Cities, Uncertainty and Systems Change

Depending who and where you are in the world, you will be experiencing the effects of climate change differently. Here in the UK, the recent hot-weather days in February might have felt unsettling, even as your body welcomed the warmth and sunshine. Meanwhile, people in some parts of the United States were caught in freezing…

Dam viewed from above

Rediscovering the Water-Food-Energy Nexus

A few months ago, I presented the findings of a new book, The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Power, Politics and Justice, to an International Water Association conference on the same topic at Salerno. To my great surprise, I was the only social scientist out of 200 participants. Nexus approaches help to bridge the separate domains of water,…

A colourful chart showing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Realising the SDGs: why a sustainable livelihoods approach can help

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched with great fanfare in September 2015. This was an ambitious agenda for the whole world, aiming to transform development towards sustainability, while leaving no-one behind. I was excited by the prospects. Back then, I expressed the hope that this was perhaps the moment when a new politics of…

Poverty traps: a short film about how people in rural Appalachia see poverty

Poverty is often described as a ‘trap’. How does this reflect the perception of people who live with poverty in their everyday lives? Researchers often use the words ‘poverty trap’ for contexts where systems keep feeding back in a way that maintains a cycle of poverty. It’s not just about a lack of money: poverty…

Round icon with colours representing the Sustainable Development Goals

Why politics matters for transformations for sustainability

The Sustainable Development Goals are the focus of global efforts towards better quality of life for all around the world. The 17 goals recognise the need to approach many aspects of development together. Not just change is needed, but transformation. This transformation goes beyond the need to find technical solutions. Changes in policies will come…

‘What if?’ Meeting, making, dreaming, doing

Each week, the System Change Hive is exploring and experimenting with new solutions to societal and environmental problems, through creative arts practice. Artworks created will be exhibited in different locations around the UK and showcased online. The group is comprised of artists, communication experts, activists and STEPS researchers. In week 5, the session began by splitting…

water pipe

Water crisis’ disproportionate toll on women can no longer be ignored

STEPS member Lyla Mehta has written an article with Ria Basu for the Indian magazine Firstpost about the impacts of ‘water crisis’ on women. Often, access to water is about power and social relations, not just physical scarcity. For most of us, accessing water is as simple as turning the taps on in our kitchens…

Farmers with irrigation channels

Irrigating Africa: can small-scale farmers lead the way?

by Ian Scoones, Felix Murimbarimba and Jacob Mahenehene We often hear that irrigation in Africa is too limited, and that the key to a “green revolution” on the continent is to expand to levels seen in Asia. But what if there is much more small-scale, informal irrigation in Africa than we thought? Could this be…

farmers in dryland landscape

Five problems with ‘integrated assesment’ models, and what to do about them

What are the most appropriate ways of understanding changes in natural resource change in rural areas, particularly in the context of climate change? How can we make use of data that is patchy and uncertain? How can models help decision-making about future management? These questions are at the heart of three recently published journal articles…

Milk market

Pastoralist milk is a viable commodity. What enables it to flourish?

Pastoralists’ integration into market dynamics is mostly addressed through the lens of trade in meat products, involving male traders. Pastoral milk, mostly traded by women, is often ignored. But good production of healthy milk is definitely the best way to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of a pastoral system at whatever level. Milk is central…