The United Nations have identified ‘Aligning Governance to the Challenges of Global Sustainability’ as a key problem of the 21st century. The Copernicus Institute has responded by developing a strong research line in this field. We study governance systems and processes at all levels of decision-making, from urban politics to the reform of international organizations. Our work is empirical-analytical as well as normative: we study what makes governance effective but also how to transform governance systems towards a more sustainable future. Our research on governance is sometimes issue-focussed and case-based, but often addresses also broader societal questions such as democracy, legitimacy and justice.
The research programme PROBLEMSHIFTING investigates the causes and effects of problem-shifting between international environmental treaty regimes, with a view to improving their overall effectiveness.
A five year international research project hosted at Utrecht University which aims to assess and explain the steering effects of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Mission-oriented Innovation Policy Observatory
The observatory’s objective is to enhance the understanding, monitoring and effective use of challenge-based innovation missions aimed at solving complex societal problems (related to e.g. the Sustainable Development Goals). To do so, the MIPO unites policy practitioners and scholars from innovation, transition and governance studies.
Neighbourhoods for the future
We assign our cities the grandiose task to become climate neutral in 2025, 2030 or 2050. But how will people live in those cities? How can we combine sustainability and sociability? Indeed, managing the urban expansion and acting on climate change while building better places to live requires innovative (social) arrangements. We advocate taking on this global challenge from the neighbourhood up.
Flood risk management step by step
The STAR-FLOOD team created a practitioner’s guidebook with a step by step approach towards improvement of flood risk management and governance.
Shifting role of local government: from steering to facilitating
In residents’ initiatives that aim to boost a city’s climate resilience, municipalities aim to focus more on facilitating, according to UU scientists.
From despair about climate change towards action
Sander Chan (Utrecht University/DIE) gave a TEDx Talk in Bonn on how we can move from despair about climate change towards action.
Towards a ‘safe-fail’ flood management policy
Peter Driessen and Dries Hegger from Utrecht University have written an editorial describing a system that is designed to fail safely from time to time.
Peri-urban agriculture is found between the outer limits of urban centres and the rural environment. A new study reveals the importance of peri-urban agriculture for local communities’ sense of purpose, social fabric, and resilience.
Rare diseases affect a small number of patients. As a result, companies and knowledge institutes invest less of their time and money in innovation for rare diseases. This project seeks to understand the regulatory, economic, political, social, and scientific barriers and facilitators to alternative forms of pharmaceutical research for drugs for rare diseases.
Introducing innovative full pricing: Oiconomy Pilot launched
The Oiconomy Price, developed by Dr Pim Croes and Dr Walter J.V. Vermeulen (Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development), measures the cost distance to a fully sustainable alternative for the product, incorporating all triple-P aspects (Planet, People and Prosperity) of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Water-Energy-Food communities in South Africa: multi-actor nexus governance for social justice?
This transdisclinary project explores whether and under what conditions the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus approach increases social justice in South Africa.
Climate Backlash: Contentious reactions to policy action (BACKLASH)
Policy repeals, protests and social mobilisations—in recent years we have seen a variety of examples of climate policy being ‘pushed back’ after being introduced. BACKLASH studies the emergence and dynamics of such volatile social-political reactions to climate policy.