Iran’s environmental crisis: why we should be mindful of depicting a dystopian future

In our age of computers and satellites, our sense of both urgency and fear has become central to the process of addressing environmental challenges. This sense of necessity for urgent action can be seen in calls to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and extinctions, ocean acidification, etc. It comes as no surprise that addressing them…

Needs of the poorest must be central to tackling antibiotic resistance

by Gerry Bloom and Annie Wilkinson, IDS / STEPS Centre Launched this week is a major report on tackling the growing resistance to antibiotics, published by the UK Government and the Wellcome Trust. We fully support its call for the G20 and the UN to take the lead in building a global coalition for action…

Why we need to reveal the hidden connections at the heart of cities

By Fiona Marshall and Ritu Priya, STEPS Urbanisation theme Urban areas are intense meeting points of people and cultures, but they’re also places where more or less visible interactions happen: between the infrastructures and systems of water, energy, food and other resources. These connections pose a big challenge for how researchers understand cities – but…

The Wicked Foundations of the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene describes how human society has now become the dominant force on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. The notion of the Anthropocene highlights a confounding contradiction: we have an unprecedented ability to control the world around us, yet we are using this power to destroy the preconditions for our own existence, and we seem strangely…

Making visible the hidden cogs of the urban nexus

On the steep hills on the outskirts of Lima, slums like San Juan de Lurigancho are ever expanding. As roads and shacks are built on steep slopes, residents face the constant risk of rock slides and landslides. Often there is no infrastructure – no water, few roads and no electricity – to service these areas….

Call for papers: Transformations 2017

A call for papers has been issued for the Transformations 2017 conference in Dundee, UK. Transformations 2017 is the third in a biennial series of international interdisciplinary conferences that focuses on transformations towards sustainability: addressing contemporary challenges and creating conditions for enhancing people’s wellbeing, today and in the future, while strengthening the Earth’s support system.

Next steps to strengthen global land governance

by Ruth Hall and Ian Scoones Four years ago voluntary guidelines on the governance of land and land tenure were agreed at the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome. This was a response to growing concerns about the impacts of “land grabbing” driven by the global rush for investment in the wake…

How can the STEPS pathways approach help us understand the Anthropocene?

by Mathew Bukhi Mabele (Department of Geography, University of Zurich) and Jacob Weger (Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia) It has been sixteen years since Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer first introduced the term ‘Anthropocene’ to signify that the ‘growing impacts of human activities on earth and atmosphere’ had reached planetary proportions. Their central argument is…

Seeking sustainable transformations around the world

The new ‘Pathways’ Network, which explores transformations to sustainability in 6 cases around the world, had its opening workshop in Buenos Aires on 24-27 April 2016. At the workshop, participants from Sweden, South Africa, and ‘hubs’ in Kenya, the UK, Argentina, USA/Mexico, India and China discussed research questions and how best to share learning.