Dissertation project „Transformative institutions? The impact of national sustainability institutions on countries’ climate performance”

In her dissertation project, Okka Lou Mathis explores the role that national sustainability institutions – in the sense of political bodies like sustainability councils or commissions for future generations – play in shaping countries’ climate performance. Motivated by the problem that day-to-day politics is often hampered by short-term planning, she examines whether governance bodies that are explicitly created to promote sustainability actually succeed in bringing sustainability into decision-making.

Photo: Okka Lou Mathis

Okka Lou Mathis, ©DIE

Okka Lou Mathis started her dissertation in autumn 2019. She is currently building a global database on national sustainability institutions that will serve as a basis for her research. „First, she will clarify the concept of”sustainability institutions and develops an analytical framework for assessing their political impact potential. Subsequently, she will carry out comparative case studies in countries of the Global South and North to better understand how those bodies work in practice and to find causal mechanisms how they influence politics. With the help of a quantitative analysis based on the dataset, she will then assess the link between sustainability institutions and countries’ climate performance. Finally, she will answer the question what makes sustainability institutions effective as well as how to anchor sustainability better in countries’ political systems.

This dissertation project contributes to understanding how global agendas like the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda  for Sustainable Development are implemented at the level of states and how national governance can be strengthened to achieve better outcomes.

Okka Lou Mathis works in the research project “Klimalog” at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and is a PhD candidate at Leuphana University of Lüneburg. She has a background in political science and public management as well as in development studies.