Call for application for PhD research on principles for integrated sustainability assessment and measurement with the supervision of Laszlo Pinter

December 5, 2023

Special call of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, CEU for PhD applications with the supervision of Laszlo Pinter for the 2024/25 Academic Year: 
Principles for integrated sustainability assessment and measurement

Deadline to apply for studies from 2024/25 at CEU Vienna is February 1, 2024. Successful candidates are granted a four-year scholarship. 


Ever since the entry of sustainable development into the science-policy discourse through IUCN’s World Conservation Strategy, and later the World Commission for Environment and Development (WCED), telling the difference between sustainable and unsustainable forms of development has been on the agenda both for science and policy. Many had hoped to find the answer in defining indicators and assessment methods, and indeed, countless indicator systems and assessment approaches have been developed for specific sectoral, problem-related, geographic, policy, and other contexts. Beyond contextually defined metrics and assessments, criteria such as comparability, legitimacy of process, and scientific credibility led to a search for principles that reflect common characteristics at a higher level.


One of the most widely recognized approaches to defining principles for sustainability measurement and assessment are represented by BellagioSTAMP – the Bellagio Sustainability Measurement and Assessment Principles (1). Championed by the OECD and IISD, the principles have been identified in a deliberative expert process, building on an earlier version created under the aegis of the Consultative Group on Sustainable Development Indicators (CGSDI) (2).

Over the years the principles have been available for orienting both ex-ante assessment design and ex-post assessment evaluation. While these exercises primarily intend to advance assessment and measurement practice, they may also result in insights related to the principles themselves. Given the dynamic development of the global assessment landscape and relevant contextual factors related to the theories, tools, practices and governance of sustainability measurement and assessment, a critical and academically rigorous look at the principles has become necessary and timely.

The research would adopt, adjust or develop an appropriate theoretical framing to review the history and track record of BellagioSTAMP, including experience with the Principles’ implicit or explicit use in a wide range of contexts. It would consider relevant developments in the theory and practice of sustainability measurement and assessment since BellagioSTAMP has been defined. Critically reflecting on the approach to their development, it would design and undertake a new deliberative process leading to a set of principles that reflect current scientific knowledge and policy priorities, with a consideration of emerging sustainability-related issues and risks. The resulting principles would aim to integrate measurement and assessment perspectives, apply primarily to large area studies (from national to the global level) with consideration of cross-scale and cross-thematic interlinkages, and may result in keeping or modifying existing principles or proposing new ones, based on thorough justification.

Education and skills required

Applicants are invited with a background in either the physical or social sciences, with a clear interdisciplinary and sustainability science orientation and strong grounding in the study of sustainability-related public policy. Proven familiarity with (e.g., through dissertation research or relevant scientific or institutional publications), and ideally a record of involvement in one or more sustainability-related assessment and measurement initiatives at the international, national, sectoral and/or problem-oriented level would be a distinct advantage. The applicant is expected to have excellent English writing skills, familiarity and some experience with research design that resulted in quality outputs, and applicable research methods.

The application should indicate that it is responding to this special call.

For general requirements both on the departmental and the CEU level please check the relevant websites: .

Deadline to apply February 1, 2024 (23:59, Central European Time) through the online application portal of CEU. All applications must be complete with any applicable standard test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.).

Applicants are automatically considered for the 4-year CEU Doctoral Scholarship including tuition waiver and a generous monthly stipend to help with housing and living expenses as well as health insurance. Each student is responsible for securing accommodation for themselves. 

Please read our Doctoral Program Handbook for detailed programmatic information at the department of Environmental Sciences and Policy Department of CEU. 

For more information please check our site:
or get in contact:
Prof. Laszlo Pinter: 
Tunde Szabolcs, PhD Program coordinator: 

(1) Pintér, L, P. Hardi, A. Martinuzzi and J. Hall. 2012. “BellagioSTAMP: Principles for sustainability assessment and measurement.” Ecological Indicators 17: 20-28.

(2) Hardi, P. and T. Zdan, 1997. Assessing Sustainable Development: Principles in Practice. IISD, Winnipeg,