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How can we reveal power and bias when synthesising evidence for policy?

In a letter published today in Nature, STEPS co-director Andy Stirling and Clive Mitchell (Scottish Natural Heritage) suggest that ‘open-mindedness’ is a key principle in making evidence synthesis more useful for policy. From pesticides to epidemics or obesity, there is often demand for analysis of a vast range of evidence to help inform decision-making and…

A crowd of people walk through deep flooding in New Orleans

New journal ‘Nature and Space’ launched

The links between the environment and justice, past and present, are highlighted in a  new article, ‘The antinomies of nature and space’, co-authored by STEPS member Lyla Mehta. So-called ‘natural’ disasters, whether heatwaves, hurricanes, droughts or earthquakes, are linked in their impacts – and sometimes their causes – to patterns of injustice.  Poverty and inequality…

Landmarks: how to get up close and personal with nature

I’ve just finished reading Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in sustainability and language. Each chapter focuses on one or two authors who’ve made deep impressions on Macfarlane through their writing about the natural world – including Nan Shepherd’s deep explorations of the Cairngorms, Roger Deakin’s explorations of wild swimming,…

The financialisation of nature

Financialization describes an economic system or process that aims to reduce all values into a financial instrument. As part of this process, nature is treated as a private resource or financial asset with neo-liberal, market-based approaches increasingly being adopted to protect the environment, such as payments for ecosystems processes. The School of Global Studies (through…

Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical

Today sees the publication of “Laudato Si”, the Pope’s encyclical on the environment. Encyclicals are for Catholics (and there are 1.2 billion of them in the world) but in this one, Pope Francis aims to “address every person who inhabits this planet”. In it, he warns of the impacts of climate change and calls for…

Market-based environmentalism under fire

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the fantastic Financialisation of Nature conference, co-hosted by the STEPS Centre, along with the Sussex Centre for Global Political Economy and Sussex Doctoral School. Organised by and run for PhD students and early career researchers, I was invited as a discussant on one of the sessions and…

“Are you Reg?” The strange and mythical reality of ‘carbon’

Last night’s “Nature As Commodity” debate in Brighton discussed what happens when we treat ecosystems as commodities and ‘carbon’ as something to be traded and offset, among other things. I won’t try to summarise the debate (of which an audio recording will shortly be released), but here are some partial and subjective thoughts that emerged…

Financialisation of Nature: why we need politics and theory

Guest post by Andrea Brock and Mareike Beck, School of Global Studies, Sussex University In recent years, a broad range of new instruments have been promoted and celebrated to tackle climate change and environmental degradation. One well-known mechanism, hailed by its proponents as the key to saving the climate while also helping to eradicate poverty,…

Call for abstracts: Critical Perspectives on the Financialisation of Nature

A Call for Abstracts has been issued for a workshop in March 2015 on the financialisation of nature. Update (12 December 2014): The call for abstracts has now closed. Successful applicants will be informed by 31 December 2014. Update (28 November 2014): Added a list of speakers (confirmed and tbc) – scroll down for details….

Nature Not For Sale: Ian Scoones discusses biodiversity & communities

STEPS Centre Director Ian Scoones is on a panel at Nature Not For Sale: 2nd Forum on Natural Commons today in London. The forum brings together NGOs, academics, activists and the general public to respond to concerns about biodiversity offsetting, which the event organisers see as a flawed policy to allow wildlife to be destroyed…