Researching                          Environment - Society Relations
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Researching Environment - Society Relations. Professor Philip Lowe Newcastle University Director of UK Research Councils’ Rural Economy and Land Use Programme. Structure. Scientific Challenge of Sustainable Development Social Science and the Environment

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Researching Environment - Society Relations

Professor Philip Lowe

Newcastle University

Director of UK Research Councils’

Rural Economy and Land Use Programme


Structure Relations

  • Scientific Challenge of Sustainable Development

  • Social Science and the Environment

  • The Importance of Interdisciplinary Research (e.g. Rural Economy and Land Use Programme)

  • Examples of Upcoming Programmes


Scientific Challenge of Sustainable Development Relations

  • Sustainable development:

    • implies integration of economic, social and environmental objectives in public and private behaviour

  • Unsustainable development:

    • fostered by fragmented thinking and blinkered disciplinary perspectives

  • Sustainable development:

    • requires integrated solutions (socio-technical and socio-ecological adaptations)

      Demands a key role for the social sciences alongside the environmental sciences and technology


Social sciences and the environment
Social Sciences and the Environment Relations

  • UK has long track record of bringing social sciences – the human dimension - to the heart of debates on the environment

  • ESRC Global Environmental Change Programme 1990s

    - Attitudes and behaviour

    - Business and environment

    - Policy and institutions

    - Sustainability and resource management

  • Particular advances from research included:

    - Fiscal policies and development of environmental taxes

    - Scientific approaches to environmental valuation

    - Insights into public understandings and responses to risk and uncertainty

    - Sources of social vulnerability to climate change


Uk principles of sustainable development
UK Principles of Sustainable Development Relations

Living Within Environmental Limits

Ensuring a Strong, Healthy and Just Society

Achieving a Sustainable Economy

Using Sound Science Responsibly

Promoting Good Governance


The environment and international development
The Environment and International Development Relations

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS Centre)

http://www.steps-centre.org/


Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Relations

  • Overarching themes:

    • The socio-environmental impacts of business

    • Sustainable consumption and production

    • Responsible management

  • Examples of research:

    • Developing local and regional Sustainability Indicators

    • Ecological footprinting of major events

    • New decision tools for improving the sustainability of

      business activity

      http://www.brass.cf.ac.uk/

Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS)


Importance of Interdisciplinary Research

  • Social science increasingly called upon to address solutions to environmental challenges

    Calls for:

  • Interdisciplinarity across social and natural sciences

  • More socially accountable science


Interdisciplinary Research Research

  • Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU)

    Key public challenges include:

  • Restoring trust in food chains

  • Promoting robust rural economies

  • Sustaining agriculture in a liberalised economy

  • Tackling animal disease in a socially acceptable manner

  • Mitigating threats from climate change and invasive species

  • Reducing stress on water catchments

    http://www.relu.ac.uk/


Interdisciplinary Research (RELU) Research

Socio-Technical Innovation

  • Barriers to alternative pest management strategies

  • Political science, entomology, microbiology, economics

    Reframing Science

  • Management of animal and plant diseases

  • Economics, microbiology, veterinary medicine, epidemiology, plant pathology, science studies

    Spatiality of Changing Land Use

  • The effects of scale in organic agriculture

  • Human geography, sociology, economics, development studies, environmental informatics and modelling, hydrology, civil/water engineering


Upcoming Programmes (LWEC) Research

  • Living with Environmental Change

  • Predicting what will happen and where impacts will be

  • Examining the provision of ‘ecosystem services’

  • Finding ways to use limited resources sustainably

http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/programmes/lwec/


Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) Research

Over the next ten years the programme will:

  • connect natural, engineering, social, medical and cultural researchers with policy makers, business, the public and other key stakeholders

  • focus on the regional and local impacts of environmental change from seasons to decades

  • provide decision-makers with best information to manage environmental change and protect vital ecosystem services


Upcoming Programmes (ESPA) Research

Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation

  • Improve ecosystem management policies

  • Loss of services from ecosystems reduces wellbeing

  • International focus

http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/programmes/espa/


Anglo-Chinese Collaborations Research

Examples:

  • Sino-European Dragon Programme

  • Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA): China Regional Analysis and Research Strategy

  • Living With Environmental Change (LWEC): seeking a partnership with China


Conclusions Research

  • Sustainable development calls for new ways of doing science

  • Understanding complex environment-society relations demands interdisciplinary research combining social and natural sciences

  • Such interdisciplinarity promises more integrated, more socially accountable and more applicable solutions

  • Global environmental change demands effective scientific collaboration not just across disciplines but across nations too


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