Press & Media coverage

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Browse through the latest media coverage of the STEPS Centre’s work.

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October 2018

Africa’s sustainability challenges and research needs

An event organised by the Africa Sustainability Hub in Nairobi gained coverage from national media in Kenya.

18 October 2018

Fracking democracy, criminalising dissent

An opinion piece in The Ecologist raises concerns about harsh sentencing of anti-fracking campaigners in the UK. STEPS members Andrea Brock, Amber Huff, David Ockwell and Peter Newell are among the authors.

5 October 2018

Rise of the ‘megafarms’: how UK agriculture is being sold off and consolidated

Elise Wach writes for The Conversation.

1 October 2018

The speed of #MeToo gives me hope: we can still stop climate change

Andrew Simms, of the STEPS-linked Rapid Transition Alliance, speculates in The Guardian on hopes for rapid behaviour change to respond to climate change, inspired by recent social movements.

5 September 2018

Evaluate power and bias in synthesizing evidence for policy

Andy Stirling and Clive Mitchell suggest that ‘open-mindedness’ should be a core principle in making evidence synthesis more useful to policy, in a correspondence piece to Nature.

29 March 2018

Why is the UK government so infatuated with nuclear power?

Andy Stirling and Phil Johnstone write for The Guardian‘s Political Science blog on the unexplored links between civil and military uses of nuclear technology in the UK.

January-July 2018

Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World

A series of articles in partnership with the news and comment site openDemocracy exploring the responses to fascist and illiberal regimes from rural areas around the world.

28 March 2017

African tech start-ups pitch poverty solutions

STEPS researcher David Ockwell is quoted in this SciDev.Net piece about the Pitch @ Palace event for African start-up entrepreneurs. He stresses the importance of building up infrastructure and skills as a basis for innovation.

13 January 2017

Águas de Portugal eyes return to Mozambique water sector

Zitamar News, a Mozambican news and analysis service, reports on reprivatisation of water in Mozambique after it was highlighted in a STEPS blogpost by Chris Büscher.

22 December 2016

What can a medieval climate crisis teach us about modern-day warming?

In his Guardian column, Andrew Simms reflects on historical echoes of the current climate debate, and refers to the Transformations event series co-organised by STEPS.

23 November 2016

Solar PV can help China’s poorest

Suzanne Fisher-Murray writes for China Dialogue about pro-poor solar energy initiatives in China, as part of a story for the STEPS-affiliated Low Carbon Innovation in China project.

23 November 2016

The new climate change story must be one of rapid transition

In his regular column for the Guardian, Andrew Simms, co-organiser of the Transformations event series, reflects on the need for new stories about climate change in the context of the political changes taking place in the USA.

1 November 2016

The nuclear option

Andy Stirling explains how social science can help to ‘open up’ policy debates, in an opinion piece for the October edition of the ESRC’s Society Now magazine.

7 September 2016

Can the open hardware revolution help to democratise technology?

Adrian Smith and Mariano Fressoli discuss the roots and future of open hardware for the Guardian’s ‘Political Science’ blog, linked to their book Grassroots Innovation Movements.

25 August 2016

The pathways approach

The ESRC’s flagship magazine, Society Now, features a look back at 10 years of the STEPS Centre’s work and our plans for the future.

24 August 2016

New study suggests pro-nuclear countries are making much slower progress on climate targets

The Ecologist covers a paper co-authored by Andy Stirling about nuclear power in Europe.

Other coverage: Business Green, ENDS Europe

August 2016

Five challenges for Least Developed Countries in the post-2015 era

An opinion piece in the Autumn 2016 edition of UNIDO’s Making It magazine, informed by an event about the Sustainable Development Goals and Least Developed Countries, co-organised by STEPS.

14 July 2016

Science and Brexit

After a UK referendum came down in favour of leaving the EU, Andy Stirling writes in the Guardian on science and knowledge after ‘Brexit’ – reflecting on the lessons from some of the divisive, dishonest campaigning around the referendum.

