The Centre for Development and Environment Policy (CDEP) was established in 1998 as an interdisciplinary platform of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. Supported by a core endowment provided by the Indian Planning Commission, CDEP addresses crucial interdisciplinary issues associated with the complex relationship between economic activities and the natural environment. CDEP addresses the issue of sustainable development and undertakes research, teaching as well as training activities on the important dimensions of the relationship between environment and development at the organizational, regional, national and global levels. IIMC being a national institute of management, CDEP has developed a close working relationship with policy makers in Indian industry, government, NGOs and international organisations related to sustainable development. A number of faculty members of the Institute from various disciplines closely collaborate in various CDEP activities, which is coordinated by a core committee. The range of research, training and publication activities expected from a setup for interdisciplinary studies like the CDEP is very wide. Some of the broad issues around which the centre had been concentrating its work are listed below:
Sustainability has become a central concept in the present day discourse on economic development and organizational goals. There are various competing approaches as to what is to be made 'sustainable', under what conditions, for what purpose, and by whom. While sustainability in practice is a goal to be urgently achieved, the theoretical and conceptual background for doing so is fraught with uncertainty and ambiguity. The CDEP works on different aspects of sustainability.
One of the many areas that is essential to understanding sustainable development is environmental economics. This enables a better assessment of the environmental costs and benefits of economic activities. It provides tools for managing environmental problems at the level of the organization as well as in global markets.
Industry, Trade and Environment
Through its training programs, CDEP offers Indian industry a forum to share knowledge and arrive at ways to address concrete challenges of environmental management. CDEP has interest in encouraging a better understanding of the ideas of industrial ecology and green manufacturing. Issues of environment that are going to affect trade or international policy formulation are also of interest.
Food Water and Energy
Environmental stress and population pressures create challenges for adequate availability of food, water and energy in the near future. These problems are essentially global in nature, but have local dimensions. Solutions to these problems are bound to be interdisciplinary in nature touching upon social, economic as well as natural sciences. The impacts of possible global climate change in the years to come add to the exigency. CDEP aims to get a better understanding of these and other emerging challenges and promotes research on these issues.
Biodiversity and Biotechnology
Biological diversity is the variety of life on Earth, from the simplest bacterial gene to the vast, complex rainforests of the Amazon. Human beings are an integral part of this diversity, as is the food, medicine, clothing and other biological resources that sustain them. With the advancement of modern biotechnology, CDEP provides a forum where important issues that have emerged like ownership of biodiversity, IPR vis-à-vis traditional common knowledge, and bio-safety can be debated.
Science, Environment and Global Governance
The need for integration between several fundamental environment and development issues has resulted in the convergence of intellectual, business and political energy towards improving the interaction between humankind and the environment. CDEP contributes towards generating and collating knowledge and expertise in order to manage these highly dynamic and complex interactions in the crafting of business strategy, formulation of national policy and negotiating global solutions.
With increasing evidence of climate change and little international consensus emerging on how to address the issue, it is imperative that initiatives be taken up at the individual, organizational and national levels to address the root causes of climate change and help adapt to and mitigate the adverse effects. The Indian government has already mandated a minimum fraction of corporate profit to be spent on activities to be classified as corporate social responsibility. CDEP would be involved in consulting with industry, urban and rural local bodies and policy makers to address both mitigation and adaptation issues related to climate change.