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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

How the Sustainable Development Goals create a political space to reimagine development

When the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed last September, there was much expectation about how they could help get sustainability back on the development agenda, and push the international community to develop new approaches to development. A declaration, covering both north and south, sought to identify a new era for development that was universal,…

Research collaboration for global challenges: why it’s really hard

On 17-18 March at London Zoo was the final conference of a project I have been involved in over the past four years on zoonoses, ecosystems and wellbeing in Africa. The conference highlighted the idea of ‘One Health’, a movement aimed at linking human, livestock and ecosystem health. The focus was on how to make…

Chinese engagement in African agriculture is not what it seems

In December 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping flew into South Africa for the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation with great fanfare. There were lots of announcements about prospective investments across Africa. Agriculture featured prominently. But what is the real story of China in Africa on the ground, beyond the hype? As Deborah Brautigam’s investigative research has…

Are China and Brazil transforming African agriculture?

A new Open Access Special Issue in World Development based on our work on the changing role of China and Brazil in Africa’s agriculture is now available (links to individual articles are below, and also via here).

Contested Agronomy: Four big questions to debate

We have just finished a fantastic conference co-hosted by the STEPS Centre on ‘Contested Agronomy’ with 80 participants and a vibrant discussion. I was asked to give some comments at the end. Here are some of these thoughts. Throughout the conference it was clear that ‘agronomy’ had to be understood both as a technology and…

Carbon forestry in Africa: who wins?

2015 is a crucial moment for sustainability and climate change, with the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris following hard on the heels of the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals. What to do about carbon, forests, and forest management are crucial questions in reaching global agreements. But as recent research in Africa’s forest landscapes…

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….