6 July 2016

Golden Rice and Greenpeace

Dominic Glover is interviewed on German radio following the publication of a letter signed by 107 Nobel Laureates demanding that Greenpeace end its campaign against Golden Rice and biotechnology in general.

28 June 2016

Why Britain’s decision to leave the EU is bad news for Africa

STEPS Director Ian Scoones writes for The Conversation following the outcome of the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

14 June 2016

Can new global goals transform the world’s poorest countries?

Article in Thomson Reuters Foundation’s online magazine about an event on the Sustainable Development Goals and Least Developed Countries, co-organised by STEPS.

14 June 2016

How Africans are saving their own soil

National Geographic features our research with James Fairhead and colleagues on soil enrichment methods in West Africa.

May 2016

Understanding outbreaks

Melissa Leach explains how social science can help respond to epidemics like Zika and Ebola, and cites STEPS Centre work, in an article for the ESRC’s Society Now magazine (p.15).

23 March 2016

How to control Rift Valley fever and support people facing meat bans

Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa partner Salome Bukachi of the University of Nairobi  talks to SciDev about the importance of social scientists in health research projects.

22 March 2016

The hidden dangers of irrigation in Kenya

Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa partner Bernard Bett of the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, is interviewed by SciDev on the trade-offs between food production and disease.

15 March 2016

Why South Africa is finding it difficult to wean itself off coal

STEPS member Lucy Baker and fellow researcher Jesse Burton write for the Conversation about the difficulties of decarbonising South Africa’s electricity sector.

24 February 2016

India can be competitive in Africa’s seed market

SciDev.Net’s South Asia desk covers a report co-authored by STEPS Centre members Dominic Glover and Ian Scoones.

8 February 2016

When shit happens

An article in IRIN quotes water and sanitation expert Lyla Mehta on access to sanitation and its only recent inclusion on the global health agenda.

20 January 2016

Consumption and our identity

Lyla Mehta is a guest on BBC World Service’s flagship discussion programme, The Forum, to talk about inequality of consumption – including insights from the STEPS Centre’s project on peri-urban sustainability.

13 December 2015

China, US relationship key in climate agreement

This Los Angeles Times article, on the dynamic between China and the USA at the COP21 conference, quotes Sam Geall of our Low Carbon Innovation in China programme.

9 December 2015

El Nino Rains May Increase Risk for Disease Outbreaks, Crop Loss in East Africa

The weather news website quotes the STEPS Centre’s research on Rift Valley Fever in its coverage of El Nino.

6 December 2015

China and climate change

Sam Geall was interviewed on the Newsday programme (BBC World News TV) on the position of China in climate change negotiations, halfway through the COP21 conference.

2 December 2015

Paris COP21: China’s about-face fuels high hopes for Paris talks

An article in Yale Environment 360 quotes STEPS member Sam Geall on China’s transition from coal to lower-carbon forms of energy production.

1 December 2015

The Glass Bead Game – Indigenous oil

A new podcast combines anecdotal experience of indigenous groups in Canada with academic research, including a view from STEPS member Peter Newell.

1 December 2015

Hacking Apple: putting the power of tech back in our hands

Our joint event with CIED on makerspaces and sustainability inspired this Guardian Sustainable Business piece by Kat Braybrooke, a Sussex University colleague.

15 November 2015

China’s climate transition

Ahead of the COP21 conference, Sam Geall writes in the New Internationalist about China’s position in international climate change negotiations, and whether this has changed since the 2009 Copenhagen talks.

11 November 2015

Narendra Modi visit to the UK and human rights

On the eve of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK, a letter to The Guardian calls for public discussion of rising intolerance and intimidation in India since Modi’s election. The letter is signed by researchers at the Institute of Development Studies and the University of Sussex, including STEPS researcher Lyla Mehta.

