Ecologic Foundation
  Issues we're working on

Institutions for Sustainable Development

Each year, the New Zealand government’s Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) invests over $60 million in research to advance sustainable development. The vast majority of this goes to research in the bio-physical sciences – understanding ecosystems and finding techniques to avoid, remedy and mitigate adverse effects on the environment.

Important as this research is, it is unlikely to be fully utilised unless New Zealand’s institutions – the rules, processes and value systems that guide human behaviour - give businesses and individuals the right incentives to act in a sustainable way.

Working with academics and other researchers, and with the support of numerous business organisations, government departments, and Fish & Game New Zealand, Ecologic received funding in 2003 from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology for a research programme entitled “Institutions for sustainable development”. 

FRST funded two parts of Ecologic’s proposal to study the institutions and incentives that motivate human behaviour and therefore determine environmental outcomes. Our four-year project has the following two objectives:

We hosted the Northern Lights conference in August 2007 to present our findings to the public. Click here for research reports and papers related to this project (look for ISD Project 2003-2007).

Key concepts

Our first report from this research project (July 2004) explores some of the key concepts in economics, ecological sustainability, and social development, and how they come together in sustainable development. We will continue to explore these concepts as we proceed with our research, and would welcome feedback on our ideas. Download our report on Key Concepts in Sustainable Development.

We also reviewed a range of theories to help us understand and interpret the behaviour of individuals and organisations, as further background to inform our case studies. Download our working paper on Theories of Institutional Behaviour.

Getting it done: our research team

Ecologic could not carry out this work alone. We have put together a team involving researchers from Landcare Research, the University of Helsinki in Finland, and two private researchers. These researchers collectively received about half of the project funding.

Getting the word out: our partners

Twelve business, government and non-government organisations have agreed to partner with us in this research. They will give us feedback on our methodology and preliminary results and, most importantly, help to disseminate our findings and promote institutional change in New Zealand to advance sustainable development.

List of partner organisations

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