Case studies – PATHWAYS Network

The PATHWAYS Network aims to research and intervene in six sites around the world. These are sites which face socio-ecological challenges – problems in which people and ecosystems are entangled.

In each place, we are working with civil society and policy makers to discover inclusive, practical solutions to the problems they face. We are doing this through Transformation Labs (T-labs), which involve research and carefully-designed workshops using a range of methods, aiming to produce innovations. The process is being documented through blog posts from each site.

We are also comparing our experiences and documenting our learning across the hubs through ‘co-learning’ blogposts, events and exchanges.

Skip straight to: Argentina  |  China  |  India Kenya  |  Mexico  |  UK  |  Co-learning

Argentina: Who owns our seeds?

Seed video

Seed markets are increasingly controlled by a few large companies, and intellectual property regimes that affect seeds are becoming stricter. This global phenomenon is being felt in Argentina, causing concern and debate.

The concentration of seed markets has consequences for biodiversity, food production and social justice. We are exploring how innovations like ‘open source’ seed systems could meet the needs of farmers and seed companies.

This work led directly to the creation of Bioleft, an open source initiative for seeds in Argentina.


China: The economic shock of a green transition in Hebei

A Chinese factory worker talks while women either side of him take notes

China’s government is urgently pursuing a programme of ‘ecological modernisation’ that includes cutting carbon emissions and pollution. We are looking at how this has affected workers in the cement industry in Hebei Province, near Beijing, who have lost their jobs.

How could such transformations be better managed and responded to, considering these workers and others like them?


India: Water and urban development

Transformation labThe Gurgaon region to the South-West of Delhi is undergoing a massive urban transformation under the influence of real estate driven processes of development of urban infrastructure and services.

Planning, governance and practices for management of water supply do not take into account the growing inequities and unsustainable water management practices. What kind of public engagement will help create a more just and sustainable water management?


Kenya: Making mobile solar energy inclusive

Solar power is gaining popularity as an off-grid source of energy for poor households and small businesses in Kenya. To help with the costs, people can now use a mobile phone-based payment system to access credits and pay for solar home systems over time. But the poorest households still struggle to afford it.

Our research is exploring how the mobile-enabled payments can be part of transformations in low-carbon energy systems that can benefit poor people.


Mexico: wetlands under pressure

Boundary object

The ecosystem in the wetlands of Xochimilco, Mexico City faces competing pressures from rapid urban growth, tourism, farming and fishing.

There are many different views and visions of what should happen. We are exploring how to help people understand the different values and motivations involved, and look for innovative ways forward.

UK: Food systems in Brighton & Hove

Food systems discussion

Brighton & Hove, a city on the south coast of the UK, has a population of around 275,000. How could small agro-ecological farmers nearby be supported in supplying the city and creating a more sustainable food system?


Informed by the T-Lab in Brighton, these briefings assess two key aspects of the local food system: how to link producers and markets for agro-ecological food; and the potential of nearby land to produce local, sustainable food.



Our programme involves six hubs, which work together to share insights on methods and learning. This takes place through project meetings and ‘exchange’ visits between three pairs of hubs.

The hubs are paired according to their work on common themes:

  • Sustainable agricultural and food systems for healthy livelihoods – UK and Argentina
  • Low carbon energy transitions that serve the needs of the poor – Kenya and China
  • Waste and water for sustainable cities – India and Mexico


Events where PATHWAYS Network members have shared their insights and joined together to discuss findings.

Co-Learning blog posts

The blog posts in this section reflect on the co-learning that has happened through the hubs working together, and with the other Transformative Knowledge Networks funded by the ISSC as part of the ‘Transformations to Sustainability’ programme.

Go back to the PATHWAYS Network homepage.