UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Green economy

The UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) works to rethink innovation and challenge existing paradigms towards a market-shaping approach for the green transition.


Moving towards a greener, more inclusive economic model is one of the most imperative and urgent challenges of the 21st century. Climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental pollution have for many years been treated in economic discourse as ‘negative externalities’, to be ‘fixed’ by governments, and endured by citizens when left unchecked.

IIPP is working with partners across the world to rethink the existing economic and innovation paradigms that are barriers to a green transition. It is not ‘market-fixing’, but ‘market-shaping’ activities that will lead us into a new green way of life. Markets can be shaped, by mutualistic relationships between actors from the public, private, charity, and civil society. Markets can be designed towards green missions.

Fear about the climate crisis does not get us a transition. Nor does starting efforts with the query, ‘how do we pay for this?’; an approach which sees greening activity as a cost centre, rather than an opportunity to harness the potential of green growth. Only by turning climate change into positive opportunities for investment and innovation will a green transition come about, affecting production, distribution and consumption across the economy.

Policy implications

Markets will not find a green direction by themselves. Business does not invest unless it sees an opportunity for growth. So we require governments and the public sector to take bold and decisive action. The green shift has to be a cross-economy one – discrete and independent, siloed initiatives are not enough. Harnessing all the levers of government, from industrial strategies, to state investment banks, to challenge prizes; and at all levels, from national to local, is vital. For this reason, IIPP works with national governments and policy-makers, as well as with cities, regions, trade unions and citizens’ governance groups across the world.

Learn more about IIPP green economy policy impact


Priming public financial institutions for green innovation (PUFFIN)

PUFFIN aims to research the macro-meso and micro-economics of the networked financial system to support a direction towards green innovation and the climate crisis. This project is supported by EIT Climate-KIC.

Mobilising investment into low carbon assests (MOBICA)

MOBICA is a pilot and feasibility study into how actions and measures taken by the public sector can be effective at mobilising investments into low carbon assets. This project is supported by ClimateWorks and the Smart Prosperity Institute.

Central banks and sustainability

This project aims to achieve a significant shift in financial flows away from ecologically damaging towards environmentally sustainable activities via influencing central banks’ and financial supervisors’ monetary and regulatory policies. It is funded by the European Climate Foundation & Partners for a New Economy.

UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN)

IIPP is leading the UK hub for the UN universities network for the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.


New innovation paradigms (iParadigm)

iParadigm researches and test new economic paradigms for eight geographical and thematic areas across Europe, ranging from ports, to carbon sink landscapes, food systems and financial organisations. This project is supported by EIT Climate-KIC.


ISIGrowth is a pan-European project aiming to provide a diagnostic of European crisis and the conditions to move away from a fossil fuel-based economy, while spurring growth and employment. It is supported by Horizon2020.


Further reading

Academic working papers 
Journal articles and editorials

IIPP news stories

News stories

IIPP Events