Rethinking Development

Theme summary

The global economy has brought welfare and prosperity to the world. But it has also depleted natural resources and vital ecosystem services. We set out alternatives for a sustainable future, from the planetary scale down to local, on-the-ground solutions.

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We provide support for the development of alternative pathways to sustainable futures, from the planetary scale down to local and on-the-ground solutions.


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The growth and increasing connectivity of the global economy has brought welfare and prosperity to the world, but has gone hand in hand with a depletion of natural resources and vital ecosystem functions that are the foundation of our existence.

Long-term and cumulative impacts on atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic systems put into question current production and consumption patterns. Social and ecological systems are in flux, with slow-moving and abrupt changes becoming apparent. But the governance of these systems across scales is not well understood, much less put in place.

Large scale transformations of social and ecological systems are connected to rapid geopolitical change, economic change and developments in governance globally and regionally within and between East and West, North and South.

SEI helps to:
- implement the widespread adoption of new development visions and pathways for governing the globalised economy and environment,

- assess sectoral and regional development paths within sustainable boundaries, including more sustainable consumption and production patterns, a new green revolution, and eco-efficient economic change,

- establish a new economic paradigm for development

- bring about radical change in governance, institutions and policies that can catalyse transitions to sustainability


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