UNESCO Chair in Sustainability and Governance

The Chair in Sustainability and Governance was established in 2010 at Tilburg University. In 2013 the chair became a UNESCO Chair. Chair-holder is prof. Roel in 't Veld.

The chair covers issues at the intersection of sustainability, governance structure, politics and globalisation in the fields of economics, law and humanities. It focuses on the emerging concept of knowledge democracy. This concept sheds light on the increasing tensions between old and new forms of politics, media and science. It marks the transition of representative democracy to a mixed political system in which more direct participation in decision-making by citizens and societal groups is introduced. It also sees the appearance of social media as an alternative to the classical media, and the rise of transdisciplinarity to accompany the predominant disciplinary character of science.

Prof. Roel in 't Veld

Sustainable development covers the three major dimensions of human societies: the economic, social and ecological dimension. Development is said to be sustainable when change is brought about that produces improvement in at least one of the three dimensions and no deterioration in any of the other dimensions. Sustainable development on a global scale is one of the great issues on many agendas. Global institutions, national governments, numerous NGOs and an infinite number of scientific experts are working on improvements. Because of the global character of this quest for sustainability, governance is crucial: how to steer, further, administer, stimulate, enforce and bring about optimal sustainable developments on this globe? 

Objectives of the Chair

The chair focusses on the challenges of sustainable development, changes of steering processes and the need for modification of governance structures. The chair will try to apply the notion of knowledge democracy to the problematic of sustainability. 

The long term objective of the UNESCO Chair in Sustainability and Governance is to create societal impact by connecting the discussions about governance and about sustainability. It aims at improving decision making on sustainability issues. This will be achieved through work conferences, simulations and, if possible, real world applications. Next to academic workshops, activities will be held to bring people from different areas: society, politics, business and science. 



Professor Roel in ‘t Veld is a Dutch expert in public administration. He studied law and economics and holds a PhD in Theoretical foundations of collective decision-making from the Leiden University. He chaired the Dutch Advisory Council for Research on Spatial Planning, Nature and the Environment  (RNMO) from 1996 to 2010. He is Professor ‘Governance and sustainability’ at Tilburg University since November 2010. 


Tilburg University
Tilburg Sustainability Center (TSC), Room K405
Warendelaan 2 
2037 AB Tilburg
The Netherlands

Website Tilburg University

Het UNESCO Chairs en UNITWIN Programma bevordert internationale wetenschappelijke samenwerking op belangrijke UNESCO’s thema’s als onderwijs, cultuur, en duurzame ontwikkeling. Het programma is opgericht in 1992 en faciliteert onder meer Noord-Zuid samenwerking om de ‘knowledge gap’ tussen het mondiale Noorden en Zuiden te dichten.


Het ‘UNESCO Chair’-programma bestaat sinds 1992. Er zijn 667 UNESCO leerstoelen en 45 UNITWIN netwerken in 115 verschillende landen (stand 2017).

Nederland kent 6 UNESCO-leerstoelen, die de thema’s onderwijs, ICT, duurzaamheid, mensenrechten, armoede en ‘governance’ raken en verbinden.

In een serie gastcolleges presenteren de Nederlandse UNESCO leerstoelhouders hun werkterrein en onderzoek. Deze online UNESCO Masterclasses zijn beschikbaar via youtube.

Meer berichten