Putting people at the heart of efforts to tackle climate change

by Lorraine Whitmarsh

There have been stark warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Committee on Climate Change that rapid, society-wide decarbonisation is needed, and that we need to work harder if we are to avoid devastating climate change.

We may have as little as a decade in which to significantly cut emissions, and doing this will require fresh thinking. So far, emission cuts have mostly been achieved by changing electricity supply. But if we’re going to tackle demand – and particularly in high-impact but challenging areas like food, transport, heating, and material consumption – we can’t do this by technological change alone. We can only do this by transforming the way we live our lives, challenging norms, and reconfiguring organisations and cities. Continue reading

How the sustainable development goals create a political space to reimagine development

Professor Ian Scoones is the Director of the ESRC STEPS Centre. A previous ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize winner, Professor Scoones recently spoke at the event ‘Reimagining Development in Least Developed Countries: what role for the SDGs?’ in June.


When the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed in September 2015, there was much expectation about how they could help get sustainability back on the development agenda, and push the international community to develop new approaches to development. Continue reading

Urban Living Partnership

Glen Noble is Senior Portfolio Manager at the ESRC for Urban Transformations and project team member for the RCUK-IUK Urban Living Partnership.

Glen Noble 150x150

Everywhere you look cities are on the agenda. Politically and economically we have major debates about the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, the smart city, devolution and new infrastructure projects. Indeed, there are so many new initiatives that it can be a hard time just keeping up with them all. It is my role to do just that and in the past 18 months the ESRC has committed to spending more than £13 million in new urban social research. This has included new calls in partnership with Brazil, China and South Africa and our own national call for Urban Transformations research. We also participate in the Joint Programming Initiative for Urban Europe and recently launched a new website for urban social science.

But time and again we hear that the real challenge is the need to bring together expertise and find ways to work outside of the ordinary silos of urban systems and government departments. To solve the problems our cities face we need to bring different groups of experts together to work with municipal government, local communities and businesses. It is only then that we will be able to develop solutions that meet the needs of urban citizens within the practical constraints of contemporary business and local government funding. Continue reading