Sustainable development is commonly defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Brundtland Report, 1987). The ongoing discourse on sustainable development is also reflected in the UN's "Sustainable Development Goals" with their guiding principle to leave no one behind. This approach is closely linked to the concept of inclusive development which describes a development distributed in a fair way both socially and regionally, offering opportunities for all. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals encompass economic, ecological and social aspects of sustainable and inclusive development and describe central global challenges for Austria and the EU, such as reducing inequality, mitigating climate change or creating appropriate working conditions.
One important aspect concerns trade-offs and synergies of measures targeting these grand challenges: mitigation of climate change, for example, comprises a broad range of measures which may entail very different economic and social effects. Productivity growth within sectors has also been very heterogeneous in recent years; measures to increase entrepreneurial inclusion (e.g., limiting the support for R&D to small, less research-intensive firms) could reduce productivity growth differentials, but at the same time might also have a dampening effect on overall productivity growth.
The Thematic Platform "Sustainability and Inclusiveness", on the one hand, bundles WIFO's research activities simultaneously addressing the three dimensions of sustainable development (ecological, social and economic dimension) and, on the other hand, research on aspects of inclusiveness at sectoral, regional or individual (distribution, gender aspects) level. WIFO's previous work on these topics includes, for example, the development, operationalisation and forecasting of indicators for sustainable development that reflect aspects of wellbeing and quality of life that are not included in conventional GDP ("Beyond GDP"). Another key aspect are distributional issues; for instance, the redistributive effects of public spending were investigated. Other studies analysed, for example, the recently very heterogeneous productivity development between a few highly productive companies and the large remainder of companies in a sector (Thematic Platform "Competitiveness") as well as regional disparities which are rising especially at the EU level. In the future WIFO aims at increasingly analysing (economic policy) issues from an integrated perspective, focussing particularly on trade-offs and synergies between economic, social and ecological aspects that can arise when supporting sustainable and inclusive dynamics.