1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Environment, Sustainable Development and Social Change


UNRISD has made a useful contribution in the field of sustainable development, largely through its insistence on understanding the role of specific actors and institutions in environmental protection and degradation. While dominant approaches addressed trade-offs between economic growth and destruction of the natural environment, proponents of sustainable development were often slow to explore the patterns of social relations influencing specific environmental policies and outcomes in different political and cultural settings.

Therefore in each of the projects on socio-environmental issues carried out between 1988 and 1997, an effort was made to examine the underlying (social, political, economic and natural) causes of environmental decline, as well as the broader changes in policy and institutional structures that would be required to promote a socially conscious form of sustainable development.

The research projects carried out on this theme are listed on the right.
  • Published Papers