Sustainable Development Insights, No. 3, April 2010

UNsdkp003coverAre Women the Key to Sustainable Development?
By Candice Stevens

April 2010 (8 pages)
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This issue explores the possible link between advances in achieving gender equality and advances in achieving sustainable development goals. The paper concludes, “As indicated by both theory and evidence, the lack of progress on gender equality may be at the heart of the failure to advance on sustainable development. If women were in more productive and decision-making roles, we could be moving faster and more assuredly towards sustainability in the economic, social and environmental sense. Sustainable development is a political concept because it is about good governance, which will be hard to achieve until we get closer to gender parity. Research is needed to test the hypothesis that women are more risk-averse than men and that women leaders would be more apt to follow sustainable development pathways. Given the importance of gender to sustainability, these issues should feature more prominently in sustainable development discussions and be highlighted in a 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.”

Sustainable Development Insights is a series of short policy essays supporting the  Sustainable Development Knowledge Partnership (SDKP) and edited by Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. The series seeks to promote a broad interdisciplinary dialogue on how to accelerate sustainable development at all levels.

Candice Stevens is the former Sustainable Development Advisor of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), where she was also Head of the Industry Division, the Science and Technology Policy Division, and the Environment and Trade Unit. Previously, Dr. Stevens was an economist in the US government in the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce, and the US Congress. She now consults on economics of sustainable development from her office in Paris, France.