Jobs and Training
1. Call for Proposals – ESRC Knowledge Exchange opportunities.
The ESRC opened its latest call for Knowledge Exchange proposals on the 9th April 2012. The ESRC Knowledge Exchange Opportunities scheme provides funding for social science researchers and knowledge exchange professionals to undertake knowledge exchange and impact-generating activities at any stage of the research lifecycle. The Knowledge Exchange Opportunities scheme is designed to promote the application of social science within non-academic communities. For this reason, the target audience of the grant activity must be non-academic stakeholders within the private, public or civil society sectors. Public engagement activity is also within the remit of this scheme. The call closes on 7th June 2012.
2. Call for proposals – UCL Cities Methodologies 2012
Inaugurated in 2009, Cities Methodologies is a pan-UCL initiative to showcase innovative methods of urban research. Through exhibits and events, it aims to draw together undergraduate, masters, and doctoral research, alongside work produced by academics, and the wider community of urban researchers. Proposals are invited from UCL staff, students and alumni, and other researchers who are developing and using innovative methods to understand cities and urbanization. Cities Methodologies aims to promote cross- and inter-disciplinary work, and to showcase recent research on a wide range of cities. This year the organisers are particularly‚ though not exclusively‚ interested in receiving proposals related to the themes of: 1) Collaborative/public methods for urban research 2) Mega events and urban change 3) Housing and dishousing.
3. Office for Fair Trading - Call for Evidence on the Home Insulation Market
The Office for Fair Trading (OFT) has issued a Call for Evidence to understand whether the home insulation market is working well for consumers. They are interested in hearing from manufacturers, distributors, trade bodies, consumer groups and others, to understand whether there are aspects of this market which may be restricting the entry of new competitors, limiting consumer choice or keeping prices artificially high. The OFT has received submissions suggesting that the market does not work as well as it should. One concern raised, for example, is that agreements between businesses at different levels of the supply chain can lead to competitors being unable to source as much insulation as they want, thus restricting supply to consumers. This call for evidence is intended to help the OFT to get a clearer picture of any problems in this market, and to determine whether further work in this area may be required. The market for home insulation has a turnover of around £700m per year and this is expected to grow with the increased focus on household energy efficiency in the Government’s Green Deal.
1. IPPR event - ‘More of a nudge – increasing the role of social psychology in policy making’
Thursday 26 April 2012, 17.30-19.00 at IPPR, 4th Floor, 14 Buckingham St, London WC2N 6DF
IPPR will be joined by the leading social psychologist Professor Rupert Brown of Sussex University to debate the role of social psychology in public policy making. Prof. Brown will argue that despite innovations such as the ‘Nudge’ unit in the Cabinet Office, policy makers in the UK do not take enough notice of the insights and findings of social psychology, and that in areas from health to climate change to immigration, the lessons from multiple studies in this field would strengthen policy responses.
2. Natcen and ESRC event – ‘Wellbeing Policy Seminar’
2 May 2012, UCL, central London
The current Office of National Statistics (ONS) programme to measure national well-being has received a lot of media attention. The organisers believe that media focus on “happiness” has obscured the broader aims of this initiative, including measuring individual wellbeing in all its complexity. Is subjective wellbeing a useful measure for impact assessment by policymakers and practitioners? Will wellbeing continue to be the domain of health professionals or will all policymakers and service providers be expected to use subjective wellbeing as an outcome in their assessments? This seminar will present the results of some studies carried out by members of the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and the ESRC International Centre for Life Course Studies in Health and Society using recently available survey data. The studies cover measuring wellbeing and factors that can have long-reaching implications for wellbeing over the life course. Taken together, they shed light on the role that wellbeing can play in the process of intervention development and implementation.
3. NEF event – ‘The Wisdom of Prevention’
9am – 12.30pm, 9 May 2012, 54 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London
This interdisciplinary half-day conference (subtitled ‘Early action to prevent harm: why it matters and how to achieve it’) is focused on building the case for long-term planning and investment in early action to prevent harm in society, the environment and the economy before it happens. Confirmed speakers include Lord Adair Turner, (Chair of the Financial Services Authority), Jonathon Porritt (Founder Director of Forum for the Future), Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP (Chair of the Public Accounts Committee), David Robinson (Chair of the Early Action Taskforce) and Dharmendra Kanani (England Director of the Big Lottery Fund).
