech.

 

This year's Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will mark one year on from the agreement coming in to force and is due to be held in Bonn, Germany in November 2017.

Related resources

‘Seeing’ Conflicts at the Margins: Understanding Community Experiences Through Social Research and Digital Narrative in Kenya and Madagascar

In a context of unprecedented investment in natural resource developments, this project bridges the social sciences, the humanities and community-based participatory research to ask how different ‘communities’ of actors ‘see’ and experience resource conflicts in Kenya and Madagascar. We use social science alongside a variety of participatory multimedia methods to open up conflict research to more diverse framings and voices, which can offer new insights on the drivers of resource conflict and pathways to peace. More details

A Global Solution to Protect Water by Transforming Waste

This EPSRC project focuses on the 'peri-urban' environment, which includes areas outside cities that are characterised by poor infrastructure, and poor access to formal water and sanitation services. More details

Accelerating Progress in Reducing Hunger and Undernutrition

This programme will focus on how agriculture can deliver better nutrition outcomes by developing evidence-based policy options and tools for businesses, governments, NGOs and donors. More details

China's Emergence as a Global Recycling Hub

This work investigates how China's rise as a global recycling hub affects other countries' prospects for moving towards a circular economy. More details

Development and Management of NAMAs in India

The overall objective of the project is that the Government of India starts using Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) as one of the mechanisms for addressing climate change mitigation. More details

Future Agricultures Consortium

The DFID funded Future Agricultures Consortium is an Africa-based alliance of research organisations seeking to provide timely, high-quality and independent information and advice to improve agricultural policy and practice in Africa. More details

Global Nutrition Report

The Global Nutrition Report aims to convene existing nutrition data and processes, highlight progress in improving nutrition status, outline areas for action, and contribute to stronger accountability for nutrition. It provides a fresh perspective on the prevalence of malnutrition, on efforts to reduce it, and on the capacities and data needed to drive such efforts. More details

Green Growth Diagnostics for Africa

This project is looking into the heart of the electricity supply crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Market Systems Approaches to Enabling Women's Economic Empowerment through Addressing Unpaid Carework

Market systems programmes are increasingly recognising the important role that women play in market activity and including women’s economic empowerment and gender equality objectives. However, unpaid care work is a significant and regularly overlooked factor which affects women’s economic, political and social activities. More details

Market-Based Mangrove Afforestation and Reforestation in Kenya and India

This study aims to understand and compare processes and relationships associated with the ‘marketization of nature’ – how nature-based commodities and markets for trading them are brought into being – in the context of mangrove afforestation, reforestation and restoration projects in Kenya and India. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

Strengthening Evidence-based Policy - The Future of Resource/Waste Management in Big Cities of India

The project explores how transformational thinking on resource management could lead to multiple scenarios in the context of emerging economies with a specific focus on India. More details

Who Drives Climate Policies in the Rising Powers?

This project is concerned with the political economy analysis of climate change policies. The central question of the project is who drives/obstructs climate change policies in the rising powers, paying special attention to renewable energy policies. More details

View all Research Theme's publications

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This is the front cover to IDS Research Report 83, 'Green Investment Diagnostics for Africa: What are the Binding Constraints to Investment in Renewables in Kenya and
Ghana?'

Green Investment Diagnostics for Africa: What are the Binding Constraints to Investment in Renewables in Kenya and Ghana?

IDS Research Report 83 (2017)

The vast potential of renewable energy is failing to be realised in many African countries, in spite of the many pledges made by donors and international financiers. More details

PB141_FrontCover

How Do State–Business Relations Shape Sustainable Development?

IDS Policy Briefing 141 (2017)

The achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will depend on the ways in which states and businesses engage with one another. While state–business interactions can take many forms, they inherently involve processes of negotiation through which actors in both camps pursue their own interests. More details

ER219_FrontCover

Equality, Security and Sustainability: In Search of Virtuous Circles

IDS Evidence Report 219 (2017)

Many people and institutions are conducting research on inequality, security, or environmental sustainability. Some are looking at two of these issues together. None, to our knowledge, are examining all three simultaneously, or looking in detail at the interactions between them. This matters. More details

Non-IDS publication

Sustainable Asia: Supporting the Transition to Sustainable Consumption and Production in Asian Developing Countries

This book provides an overview and analysis of the current status of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in Asian developing countries. The book focuses on projects supported by the EU-funded SWITCH-Asia Programme, a regional development cooperation programme promoting the adoption of SCP practices among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and consumer groups in Asia since 2007. More details

Non-IDS publication

'Lifestyle Leapfrogging' in Emerging Economics: Enabling Systemic Shifts to Sustainable Consumption

Journal of Consumer Policy (2016)

This paper combines the concept of leapfrogging with systems-thinking approaches to outline the potentials for and barriers to enabling systemic shifts to strong sustainable consumption in the emerging economies of China and India. More details

ER214_FrontCover

Interrogating an Engaged Excellence Approach to Research

IDS Evidence Report 214 (2016)

