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Highlights from our post-2015 research and engagement work

A post-2015 development framework to succeed the United Nations Millennium Development Goals seeks to address the challenges of enduring poverty, social inequality and rapid environmental change. The STEPS Centre believes these interlinked challenges should be addressed together, by drawing on the natural and social sciences and creating inclusive, democratic debate about local to global pathways to sustainability.

Technical and social innovations have essential roles to play, but a new politics of innovation is also required. The concepts of social and planetary boundaries, integrated with a ‘3D agenda’ of direction, diversity and distribution, provide a framework which can guide such politics.

This page features highlights from our post-2015 research and engagement work, including contributions to UK Parliamentary inquires; United Nations processes, such as STEPS director Melissa Leach’s contributions to the UN|DESA Open Working Group on science and Sustainable Development Goals and High-level Dialogue on Global Sustainability; , as well as Prof Leach and Lyla Mehta’s contribution to UN Women’s 2014 Survey of the Role of Women in Development; and via Professor Leach’s engagement with Future Earth, of which she is science committee vice chair.

Key resources

Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto10051965616_a1ccd128f6_m

What kind of science and technology for development is needed for today’s world? With cutting-edge ideas including the 3Ds agenda and some Southern perspectives, the New Manifesto recommends new ways of linking science and innovation to development for a more sustainable, equitable and resilient future.

Explore the New Manifesto


World Survey on the Role of Women in Development 2014: Gender Equality and Sustainable Development

unwomen-for-hot-topicThis flagship publication from UN Women makes strong links between pathways to sustainable development and gender equality in a post-2015 world. The conceptual framing of the report was led by Melissa Leach (former STEPS Director and now IDS Director) and Lyla Mehta (STEPS Water & Sanitation theme convenor), and draws centrally on the STEPS Pathways Approach.

Read more about this report



World Social Science Report: Between social and planetary boundaries10051974126_bb2a0de343_m

STEPS director Melissa Leach, Kate Raworth (Oxfam) and Johan Rockstrom (Stockholm Resilience Centre)’s chapter for the World Social Science Report 2013 combines the STEPS Centre’s work on the three ‘Ds’ agenda of direction, diversity and distribution, SRC’s work on planetary boundaries and Raworth’s ‘doughnut economics’ to offer a new framework for addressing environmental change, enduring poverty and social inequalities.

Between social and planetary boundaries: Navigating pathways in the safe and just space for humanity


Transforming Innovation for Sustainability

A radical new approach to innovation is urged by STEPS, Stockholm Resilience Centre and Tellus Institute in this paper, published as a contribution to the Rio+20 Earth Summit. We argue that Sustainable Development Goals that keep human societies within a ‘safe operating space’ of planetary boundaries requires far greater recognition and power for grassroots actors and processes, involving them within an inclusive, multi-scale innovation politics.

Read Transforming Innovation for Sustainability


10051930985_6600494d04_mDirection, Distribution and Diversity! Pluralising Progress in Innovation, Sustainability and Development

This paper by Professor Andy Stirling, part of the New Manifesto project, argues for a more deliberate, equitable and accountable politics around progress towards sustainability using the ‘3D agenda’ which emphasises: the Direction of innovation – towards defined sustainability objectives; the more equitable Distribution of the costs, benefits and risks associated with innovation; the value of  Diversity in social, technological and ecological systems and in the kinds of innovation approaches that can contribute to sustainable development

Direction, Distribution and Diversity! Pluralising Progress in Innovation, Sustainability and Development

Essential reading


Our Rio+20 blog series for Guardian Global Development:


Inquiry contributions

UK Parliament – Environment Audit Committee Inquiry on Sustainable Development Goals – the STEPS Centre’s written submission to the inquiry 

UK Parliament – International Development Committee Inquiry – Post-2015 Development Goals The STEPS Centre’s written submission to the inquiry

Our contribution to ‘World We Want’ Civil Society Dialogue with the High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda’ 

Resource collections

Beyond Rio Resource Centreresearch and expertise at the STEPS Centre and the University of Sussex

Rio+20 programme: The STEPS Centre mounted a substantial programme of activities in the run-up to, and at, Rio+20, linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) process, including publications, video and media coverage.