4. Global Water Scarcity Conference
22-23 May, 2012, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Argyle Street, Glasgow
According to the UN World Water Development Report, by 2050 at least one in four people are likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of freshwater. This International two-day conference aims to highlight these concerns and discuss what can be done to address water scarcity in a global, European and UK context. It aims to present the current situation and update information on water scarcity, water abundance, water policy, water technology innovation, and the anticipated trends over the next decade and beyond. It will also aim to create ways for Scotland to engage with these challenges on an international stage. Speakers will include Professor Patricia Wouters (UNESCO, University of Dundee), Tony Allen (Winner of the Stockholm Water Prize), Ned Breslin (CEO, Water for People), Alan Sutherland (CEO, Water Industry Commission for Scotland). It will be opened by the Cabinet Secretary for Scotland, Alex Neil MSP.
5. UCL Environment Institute event – ‘Designing Environmental Protection: Law, Regulation and the Environment in the European Union’
22 May 2012, Roberts 106, University College London
The organisers of this event believe that the implementation of regulatory policy is central to protecting our environment and our natural resources. Whether businesses comply with environmental regulations depends heavily on the design and enforcement of such regulations. The organisers state that the European Union has long had a reputation for high standards coupled with flexible enforcement that makes for more cooperative compliance, but some scholars argue that the European Union’s system of checks and balances and its expansion of judicially-enforceable rights are leading its policies down a path of legalistic and rigid enforcement standards. In this conference, attendees will examine these claims and what they mean for the future of environmental protection in the European Union and beyond.
6. University of Westminster research seminar – ‘Bringing Eco-cities to Life: community engagement, local activism’
10am - 4.30pm, 30 May 2012, University of Westminster, London
The 4th ESRC-funded ‘Governance of Eco-City Innovation’ research seminar will take place on Wednesday 30 May 2012 at the University of Westminster, London. The seminar theme is ‘Bringing Eco-cities to Life: community engagement, local activism’. Speakers will discuss the challenges and opportunities of stakeholder engagement and local participation in eco-city planning and implementation. Researchers and practitioners will address the experience of transition town movements and other grassroots initiatives, among others. For a detailed programme and to register, see link below.
7. UCL Environment Institute conference – ‘Climate Change & Cities Workshop’
2pm - 5pm, 31 May, London, venue to be confirmed
The UCL Environment Institute is hosting a half day workshop with Professor Sue Parnell, who is one of the editors of ‘Climate Change at the City Scale: Impacts, Mitigation and Adaptation in Cape Town’. As a highly unequal coastal city with limited resources to manage the demand for a more resilient and equitable future, the Cape Town response to climate change challenges presents an especially provocative case study of the challenge of urban transformation in the context of climate change. Prof. Parnell will be giving a short 30 min presentation on her book, and a critical reflection on one city’s collective experiences in responding to climate change. The organisers have also invited local authority environmental officers from Islington and Camden to form a panel offering a response to Prof. Parnell’s presentation. The workshop is designed with the aim of generating an interesting discussion and sharing knowledge on what worked and what was more challenging in conducting the research by the various think tank groups, and whether something similar could be carried out in London.
8. Festival of transition
May-June, with 24 hours of events from 20-21 June 2012 across the UK
How can we change our lives for the better in the face of climate change, peak oil and financial instability? As part of the ‘festival of transition’ over 20 events are being held around the UK reimagining how the world might be like if ‘we adapted to the end of cheap fossil fuels, addressed the threat of runaway climate change and dealt with realities of a failed financial system.’ The festival includes a series of talks from 19th May to the 13th June in Bristol, Edinburgh, East Anglia and Hay. There will also be a series of walks organised by the Ramblers Association, and 24 hours of activities from 20th-21st June 2012 including events, training and job swapping in the London and across the UK. Last year activities included a ‘Trashcatchers carnival’ in Tooting.
9. Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum event – ‘The Green Investment Bank: design, implementation and long term development’
Morning, Thursday 19 June 2012, Central London
With the initial design of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) in place, this seminar will provide an opportunity to examine the practicalities of its future development. Planned sessions focus on strategic priorities for the Advisory Group in readying the GIB for launch, including the establishment of a governance framework, setting its long-term objectives and beginning operations at its Edinburgh and London offices. Speakers include Oliver Griffiths, Head of Green Investment Bank Team (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) and Professor Samuel Fankhauser, Co-Director (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science).
