RT 2: The Socio-Economics of Sustainable Development
Of the many pressures that human activity puts on natural resources and the environment, RT 2 focuses on two key, interrelated issues: climate change and land-use change. The RT studies the drivers and consequences of these phenomena to answer the following two fundamental research questions:
- How can economic and social development be reconciled with environmental sustainability?
- How can possible trade-offs be managed, and can we identify win-win situations that foster both human and "green" development?
Climate change is one of the most pressing global challenges. While it was initially caused by the industrialization of today's developed world, its continued intensification is mainly attributable to increased emissions from rapidly growing low- and middle-income economies. Identifying climate policy options that will enable these countries to achieve lower-carbon trajectories without compromising economic development and poverty reduction is hence of the utmost importance. Similarly, land-use change entails important trade-offs between economic development and environmental sustainability. While increased agricultural production and more land under cultivation are necessary to feed the globe's growing population, land-use change threatens biodiversity-rich areas, particularly tropical forests. A particular facet of land-use change is at the core of the team's current research activities: large-scale land acquisitions in poor countries. While some observers view "land grabbing" as a major threat to the rights and livelihoods of the rural poor, others point to the potential opportunities that could arise from new investments in a long-neglected sector.
To address these issues, RT 2 applies a wide range of (mainly) empirical methods, which are often embedded in comparative research designs. These methods range from case study approaches (using qualitative techniques such as focus group discussions) to microeconometric methods and economy-wide modelling approaches. The comparative approach most often involves comparing micro-evidence at the national level – for example, the quality and practice of land governance or the distributional effects of a carbon tax – across countries.
Conference on Large-scale land acquisitions in Nairobi
The conference "Moving from Conjectures to Facts: Large-scale Land Acquisitions in Africa" presents the results of the cooperation project "Large-scale agricultural investments and Sustainable Development". Nairobi, 30 January 2013 (Programme)