Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Poverty And Environment Billions Could Be Wasted

25.06.2007
New research to make science and technology work for the poor

Out-of-date policies are undermining unprecedented opportunities for recent aid commitments to improve the environment and combat poverty, according to scientists at a new global research centre launched today. The warning comes from the STEPS Centre, whose urgently needed new approach to development aims to respond to 21st century conditions.

We live in an era of unprecedented environmental and technological flux; apocalyptic predictions of climate change-induced drought and floods, avian ‘flu and HIV/AIDS pandemics, unsafe food and scarce water supplies hit the headlines daily. Rapid change is creating new interactions between people, environment and technology, but also new problems, such as novel strains of avian ‘flu and HIV drug resistances. Yet billions in aid could be wasted because current policy is failing to respond.

The STEPS Centre’s new approach sees natural and social scientists working together, instead of separately. STEPS research connects, social, technology and environment issues, rather than dividing them. It creates solutions that are adaptive to change, build resilience to uncertainty and meet the priorities of poor and marginalised people in different settings.

With £4m of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, STEPS’s five-year programme of research, with partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America, focuses on agriculture, water and health. Initial projects include investigating the effects of climate change on maize crops in Kenya, urbanisation in India and drug regulation in China and Latin America.

Professor Melissa Leach, Director of the STEPS Centre explains:
“Silver bullets for poverty reduction are failing the poor and risk failing altogether. They assume one-size-fits-all solutions can be applied across a stable world. But we live in a world of dynamic change and uncertainty. The STEPS Centre aims to tackle these challenges head on, combining new theory with practical solutions that make science and technology work for the poor and environmental sustainability, building on people’s own knowledge.”

Greenpeace chief scientist Doug Parr, speaking at the launch, said STEPS’ work was “crucial”: “Meeting the needs of billions of people in ways compatible with a livable planet is a moral imperative but a huge challenge to our standard ways of thinking and working, in both North and South. Research which challenges assumptions underpinning failed, outmoded and unsustainable models of development is crucial to making the future work.”

Unprecedented opportunities to address these global challenges exist right now, with international interest and investment higher than ever: The G8’s $60bn pledge to fight disease in Africa; record levels of philanthropy - $1.5bn from the Gates Foundation in 2006; a £200m a-year search for global warming-proof crops by a consortium of governments.

But globalised one-size-fits-all solutions ignore differences on the ground and remain compartmentalised by geography, sector and discipline at a time when unparalleled interaction between people, the environment and technology demand interdisciplinary solutions.

Recent examples of these failings include the UN’s polio eradication programme in Nigeria which backfired because Muslims believed vaccination was a ploy to inject people with anti-fertility drugs. Polio is now resurgent in Nigeria; Gambian President Yahya Jammeh's claims to cure AIDS with herbal medicine which risks derailing anti-retroviral treatments; and local opposition to large dam building and the GM crop Bt cotton in India.

Dr Ian Gibson MP, chairing the STEPS Centre launch, said: “Science makes a massive contribution to our modern world. If we are to respond to the challenges of the twenty-first century, research like the STEPS Centre’s, that makes science and technology work for poor and marginalised people, is essential. Economic development, matters of health and disease, climate change; it is hard to see where science and technology will not be a major component for poverty reduction programmes.”

James Wilsdon, head of science and innovation at think tank Demos, speaking at the launch, said STEPS fills a “vital gap”: “The global landscape for science, technology and innovation is changing at an astonishing pace. But while the frameworks we use for analysing these changes are good at asking ‘how much?’ and ‘how fast?’ they are useless at asking questions about direction – the diversity of outcomes to which all of this activity and investment could lead. So the STEPS Centre will fill a vital gap: it will be a place where these questions can be asked and answered. I’m excited by the Centre’s vision, and I hope it will shake up established thinking about the relationship between science, technology, poverty and sustainability.”

STEPS will partner Demos in the second phase of the Atlas of Ideas project, which is mapping changes in the global geography of science and innovation.

Andrew Scott, policy director at charity Practical Action, also speaking at the launch, said: “The STEPS centre will help us understand how we can make technology development work in the interests of people living in poverty, rather than pander to the wants of the affluent.”

Annika Howard | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>