Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
Recent publications
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) transparency has predominantly been treated as an organizational outcome in previous literature. Drawing on rich qualitative data, we find that CSR transparency can emerge through sensemaking processes where employees are instrumental in exercising moral judgements, engaging with stakeholders, and creating shared narratives. The study contributes to our understanding of CSR transparency by showing that the phenomenon is reflected by social processes and should not be narrowly conceptualized as an outcome of information disclosure at the corporate level. The study also provides fine-grained details about the cognitive and organizational mechanisms at play in the shaping of CSR transparency. Specifically, we introduce a bottom-up model which explains how reserved and non-reserved approaches of CSR transparency are developed.
The carbon neutrality goal requires significant acceleration of the renewable energy transition. In China, this acceleration is hampered because of the concerns regarding the recent high-rate wind power curtailment. However, post-2016, wind power curtailment shows notable reductions. Therefore, it is vital to understand the fundamental factors driving such improvements, the curtailment reduction patterns across the countries and key regions, the experiences from the regional heterogeneity of curtailment reductions, and the policy implications available to strengthen wind power curtailment mitigation strategies in the short and long term to accelerate China's clean energy transition. This study constructs an evaluation framework based on the logarithmic mean Divisia index approach to investigate these concerns. Furthermore, it reveals that the eminent contributors at the national scale are local power demand, power exports, and power structures. However, the regional factor patterns oscillate significantly. In northwest China, power transmission is vital to reduce wind power curtailment. In north China, thermal power remains dominant because of its importance to national energy security, impeding its curtailment. Northeast China implements the peak-shaving auxiliary service market, promoting the power grid's capability to consume more local wind power. The fundamental settlement of the curtailment issue calls for market-oriented energy structure reforms to ensure sustainable low-carbon development. This study explains the essence of China's renewable energy development and seeks reliable paths to accelerate wind power integration with policy measures and technical transformations to enhance the adaptability of the power grid system.
Brazil has continuously been in the international spotlight, first as an emerging economy improving social inclusion and sustainable development, then suddenly as a global pariah on environmental governance. Using two case studies – the rising deforestation of the Amazon and the 2019 oil spill on Brazil's Northeast coast – we examine the Bolsonaro administration in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to reveal a combination of misgovernance and malgovernance, where transgressions are intentional. The article develops these analytical concepts, explores how environmental malgovernance in Brazil may be addressed and discusses how Bolsonaro's malpractices are internationally challenged, but also condoned.
The United Nations declaration of a climate urgency in 2020 has intensified the need for change in energy systems across the world. This has resulted in political attention increasingly shifting to the development of low-carbon energy infrastructure. In the case of Colombia, the energy transition has brought a focus on the La Guajira region for its potential wind energy resources and the associated need for new transmission infrastructure. La Guajira is characterised by an extractive-based economy, poor socioeconomic performance and a large indigenous population. This research uses the energy justice framework to examine the justice dynamics that affect the acceptance of a proposed transmission line project. With a special focus on procedural, distributive and recognition justice, the findings that are also based on semi-structured interviews reveal interrelated equity concerns. They further highlight that recognition justice can be an underpinning force of a just transition to a low-carbon economy. The research results follow previous research but also significantly demonstrates that the roles of community advisors and experts are influential. They can foster or block energy justice. Further, this study provides evidence that the ongoing energy transition has a major hurdle of procedural justice through social acceptance. This has occurred mainly due to the legacy effects of the operations of conventional energy sources in the region. This advances the case that to achieve a just transition to a low-carbon economy, unjust legacy policies and actions of the fossil fuel industry have to be addressed.
