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About Ian Scoones

Director

Ian is an agricultural ecologist whose research links natural and social sciences, focusing on relationships between science and technology, local knowledge and livelihoods and the politics of agricultural, environment and development policy processes.

All posts by Ian

Africa’s land rush

There is a rush on for African farmland – a phenomenon unmatched since colonial times. Africa’s land rush, and the implications for rural livelihoods and agrarian change, is the subject of a new book that I have edited together with Ruth Hall (from PLAAS at UWC, South Africa) and Dzodzi Tsikata (ISSER, University of Ghana at Legon)….

COP21: how can Southern Africa cope with El Niño?

Today COP 21 opens in Paris. Over two weeks a new climate deal will hopefully be agreed. It is a critical juncture for humanity. As high level officials discuss options in these negotiations, many people around the world are already living with climate change and uncertainty. In Southern Africa, the effects of what is expected…

The political economy of small-scale mining in Zimbabwe

There was much discussion about small-scale and artisanal mining at the STEPS Centre’s Resource Politics conference last month. This is where resources and politics come together; perhaps especially so in Zimbabwe. Ever since the enactment of  Zimbabwe’s Mines and Minerals Act, which gives the state rights over mineral resources wherever they are found, mining has been controversial. In the colonial period,…

Why livelihoods perspectives still matter

Livelihoods perspectives have become increasingly central to discussions of rural development over the past few decades. They have offered a way of integrating sectoral concerns and rooting development in the specifics of different settings. Central to livelihoods perspectives is an understanding of what people do to make a living in diverse circumstances and social contexts….

Will the Sustainable Development Goals make a difference?

This week heads of state assemble in New York to launch the Sustainable Development Goals. The agreed text lays out 17 goals and 169 targets. It is an ambitious agenda for all of humanity. But will they make any difference? We have had the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were launched with similar fanfare in…

Resource politics: living in the Anthropocene

By Ian Scoones, Director of the STEPS Centre This week we are hosting a major conference at the STEPS Centre at Sussex on resource politics. There are panels looking at everything from mining to wildlife to carbon to water, with big themes cross-cutting on: Scarcity, politics and securitization; Resource grabbing; Governance, elites, citizenship and democracy;…

Debating Science and Technology for Development in Africa

By Ian Scoones, Director of the STEPS Centre At an event today we will be debating the STISA-2024 (Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa) initiative by the African Union (AU), the latest attempt to bring science and technology to the centre of the development debate in Africa. The STISA-2024 document opens with a rousing…

Cecil the Lion and Zimbabwe’s conservation carve-up

The huge uproar generated by the shooting of Cecil the lion provides a fascinating lens into Zimbabwe’s new elite land politics and the relationship between humans and “wild” nature. The country’s extensive game ranches and conservancies were mostly subject to land reform in the early 2000s. Many of the former owners were evicted, along with…

Tackling climate change: the contested politics of forest carbon projects in Africa

Tackling climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our age. And this year is a crucial moment with the Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris in December 2015 hopefully to forge a new climate agreement. Forests, carbon and their management are high on the agenda, and a new book has just…

What Greece can learn from Africa about the effects of austerity after a debt crisis

Ian Scoones, republished from The Conversation   Some have asked what can Africa learn from Greece. I argue that Greece (and others) can learn a lot from the African experience. Debt is on the rise again not just in Greece, but across the world. A decline in commodity prices with a strengthening of the US…