Embracing uncertainty: lessons from journeys and struggles

Michele Nori, Rose Cairns and Nathan Oxley Embracing uncertainty, by choice or by necessity, is something migrants, victims of political violence, and people holding a religious belief have in common. What could we learn from their experiences about a broader understanding of living with uncertainty, and how can this inform other domains and contexts? This…

Whose risk? Whose responsibility? The politics and financialisation of uncertainty

At the STEPS Centre Symposium on the Politics of Uncertainty, Susan Erikson (Simon Fraser) and Rebecca Elliott (LSE) presented fascinating cases for the insurance theme, which was part of the finance cluster. Here are two snapshots: Financing Emergency Pandemics In July 2020, 26 investors in the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) are set to reap…

Net zero and low-carbon transformation: why targets are not enough

This week, the UN Global Climate Summit meets in New York, calling global leaders to describe how they will meet the challenge of disruptive climate change. The long term target for countries is to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This is a challenge for all countries, including in the industrialised world, not least in…

Climate change: how do we move beyond ‘the Great Derangement’?

by Andrea Nightingale and Lars Otto Naess Climate change has become an ever more pressing and tangible issue. July was the hottest month on record, the IPCC’s report on land and climate change contains stark warnings on the effects of human-induced climate change, the report by the Global Commission on Adaptation is asking for a…

Six pathways identified for sustainable groundwater futures in Africa

by John Thompson, Imogen Bellwood-Howard, Gebrehaweria Gebregziabher, Mohammad Shamsudduha, Richard Taylor, Devotha Kilave, Andrew Tarimo and Japhet Kashaigili Groundwater is likely to become more important as a livelihood resource in Sub-Saharan Africa, as climatic change alters the reliability of rainfall and surface water flows. More than four years ago, an international group of collaborators embarked…

Solidarity, insurance, emotions and uncertainty

I spent a fascinating three days at the STEPS Politics of Uncertainty Conference in July, and in the last few weeks have been mulling over what I have taken from the rich conversations we have had. I spent much of my time in a stream focused on uncertainty in the context of finance and banking….

Strikes to science fiction: 4 ways to transform climate and development

by Nathan Oxley and Sophie Marsden The UN Climate Summit next week in New York will once again convene governments to discuss the intimidating challenge of how to coordinate action around climate change. Around the world, a series of strikes are planned to show the depth of support – led by young people, but involving…

Control room

When ignorance does more than you think

Unstudied conditions are avoided as vigilantly as possible—right now, when it matters—by control room operators of large critical infrastructures mandated to operate reliably and safely systemwide. Having failed to fail because an operator was behaving ignorantly is orthogonal to high reliability management. That said, ignorance has differentiated functions in large socio-technical systems—but in ways not…

Sustainable Energy Policy in Germany: A Case of Natural Gas Lock-in

A new Working Paper from STEPS Summer School alumni seeks to explain why (and how) natural gas has assumed such a dominant role in German energy policy, and at what cost. The authors call upon fellow researchers to challenge the increasing dominance of gas in energy systems worldwide, and to intervene in academic, NGO and…

Unpacking uncertainty in times of climate change

By Shilpi Srivastava, Hans Nicolai Adam and Lyla Mehta Climate change undoubtedly is one of the most significant development challenges of our times. Research over the last few decades has demonstrated clearly the links between anthropogenically induced emissions and climatic changes. Despite these scientific advancements, uncertainties persist at multiple scales; with respect to future societal…