The Pantanal is the largest seasonal wetland in the world with a landscape that consists of a mosaic of permanent aquatic habitats, and floodable and non-floodable savannas, pastures and forests. Drought events are expected to occur more frequently in the Pantanal biome under future climate conditions, but the effects of land management and hydrological extremes on pastures have been poorly studied at spatial scales relevant to local livestock. In this study, we measured CO2C fluxes using eddy covariance over a hydrological year on pastures within a cattle farm in the Brazilian Pantanal that experienced seasonal flooding. Our measurements show that seasonally flooded pastures were large emitters of CO2C, contributing 337 g CO2C m⁻² year⁻¹ to the atmosphere. During flooding, when the soils were anaerobic, and soil O2 was close to zero, the flooded pasture was a net sink of -18 g CO2C m⁻², while during the aerobic phase (soil O2 > 15%) the pasture was a significant CO2 source to the atmosphere (301 g CO2C m⁻²). Transitions to and from anaerobic conditions corresponded to 54 g CO2C m⁻². Our results indicate that the seasonally flooded cattle pastures in the Brazilian Pantanal may be an important regional source of CO2C for the atmosphere. Better management, and use of drought resistant grasses, may be a way to improve soil C stocks and limit emissions, especially as global climate change is anticipated to increase heating and drying for the Pantanal biome.
Background Securing adequate financing for the environment, climate change, and sustainable development has been challenging, especially in low- and middle-income economies. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country aspiring to become a member state of the European Union. Despite undergoing a socio-economic transition, the country is more than four times as energy-intensive as the average European Union member state. Since the end of the war in the 1990s, the country has received significant amounts of bilateral and multilateral development aid, including environmental finance (e.g., climate finance, funding for biodiversity conservation, impact funding). To facilitate future sustainable finance prioritization, this study analyzes Bosnia and Herzegovina’s environmental finance. Results The study conducted a scoping literature review and detailed analysis of the environmental finance flows for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period from 2015 to 2020. The results show that the scientific knowledge on the (effectiveness of) environmental finance for Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost non-existent. The country received US$545.6 million in environmental finance in the studied period and more than 99% of this funding was spent on water, energy, waste, and environmental management. In contrast, biodiversity, resource management, chemical safety and environmental noise received less than 1% of total funding. Bosnia and Herzegovina received 58% of the financing in grants, while 38% was provided in various types of loans. Conclusions There is a considerable difference in the received funding among different sectors. Funders prioritized a few sectors (e.g., water), whereas others (i.e., biodiversity and nature conservation, chemical safety and noise, and resource management) were neglected. Bosnia and Herzegovina can argue for more equitable funding distribution based on its minor contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. Providing almost 40% of environmental finance to Bosnia and Herzegovina in loans increases the country’s level of indebtedness. It distorts the principle of climate justice since the country has been an irrelevant greenhouse gas emitter.
Aims To estimate the overall health impact of transferring commuting trips from car to bicycle. Methods In this study registry information on the location of home and work for residents in Stockholm County was used to obtain the shortest travel route on a network of bicycle paths and roads. Current modes of travel to work were based on travel survey data. The relation between duration of cycling and distance cycled was established as a basis for selecting the number of individuals that normally would drive a car to work, but have a distance to work that they could bicycle within 30 minutes. The change in traffic flows was estimated by a transport model (LuTrans) and effects on road traffic injuries and fatalities were estimated by using national hospital injury data. Effects on air pollution concentrations were modelled using dispersion models. Results Within the scenario, 111,000 commuters would shift from car to bicycle. On average the increased physical activity reduced the one-year mortality risk by 12% among the additional bicyclists. Including the number of years lost due to morbidity, the total number of disability adjusted life-years gained was 696. The amount of disability adjusted life-years gained in the general population due to reduced air pollution exposure was 471. The number of disability adjusted life-years lost by traffic injuries was 176. Also including air pollution effects among bicyclists, the net benefit was 939 disability adjusted life-years per year. Conclusions Large health benefits were estimated by transferring commuting by car to bicycle.
