About us

The Stockholm Environment Institute is an international non-profit research and policy organization that tackles environment and development challenges. We connect science and decision-making to develop solutions for a sustainable future for all.

Central Hall. Photo: Alex Holland

SEI at the University of York

Since SEI was established in 1989 there has been a centre at the University of York. With over 30 years of established research, SEI-York has built a reputation for bridging science and policy locally in Yorkshire, with regional and national policymakers in the UK, and international in a number of key areas, including our work with UN organisations.

Our knowledge and findings are accessible to decision-makers and society through our own open access material in academic journals, which are repackaged for effective decision support. To promote debate and share knowledge we convene decision-makers, academics and practitioners and engage with policy processes, development action and business practice worldwide.

SEI York's research spans climate, water, air and land-use issues, governance, the economy, gender and health. Stakeholder involvement is at the heart of our efforts to build capacity, strengthen institutions and equip partners for long-term change. 

SEI is named after the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, adopted at the UN Conference on the Human Environment in 1972.

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.

Since 2012, SEI has been ranked among the top two think tanks in the world working on environmental policy. SEI was placed first in 2016 and second in the previous three years’ rankings. The Global Go To Think Tank Index is 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.

Read more about SEI

We are highly collaborative: stakeholder involvement is at the heart of our efforts to build capacity, strengthen institutions, and equip partners for the long term. 

The impact of SEI York is underpinned by robust and independent science and high-quality and high-profile research outputs. Bridging science and policy is the core of SEI’s work. We translate research from the academic literature into formats that make scientific insights applicable to policy. We turn insight and analysis into practical applications and services. These practical tools help decision makers identify priorities, see connections and take advantage of synergies.

The centre began in the Department of Biology but is now part of the Department of Environment and Geography. This has enabled us to collaborate effectively on joint research opportunities and grow as an organisation. We now have over 50 core members of staff. There are also a number of joint appointments with other university departments. York staff also participate in teaching, as well as PhD and Postdoc/MSc/MRes supervision.

Staff at SEI York actively contribute to the delivery of the Department of Environment and Geography’s (DEG) research programme with clear and substantial overlap between SEI York’s research areas and delivery mechanisms and the research areas of ‘Conservation in Action’, ‘Environmental Change Through Time’, ‘Environmental Chemistry in a Changing World’ and ‘People, Place and Planet’. In addition to our role in supporting and contributing to the research undertaken in DEG, SEI York work aligns and contributes directly to the work of other departments at York where we have active and ongoing collaborations, including - but not exclusively - those of the Department of Biology, Chemistry, Health Sciences, Politics, Social Policy, and the School for Business and Society.

We are active and longstanding contributors to the York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI) where collaboration has a track record of funding success which we will aim to continue going forward, and where our research portfolio complements all three of YESI’s themes of ‘Sustainable Food’, ‘Resilient Ecosystems’ and ‘Urban Living’. We have also actively collaborated with the Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre (IGDC).

We work closely with Environmental Sustainability at York (ESAY), with whom we have developed our interdisciplinary module, Sustainability and Policy. This forms one part of ESAY's York Interdisciplinary Modules initiative, new for the academic year 2023/24.

  1. We are inclusive: we embrace diversity, we provide equal opportunities, and we identify inequalities and act to address them.
  2. We are a team: we invest in and support each other to achieve our potential, and we share workplace duties.
  3. We have an enjoyable work environment: we can have fun at work, and we are welcoming to visitors.
  4. We have good work-life balance & wellbeing: we have fair and realistic expectations of our colleagues, we are conscious of others’ feelings and personal circumstances, we are kind to each other.
  5. We are dependable: our colleagues trust us and can rely on us, we keep our word, and we communicate clearly.
  6. We have a positive and respectful working environment: we are professional in all forms of communication and with respect to all protected characteristics; we are honest; we ensure all voices and opinions are heard; and we deal with conflict in a constructive manner.
  7. We learn and are creative: we feel comfortable to give and accept feedback, we have the space to reflect on and learn from our failures, and we celebrate our successes.
  8. We live by our values: we consider the environmental and social impacts of all elements of our work.

Our passionate team of staff and PhD students conduct and support research on some of the biggest challenges we face in the world. All our projects are done with partners who help ensure that action results from our research, for example, by implementing our findings. 

Prof. Sarah West, Centre Director