Research and Resources

Explore sustainability-related research and resources here, including recently released reports, journal articles, online tools and databases. Use the left sidebar to filter resources by theme.

Global trends in renewable energy

By Robert Lyons on 25th April 2017

A new report for UN Environment’s Economy Division finds that wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, small hydro and marine sources added 138.5 gigawatts to global power capacity in 2016, up eight per cent from the 127.5 gigawatts added the year before. The added generating capacity roughly equals that of the world's 16 largest existing power producing facilities combined. Investment in renewables capacity was roughly double that in fossil fuel generation.

A new report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation argues that by embarking on a circular economy transformation, India could create direct economic benefits for businesses and citizens while reducing negative externalities. Having experienced sustained and rapid growth over the past two decades, India is facing a rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, with the associated negative externalities that this entails. Yet this scenario is not inevitable, as the country can pre-empt linear lock-ins.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has praised UN Member States for reaching agreement on the draft outcome document that will constitute the new sustainable development agenda. ‘Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ features 17 new sustainable development goals that aim, by 2030, to eradicate extreme poverty, promote prosperity and people's well-being, while protecting the environment. The new agenda was agreed upon by 193 UN Member States on 1st August following a negotiating process that has spanned more than two years.

The Carbon Brief has provided a summary of the ‘Our Common Future under Climate Change’ conference held in Paris last week. The four-day conference was the largest forum for the scientific community to come together ahead of the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21), which is to be hosted by Paris in December 2015. Building on the results of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5), the Conference addressed key issues concerning climate change in the broader context of global change. It provided an opportunity to discuss solutions for both mitigation and adaptation issues.

With globalized trade, a significant share of the environmental impacts linked to a country’s consumption of goods and services takes place outside its borders. There is a growing interest among policy-makers in many countries in finding ways to reduce such external environmental impacts of consumption. But it is not always clear what policy instruments might offer the most efficient ways of doing so. This policy brief outlines steps that governments can take to identify policy instruments they can use to reduce their countries' extra-territorial environmental footprints.

Sustainable Cities Index 2015 publishes top 50 cities

By Bridget Elliott on 24th February 2015

The Sustainable Cities Index has recently been published, revealing the top 50 sustainable cities in 2015. The Sustainable Cities Index is published yearly by ARCADIS and explores the three demands of People, Planet and Profit to develop an indicative ranking of 50 of the world’s leading cities. The top ten identified are (in order):  Frankfurt; London; Copenhagen; Amsterdam; Rotterdam; Berlin; Seoul; Hong Kong; Madrid; and Singapore.

Last fortnight, Dr. Andrew Steer, World Resources Institute’s President & CEO, discussed the issues and stories that will shape the world in economics, business, natural resources, and the environment in 2015. 2015 was deemed to be a decisive year for major environmental and sustainability issues, as world leaders deal with climate change, aim to lift more people out of poverty, and make the world a more sustainable, prosperous place.

Wuppertal assessment of the Lima Climate Summit

By Bridget Elliott on 23rd December 2014

This year's annual United Nations Climate Change Conference took place earlier this month in Lima, Peru. Researchers from the Wuppertal Institute attended the conference and have compiled a first assessment of the results. The report notes how the conference was characterised once again by a deep division between key players from the former so-called ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ world.

Developments from Lima climate talks

By Bridget Elliott on 9th December 2014

United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP20, is currently taking place in Lima, Peru until 12th December. The conference marks a crucial moment as talks continue on a draft international climate agreement due to be concluded in Paris at the end of 2015.

A major new report released by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate today finds that governments and businesses can improve economic growth and reduce their carbon emissions at the same time. The Commission's work has been conducted by a global partnership of leading research institutes, advised by a panel of world-leading economists chaired by Lord Nicholas Stern. The report, ‘Better Growth, Better Climate’, was presented to governments and business and finance leaders at a global launch event at the UN headquarters in New York City, ahead of next week’s UN Climate Summit.

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