Since the research centre was established in 1990, researchers and students at the Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM) have promoted scholary work on the challenges and dilemmas posed by sustainable development.

SUM is currently one of the few institutions in Scandinavia advancing interdisciplinary research and education on development and the environment. Our researchers combine insights from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities.

The interdisciplinary master programme Development, Environment and Cultural Change addresses questions related to sustainable development. Our students graduate from SUM with knowledge and critical insights into the socio-cultural, political and scientific challenges of achieving sustainable development at both the local and global level.

Several research groups at SUM are working on issues relating to the SDGs. You can find a complete list here. One example is Poverty Reduction and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The aim is to better understand “what works” to improve well-being in poor and middle-income countries. In collaboration with Chancellor College in Malawi, an educational programme has been developed, training Masters and PhD students.

Another is Power and politics in global health. This group has a unique research focus on the role of non-state actors in global health. The aim is to better understand what shapes global health policies, studying power and policy dynamics. Their research has direct policy relevance, since donors to health systems channel substantial development assistance to non-state actors. A recent project found that although the health sector has a crucial role in addressing health inequalities, its efforts often comes into conflict with powerful global actors in the pursuit of other interests such as protection of national security, safeguarding of sovereignty, or economic goals. The report has attracted considerable attention inside and outside the global health community.

A third is Sustainable consumption and energy equity. The group explores the social and political challenges associated with sustainable patterns of consumption and equitable solutions for energy provision and consumption. The research is conducted in both the Global North and South, the latter including a particular focus on emerging economies. A recent project studied electricity’s effect on women’s empowerment, both as women use electricity’s services and become involved in its provision. One of the project’s results was to develop a framework for analysing women’s empowerment through electricity.

Building on research conducted at SUM, the Oslo SDG Initiative fosters a strengthened commitment to research for sustainable development. In addition to long-term academic research on issues related to sustainable development, the Initiative encourages research on the transformations required for implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Through collaboration with affiliated faculty from universities in various parts of the world, the Initiative also provides nuanced perspectives from both the Global North and the Global South, including voices from low-income countries states and emerging powers.

The Oslo SDG Initiative aims to bridge the gap between research and policy and takes a leading role in promoting cross-sectorial partnerships, collaboration and dialogue between various stakeholders in governments, civil society, business and academia.

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