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Summer School CALL for Papers: Sustainable Development

Development in transition challenges

Sustainable Development: the science, economics and policy nexus

Economic development has lifted millions of people out of poverty during the last decades. At the same time the processes that have accompanied economic development have had irreversible impact on the environment. The continuous degradation of natural resources, the extinction of species and climate change confirm the world may be approaching to a tipping point in which the impacts of environmental degradation could become catastrophic. The scientific community has provided evidence of a changing climate on ecosystem services that support human life, including its economic component. New economic models and development strategies have to take into account the ‘sustainability component’ and develop new tools and analysis for measuring and assessing the impacts of the ‘environmental crisis’ on economic and social development, and for designing better policy tools to cope with it.

Transitioning countries are relevant actors in the environmental global debate. In these countries, environmental degradation is a new form of poverty, increasing the vulnerability of their development model and undermining their ‘right to development’.

In Latin America and the Caribbean environmental challenges remain pressing and diverse, ranging from deforestation to air and water pollution, natural resources availability and climate migration. The environmental crisis in the region is worsened by what ECLAC has defined as an environmental trap (ECLAC/OECD/CAF, 2019). This trap is linked to the productive structure of the region, which is biased towards high material, and natural resource-intensive activities, which can result into an environmentally and economically unsustainable dynamic for two reasons: the high-carbon growth path is difficult – and costly – to abandon and the natural resources upon which the model is based are depleting. Overcoming the environmental crisis will require a profound change in development strategies and bold policy reforms to move to a low-carbon economy and foster green growth. Existing policy frameworks and economic interests continue to be geared towards fossil fuels and carbon-intensive activities, as coal, oil and natural gas have fueled economic development to date.

To promote innovative research on sustainable development, analysis and policy, the Summer School on Latin American Economies will convene a seminar on the 3rd and 4th of September 2019 to bring together researchers from academia, think-tanks, business and non-profit organizations. The seminar will be part of the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the UN-ECLAC Summer School on Latin American Economies and will be held at the UN-ECLAC Headquarters in Santiago, Chile. The seminar will be financed by the European Union and the INET Young Scholar Initiative.

Research papers on all aspects of measuring the environmental crisis, new tools in economic policy analysis, the political economy of sustainability and social inclusion, equity, and environmental sustainability are welcome. Topics that will be taken in consideration include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Measuring the Environmental Crisis.

What are the main advances in measuring the impact of environmental degradation? What are the estimates of the costs of these changes? Are growth-led strategies compatible with sustainable development? Are current consumption and production patterns compatible with sustainable development? How can we ensure fair economic development and sustainability? How can we measure the relative cost of mitigation and adaptation? What have been the advances in reducing emissions at a global level, once one considers that in many cases polluting industries are exported to other countries? What does the most recent scientific evidence on climate change suggest? Is there any new information regarding tipping points and / or catastrophic events? Have we moved away of the “discount rate” debate towards a more qualitative approach that recognizes the impossibility of measuring certain costs (vg, extinction of a species)?

  1. New tools in economic policy analysis

How has evolved the debate on economics of the environment? How do different approaches relate? How this debate affects our views on public policy? How can price signals and regulations be combined to have a significant impact on decisions of investment, production and consumption? What is the technological revolution changing this debate? What is the role that changing patterns of consumption may play in sustainability as compared to changes in patterns of production? Is the discussion of sustainability and development co-evolving or they follow parallel paths? What is the relationship between climate policies and development policies? Do we have any evidence? Can climate policies be considered a catalyzer of economic development?

  1. The political economy of sustainability

Are the international institutions that we now have in place for climate change effective? How are they changing? What are the connections between the domestic political economy and global public goods? Is the problem of climate change a problem that we should tackle exclusively in terms of international agreements or local, urban and regional policies may play a role of their own or event take the lead? Are national development strategies taking into account the international agreements on climate change and sustainability?

  1. Social Inclusion, Equity, and Environmental Sustainability

What are the complementarities and trade-offs between income distribution and sustainability? How to make the sustainable transition inclusive and equitable (including consideration of poverty reduction, women and gender, job creation, skills development)? What are the distributional impacts of the sustainable transition? Is it possible to correct for them? How can we improve the participation of the civil society and of the private sector in define our sustainability targets?

Each proposal should clearly explain the main research questions that will be studied, hypotheses, sources of data that will be used, and research methods and results. Additional supporting material, such as preliminary results or draft papers, are also welcome. Deadline for submission: July 28. Decisions about the proposals will be made by August 2. The final presentation to be made at the seminar will be due by August 10.

At least two papers per topic will be selected. Limited financial support is available upon request. Questions about the seminar and financial support may be addressed to Proposals should be submitted in word format to