CDE organizes its activities in four thematic clusters. The clusters bring together people, projects, knowledge, and skills according to specific themes while facilitating studies from different, complementary perspectives.
- The Land Resources cluster examines the use of natural resources such as soil, water, and vegetation. We investigate the role of land (access, distribution, rights) and changes/adaptations to its management (cultivation technologies, conservation, commodification) in achieving sustainable development.
- The Socio-Economic Transitions cluster investigates how global development creates disparities and how disparities shape development. We refine instruments to assess poverty and inequality, and we identify alternative development pathways made possible by social and technological innovation in the areas of labour, production, and consumption.
- The Sustainability Governance cluster specializes in interactions between global and local regulating systems. Our team uses methods from geographic information science to identify and visualize diverse claims on water, land, and food. We support policymakers by facilitating public participatory decision-making processes for the joint management of trade-offs between different development goals at various administrative levels.
- The Education for Sustainable Development cluster focuses on building human capacity to initiate transformations towards sustainable development. Our team supports the University of Bern in mainstreaming sustainability throughout its teaching, research, and operations.
The four clusters simultaneously represent our thematic foci and constitute CDE’s operational units. Regular collaboration across clusters ensures that our approaches are integrative, problem-focused, and take advantage of CDE’s broad disciplinary expertise (16 different scientific disciplines as of 2017). Our target groups and the range of products emerging from our research are also broad. Products include basic scientific insights, tools for analysis and communication, transdisciplinary expertise, planning instruments, training tools, national and regional partner networks, consulting and backstopping for projects and interventions, collaboration in global policymaking, impact assessments, and process facilitation. The individual clusters serve as thematic entry points for partners and actors from science, policy, and public administration interested in launching joint projects.