Markets working to support sustainable development


Shaping Sustainable Markets (SSM) is the flagship research initiative of the Sustainable Markets Group at IIED.

The group drives IIED’s efforts to ensure that markets contribute to stronger livelihoods and more sustainable environments.

SSM explores how market governance mechanisms – the formal and informal rules used to govern markets – are designed and how they impact people, the planet and the economy.

This work will be useful for policy makers, business professionals, and researchers and anyone who has an interest in how markets can work to support sustainable development. 

What we do

SSM analyses a wide range of mechanisms — from carbon labelling to diamond certification — that either operate, or impact on the poor in developing countries.

We assess both the individual and combined impact of these mechanisms.

We also explore the potential of innovative mechanisms that have yet to be tested in the real world — providing new ideas for 'shaping' markets.

Shaping Sustainable Markets builds on existing research. We are making sure we don’t replicate work that has already been done and aim to fill knowledge gaps where possible.

Over time we hope to build a set of principles to guide policymakers in designing and implementing effective mechanisms.

How we do it

We are analysing existing literature and carrying out primary research to assess the impacts of a range of mechanisms on sustainable development — what impact do these have on society, the environment and the economy? Do they help to alleviate poverty and maintain or enhance the environment?

We are also questioning how these mechanisms are designed and implemented. Are they effective, efficient, equitable and transparent? And how does their design and implementation shape their impact on sustainable development? This will involve qualitative analysis using a set of questions we have developed ourselves.

We expect our questions to evolve over time as we improve our knowledge of what works and why.

We welcome research inputs, ideas and feedback — please get in touch!

This website was part-funded by UK aid from the UK Government, however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the UK Government.