UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Green Economy

Our research contributes to the creation of a green economy that drives sustainability, improves human well-being and build social equity whilst reducing environmental risk in the UK, European Union and globally.

City of London from the south bank of the river

What we do

The Green Economy theme overlaps with a number of other specific areas of work going on at ISR. Thus the big Horizon 2020 INNOPATHS (Innovations Pathways, Policies and Strategies for the Low-Carbon Transition in Europe) is a feature of the Innovation area of work, as is the Green Innovation Policy Commission (GIPC), which organised an event on green innovation and infrastructure at the Royal Society in 2019, and is now preparing its final report. ISR has also collaborated with the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose to produce a paper on mission-oriented policy road-mapping for the SDGs.

The topic of the circular economy is obviously also critical to the Green Economy, and this also has its own specific theme in the ISR research strategy. ISR was commissioned to do a major paper on the circular economy by the OECD, looking at the history and background of the concept, indicators of circularity, circular business models and policies to promote the circular economy, and circular economy experience in China, the European Union and cities. Still on this theme, UCL collaborated with SYSTEMIQ to produce a White Paper exploring the innovative policy concept of Producer Ownership.

Our work

Over the last two years UCL has been commissioned by the French International Development Agency (AFD) to produce an indicator of strong environmental sustainability, which AFD was increasingly finding it needed to guide its work in developing countries. This request meshed well with a PhD on the subject being carried out by Arkaitz Usubiaga. Together with Ben Milligan they produced a scoping paper, now published on AFD’s website. 

In a second phase of the project Alison Fairbrass looked at availability of data in global datasets to apply to developing countries the methodology developed for the EU by Arkaitz. A Technical Manual for calculating the indicator was presented to AFD in Paris in September 2019, and initial results for the EU, and a paper by Alison on global datasets, were presented at a workshop at the European Environment Agency in December. This has served as a proof of concept, and plans are now in hand, in collaboration with AFD and UNEP, to calculate the indicator for three developing countries, as part of UNEP’s programme of work on Measuring Progress towards the achievement of the environmental objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The interim outcome of this work will be presented at the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly in February 2021, with the final outcome featuring at UNEP’s Stockholm + 50 Conference in 2022.

The full list of research projects can be found in our directory. 

Green Economy Staff

Paul Ekins
Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy
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Raimund Bleischwitz
Chair in Sustainable Global Resources
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Photo by Lorenzo Spoleti on Unsplash