International public finance plays an increasingly prominent role in global efforts to combat climate change and, as it grows, it faces a familiar challenge: governance. Global organizations not only disburse climate funding, but are also expected to ensure the “good governance” of climate programs in recipient countries. Many of these same organizations faced similar challenges in disbursing development finance. In what became known as the “institutionalist turn,” they sought to reform governance and build effective institutions in recipient countries. At first glance, the approach to governance in climate finance appears to be a continuation of these largely ineffective policies. I argue, however, that important structural differences between climate finance and development finance have been overlooked, and that these differences create space for alternatives approaches to governance. I first examine the literature on what led to the ineffectiveness of governance reforms tied to development finance, concluding that global organizations have been consistently unable to recognize and grapple with how power actually works in recipient countries, especially informal power. I then highlight three new principles underlying climate finance: (1) that it is restitution not aid, (2) that recipient countries should control resource allocation, and (3) that funding should support mitigation and adaptation. I demonstrate how each new principle has produced shifts in decision‐making authority away from contributors and toward recipient countries. I discuss how alternative approaches could emerge both from forums where recipient countries exercise newfound authority, and from experimentation on the part of multilateral organizations. This article is categorized under: Climate and Development > Social Justice and the Politics of Development Policy and Governance > Multilevel and Transnational Climate Change Governance
This study examines how political and technical factors influence climate finance coordination in different country contexts. Emerging scholarly and policy literature calls for the improved coordination of climate finance to enhance the effectiveness of multiple sources of funding for adaptation and mitigation purposes, with country ownership over coordination emerging as a potential approach. However, few studies have examined how climate finance coordination unfolds at the national level in developing countries. This paper presents findings from a comparative assessment of climate finance coordination practices in Kenya and Zambia, drawing on semi-structured interviews, policy documents, and relevant literature. Specifically, the paper investigates how political and technical forces shape climate finance coordination in contexts with varying country ownership over the coordination process. We find that political factors relating to power dynamics, framings of climate finance, and vested interests play a strong role in shaping how actors interact, hampering coordination efforts within the climate finance landscape in both countries. This adds a new dimension to calls for greater country ownership, which we suggest needs to be paired with a critical examination of political struggles and contestation.
As Latin America emerges scathed from the COVID-19 pandemic, the political pendulum appears to turn once again towards its longstanding calls for greater social inclusion. Inequality, inflation and continuous resource extraction without sufficient inclusiveness – in the forms of mining, expanding export-oriented agriculture or, increasingly, exclusionary approaches to sustainable development through renewable energy projects or the bioeconomy – have all driven social discontent. The region saw remarkable socio-economic progress during the 2000s, but those achievements largely relied on extensive natural resource exploitation in a development strategy sometimes dubbed neo-extractivism. Unequal access to decision-making and skewed distribution of benefits and burdens then fostered significant discontent as well as counter-reactions in many Latin American countries. The end of the so-called pink tide of more progressive governments and the emergence of right-wing populism have only made things tenser in the past years. It might be too early to speak of a new tide of socio-economic progress for the region, but rising commodity prices and the election of various left-leaning presidents since 2020 do give out signals reminiscent of the start of the century. However, it remains to be seen what this new political and economic cycle of Latin America entails for the environment, inclusiveness, and human rights.
This study aimed at supporting robust decision-making for planning and management of water–energy–food Nexus systems in the country of Jordan. Nexus priority challenges in Jordan were identified as (1) water scarcity, (2) agricultural productivity and water quality, and (3) shift to energy independence. We created a water–energy–food Nexus model that integrates three modelling frameworks: (1) the Water Evaluation and Planning system WEAP model to estimate water demands, supplies and allocation; (2) the MABIA model to estimate crop production, and, (3) a GIS-based energy modelling tool to estimate energy requirements of the water system. Through a set of scenario runs, results show how desalination is needed to address water scarcity, but it has to be coupled with low-carbon electricity generation in order to not exacerbate climate change. Improving water productivity in agriculture improves most of the studied dimensions across the water–energy–food security nexus; however, it does little for water scarcity at the municipal level. Reducing non-revenue water can have positive effects on municipal unmet demand and reduction of energy for pumping, but it does not improve agricultural water productivity and may have negative feedback effects on the Jordan Valleys aquifer levels. Energy efficiency can support energy-intensive projects, like desalination, by substantially reducing the load on the energy system, preventing increased emissions and achieving a more resilient water system. Finally, when all interventions are considered together all of the major drawbacks are reduced and the benefits augmented, producing a more holistic solution to the WEF Nexus challenges in Jordan.
