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Addressing sustainable development and climate change together using sustainomics


  • Mohan Munasinghe

    Corresponding author
    1. Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND), Colombo, Sri Lanka
    2. Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
    • Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND), Colombo, Sri Lanka

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This paper seeks to practically address two major global challenges—sustainable development and climate change. Developmental problems such as poverty are already formidable. Climate change is the ultimate risk multiplier, exacerbating the other crises too. Its worst impacts fall on the poor who are least responsible for the problem. The world currently faces multiple economic, social, and environmental threats. The economic collapse is the most urgent. The social crisis arises from global poverty, inequity, and inappropriate governance. Finally, mankind has caused severe environmental damage, including climate change. Present trends could destabilize global society. The way forward requires better use of economic stimulus packages to support green investments, social safety nets, and better price policies. A long-term vision goes beyond our current focus on surface level indicators. Instead, deeper issues need to be addressed systematically by focusing on both the immediate drivers and underlying pressures. The most effective approach is to integrate climate change policies into national sustainable development strategy, using the sustainomics framework. First is the practical, step-by-step approach of ‘making development more sustainable’ (MDMS). Second, we need a balanced and integrated analysis from three main perspectives: social, economic, and environmental. Third, the analysis must transcend conventional boundaries imposed by values, discipline, space, time, stakeholder viewpoints, and operationality. Finally, sustainomics provides many practical tools. This approach is applied globally to reconcile climate change risk management and development aspirations. Some practical national level applications are also described involving integration of adaptation and mitigation policies into sustainable development strategy. Specific cases include macroeconomic policy adjustment, sustainable pricing policies, renewable energy projects, and climate impacts on food security, agriculture, and water. Although the issues are complex and serious, both the climate change and sustainable development problems could be solved together, provided we begin immediately. WIREs Clim Change 2011 2 7–18 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.86

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