29 October 2015

COP vs POC: innovation under the radar of climate talks

Anita Makri reports from our event on making and sustainability in London in this piece for SciDev.Net.

12 October 2015

Could Tesla’s Model X drive us towards electric cars for all?

David Tyfield discusses whether Tesla’s aspirational new vehicle could lead to wider uptake of electric cars, in this opinion piece for The Conversation.

31 August 2015

Can the Chinese Government get its people to like G.M.O.s?

Sam Geall is quoted in this New Yorker article about Chinese opinion regarding genetically engineered crops.

17 August 2015

The human cost of Africa’s science strategy

SciDev.Net reports from a workshop on Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation strategy co-hosted by the STEPS Centre.

14 August 2015

The power, politics and profit of small-scale farming

Ian Scoones comments on the food sovereignty movement, Green Revolutions in Africa and democratising the food system in this piece in African Business Magazine.

14 August 2015

Zimbabwe’s Forest Carbon Programme Not All It Seems

In this Inter Press article, STEPS director Ian Scoones shares insights from the STEPS book Carbon Conflicts and Forest Landscapes in Africa in this article about problems in REDD+ initiatives in Zimbabwe.

15 July 2015

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

Ian Scoones writes for 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.”

3 July 2015

Low-carbon hubs could help solve Africa’s energy gap

SciDev.Net covers the launch of our Africa Sustainability Hub in Nairobi, which included a workshop on low carbon development in Africa.
(Other coverage: Coastweek / ScienceAfrica / SpyGhana)

1 June 2015

Climate change-hit women in Sundarbans turn photographers

Work from our Uncertainty From Below project is recorded in this Deccan Herald article, which focuses on the women describing their challenges through the ‘Photo voice’ method.

15 May 2015

Why science is not enough for good policy

Erik Millstone writes for SciDev.Net on the limits of science in decision-making related to sustainability.

13 May 2015

Chemical reactions: glyphosate and the politics of chemical safety

Patrick van Zwanenberg of STEPS America Latina writes for The Guardian on the controversy over a new evaluation of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, lifts the lid on aspects of chemical safety regulation that often remain hidden from public view.

6 May 2015

NGO gives suggestions for waste management in cities

The Times of India reports on ToxicsLink’s engagement with waste management rules in Delhi, addressing long term problems affecting poor and marginalised people, as part of a STEPS Centre project.

28 April 2015

Research hub helps China’s sustainable development

Mutual learning across continents is one of the key imperatives behind the launch of our China Sustainability Hub and the focus of a China Daily article quoting Adrian Ely and Braven Zhang of partner BNU-SSDPP.

08 April 2015

Global water supplies

Jeremy Allouche, STEPS Centre member, is interviewed on BBC World about global water supplies.

01 April 2015

A Fair Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance

Gerry Bloom writes for Project Syndicate: Existing anti-microbial drugs are becoming ineffective. If current trends continue, we could end up reliving conditions before the discovery of antibiotics, when infectious diseases were major killers.

4 April 2015

Tooling Up: Civic visions, FabLabs, and grassroots activism

Making is political. What happens when city authorities get involved? Adrian Smith writes for the Guardian’s Political Science blog

01 April 2015

Global water supplies

Jeremy Allouche, STEPS Centre member, is interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme about global water supplies in the light of Taiwan’s recent action to save water by restricting access in some cities,

23 January 2015

Researchers pick ‘breakthrough’ technologies for growth

Dr Adrian Ely, STEPS Centre head of impact and engagement, is quoted in a story from about ‘breakthrough technologies’ for poorer nations.

15 January 2015

Research network to boost development in Africa planned

The STEPS Africa Sustainability Hub is profiled by

November 2014

Urban Uncertainty in India and Climate Change

India’s growing megacities are marked by huge social divisions, with huge consumption driven by the urban rich causing environmental damage and linked to new uncertainties associated with climate change. Dr Alankar, of the Uncertainty from below project, asks how Indian cities could develop more sustainably, in an article published in the November 2014 issue of ‘Managing Urban Risks in HFA2’.

