Making sustainable development a reality – movements that inspire change: Make Change Happen podcast episode 17

As IIED celebrates its 50th birthday, this episode of Make Change Happen brings together four established members of the IIED family to reflect on key movements in the journey towards sustainable development, and explore ways to address future challenges and opportunities.

Article, 21 June 2022

IIED’s ‘Make Change Happen’ podcast provides an opportunity to hear our researchers and guests discuss key global development challenges and explain what we are doing to support positive change.

In this episode marking IIED’s 50th birthday, our guests are all sustainable development innovators. Together, they discuss some of the key movements that have pushed sustainable development forward in recent decades, how the landscape has changed, and what might come next.

Host Liz Carlile, IIED's director of communications, is joined by ex-colleagues Steve Bass, now a consultant in sustainable development; Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD); and former IIED director Camilla Toulmin, who is now a professor at the University of Lancaster’s Environment Centre and an associate at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. All three are also senior associates working with IIED.

Movements, not moments

IIED was born at a time when the vision of sustainable development was just emerging. Since then, we have seen and been part of many ideas, approaches, events and policies, all seeking to make the intertwined environment and development goals a reality.

But looking back at the work the sustainable development community has done, we can’t talk about specific moments in time – either wins or losses – without acknowledging the wider movements that have inspired change over time.

The conversation kicks by off drawing from Steve Bass’ latest report, 'Connecting for common goals', in which he identifies ten sustainable development movements that have developed since 1972 and explores the role IIED and our partners have played in each one.

We hear about the multi-actor climate justice movement, which Huq has fought to bring to global platforms, particularly the long-overlooked dimension of climate adaptation.

Toulmin, a drylands expert, highlights the importance of acknowledging the strength and wisdom of people living in the areas most impacted by our planet’s climate and nature emergencies – thinking that drives the much needed ‘local to global’ approach that has become IIED’s hallmark.

Bass recognises the positive progress made by businesses in recent years – going from denying their impact on communities and ecosystems to recognising their dependence on local people and their natural capital.

While IIED’s values have remained a constant over the last half-century, the guests again touch on changing mindsets in the wider world as the conversation turns to the impact of the global agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This universal set of goals applies to everyone alike – governments, businesses, civil society – and seeks to deliver a ‘blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’, narrowing the gap between global North and global South.

The episode comes to a close with recognition that so much work remains to be done, across every aspect of sustainable development. Our guests each share the change they think most needs to happen to aid progress in the current landscape, including taking a borderless approach to the future, with a focus on people-led demands and greater youth leadership.

Find out more by listening to the episode.


Head and shoulders photo of Steve Bass

Steve Bass has over 40 years’ experience in international and national policy for sustainable development and forest management. He is co-founder of the Green Economy Coalition, where he runs national dialogues in several countries on what kinds of economic governance are needed to handle increasingly tough choices. He is also an IIED senior associate and a consultant to the World Bank.

Head and shoulders photo of Saleemul Huq

Saleemul Huq is the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh, and is an expert on the links between climate change and sustainable development, particularly from the perspective of developing countries. He is also an IIED senior associate.

Head and shoulders photo of Camilla Toulmin

Camilla Toulmin is a professor at the University of Lancaster’s Environment Centre, an associate at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and a senior associate at IIED. She is an economist with particular expertise on dryland Africa. Her current work focuses on climate change, property rights, global governance and natural resources.

Head and shoulders photo of Liz Carlile

Liz Carlile (host) is director of the Communications Group at IIED. She is an expert in strategic marketing and communications, with a particular focus on research communications and policy influence, and has published on social learning and climate change communications.

How to listen and subscribe

The ‘Make Change Happen’ podcast provides informal insights into IIED’s work to create positive change and make the complex issues we face more accessible to wider audiences. The title refers to IIED’s 2019-2024 strategy, which sets out how IIED plans to respond to the critical challenges of our time.

You can subscribe to the podcast on your favourite podcast app as follows:

The podcast is also available on IIED's YouTube channel.

You can follow some of the people you have heard in this episode on Twitter at @lizcarlile, @camillatoulmin and @saleemulhuq. Follow the podcast on @IIED_Voices for all the latest updates.