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Incentives and Politics

Ban Ki Moon. Photo: UNFCCC

Human impacts on the environment and natural resources raise questions about democracy, power relations, political representation, international politics, economic development, legislation and diplomacy. Sustainable development of society also requires successful leadership that promotes international agreements and legal regulations, and drives incentives forward. One example is that new, efficient incentives will be needed to, on the one hand, mitigate climate change and, on the other hand, handle conflict- and risk analyses and adaptation.

Climate- and environmental politics

Environmental politics as a research area looks at how scientific knowledge is transformed into efficient environmental politics in practice. Research on climate- and environmental politics at Lund University can be found in the borderland between, on the one hand, environmental politics, and, on the other hand, political science research on international relations, political theory, decision making, administration and comparative politics. Some of the central research areas are:

  • Global climate- and environmental politics
  • The role of science in decision making
  • Risk and uncertainty
  • Democratic participation in environmental politics
  • The environmental politics of the EU
  • Green political theory
  • Power and equity between generations


For Sweden to reach the national environmental objectives decided upon by the parliament, and be able to carry out commitments from international environmental agreements, for example about climate and biological diversity, different types of incentives have been established to push the process of change towards sustainable development forwards. These take the form of economic incentives (taxes, fees, deductions, deposits, subsidies) and legal  instruments (laws and regulations), or information, urban planning and environmental management systems.

At Lund University, the research about incentives for the environment and sustainable development deals with:

  • The precautionary principle as legal principle
  • Legislation on chemicals, biofuels and energy efficiency
  • General legal principles and the need for sustainable development
  • Sustainability by public procurement
  • Importance of participation and consultation for governance towards sustainable development
  • Climate politics and societal governance

Sustainability science

This interdisciplinary line of research places its focus in the borderland between social science, the humanities and natural science, as well as on the use of science in society. The research field is defined by the questions it poses rather than on the scientific disciplines it embraces, and one goal is to form new modes of cooperation between different research areas and actors. Research at Lund University deals with:

  • Subsistence agriculture and food security
  • Improved livelihoods in Africa via sustainable innovations
  • Large-scale land acquisitions in Africa
  • Sustainability criteria for renewable energy: Sweden in a European and global context
  • Globalisation and sustainable development
  • Water conflicts in the Middle East