25 August 2014

El papel transformador de la innovación

From our Latin American hub’s third debate in its series, this pair of articles in Pagina 12 (in Spanish) explores the idea of ‘innovation for social inclusion’. Is it possible to orientate innovation policies for social inclusion in ways that foster greater social participation? What tools would be most effective? How can we allocate resources so that the importance attached to innovation for inclusion can be equated with other R&D priorities?

13 August 2014

Positives for science after US-Africa summit

STEPS Centre director Ian Scoones is quoted in SciDev.Net’s report on various responses to the first US-Africa leaders summit. While investment in Africa should be welcomed, he says, it is important to establish whether the technology and expertise on offer will be appropriate.

13 August 2014

Four policy steps to drive technological change

Africa’s science and technology strategy is based on a narrow understanding of  innovation that focuses on Research & Development, but ignores other essential building blocks of innovation, argues STEPS deputy director David Ockwell in this opinion piece for SciDev.Net.

23 June 2014

Haz lo que digo, pero no lo que hice

Intellectual property rights and innovation were the theme of the STEPS Centre’s second debate in its Latin America series. In this pair of articles for the Argentinean newspaper Pagina 12 (in Spanish), speakers at the debate reflect on the effects of international rules on intellectual property, and what they mean for local innovation and development objectives. What alternatives exist?

20 June 2014

Food, energy and water: the politics of the nexus

STEPS Centre member Jeremy Allouche writes for Guardian Political Science blog Nexus series about the food-energy-water nexus and the need to recognise that global priorities may not reflect local concerns, and resource allocations are always political.

11 June 2014

Disciplinary dilemma: working across research silos is harder than it looks

STEPS Co-Director Andy Stirling writes for the Guardian Political Science blog Nexus series about the ‘nexus’ being the latest buzzword intended to lure researchers out of their disciplinary comfort zones and get them working together on the big challenges of the day. But how easy is it in practice?

9 June 2014

Navigating the nexus of food, energy, water and the environment

Navigating the nexus of food, energy, water and the environment by James Wilsdon and Rose Cairns for Guardian Political Science blog Nexus series.

26 May 2014

Transgénicos en el ojo de la tormenta

Our new regional research hub, Centro STEPS America Latina, launched with a debate on transgenic crops – the first in a monthly series of debates in Buenos Aires on sustainability and development. These two articles (in Spanish) in the Argentinean newspaper Pagina 12 represent different views on the development implications of encouarging transgenic-based agriculture.

3 April 2014

Ebola in Guinea – people, patterns, and puzzles

STEPS Centre Director Melissa Leach writes for The Lancet Global Health blog about the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea

4 March 2014

Climate change in India

Climate change unites fishermen in Kutch and Sundarbans the New Indian Expresscovers our Uncertainty from Below project

30 January 2014

Women and the land

STEPS Centre Director Melissa Leach talked about women farmers and enviromentalists with Germaine Greer, Alys Fowler and Jenni Murray on the BBC Radio 4 programme Woman’s Hour.

13 January 2014

Why low carbon innovation matters | 低碳创新缘何重要

As China overtakes Europe on the share of its economy devoted to research and development, could the country be driving a green industrial revolution, asks Sam Geall, writing for ChinaDialogue. 随着中国研发投入比重超过欧洲,中国是否会推动绿色工业革命? 山姆•吉尔介绍了一个新的研究项目。
Why low carbon innovation matters

15 October 2013

Owen Paterson, ‘wickedness’ and the fairy dust of science

Andy Stirling, co-director of the STEPS Centre, writes for the Guardian about UK Environment secretary Owen Paterson hitting out at ‘wicked’ opponents of genetically modified crops, but forgetting science’s greatest assets are scepticism and democracy.

