Thematic Areas

Research areas of the postgraduate degree programmes

Postgraduate student research is expected to contribute to the project with which the student chooses to be affiliated. Students hone the skills learned in the classroom by conducting research in the field alongside experts and experienced practitioners.

1. Governance for Sustainable Development (GSD)

This programme aims to lead research on governance for sustainability and climate change by exploring relevant synergies and trade-offs among the global environment and the sustainable development goals. It covers various fields of research that will contribute to the inclusive transformation of socio-economic systems including both climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, as well as governance matters such as localisation and institutionalisation of the SDGs. The programme, in collaboration with other thematic areas and partners of the UNU-IAS, is developing and implementing policy-oriented capacity building and educational programmes such as the Specialization on the Paris Agreement (SPA). Through research and capacity development, this programme allows ample opportunities to explore transformative and synergistic solutions for just transition, good governance, capacity development, and new partnerships at the global, national and local levels. 

2. Biodiversity & Society (BDS)

This programme aims to integrate diverse knowledge on human-nature interactions and advance our understanding of the intricate links between biodiversity and society to create a sustainable world. The programme focuses on landscape approaches, in which all stakeholders negotiate their needs and interests to find place-based sustainable solutions in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary manners. While considering biodiversity as an underpinning of ecosystem health and human wellbeing, in rural and urban areas, the scope of research ranges from biocultural diversity and green infrastructure to social-ecological resilience and transformative governance. Research is intended to feed into international policy processes related to biodiversity, and sustainability, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

3. Water & Resource Management (WRM)

This programme aims to lead research to transform water management systems by promoting decarbonised, circular economies, and enhancing resilience through decentralised natural resource management. It advances smart, innovative, and community-based sustainable water management by strengthening research collaboration between local researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders. Thus, it enables exploring alternative water resources and solutions. Simultaneously, this programme promotes the evidence-based management of water resources by local authorities and stakeholders. The Water and Resource Management (WRM) by its unique design and location at UNU-IAS, makes an important contribution to water-related activities in UN agencies with excellent learning and researching opportunities. In addition, in this programme, graduate students can conduct research related to global health diplomacy and governance for planetary health; international public policy and global governance bridging climate change and human health & wellbeing; and human security of children in the context of water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and health. 

4. Innovation & Education (IVE)

This programme aims to promote research and practices on innovative and inclusive education and lifelong learning for sustainable development at all ages. It reinforces evidence-based policy advice to translate global goals into local actions with a close alignment with the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for 2030 Roadmap. The programme is currently carrying out several research and capacity development projects in view of addressing urgent needs and challenges in sustainable development, including community-based climate actions, innovative and inclusive learning technology for sustainable development, cultural heritage preservation through education, research-based net-zero implementation capacity building for professionals, and climate change displaced persons and their right to education. The programme also serves as the secretariat for two prominent ESD networks, namely, Regional Centres of Expertise on ESD (RCEs) and ProSPER.Net and collaborates with the networks to facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships in ESD.