Pollutants and Sustainability Governance

The focus group on Pollutants and Sustainability Governance involves Hans Fischer Senior Fellow Prof. Henrik Selin (Boston University), Hans Fischer Senior Fellow Prof. Noelle Eckley Selin (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and their host Prof. Miranda Schreurs (Bavarian School of Public Policy).

Human societies have fundamentally altered the Earth in ways that have both facilitated the development of modern societies and challenged the ability to protect and improve human well-being over the longer term. One example of this is the intentional and unintentional mobilization of large amounts of material substances into society and the environment. Some of these substances are naturally occurring elements, like mercury and carbon, while other chemicals are synthesized. Some of these substances are local, regional, and global pollutants that can have severe negative impacts on human health and the environment.

In this focus group, we develop richly described empirical cases of selected pollutants that examine their distribution and management over time, using interdisciplinary methods across social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. This research also aims to draw lessons that inform policy-making and practice with respect to other contemporary sustainability challenges. The ultimate objective of the work is to improve theory building about how humans, technology, and the environment interact in the context of institutions and knowledge over time, to help inform sustainability governance.

TUM-IAS funded doctoral candidate:
Fiona Kinniburgh, Bavarian School of Public Policy

Publications by the Focus Group


  • Henrik Selin and Noelle Eckley Selin: Mercury Stories Understanding Sustainability through a Volatile Element. MIT Press, 2020 mehr…


  • Fiona Kinniburgh, Aleksandar Rankovic: Mobilising the chemical conventions to protect biodiversity An example with pesticides and the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions. IDDRI Issue Brief (7), 2019 mehr…


  • Li, Mingwei; Zhang, Da; Li, Chiao-Ting; Mulvaney, Kathleen M.; Selin, Noelle E.; Karplus, Valerie J.: Air quality co-benefits of carbon pricing in China. Nature Climate Change 8 (5), 2018, 398-403 mehr…