Nathan Oxley

Nathan Oxley

Impact, Communications and Engagement Officer

Nathan contributes to the impact, communications and engagement work of the STEPS Centre. He is also a web editor for the Future Agricultures Consortium. He has worked for a specialist communications agency on sustainable development, and as a web editor for a national charity in the UK.

  • Conference: Resource Politics 2015

    Published on 29 August 2015

    This year’s STEPS Centre conference, Resource Politics: transforming pathways to sustainability, takes place from 7-9 September 2015 at the Institute of Development Studies.

    Plenary speakers include Rohan D’Souza, Betsy Hartmann, Melissa Leach, Johan Rockström, Michael J. Watts and Myint Zaw.


    In the build up to the confirmation of the post-2015 sustainable development goals, the politics of resource access, allocation and distribution are high on global policy agendas.

    As we seek pathways to sustainability that assure both environmental integrity and social justice, now is a critical time to ask tough questions about the politics of resources.

    This conference will present research from varied places and settings, revealing multiple pathways of change. It will link conceptual and theoretical challenges with institutional and practical dimensions.

  • STEPS at the IST2015 Sustainability Transformations conference

    Published on 24 August 2015

    This week the International Sustainability Transitions Conference takes place at Sussex University, hosted by the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU). The event kicks off on the afternoon of 25 August and runs till the end of the week.

    Transitions and transformations are a major component of the STEPS Centre’s work, and are the theme of our new book The Politics of Green Transformations. We ask how ‘green’ transformations can be democratic and inclusive, and how they can be realised in multiple places and in many different ways – from high-level negotations to localised action.

    Here’s a run-down of STEPS involvement in this year’s conference. If you’re at the event, come along and talk to us; if not, we’ll be joining in the #IST2015 Twitter hashtag. You can see the full programme on the IST conference website. (more…)

  • Book: Gender Equality and Sustainable Development

    Published on 19 August 2015

    Gender-coversA new book, Gender Equality and Sustainable Development, edited by Melissa Leach, has been published in the STEPS Centre’s Pathways to Sustainability book series.

    For pathways to be truly sustainable and advance gender equality and the rights and capabilities of women and girls, those whose lives and well-being are at stake must be involved in leading the way.

    Gender Equality and Sustainable Development calls for policies, investments and initiatives in sustainable development that recognize women’s knowledge, agency and decision-making as fundamental.

    The book includes an introduction co-authored by Prof Leach with Preetha Prabhakaran and STEPS water and sanitation convenor Lyla Mehta.

    The chapters in Gender Equality and Sustainable Development examine gender and sustainability through four key sets of issues – work and industrial production; population and reproduction; food and agriculture, and water, sanitation and energy. The book demonstrates how plural pathways are possible; underpinned by different narratives about gender and sustainability, and how the choices between these are ultimately political.

    Buy the book

    Gender Equality and Sustainable Development
    Melissa Leach (ed.)
    Routledge, 2015
    Order the book at a 20% discount online: use code DC361 (more…)

  • Does the Anthropocene mean we have to ‘put democracy on hold’?

    Published on 3 August 2015

    Our co-director Andy Stirling is at the 2015 conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences in Berlin today, and sent us this abstract of his keynote, ‘Emancipating Transformations: from Anthropocene control to culturing systems':

    “Current global environmental governance reverberates with talk of a new ‘Anthropocene epoch’ defined by ‘human domination’, in which a ‘perfect storm’ of catastrophic threats is seen to force a singular ‘great transition’ towards ‘Earth systems management’. The advent of this new discourse raises particular questions for how systems-based understandings can best inform policy making.

    A key theme in this new governance movement, is the emphasis on ‘control’. Under a growing mood of ‘environmental authoritarianism’, humanity is conceived “as a self conscious control force that has conquered the planet” and with a destiny to “take control of Nature’s realm”. And it is Earth systems theories that are relied upon to help take charge of the ‘control variables of the Earth’.

    But what these moves also reflect, are the longstanding priorities attached by powerful incumbent interests to exactly these kinds of rhetorics of control. Indeed, democracy itself presents an early target. Increasingly portrayed as a ‘failure’, a ‘luxury’, or even ‘an enemy of Nature’, leading figures argue for democracy to be ‘put on hold’. With systems approaches apparently leaving no room for argument, there seems ‘no alternative’ but compliance – or irrational denial and existential doom. (more…)

  • Sussex Sustainability Research Programme seeks new Director

    Published on 27 July 2015

    The University of Sussex is recruiting a Director for its Sussex Sustainability Research Programme. Initiated this year, SSRP spans four of the University’s Schools and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), aiming to develop a world-leading programme in sustainability research.