In recent years several debates have emerged about how to make academic research more ‘engaged’. The motivation for these debates has varied from a recognition that engagement can help increase the impact of research, to normative arguments that research needs to engage with those it seeks to help or change, and epistemological arguments that the multifaceted nature of truth necessitates the engagement of multiple perspectives. More details

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The Evolution of Collective Land Tenure Regimes in Pastoralist Societies: Lessons from Andean Countries

IDS Working Paper 480 (2016)

Much has been said about the importance of pastoralist livelihoods for the effective and sustainable use of drylands around the world. Yet, pastoralist societies are experiencing more pressures to their way of life than ever before. More details

ER204_FrontCover

Integrating Sustainable Development: A Foresight Analysis of Interactions Among Competing Development Challenges

IDS Evidence Report 204 (2016)

This report documents explores the interactions among three key goals of international development policy and practice, namely reducing inequalities, accelerating sustainability and building secure and inclusive societies. More details

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Achieving Diverse Development Goals: How can Different Goals be Pursued Together?

IDS Policy Briefing 125 (2016)

In 2015, the international community adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to focus development policy globally. The Goals range across diverse fields of public policy from industry, finance and agriculture to education, sanitation, social protection and environmental stewardship. More details

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From Growth to Green Investment Diagnostics

IDS Working Paper 472 (2016)

The need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy systems is now broadly accepted, and our understanding of how different policy mechanisms can support this process is growing. More details

Development Frames 001 front cover

Reframing Development in a Dynamic Global Era

IDS Development Frames 001 (2016)

Half a decade on from IDS' founding, the words of renowned economist and first IDS Director Dudley Seers from his IDS Communication ‘The Meaning of Development’ still ring true. Every era's ‘international development’ community should grapple with its definitions. Today, we face interconnected challenges which look set to intensify into the future. More details

ER192_FrontCover

The Role of Cities and Urbanisation in Achieving Development Goals

IDS Evidence Report 192 (2016)

The world is in the midst of a long and uneven urban transition, with the great majority of urbanisation and urban population growth now occurring in parts of Asia and Africa. Urbanisation has profound effects on local rural and urban economies, life chances and environments, though much depends on how it is handled. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Working Paper 465, 'Can Social Protection Increase Resilience to Climate Change? A Case Study of Oportunidades in Rural Yucatan, Mexico'.

Can Social Protection Increase Resilience to Climate Change? A Case Study of Oportunidades in Rural Yucatan, Mexico

IDS Working Paper 465 (2016)

This paper examines the linkages between social protection and resilience to climate change among poor rural households. To date there is a very limited understanding of the potential role of social protection programmes in contributing to an increase in resilience of the rural poor with respect to climate change. More details

ER152_FrontCover

Accelerating Sustainability: Why Political Economy Matters

IDS Evidence Report 152 (2015)

Accelerating sustainability is a challenge that defines our era and is a central theme of Institute of Development Studies research. This paper brings together what we can learn from development studies and from sustainability studies to understand this challenge and move forward. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Ebola Crisis and post-2015 Development

Journal of International Development 27.6 (2015)

This article argues that the recent Ebola crisis is the result of structural violence, as interlocking institutions have produced interlaced inequalities, unsustainabilities and insecurities. More details

ER148_FrontCover

Green Development, Natural Resource Financialization and Emerging Conflict in Southern Africa with Examples from Implementation Contexts in Madagascar, Tanzania and South Africa

IDS Evidence Report 148 (2015)

In recent years, widespread uncertainty around global economic and environmental futures has contributed to growing advocacy for a global ‘greening’ of the economy involving the coordinated establishment of pro-environment economic policies and programmes around the world. More details

ER146_FrontCover

China’s Emergence as a Global Recycling Hub – What Does it Mean for Circular Economy Approaches Elsewhere?

IDS Evidence Report 146 (2015)

This Evidence Report investigates how China’s rise as a global recycling hub affects other countries’ prospects for moving towards a circular economy. This question has received little, if any, attention in the burgeoning literature on sustainability. More details

Non-IDS publication

Rent Management - The Heart of Green Industrial Policy

New Political Economy (2015)

At the heart of green industrial policy is rent management: government creating and withdrawing opportunities for profitable investment.This paper asks what the key factors are for rent management to succeed. More details

This is the front cover to the book, 'Gender Equality and Sustainable Development'.

Gender Equality and Sustainable Development

For pathways to be truly sustainable and advance gender equality and the rights and capabilities of women and girls, those whose lives and well-being are at stake must be involved in leading the way. More details

This is the cover of IDS Bulletin Vol 44.5-6, 'Whose Goals Count? Lessons for Setting the Next Development Goals'.

Whose Goals Count? Lessons for Setting the Next Development Goals

IDS Bulletin 44.5-6 (2013)

This IDS Bulletin compiles reflections from various actors on the core elements of the MDGs and also on topics not explicitly covered in them, such as governance, participation and infrastructure. More details

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