Sustainability Performances, Evidence and Scenarios (SPES)

Reconciling productivity, equality, sustainability, and participation to drive the transition towards sustainable human development.

PEP has joined a consortium of distinguished research and educational institutions from across Europe in partnership for the Sustainability Performances, Evidence, and Scenarios (SPES) project. This three-year initiative (2023-2026) aims to improve policymakers' understanding of economic growth, human well-being, and sustainability. 

The research produced through the project is intended to provide policymakers with robust data to shape strategies for effective, sustainable human development. By examining past, present, and future sustainability trends, SPES strives to equip decision-makers with the knowledge needed to guide the transition toward sustainability effectively.

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PEP's role in the SPES project is key to ensuring that the insights developed are globally applicable. In line with the European Commission's (EC) Global Approach to Research and Innovation strategy, SPES aims to create a stronger connection between Europe and the Global South, focusing on areas such as green transition, digital transformation, and sustainable growth projects. As such, through PEP's experience in supporting policy-engaged research in developing countries, SPES will be able to explore the application and implications of sustainability transition models in the Global South.

Advancing sustainable human development

Funded by the European Union's Horizon Europe Programme, the SPES project aims to bridge productivity and growth with inclusiveness and environmental protection. Its mission is to produce impactful research that provides the necessary evidence to shape policies promoting shared prosperity and universal well-being. To achieve this, the project will concentrate on four foundational pillars of sustainable human development:

  1. Productivity, aiming for efficient use of economic, human and natural resources through innovation; 
  2. Equality, fostering equal political, economic, social and cultural opportunities for all; 
  3. Sustainability, aiming to avoid, reduce, and adjust to climate change and ensuring the protection, restoration, and improvement of the environment; 
  4. Participation and empowerment, enabling citizens, social groups and communities to be active agents of their future. 

Rethinking measures of prosperity

For too long, policy decisions have focused too narrowly on GDP growth as the only measure of prosperity. Increasingly, there is a recognition that economic growth does not necessarily lead to social inclusion or environmental sustainability.

Although existing economic, social, and environmental policies in Europe aim to drive inclusive and sustainable growth, a knowledge gap persists in achieving this objective. To close this divide, PEP, in collaboration with its partners (see below), will help generate innovative evidence and pioneering concepts. This crucial information will bolster both European and global policies, aiding their transition toward achieving sustainable human development.

SPES research; question and methods  

How can productivity, equality, sustainability, and participation be reconciled to help drive the transition towards sustainable human development in Europe? 

The SPES project will tackle this question through extensive, collaborative research focusing on the following four axes:

  1. Concepts and meanings, by dealing with the debates, theories, and narratives on sustainable human development, to find a common 'framework' for researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders active in this field. 
  2. Measurement frameworks and methods, by dealing with the debate on beyond GDP indicators to measure sustainable human development; 
  3. Transition performances, by dealing with the analysis of past, current, and future performances of the sustainability transition; 
  4. Policies, by dealing with possible policy implications for integrating productivity, equality, sustainability, and participation. 

SPES research approaches will combine desk-based, quantitative, and participatory methods while jointly performing literature and policy reviews, as well as statistical, case-study, and scenario analyses. 

The SPES project is expected to impact policymaking and advocacy processes at different levels by reaching different target groups - EU policymakers; National/local policymakers; Qualified European and global stakeholders; Scientific community; and the General public.





Report on mapping, harmonising and integrating novel data sources for research purposes

Part I: Mapping Innovative Data Sources Across the Many Dimensions of Sustainability Research

Published January 2024

Abstract        Report pt.1

Part II: Integrating traditional and innovative data sources

Published January 2024

Abstract        Report pt. 2

Policy frameworks for sustainability transitions: Mapping approaches in the European Union and the Global South

Co-authored by PEP

Published November 2023

Full report

Report on mapping indicators and composite indices relevant to measure transition

Published September 2023


Annex I Description of relevant existing indicator frameworks


Annex II Methodological information on 15 short-listed indicator systems


Policy briefs

Policy Brief no.1

The “winds of change”: Fostering Sustainable Human Development in Europe

Published January 2024

Full document

Working papers

SPES Working paper 2.1

The “winds of change”: the SPES framework on sustainable human development

Published September 2023

Summary        Full document


Funded by European Union’s Horizon Europe Programme under Grant Agreement No. 101094551



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