    The members of SSRP include the School of Life Sciences, SPRU, the School of Business, Management and Economics, the School of Global Studies, the School of Law, Politics and Sociology, and the STEPS Centre.

    The programme will support and build upon existing strengths at Sussex to address complex socio-economic, technical and environmental challenges and develop problem-focused research across disciplines in the natural and social sciences. It will enhance both the understanding of complex sustainability challenges and the approaches through which more sustainable development pathways can be negotiated.

    Sussex Sustainability Research Programme



  • Pollution in the Hindon River

    Published on 22 July 2015

    This month, the Hindustan Times featured a short series of articles about the Hindon river and its tributaries. The Hindon runs through Ghaziabad, one of the study sites in our project on Risks and Responses to Urban Futures.

    The paper reports that the waters of the Hindon are severely depleted after groundwater extraction, and pollution is widespread in the river itself and its tributaries. Sewage is a major contributor to this pollution. Activists have been working to draw attention to the environmental problems and, in some cases, carry out clean up operations.

    Hindustan Times articles are not open access, but links to some introductory material from the paper are below.

    Locals say Hindon will flow no more (14 July 2015)

    Krishni: A river of deaths and diseases (15 July 2015)

    Hindon tributary chokes under garbage (16 July 2015)


  • ‘African Technopolitan’ July 2015 features STEPS work on climate innovation

    Published on 6 July 2015

    STEPS thinking on low carbon development is profiled in the latest issue of the African Technopolitan, the flagship magazine from ACTS (the host of our Africa Sustainability hub).

    David Ockwell and Rob Byrne’s contribution is an article on ‘Climate Relevant Innovation System Builders’ (CRIBS), previously profiled in a STEPS blog. A peer-reviewed article on this work has also recently been published in the journal Climate Policy. The CRIBS work is also profiled on the blog of the Our Common Future conference on climate change, which starts tomorrow in Paris.

    The July edition of African Technopolitan also includes an article by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who calls for a ‘data revolution’ in Africa with the advent of the Sustainable Development Goals and a post-2015 development agenda.

    You can download all issues of the African Technopolitan, including the latest issue, at the ACTS website:

  • Restart Podcast: Adrian Smith on grassroots innovation

    Published on 1 July 2015

    The London-based Restart project, which promotes community repair for electronics, interviewed STEPS researcher Adrian Smith for their latest podcast, ‘Searching for the roots of grassroots innovation’.

    In it, Adrian discusses our historical and comparative project on ‘grassroots innovation’, including the Lucas Plan, the origins of 1980s tech networks in London, and the wider context of community repair and recycling schemes.

    You can listen to the podcast on Restart’s website. If you live in London, you might consider going along to one of their regular community repair events.


    Listen to the podcast on the Restart website

    Further reading

    Grassroots innovation – our STEPS Centre project

    Stories from STEPS – float like a Fab Lab, sting like a Honey Bee (Digital story)

  • Andy Stirling on Nexus methods, knowledge and power

    Published on 29 June 2015

    The way in which knowledge about ‘nexus challenges’ is created and distributed is discussed in a new discussion paper by Andy Stirling, to inform a workshop on ‘Transdisciplinary Methods for developing Nexus Capabilities’ this week.


    The workshop is organised by the ESRC-funded Nexus Network, an initiative which brings together researchers, policy makers, business leaders and civil society to explore connections in food, energy, water and the environment.


  • STEPS Director Ian Scoones wins ESRC Impact Award

    Published on 25 June 2015

    STEPS Director Ian Scoones was a winner of the Outstanding International Impact Award at the ESRC’s 50th anniversary Celebrating Impact Award ceremony, for his work on rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe.

    ESRC Blog: Building impact over time: experiences from Zimbabwe by Ian Scoones

    The awards recognise and reward the successes of ESRC-funded researchers who are achieving outstanding impacts. The prize celebrates exceptional ESRC research and success in collaborative working, partnerships, engagement and knowledge exchange that have led to significant impact.

    This award recognises ongoing contributions to research and debate following the Zimbabwe land reform in 2000. The research by Ian and his Zimbabwean colleagues builds on work in Zimbabwe on land and agrarian change, starting in 1985.

    Professor Scoones commented: “It’s a great honour to receive this award. Impact only emerges through long-term research and engagement, and sustained ESRC funding across a number of projects over many years has been essential for our work”.  (more…)