The report contains a selection of its research achievements grouped into four themes that embody the work of the Institute:


SEI breaks down barriers between development and environment issues and exposes the complex relationships between people, nature and social systems. One example is SEI’s work on the links between ground level ozone, climate and food production which has revealed that ground level ozone could pose a greater immediate threat to food security in Southeast Asia than the changing climate. This research was published in a Royal Society report.


Often, SEI’s work is about asking people to look at things in a different way. SEI confronts issues before they enter the mainstream, and strives for a complete picture rather than looking at aspects of a problem in isolation. For instance, more than two-thirds of UK local authorities use the results of SEI’s unique ecological footprinting software, REAP.

Guiding policymakers

SEI believes the best way to help decision makers is to provide them with rigorous and objective analysis.This is exemplified by the Greenhouse Development Rights framework. Since its launch at the Bali climate summit, it has been championed by development organisations such as Oxfam, and governments in the developed world and G77.

Global issues, local partnerships

SEI tests what works in practice so its research can be trusted. Research cannot exist in isolation: real change requires input from people who know what’s actually going on in their region. EcoSanRes, SEI’s research programme on ecological sanitation has been exploring and delivering sustainable sanitation in Africa and Asia for the last six years.

Among many other achievements in 2008, the group published an analysis of progress towards the Millennium Development Goal for sanitation.

Download the 2008 annual report (PDF: 2.34MB)