Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Our Approach to Global Sustainable Development Research

Transdisciplinary working is at the heart of our approach to global sustainable development research.

We undertake projects that directly address global challenges, while ensuring that our research is co-produced in equitable partnerships with researchers and non-academic stakeholders across the global North and the global South. Our integrated approach addresses environmental sustainability and human development through the analysis of transformations on human-environment interactions. By transcending boundaries between science, humanities, and social sciences, we develop world-leading research expertise that engages critically and constructively with sustainable development frameworks (e.g. Agenda 2030, UN SDGs). We use quantitative and qualitative methods for the analysis and visualisation of sustainable development geospatial data; and transdisciplinary methods for co-producing research whilst empowering local stakeholders and communities.


The current environmental crisis, the expansion of social inequalities and consequent slow progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demonstrate that our perspectives on international development and environmental sustainability are insufficient. We need new ways of knowing and doing that are able to promote transformations to a sustainable future.

Institutionally, cultivating world-class interdisciplinary research communities is a priority area in Warwick's recently published research strategy, which also names sustainable development as a key research theme to be advanced. The Institute for Global Sustainable Development plays a central role in achieving these strategic goals and provides a focal point for research that crosses disciplinary boundaries and has a transformative impact towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Four years of SDGs: what progress has been achieved?

No country is currently on track to achieve all 17 goals. There are major performance gaps even amongst the top countries on: SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Additionally, there are alarming negative trends in greenhouse gas emissions and threatened species (see recent IPCC and IPBES reports.)

New voices, old silences

Sustainable Development is not only about net zero emissions, it is much more complex and covers critical issues such as:

  • Increasing income and wealth inequalities, as well as gaps in health and education
  • High-income countries generate high environmental and socio-economic spillover effects (e.g. deforestation, poor labour standards in supply chains)
  • Eradicating extreme poverty remains a global challenge for half of world’s nations

IGSD undertakes world-leading transdisciplinary research and capacity development to tackle global challenges and promote transformative change to sustainable development. We do this by establishing equitable partnerships with researchers and non-scientific stakeholders across the global North and the global South to work on challenge-led research projects which cross the boundaries of disciplines in the humanities, natural and social sciences.


For us, transdisciplinary means crossing the disciplinary boundaries of academia and reaching out to co-create research with non-academic stakeholders locally, nationally and internationally.

We believe that there is a need to investigate transformative change from a number of perspectives (social change, environmental and natural systems, cultural values, power structures, epistemic practices, etc.). Our transdisciplinary approach also enables us to ensure that our research is grounded in real-world contexts and challenges, and to have dialogues that transcend the borders of science, humanities, social sciences and in co-production with non-academic stakeholders.