Markets are one of the dominant social institutions of our time. Understanding what they are, how they work, and how they can be shaped, is essential to sustainable development. The world's markets have the potential to improve the lives of billions of people in developing countries, reducing poverty and securing environmental quality for future generations. But markets often fail to capture the full value of natural resources or to promote the interests of poor people. Therefore an effective public policy framework for markets is required. The issue of market governance and relationship between the market (and private interests) and political authority remains a core question at the heart of the sustainability debate.
The right 'enabling environment' is essential for pro-sustainable development markets. If the right framework conditions do not exist, markets can work to undermine sustainable development. IIED's Sustainable Markets Group works on getting the right mix; creating and strengthening incentives and capacities to engage; in short, regoverning markets for sustainable development. Our aim is to catalyse civil society, public sector and private sector action to frame markets that work for sustainable development, finding innovative ways to address market failure; to facilitate strategic thinking and action on those complex issues; and to bring the insights of our southern partners to the resolution of global problems. We also aim to expose myths about the benefits of 'free' markets and economic globalisation when local capacities and institutions are weak.