Sustainable Development Goals in action

Paul van Gardingen is Director of ESPA (Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation), a research programme part-funded by ESRC, delivering evidence and tools to create a more sustainable link between land and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.

Paul van Gardingen

I recently visited Bangladesh to attend the annual meeting of the Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP), a group that shares the common aim of promoting the integral role the environment can play in alleviating poverty. Continue reading

Eight years of RCUK China

Grace Lang is Director of RCUK China. Grace joined RCUK China in August 2008 and previously headed up the Science and Innovation (SIN) section in the British Consulate-General in Chongqing to drive UK-China research collaborations in southwest China via partnership mapping and project initiation. She was the SIN national lead on identifying locations of research strength in engineering and materials science in China. Grace also worked as an English lecturer in Sichuan International Studies University.

Grace Lang 150x150

September is one of the most beautiful months in Beijing, as the weather starts cooling down, families are gearing up to celebrate Mid-Autumn festival at the end of the month – the perfect time for us to highlight what has been described as a Golden Year for UK-China ties. Joining the Beijing part of Sir Mark Walport’s visit, Professor Jane Elliott arrived on Monday morning to sunny, blue skies – despite the megacity’s reputation for ‘airpocalyptic’ pollution. It was with this backdrop that six weeks of UK-China ministerial visits and dialogues were launched leading up to the State Visit by President Xi Jinping to the UK in October. This will be the first official visit by a Chinese head of state since his predecessor, Hu Jintao, came to Britain in 2005.
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The way we live now?

Professor Michael Keith is the Urban Transformations Portfolio Coordinator, Director of COMPAS and Co-Director of the University of Oxford Future of Cities programme.

Michael Keith

Cities are changing what it means to be human. How do we make sense of this new world? In the new city, that which is historically distant might be spatially proximate. Urban life gets under the skin, the combinations of atmosphere and disposition that generate mental disorders, the markers of other times and places in our DNA, reveal geographies and histories that become legible traces in the body. That which is geographically proximate might be culturally so remote that it defies comprehension. The passing glance across the bus might fire recognition in the eyes of others or distance strangers across the social chasms of the segregated metropolis. Continue reading

Building impact over time: experiences from Zimbabwe

Ian Scoones, Director ESRC STEPS Centre, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex – Second prize winner of the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize for Outstanding International Impact.

Ian Scoones 1

Generating impact takes time. And this is especially so when research challenges conventional wisdoms and entrenched interests. This is the lesson from our ESRC-funded research in Zimbabwe over the past 15 years, through which we have collected data on changing livelihoods following land reform, now in several parts of the country.

Gradually, evidence has accumulated that challenges the oft-repeated narrative that the Zimbabwean land reform of 2000 was an unmitigated disaster. Instead, a more complex picture emerges: some considerable successes, especially among small-scale farmers, and some failures, perhaps especially on the larger-scale farms. Continue reading