Published on Nov 15, 2013

The 2013 World Social Science Report entitled “Changing Global Environments” has been launched on 15 November.

The 2013 World Social Science Report issues an urgent call to action to the international social science community to collaborate more effectively with each other, with colleagues from other fields of science, and with the users of research to deliver solutions-oriented knowledge on today’s most pressing environmental problems. It calls for a transformative social science that is bolder, better, bigger, different:


  • bolder in reframing and reinterpreting global environmental change as a social problem
  • better at infusing social science insights into real-world problem-solving
  • bigger in terms of having more social scientists to focus on global environmental change
  • different in the way it thinks about and does research that helps meet the vexing sustainability challenges faced today.

Published by UNESCO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Report was prepared and edited by the ISSC with the support of leading specialists from all the over the world, including many researchers from the earth system governance global research alliance.

Earth System Governance Research Fellows, Carolina Adler (ETH Zürich), and Katharine Rietig (London School of Economics and Political Science) wrote the chapter “Quo vadis? The state of social sciences on climate and global environmental change in Europe”. In their contribution, Adler and Rietig discuss some of the conditions that facilitate social science and humanities research on climate and global change in Europe, as well as some of the challenges that still persist. Most importantly, Adler and Rietig also direct attention towards possible ways to deal with these challenges, highlighting the potential to tap into knowledge that delivers innovative solutions.

Earth System Governance Senior Research Fellow Urbano Fra Paleo (University of Extremadura) wrote the chapter on “A functional risk society? Progressing from management to governance while learning from disasters” In his contribution he explains how the concept of risk society provides a framework for understanding the complex links between contemporary society and risk.

Senior Research Fellows Steve Vanderheiden (University of Colorado at Boulder) contributed with the section on “Climate change mitigation, a problem of injustice” and Lead Faculty member Roberto P. Guimarães authored the viewpoint on “Failing to translate science into policy? From Stockholm 1972 to Rio+20”. Earth System Governance Research Fellow François Gemenne (University of Versailles and at the University of Liège) co-authored the chapter on “The paradoxes of climate change and migration” with Andrew Baldwin (Durham University).

In addition, the Earth System Governance Project is featured as one of the contributing research programmes in part 7 of the Report.

This report aims to engage social scientists in all disciplines in academia, research institutes, think tanks, NGOs, and government agencies all over the world, as well as intergovernmental organizations.

The World Social Science Report 2013t is available in print and online at the OECD iLibrary. For more information see also www.worldsocialscience.org