Centre for International Environmental Studies

The Centre for International Environmental Studies is the Graduate Institute's focal point for research on environmental issues. The Centre is dedicated to the better understanding of the social, economic and political facets of global problems related to the environment

Biodiversity in our Food System- Dr.Ir. Roseline Remans

On 14 May, CIES had the pleasure to welcome Dr.Ir. Roseline Remans, senior scientists at CIAT, to talk on ‘Biodiversity in our Food Systems’ at the CIES e-seminar series. 

REPLACING GDP BY 2030: Towards a common language for the well-being and sustainability community- Rutger Hoekstra

On April 30th, the CIES had the pleasure to welcome to our e-seminar Rutger Hoekstra, Founder of and author of the book '“Replacing GDP by 2030: Towards a common language for the Well-being and Sustainability Community” ( , published by Cambridge University Press.

The e-seminar discussed on possible alternatives on replacing the current GDP with other indicators such as he metric of Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which includes environmental and social factors. Indeed, the current indicator does not take into account sustainability, well-being and equity. 

If you are interested to learn more about his book, you can watch the full video (on the left). 

COVID-19 and Climate Change: Lessons and Challenges - Joëlle Noailly

On April 16th, Joëlle Noailly, Head of the Centre for International Environmental Studies (CIES), presented an e-seminar on the impact of COD-19 on climate change. 

Countries will have to adopt new measures following the crisis to boost the economy. It has an unprecedented impact on governments from a national and international level. At a national level, the upcoming economic crisis would be at the forefront of national agendas, leaving behind the fight for climate change. Consequently, the post-crisis usual situation would also lead to an increase in emission. This would also mean that directly after the health crisis, individuals would tend to use more emissions. 

After the crisis, there is a fear that people will return to their consumption and travelling habits. However, this crisis can also be an opportunity to change mentality from an individual, national and global levels. This would greatly depend on the various policies following the health crisis but public opinion can have a great impact on them. 

You can watch the full e-seminar on the left. 

Financing Investments in Clean Technologies - SNF NRP73

The overarching objective of this project is to investigate how society can steer financing towards cleantech investments. Greater understanding about the financing of cleantech is critical not only in light of the massive amount of investment needed but also because cleantech differs from other technologies on two important aspects. First, clean technologies are largely dependent on public support as they suffer from a double externality: an environmental externality, which relates to the fact that firms do not bear the full costs of pollution, and a knowledge externality, which stems from the public good nature of knowledge. As a result, policy uncertainty, i.e. frequent changes in environmental and climate regulations, is particularly harmful to cleantech investments. Second, cleantech investors differ from traditional investors in other technologies: they are of a more dispersed, diverse and small-scale nature than traditional investors and may be driven by different (e.g., altruistic) motives. Much of the dynamism in the sector appears to be driven by new types of investors, rather than the traditional ones (e.g. incumbent energy firms).

Effectiveness of Partnerships for Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals: Behavioural Pathways and Impacts - SNIS

Liliana Andonova, Co-Director of the Graduate Institute’s Centre for International Environmental Studies, has received a Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) research grant for Effectiveness of Partnerships for Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals: Behavioural Pathways and Impacts, a project submitted with her colleague, Gilles Carbonnier.

“The project is driven by a puzzle”, explains Professor Andonova. “Global partnerships have become an essential part of how multilateralism works and of how international institutions advance the SDGs. The expectation is that partnerships provide all sorts of benefits, such as new forms of collaboration, new resources and bringing public and private purposes together. Yet we know very little about their effectiveness. We need much more inter-disciplinary, multi-dimensional information about what global partnerships produce in terms of effects.”

This project will draw on political science, economics, management studies and public policy to explore questions such as: How can we conceptualise and operationalise the effectiveness for public-private partnerships? Through what mechanisms are PPPs’ effects likely to materialise? What are the sources and limitations of the effectiveness of PPPs for sustainability? How do PPPs interact with other forms of governance at the international and subnational level to influence results for the SDGs?

Tim Flannery: Europeans are the ultimate hybrid species

Scientist, explorer and conservationist Tim Flannery is preparing a book on the history of animals in Europe during his time as the Graduate Institute’s Fondation Segré Distinguished Visiting Professor.

“Europe is especially interesting thanks to its origins”, says Professor Flannery. “It started as an island archipelago at the junction of Asia, Africa and North America, and became a sort of a seat of exchange: species came and went more rapidly than anywhere else on the planet.”

“Europe is the place where evolution moves fastest and where hybridization, which offers species a chance to acquire new genes to adapt to new conditions, became very important. Representing a hybrid between Neanderthals and African people, Europeans are the ultimate hybrid species.”

Professor Flannery is based at the Graduate Institute’s Centre for International Environmental Studies, and teaches a course on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Negative Carbon Options for Interdisciplinary Masters students. 

Susanna Hecht: Trump’s climate denialism producing devastating consequences

Institute professor Susanna Hecht has warned that Donald Trump’s policies on the environment and climate change will produce serious global repercussions.

In a presentation at Maison de la paix, Professor Hecht, who is co-director of the Graduate Institute’s Centre for International Environmental Studies, said that “since taking office, President Trump has sought to reverse more than 50 environmental regulations, on issues such as offshore drilling, mining, hunting, emissions standards, fracking, pesticides, flood defences and methane reporting.”

“Trump and Vice President Pence feel climate change is a lie put out to damage the US, and most of the cabinet are either climate deniers or very high on the scepticism scale. Equally damaging, the second and tertiary tiers of government are awash in climate denialism.”

“We’re looking at a really serious rollback on environment and climate, at a time when unprecedented environmental catastrophes have been stimulated or enhanced through processes of climate change.”