News from the ESRC STEPS Centre - linking environmental sustainability and technology with poverty reduction and social justice

Media coverage


Developing World: Bring order to unregulated health markets   by Gerry Bloom and David Peters.

New York Times

Q.& A.: The Underside to 'Green' Transactions, Melissa Leach interview

Huffington Post

Land Grabbing: What Has Changed? by Ian Scoones.

China Dialogue
Appropriating Nature? by Melissa Leach. This interview with the Transnational Institute was reprinted by China Dialogue in English and Chinese.

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About us

The STEPS Centre is a global research and policy engagement centre, funded by the ESRC, bringing together development studies and science and technology studies. Our work with partners around the world spans agriculture, water, health, energy and climate change. We would love to hear from you:

Credibility across cultures

Expertise, uncertainty and the global politics of scientific advice, 6-7 Feb 2013

Speakers include: Professors Anne Glover, Sir Robert Watson, Lidia Brito, David Spiegelhalter, Chris Whitty, Roger Pielke, Duncan Green and more.

Tackling 21st century sustainability and development challenges requires the ‘best available’ scientific advice. But what is ‘best advice’ and how might this idea need to be re-thought? Many questions persist about how to build and maintain robust, open and accountable processes of expert advice that can operate effectively across disciplines, sectors, social contexts and national boundaries. Join us, at the STEPS Centre Annual Symposium on 6-7 Feb 2013, to debate the critical task of maintaining credibility across cultures. Register now, before tickets go on sale to all at the end of November.

STEPS Centre wins EASST Award

We are delighted and honoured that the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) awarded the STEPS Centre its prestigious new Ziman award for “the most innovative cooperation in a venture to promote the public understanding of the social dimensions of science” for our Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto project, which recommends new ways of linking science and innovation to development for a more sustainable, equitable and resilient future.

Towards a post-2015 agenda

Following our substantial programme of activity leading up to, and at, Rio+20, the STEPS Centre is now engaging with processes around SDGs and the post-2015 international development framework. We argue for a global, participatory, networked process to identify a unified agenda for North and South, centred on poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, social justice and the role of innovation. We are taking part in consultations, conferences and collaborations, running a post-2015 seminar series and publishing. Please get in touch if you would like to talk to us about potential linkages.

STEPS Summer School 2013 announced

After a successful inaugral event, we are now planning the 2013 STEPS Summer School. In May, 40 participants came to Sussex to explore current thinking in sustainability, politics, power and social change through a programme of lectures, workshops and public events. The discussions ranged from methods for research and participation, science policy and the media, to debates around equity, security, risk, prosperity and access to resources. More details about the 2013 school will be released soon, but if you are interested in attending, please email

Pro-poor, low carbon development

The new STEPS-affiliated project - Pro-poor, low carbon development: Improving low carbon energy access and development benefits in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) - aims to help policymakers improve low carbon technology uptake. A partnership between the African Technology Policy Studies Network in Kenya and the University of Sussex in the UK (including the STEPS Centre, Sussex Energy Group and Tyndall Centre), this project is funded by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network.

Global Land Grabbing II

The second international conference on ‘Global Land Grabbing’ saw STEPS Centre directors Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones present recent work on land grabs and green grabs. At the same event José Graziano da Silva, Director General of the FAO, gave a speech on global land acquisitions.

Building Scientific capacity in development

The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Select Committee quoted extensively from the STEPS Centre's written and oral evidence in its new report, Building Scientific Capacty for Development, particularly drawing on STEPS director Melissa Leach's comments on capacity-building, ownership and assessing effectiveness.

Zoonoses: To the field!

Fieldwork is beginning as part of the Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium, led by Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones. Prof Leach recently co-authored an article for the Disease invasion: impacts on biodiversity and human health special issue of Philosophical Transactions B of the Royal Society. The article (below) proposes a novel framework for the holistic and interdisciplinary investigation of zoonotic disease emergence and its drivers.

Book launch: Pastoralism and development in Africa

Our latest book in the STEPS Centre Pathways to Sustainability series is being launched on 29 November at Goodenough College in London. The book takes a fresh look at the livestock sector in the Horn of Africa, a region often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons: drought, famine, conflict and suffering. But this is only part of the story. Come to the book launch and find out more. Plus, use the discount code PDA20 to get 20% off the cover price until the end of the year.

Book: Transforming Health Markets in Asia and Africa

Another new release in our Routledge book series looks at the challenges of unregulated health markets, presents innovative approaches to address them and outlines a framework that can be used to analyse health market systems and assess the likely outcome of alternative interventions.

The Politics of Agricultural Carbon Finance

This new STEPS Centre/Future Agricultures Consortium Working Paper, by Joanes O. Atela, is part of our Political Ecologies of Carbon in Africa project. The paper explores how various actors are keen to demonstrate that agricultural carbon finance can help achieve ‘triple wins’ for sub-Saharan African agriculture, despite these narratives not matching local realities and priorities. How might smallholder farmers become more empowered to expand their opportunities and wellbeing in the face of climate change and the uncertain promise of carbon money?

Andy Stirling on...Andy Stirling

STEPS Centre co-director Andy Stirling has given a range of presentations on STEPS-related topics recently, from civil society and the direction of innovation and the implications of uncertainty for science policy, to knowledge and innovation implications for climate geo-engineering and social, ethical and cultural challenges for security research.

Water: Not Another Nexus

The STEPS Centre and SOAS ran a joint event to discuss the connections made between water, energy, food and climate, and the tendency to frame these issues in terms of ‘security’.

Agriculture: Future food security

John Thompson, co-convenor of the STEPS Centre food and agriculture domain talked about our work on the Global Food Security website and in a new post on the STEPS Centre blog. Plus, a new book in our Pathways to Sustainability series - Contested Agronomy: Agricultural Research in a Changing World - has been published.

Energy: Low carbon energy for development

The STEPS Centre co-hosted the second international workshop of the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN), entitled Transitions to low carbon energy systems: which pathways to energy access for all?,

Health: Notes from China

The STEPS Centre health and disease convenor Gerry Bloom and affilate partner Future Health Systems attended the 2nd Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Beijing. Meanwhile Fiona Marshall, convenor of the Pathways for Environmental Health in Transitional Spaces project, organised a symposium at the Ecohealth 2012 conference in Kunming on 'industrialisation, health and development in India and China', a joint initiative with the Chinese Forum on Health, Environment and Development.

And there's more...

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