In many parts of the world, traditional institutions are the backbone of village governance and service delivery. While the effects of introducing new institutional arrangements from outside have been widely studied, autonomous changes – that is, those that originate from within communities – are not well understood. Recognising that traditional institutions continuously evolve to remain relevant, we build on critical institutionalism and the concept of institutional bricolage to explain autonomous change processes in traditional institutions. Relying on unstructured storian conversations with community members (20 female, 18 male) from two villages in Vanuatu, our fieldwork explored the emergence of village committees as a governance mechanism to sustain access to vital services. Storian data revealed that a small number of bricoleurs – local agents of change – were driving these autonomous institutional change processes, their agency enabled and constrained by structures within and beyond the community. Bricoleurs created new institutional arrangements to address new governance challenges by borrowing traditional and non-traditional elements and associated meaning, authority and legitimacy. Our analysis reveals the interplay of two established institutional bricolage processes – elite capture and leakage of meaning – each of which operated to open up and close down spaces for change. We draw on agonistic accounts of the political to deepen our understanding of this interaction. By adopting this approach, we reveal the significance of the political at the local level, through which the social plurality of village life is negotiated, resulting in profound shifts in some norms and the maintenance of others. We conclude with reflections on the prospects of unsettling the deep-rooted exclusion from decision making of groups such as women and young people through future autonomous changes in village governance.
The indivisibility principle of the 2030 Agenda is considered key for the implementation of policies in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, science is not only asked to develop new methods for assessing SDG target interactions but also to translate findings of methodological insights into policy advice for easy take-up by policymakers. The present paper demonstrates how to adopt the multi-criteria analysis technique Analytic Network Process (ANP) for prioritizing SDG targets in considering all positive and possible indirect SDG target interactions at once. The application of the ANP is linked to a multi-method setting embracing positive scores derived from the analytical methods Nilsson-scale, a cross-impact matrix, and network analysis techniques. This supports the prioritization of SDG targets when considering n -order neighbours in a network with respect to their synergies. The ANP allows evaluating the synergistic potential and progress controllability of SDG target rankings calculated by CI-matrix metrics and thus provides conclusions on the importance of n -order interactions of SDG targets in a network for the final ranking. We showed that the application of a combination of different analytical methods improves the overall quality of the formulated policy advice regarding its scope and methodological profoundness. In this context, we compared the analytical methods involved with respect to their ability to formulate policy advice and finally presented a framing how to translate methodological results into concrete and applicable policy advice.
Increased systems thinking capacity—that is, the capacity to consider systemic effects of policies and actions—is necessary for translating knowledge on Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) interactions into practice. Various models and tools that seek to support more evidence-based policy-making have been developed with the purpose of exploring system effects across SDGs. However, these often lack integration of behavioral aspects and contextual factors that influence the decision-making process. We analyze three applications of a decision-support approach called SDG Synergies, which aims at building capacity in systems thinking among decision-makers and implementing agencies. Our objective is to explore how behavior and context influences whether and how knowledge is taken up and acted upon when making decisions. Drawing on empirical material from Mongolia, Colombia, and Sri Lanka, we identify three sets of mechanisms that appear important for enabling more systemic thinking: system boundaries (time, scale, and space), rules of engagement (ownership, representation, and purpose), and biases (confirmation biases and participation biases). Results highlight some key challenges for systemic thinking that merit further attention in future applications, including the importance of localizing SDGs and incorporating this knowledge to national-level assessments, an unwillingness of stakeholders to acknowledge trade-offs, the challenge of addressing transformational as opposed to incremental change, and striking a balance between the flexibility of the approach vis-à-vis scientific robustness.
