Development Economics Seminar, Spatial Economics Seminar Amsterdam

Nicholas Stern (London School of Economic, United Kingdom and President of the British Academy)
Thursday, 15 September 2016

There are two defining challenges of this century, managing climate change and overcoming poverty. If we fail on one, we fail on the other. If we fail on climate change, then we will create an environment so hostile that it will destroy lives and livelihoods. If we try to manage climate change by putting barriers to overcoming poverty in the shorter term we will not have the coalition needed to manage climate change.

In 2015 the world embraced a new global agenda; one that can deliver on both challenges. The Paris Agreement in December recognised that it is possible to balance growth, development and climate change. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York in September, demonstrated broad commitment to both development and overcoming poverty, with 17 broad objectives (13 of which involved environment, sustainability or climate change. Both agreements apply to all countries. This is the first global agenda since the 1940s.

Meeting all of these challenges will require sustainable economic growth. In the current economic context, growth is slow and the mechanisms (e.g. monetary policy) being used to reignite it are reaching their limits. Increasing public-private investment now in sustainable infrastructure has the potential to (i) support growth in the short term, (ii) spur innovation and creativity in the medium term, and (iii) is the only feasible longer-run growth story on offer.

This talk will present the logic, urgency and promise of tacking climate change, the subtitle of Stern’s 2015 book “Why are we waiting?” It will demonstrate that we know what needs to be done and how to embark on a new path. It will be very attractive, including cities where we can work, breathe and be productive. It involves strong, clear and credible policies that chart a course of direction and give the confidence necessary for investment and innovation. The task is now to implement. Time is of the essence, the next 20 years will be critical.

Registration not required, but please be on time.

Speaker: Professor Lord Nicholas Stern

Affiliations: Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science

IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, London School of Economics and Political Science

President of the British Academy



Bhattacharya, A., Oppenheim, J. and Stern, N. 2015. Driving Sustainable Development through Better Infrastructure: Key Elements of a Transformation Program. Global Economy and Development at Brookings, Working Paper 91. Available:

New Climate Economy. 2014. Better Growth, Better Climate. Available: