A woman pumps water into a bucket in Mozambique

How water became a casualty of Mozambique’s debt crisis

One interesting aspect of doing fieldwork is that you get to understand some theoretical premises better. One such premise related to my PhD research is that the water/development nexus can only be properly understood when situated in the broader (national and global) political economy. This became clear when in April of this year, I set…

A woman unscrews a laptop with a screwdriver.

Power to the people: making & politics at the Science Museum

by Cian O’Donovan and Adrian Smith The maker movement in the UK, and globally, has grown rapidly over recent years. Hundreds of maker spaces, equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, design software, as well as old-fashioned hand tools, have popped up in cities, towns and on university campuses, potentially promising new forms of re-distributed and…

Trump and Brexit: what’s the alternative?

Sometimes when you suffer trauma, you have to look elsewhere to seek out radically new ways of framing things in order to recover. This year we’ve suffered two major traumas – Brexit and the US elections. Who would have believed our world would have been radically reshaped in the space of a few short months?…

climate change

COP22: Climate change and innovation

The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UNFCCC took place from 7-18 November 2016. Read research and opinion from STEPS on what happens next. This year’s COP comes shortly after the Paris Agreement enters into force. The agreement aims to keep global temperature rise this century to under 2 degrees….

Image of a canal with a pagoda to the right and a building behind.

Winners and losers of China’s green transformation

The willow trees and pagodas lining the shore of the canal in a newly-built park in Jishuitan, Beijing are all meant to evoke the sights and smells of the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China for over three centuries. A park placard quotes a poem written during the reign of Emperor Qianlong, which evokes the fragrant…

Farming in the UK: can we nourish ourselves from this land?

The recent dispute over food prices between the UK’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, and the UK’s biggest food and grocery manufacturer, Unilever shines a light on a deeper problem in the global food system: our reliance on food that is grown elsewhere. This is compounded by a drive for healthy eating in the UK which…

urban farming india

What does the future hold for Delhi’s urban farmers?

A new digital story and photo book show the dilemmas facing urban farmers at the edge of Delhi and Ghaziabad in India. Surrounded on all sides by rapid urbanisation, industry and even new tourist attractions, the farmers find their access to land increasingly constrained. Their crops, and their health, are affected by rising pollution.

A woman walks along a pipe with a bucket in her hand.

The New Urban Agenda and its 47 inclusions

  Inclusion can be a powerful term, particularly when applied to cities and urbanisation. It focuses attention on the means through which exclusion and inequality are produced and reproduced, and on achieving a more just ‘inclusion’. This is lost, however, when inclusion becomes a catch-all for social aspirations. Other aspirational terms, including sustainability and resilience,…

Learning from Nepal

A new book Aid, Technology and Development: The Lessons from Nepal will be published by Routledge in November. It is co-edited by Dipak Gyawali, who has had long-term links with the STEPS Centre and is a member of the STEPS Advisory Committee (the other editors are Michael Thompson and Marco Verweij). From the description: Over…

Close up image of circuit board lines.

What can we learn from digital transformations?

by Nathan Oxley and Adrian Smith With climate change, inequality, and injustice putting pressure on societies around the world, it often seems that incremental change towards sustainable development is not enough. A growing number and variety of alliances between organisations across civil society, business, politicians and states are calling for something more transformational. So are…