The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) is an international environment and development research institute that bridges science and policy making. It has a mission “to support decision-making and induce change towards sustainable development around the world by providing integrative knowledge that bridges science and policy in the field of environment and development”.
SEI was set up by the Swedish government in 1989 to act as an international institute in the field of environment and development. Its activities build upon the insights gained at the UN conference on environment and development in Stockholm in 1972, which emphasised the impossibility of separating environmental concerns from development.
When SEI was set up, it asked the then Director of the Beijer Institute in Stockholm to become the first SEI Executive Director. The work of the Beijer Institute was a foundation upon which the initial development of SEI was built, and one centre of the Beijer Institute had been set up by Professor Mike Chadwick, who had been an academic in the Department of Biology from early in the University’s history. Together with another centre in Boston in the US, the York Centre, under the Direction of Mike Chadwick, became one of the founding centres with Stockholm.
SEI works from seven main locations, with additional offices linked to these. The SEI foundation in Sweden consists of SEI Stockholm, SEI Asia, SEI Africa and SEI Oxford. SEI Tallinn, SEI US and SEI York are separate entities and associations under the SEI umbrella and governed by the same Board of Directors.
SEI has been recognised as the eighth most influential environment think tank in the world for 2011, up from tenth place in 2010 by the Global Go To Think Tank Index compiled by the University of Pennsylvania's Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program. Organisations are ranked on a detailed set of criteria, including quality and level of output, impact, and resource use.
to support decision-making and induce change towards sustainable development around the world by providing integrative knowledge that bridges science and policy in the field of environment and development
The York centre of SEI has grown within the Department of Biology at the University of York from its initiation, but has now joined the Environment Department to realise the opportunities for joint research that exist between Environment and SEI-York.
SEI-York has built a reputation for bridging science and policy locally in Yorkshire, with regional and national policy makers in the UK and internationally in a number of key areas.
In the UK, SEI-York has concentrated on issues related to consumption and behaviour and the impacts of our affluent society on the environment. In developing countries, SEI-York’s activities have concentrated on atmospheric issues, from air pollution in urban centres, to regional air pollution and its interaction with climate change. In Africa, SEI-York works at local scales, attempting to improve management of water resources in arid areas to improve agricultural yields. It has built an interdisciplinary team as addressing the complex problems of environment and development require the combination of many disciplines.
The SEI York centre has 36 core members of staff and is located within the University of York. All staff are employed by the University of York. In addition there are a number of joint appointments with various other university departments. York staff also participate in teaching as well as PhD and Post-Doc / MSc /MRes supervision. The York centre is helping to develop a York Environment Research Initiative across the University to develop cross-campus, cross-disciplinary research.