Social-ecological resilience and socio-technical transitions: critical issues for sustainability governance

Technology contributes both positively and negatively to the resilience of ‘social-ecological systems’, but is not considered in depth in that literature. A technology-focused literature on sociotechnical transitions shares some of the complex adaptive systems sensibilities of social-ecological systems research. It is considered by others to provide a bridging opportunity to share lessons concerning the governance…

Environmental Change and Maize Innovation Pathways in Kenya: Seeking Resilience through Diversity (maize briefing 1)

In Kenya, STEPS Centre research partners from the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), the Centre for African Bio-entrepreneurship (CABE), Tegemeo Institute at Egerton University, in association with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and Science and Technology Policy Research (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, UK, have been collaborating on a study to examine…

Biochar: “Triple Wins”, Livelihoods and Technological Promise

Biochar is a carbon-rich product that results when biomass is burned under oxygen-deprived conditions. There is both technological optimism and debate about its potential. The addition of biochar to soils is being hailed both as a promising tool in carbon sequestration and enriching soils, and it appears also to offer a range of other benefits…

Biocharred Pathways to Sustainability? Triple Wins, Livelihoods and the Politics of Technological Promise

‘Biochar’ is currently the focus of extraordinary levels of both technological optimism and debate. As a substance, biochar refers quite simply to the carbon-rich product that results when biomass – from wood or leaves to manure or crop residues – is burned under oxygen-deprived conditions. But around the idea of biochar and the processes of…

Environmental Change and Maize Innovation in Kenya: Exploring Pathways In and Out of Maize

This paper summarises the findings of the STEPS Environmental Change and Maize Innovation in Kenya project. Maize is an important staple crop in Kenya, socially, politically and economically. This project has taken maize as a window through which to explore differential responses to the combined and inter-related effects of climate change, market uncertainties and land…

Low Carbon Development: The Role of Local Innovative Capabilities

The term “development” is synonymous with economic growth. Theory and empirical evidence suggests decoupling energy use from economic growth is unlikely, implying an urgent need to decarbonise energy use and supply if developing nations are to be protected from the impacts of climate change. The political discourse on facilitating low carbon growth in developing countries…

Amazonian Dark Earths in Africa?

This book chapter offers preliminary evidence concerning the existence of dark earth analogues in one part of West Africa and uses this to probe the historical and ecological arguments that have to date been used to draw strong contrasts and distinctions between Amazonian and African agro-ecological practices – contrasts that have to date restricted interest…

Agri-food System Dynamics for Sustainability

In an era of rapid change, growing risk and uncertainty, there are many challenges to the sustainability of agricultural policy and practice in the developing world. Concerns about chronic hunger, malnutrition and technology-enhanced productivity, adverse environmental changes, increasing land degradation, the loss of biodiversity, livelihood insecurity and poverty in agricultural communities abound. These apprehensions raise…

Negotiating Environmental Change: New Perspectives from Social Science

Edited by Frans Berkhout, Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones This book by leading researchers presents a critical review of debates in environmental social science over the past decade. Three broad areas are covered in ten chapters: the problems of scientific uncertainty and its role in shaping environmental policy and decisions; the development of institutional frameworks…