Togo, in west Africa, is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, but has made a negligible contribution to causing it. Togo ratified the Paris Agreement in 2017, committing to submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that outline Togo's climate change mitigation commitment. Togo's capital, Lomé, as well as other areas of Togo have ambient air pollutant levels exceeding World Health Organisation guidelines for human health protection, and 91 % of Togolese households cook using solid biomass, elevating household air pollution exposure. In Togo's updated NDC, submitted in 2021, Togo acknowledges the importance and opportunity of achieving international climate change mitigation targets in ways that improve air quality and achieve health benefits for Togo's citizens. The aim of this work is to evaluate priority mitigation measures in an integrated assessment of air pollutant, Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to identify their effectiveness in simultaneously reducing air pollution and Togo's contribution to climate change. The mitigation assessment quantifies emissions for Togo and Grand Lomé from all major source sectors for historical years between 2010 and 2018, for a baseline projection to 2030 and for mitigation scenarios evaluating ten mitigation measures. The assessment estimated that Togo emitted ~21 million tonnes of GHG emissions in 2018, predominantly from the energy and Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use sectors. GHG emissions were projected to increase 42 % to 30 million tonnes in 2030 without implementation of mitigation policies and measures. The implementation of the ten identified priority mitigation measures were projected to reduce GHG emissions by ~20 % in 2030 compared to the baseline, while SLCPs and air pollutants were estimated to be reduced more, with over 75 % reduction in 2030 for black carbon emissions. This work therefore provides a clear pathway by which Togo can reduce its already small contribution to climate change while simultaneously achieving local benefits for air quality and human health in Togo and Grand Lomé.
As climate change impacts unfold across the globe, growing attention is paid toward producing climate services that support adaptation decision-making. Academia, funding agencies, and decision-makers generally agree that stakeholder engagement in co-producing knowledge is key to ensure effective decision support. However, co-production processes remain challenging to evaluate, given their many intangible effects, long time horizons, and inherent complexity. Moreover, how such evaluation should look like is understudied. In this paper, we therefore propose four methodological guidelines designed to evaluate co-produced climate services: (i) engaging in adaptive learning by applying developmental evaluation practices, (ii) building and refining a theory of change, (iii) involving stakeholders using participatory evaluation methods, and (iv) combining different data collection methods that incorporate visual products. These methodological guidelines offset previously identified evaluation challenges and shortcomings, and can be used to help stakeholders rethink research impact evaluation through their complementary properties to identify complex change pathways, external factors, intangible effects, and unexpected outcomes.
Trust is generally considered to play a key enabling role in water governance. Despite this notion, there have been no systematic assessments examining the way in which the literature on water governance engages with 'trust'. Our article fills this gap by providing an overview of the way in which this literature has engaged with trust as a conceptual lens, analytical device and empirical phenomenon. Through an explorative systematic literature review of N = 200, mainly peer-reviewed journal articles, our findings reveal that the knowledge base on the role of trust in water governance is fragmented, poorly conceptualized, and contextually dispersed. We also observe that the role of trust is often understudied, especially in the context of the global south and with regard to ethnic minorities and indigenous people as the subjects of trust. We recommend that future research should build on solid empirical evidence, diversify its foci, go beyond an instrumental approach to trust and rely on clear and transparent conceptualizations that acknowledge the context-specific and dynamic nature of trust relationships. The results of this review should serve to better systemize future research and to further the understanding on the role(s) of trust in varying contexts and related to different water governance issues.
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165 members
Lisa Emberson
  • Environment Department, University of York
Åsa Persson
  • Stockholm Environment Institute
Linnėgatan 87D, Postbox 24218, 104 51, Stockholm, Sweden
Head of institution
Måns Nilsson