Research at CSTM falls under the theme of Innovation and Governance for Sustainable Development, divided into four categories: energy transition, water governance, regional sustainable development and sustainable production and consumption. All these projects contribute to the Institute for Governance Studies (IGS) at the University of Twente, in which CSTM participates. CSTM’s research is also integrated in the Dutch National Research School “Netherlands Institute of Government”, in which eleven Dutch universities co-operate.

The concept of sustainability has come to occupy a permanent place on the public and political agenda. The academic community, governments, businesses, and broader society recognise the importance of sustainable development for the future health and welfare of the planet and its inhabitants. Previous research has often focused on separate approaches of business responsibilities and initiatives, government policies, instruments and implementation networks, cultural and value orientations, and technological inventions and advances, to deal with the challenge. But if the scientific study into dealing with the challenge of sustainability since the early nineties has made anything clear, then that is that all these changes are in need of each other. The unavoidable challenge of sustainable development can only be met by their productive co-evolution.
The programme “Innovation and Governance for Sustainable Development” (in brief: “Sustainable Innovation”) seeks to investigate how such co-evolution can be supported by governance approaches based on a deeper understanding of how and when sustainable innovations occur and sometimes even lead to so-called ‘transitions’, like the ones strived for by Dutch government, e.g. in our energy system. Thereby it addresses both the Western challenge of sustainable development, so in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe and OECD countries, and the challenge of sustainability in developing countries, so in a north-south perspective. Theories on policy processes, multi-actor network analysis, multi-level arrangements and interactions, innovation and diffusion, integrated assessment, gender, public participation, property and user rights, policy instruments, smart regulatory and legal design and other incentive structures, and more, all contribute to the multi-theoretical framework which is adopted for this research.