Environment and social justice must be at heart of policymaking, says international alliance

News, 18 June 2007
An international alliance of research organisations has called for a radical new approach to global policymaking that has the environment and social equity at its heart.

The Ring alliance of 13 leading research organisations on 5 continents has called for a radical new approach to global policymaking that has the environment and social equity at its heart.

The UK Secretaries of State for environment and international development heard the challenge today at a meeting of government officials and civil society organisations.

George Varughese, representing the Ring alliance, delivered a speech after the government ministers and urged them to pursue a radically new agenda to towards genuine sustainable development.

The Ring, whose members include the International Institute for Environment and Development, has issued a joint statement with a 'to do' list of actions that include:

  • Creating incentives for people to invest, innovate and plan for the long-term
  • Supporting initiatives that build sustainability from the bottom up, rather than imposing uniform solutions from the top down
  • Planning for uncertainty and not using yesterday’s solutions for tomorrow’s challenges
  • Focusing not only on tackling poverty but also on the problems caused by affluence

"20 years have passed since the World Commission on Environment and Development concluded that development must meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," says Varughese, who is also president of the Development Alternatives Group, an Indian NGO.

"Yet we see scant evidence that the scale of action is remotely commensurate with that of the problems facing the planet. We need to challenge economic and social norms that promote inequity and environmental degradation."

The meeting was called to discuss and make recommendations about three issues that are central to the sustainable development agenda: climate change, sustainable consumption and environmental economics.

Delegates recommended key changes that the UK government and NGOs need to make to put development onto pathways to sustainability.

"Major challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty are all tightly linked," says Tom Bigg, head of global governance at IIED. "To tackle these problems we need new approaches that build sustainability from the grass roots up. We also a need to bring the voices of those most likely to be affected adversely by any future changes into global policy fora."

The 18 June meeting was organised by the Development and Environment Group of BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development), whose members include the International Institute for Environment and Development, WWF, Oxfam and Christian Aid.

The Ring is an alliance of 13 renowned policy research organisations promoting sustainable development through collaborative research, dissemination and policy advocacy. It was founded in 1991, in the build-up to the Rio Summit on Environment and Development.

Link to full statement


The Ring members are African Centre for Technology Studies (Kenya); the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS); the Centre for Sustainable Development (CENESTA, Iran), Development Alternatives (DA, India); Environnement et Developpement du Tiers Monde (ENDA-TM, Senegal); Instituto para o Desenvolvimento, Meio Ambiente, e Paz (Vitae Civilis, Brazil); International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED, UK); International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD, Canada); Nigerian Environmental Study Action Team (NEST, Nigeria); Recursos e Investigación para el Desarrollo Sustentable (RIDES, Chile); Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI, Sweden); Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI, Pakistan); ZERO Regional Environment Organisation (ZERO, Zimbabwe).

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent, non-profit research institute. Set up in 1971 and based in London, IIED provides expertise and leadership in researching and achieving sustainable development.


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