Vision, mission, and commitments


We envision a transformed world of dignified lives for all, open societies, and respect for our planet’s environmental integrity.


CDE pioneers transformative research and generates effective, high-quality knowledge that inspires innovation in science, society, and policy. Committed to global partnerships for sustainable development, we chart inclusive pathways for overcoming today’s development challenges and preventing future crises.


Actionable knowledge

As an academic centre of excellence, we uphold the highest standards of scientific rigour while producing contextually relevant knowledge that captures the imagination and spurs action towards sustainable futures.


The transformative pathways we promote are mutually beneficial and honour our planet’s ecological capacities. They especially strive to empower those at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder so as to reduce global inequalities. And they seek to safeguard and restore ecosystems to maintain and enhance their services for a just development.

Systems thinking

We aim to push knowledge frontiers in effectively addressing the interaction dynamics among different sustainability goals. This means enhancing co-benefits while limiting trade-offs among often diverging and conflicting targets. At the same time, we embrace complexity and assume a local-to-global perspective for responding to today’s sustainability challenges.

Politics of knowledge

We contribute to local, national, and global development agendas, and promote science–policy innovation in the service of desirable futures. We seek to nurture agents of change by fostering transformative literacy and exploring the leadership skills needed to translate sustainability issues for policy debates and societal deliberation.


Our efforts are brought to fruition through our long-standing partnerships in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as well as in Europe and globally, effectively bridging contextual realities and global policies to achieve widely shared transformation pathways.