Climate change, economics top agenda for Majority World experts seeking EU policy change

Survey of sustainable development experts found pandemics, security not major priorities.

Press release, 25 January 2023

Climate change and economics are priority areas for European Union (EU) policy change according to a survey of sustainable development experts, mostly from the Majority World. Respondents to the survey, carried out by the International Institute for Environment and Development-Europe (IIED Europe) were asked what research is needed to maximise the benefits and minimise the negative impacts of European policies on the developing world.

Few of the more than 70 respondents raised pandemics or security as key issues. Likewise, themes that have dominated EU debate and funding streams in recent years, such as the blue economy, were also largely absent.

Almost two thirds of the sustainable development experts who responded to the survey were from the global South. The survey asked them to submit questions that reflected their priorities for researching the global impacts of EU policies and practice. IIED Europe gathered more than 300 questions that were then distilled down to 230 priority research questions and then grouped into ten clusters.

Tom Bigg, interim director of IIED Europe, said: “Good decision and policymaking relies on having the right evidence available, but all too often, it has been scholars and funders deciding which evidence to gather and how, on the assumption that they know best.

“This survey aims to bring together a much broader group of experts to decide together what questions need to be answered to help improve European policy for the Majority World.”

Analysis of the survey findings is available in a searchable open access database that can be filtered and sorted by category, keyword or geography, so that users can explore the bigger picture or drill down into the detail.

Questions on climate change included ‘How can EU subsidies for fossil fuels be reformed to accelerate a just transition in the energy sector in the Majority World?’ and ‘How can existing EU policies support climate migrants in the context of climate-resilient development?’.

On business and trade, questions included ‘How can EU business and trade policies address the need to procure commodities from Majority World countries in sustainable ways?’ and ‘How can EU policy support people without electricity in the Majority World to access simple and efficient electricity generation systems (such as solar kits, etc) at low cost?’

IIED Europe aims to address some of the questions raised by the survey respondents in its future work. Over the course of 2023 it will develop a number of focused workstreams to address the challenges of climate change, threats to natural systems, the impacts of urbanisation around the world and the role of the private sector.

For more information or to request an interview, contact Sarah Grainger: +44 7503 643332 or