15 October 2013

Beyond good and evil: the truth about GM crops

The Environment Secretary is wrong to call opponents of Golden Rice “wicked”, because it closes down a very necessary debate, writes Nathan Oxley in the Rationalist Association’s blog.

28 June 2013

Why all the fuss about GM food? Other innovations are available

Andy Stirling, co-director of the STEPS Centre, writes for the Guardian about GM and argues that to get beyond hackneyed pro/anti tropes, we need to reflect more upon the importance of power.

June 2013

Social innovations and prosperous societies

Kevin Urama, executive director of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) and Adrian Ely, STEPS Centre head of impact and engagement, talk about social innovations and prosperous societies to Kenyan TV programme, The GMK Show, June 2013. This interview was conducted as part of the Pro-poor low carbon development project.

28 March 2013

Democracy in the Anthropocene? Science and Sustainable Development Goals at the UN

Melissa Leach blogs for the Huffington Post about her experience of  an Expert Meeting at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to discuss science and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), successors to the Millennium Development Goals.

25 March 2013

Luddites of the world unite 

Blog for the Guardian by Adrian Ely, STEPS Centre head of impact and engagement, from the World Forum on Science and Democracy

22 March 2013

Are African land grabs really water grabs?

Article for by Jennifer C Franco, Lyla Mehta (STEPS Centre water and sanitation convenor) and Gert Jan Veldwisch,, for World Water Day 2013.

18 March 2013

Credibility Across Cultures – Expertise, Uncertainty and the Global Politics of Scientific Advice cover the STEPS Centre’s Annual Symposium 2013.

3 March 2013

Getting with the times on scientific advice – deciding by dissensus?

Blog by Anita Makri, SciDev.Net’s opinion and special features editor, on scepticism and debate in climate change policy, reflecting on the STEPS Centre Annual Symposium.

19 Feb 2013

Well-framed science can boost its social impact

How scientific knowledge is presented in public debate, by scientists or journalists, has a big influence on its impact reports David Dickson for, from the STEPS Centre Annual Symposium.

14 Feb 2013

Fear of flying and the hazards of communicating risk

STEPS Centre co-director Andy Stirling blogs for the Guardian about how using numbers to communicate risk can create a false sense of certainty.

14 Feb 2013

Be open about any uncertainty in policy advice

SciDev.Net reports on the 2013 STEPS Symposium, Credibility across cultures: evidence, uncertainty and the global politics of scientific advice.

12 Feb 2013

Policymakers urged to include local knowledge in aid projects

SciDev.Net reports on the 2013 STEPS Symposium, Credibility across cultures: evidence, uncertainty and the global politics of scientific advice.

24 Jan 2013

Pandemic Flu Controversies: What Have We Learned?

Ian Scoones and Melissa Leach of the STEPS Centre, and Stefan Elbe of the University of Sussex Centre for Global Health Policy, write in the Huffington Post about lessons learned from previous pandemic flu preparedness approaches.

01 Jan 2013

Whose land is it anyway?

Ian Scoones, STEPS Centre Co-director, is interviewed in this Free Speech Radio Network documentary by Zak Brophy about land grabs, focussing on cases in Kenya.

5 Dec 2012

Sustainability gets off the ground

Melissa Leach, director of the STEPS Cente, is quoted in a Guardian article about empowering local people to tackle their own problems and what this means for global aid work.

1 Nov 2012

Land grabbing: What has changed?

Ian Scoones, co-director of the STEPS Centre, blogs for the Huffington Post on new debates emerging about land-grabbing, one of the world’s most challenging and pressing issues.

12 July 2012

Developing world: Bring order to unregulated health markets, Nature

Gerry Bloom and David Peters highlight the dangers of unregulated medical treatment, and argue that the services provided by informal providers can and must be improved.

12 July 2012

Appropriating nature? China Dialogue

Putting a value on nature once seemed at the forefront of progressive thinking, but in an interview with the Transnational Institute, Melissa Leach argues that it has instead turned into a wave of land grabbing.

20 June 2012

Q. and A.: The Dark Side to ‘Green’ Transactions, New York Times

STEPS director Melissa Leach is interviewed by Joanna M Foster for the New York Times about the appropriation of nature in the name of ‘green’ market initiatives.

20 June 2012

The dark side of the green economy: ‘Green grabbing’ by Melissa Leach, Al Jazeera

Melissa Leach blogs for Al Jazeera about fostering an agenda focused on distribution, equity and justice in green market arrangements.

18 June 2012

Homegrown solutions ‘crucial to sustainable development’

Melissa Leach is interviewed by Ochieng Ogodo of in Rio about our new work on Transforming Innovation for Sustainability

18 June 2012

Rio+20 must make inclusive innovation stepping stone to a sustainable future, The Guardian

At Rio+20, Adrian Smith and Adrian Ely call for innovation that is inclusive in its process as well as its outcomes, considering the forms, depth and scope of this inclusion, and looking at the promise offered by grassroots innovation.

14 June 2012

Science and politics at Rio and beyond, Outreach magazine

In an article published by the Stakeholder Forum magazine Outreach, at Rio+20, Melissa Leach and Adrian Ely argue inclusive, democratic politics that respect the principles of  direction, diversity and distribution will be critical if SDGs are to build towards sustainable, fair futures.

14 June 2012

Science, politics and the post-Rio+20 agenda, Huffington Post

Melissa Leach and Adrian Ely write: “The really knotty politics about the role of science in securing a sustainable future of our planet will begin as soon as the Rio+20 Earth Summit ends.”

1 June 2012:

The ‘Geeks’ Fight Back: Challenges for Science and Democracy, Huffington Post

Ian Scoones blogs for the Huffington Post about the nature of dissent, debate and deliberation in society about major technological and scientific issues, in this case, biotechnology.

4 May 2012

Edge of sustainability: why Rio+20 mustn’t ignore people on city fringe, The Guardian

As cities grow, so do the overlooked peri-urban areas. Rio+20 must ensure the poor don’t lose out from rapid urbanisation, write Fiona Marshall and Lyla Metha on Poverty Matters, the blog of the Guardian’s Global Development site.

2 May 2012

Supporting grassroots innovation: Facts and Figures,

Adrian Smith and colleagues Elisa Arond, Mariano Fressoli, Hernán Thomas and Dinesh Abrol explore grassroots innovations, their potential for development and challenges facing practitioners.

6 March 2012

Why Rio+20 must not leave the politics out of sustainable development The Guardian

Melissa Leach, STEPS Centre director, argues on Poverty Matters, the blog of the Guardian’s Global Development site that sustainable development goals won’t have a chance if the pre-summit debate pretends problematic politics don’t matter.

21 February 2012

Energy access ahead of Rio+20, the Guardian

Achieving universal energy access Rob Byrne and Jim Watson, STEPS energy domain convenors write on Poverty Matters, the blog of the Guardian’s Global Development site. Ahead of Rio+20, Rob and Jim say energy for all is a key development aim, but realising it will require a convergence of international aid, carbon finance and government spending, with political will and good governance.

3 January 2012

Rio+20 overview, The Guardian

It’s time for sustainable development Julia Day, STEPS communications manager, looks at the issues surrounding the June 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) on Poverty Matters, the blog of the Guardian’s Global Development site

December 2011

Zimbabwe land reform research, BBC

STEPS co-director Ian Scoones worked on a project about land issues in Zimbabwe. The BBC covered the project:
BBC Radio 4 Crossing Continents programme on Farming Zimbabwe Reporter: Martin Plaut; Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith
BBC Radio 4From our own Correspondent’ piece by Martin Plaut.
BBC News Africa article Are Zimbabwe’s new farmers winning, 10 years on? By Martin Plaut, World Service Africa editor

Media coverage archive 2006-2011