10. CityForm conference – ‘India’s urban future: sustainability in rapidly growing cities’
28 June 2012, University of Warwick
The organisers believe that research examining the relationship between the physical form of cities in developing countries and sustainability is limited, particularly in India. Planning, designing, creating and managing sustainable urban form is a critical factor in India due to the rising population growth, high urban densities and very limited resources. CityForm is an international network of academics and professionals interested in sustainability and the built environment who have organised this conference at the University of Warwick. They believe that a key research challenge in achieving sustainability in Indian cities is the need to generate an empirical base which examines urban form and its effect on sustainability in an integrated, holistic way to provide a foundation for urban policy, future planning and implementation. Over the last three years, academics and practitioners have worked together in a knowledge exchange network to improve understanding of sustainable urban form in the Indian context. This conference marks the culmination of these efforts and is a chance for the team to present findings from research carried out in two Indian cities. To register, please contact India Foster, Research Network Secretary: I.E.Foster@Warwick.ac.uk.
1. Scottish Government publishes online ‘Influencing Behaviours Evidence Library’
The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Behaviours Research Programme have just published an excel document which contains a library of sources of evidence on pro-environmental behaviours and behaviour change. It covers literature on a range of topics such as travel behaviours, home energy, food choices, behaviour change theory, and communicating climate change messages. The evidence library contains brief descriptions of the content of each document and links to access them on the web, as well as basic information such as titles, authors and keywords – and, usefully, tells you if you need institutional access to access any of the documents. The intention is for the evidence library to be updated with new publications on a quarterly basis.
2. ClimateXChange evidence centre formally launched in Scotland
ClimateXChange, the centre that delivers expert evidence to support the Scottish Government in relation to its activities on climate change, was formally launched in early April. The centre, which is a collaboration between 16 research and higher education institutions across Scotland, has been in operation since mid-2011 and aims to provide Scottish ministers and policy makers with the most rigorous and up-to-date information available to develop policy on climate change mitigation, adaptation and the transition to a low carbon economy. Although the primary audience for the centre’s research output will be the Scottish Government, the centre will engage and co-operate with local and regional government and the wider public sector. To date, ClimateXChange has already responded to 20 specific policy enquiries from the Scottish Government. Two pieces of research, stemming from ClimateXChange’s ‘call down service’ are currently available on the centre’s website: ‘Housing Futures: Abatement in the housing sector’ and ‘Current & Future Windstorms in Scotland’.
3. University of St. Andrews and Carnegie Trust put all Sustainable Development Commission reports into an online archive
The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), which closed on 31 March 2011, was the UK Government’s independent adviser on sustainable development. The SDC held Government to account to ensure the needs of society, the economy and the environment were properly balanced in the decisions it made and the way it ran itself. An online repository housed at the University of St Andrews has been created to ensure that SDC documents continue to be freely available online. The reports were analysed so they can be searched using key words. The project was funded by Carnegie Trust UK and the St Andrews Sustainability Institute.
4. New Global Database on Bus Rapid Transit Launched
Three global organizations have teamed up to launch the most comprehensive, public database of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems around the world. The new site, http://BRTdata.org was created by EMBARQ, the World Resources Institute’s centre for sustainable transport, and the Across Latitudes and Cultures - Bus Rapid Transit Centre of Excellence (ALC-BRT CoE), in collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA). BRT is one of the fastest growing public transport systems. Approximately 134 cities worldwide— from Bogota to Beijing— have implemented BRT systems or priority bus corridors, serving more than 22 million passenger trips daily. The creators of the site state that ‘The new website provides reliable and up-to-date data to help researchers, transit agencies, city officials, and NGOs understand and make better decisions to improve BRT and bus corridors in their cities’.
1. Green Alliance report – ‘What people really think about the environment’
This brief, 12-page report brings together the results of polls of public opinion from 2004 to 2012, and discusses public opinion within the UK about the environment and climate change. The authors argue that ‘Although it has declined to some extent, support for action on climate change remains strong, and economic constraints have made saving energy and cutting waste more normal and important. Most people want their lifestyles to be both green and affordable.’ For example, when asked about the greatest problems facing the world (rather than just Britain) people in the UK are more concerned about climate change than the economy: 44 per cent of respondents to a 2011 Eurobarometer survey said that climate change was the single biggest problem facing the world, while 39 per cent said the economic situation.
2. UKERC report – ‘Carbon capture and storage: realising the potential?’
‘Carbon capture and storage: realising the potential?’ is the culmination of a two-year project funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). The report assesses the technical, economic, financial and social uncertainties facing Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies, and analyses the role they could play in achieving UK energy policy goals. Its publication follows the re-launch of the UK’s £1 billion competition to develop commercial scale CCS projects. The report identifies four key areas where difficult choices need to be made: 1) Deciding whether to keep options open, or close them down. When developing nuclear, the French backed one option. This could speed development, but risk choosing an inferior technology. 2) Designing financial support for effective CCS demonstration and deployment. A regulatory approach that makes CCS compulsory for all fossil plants will only work if the technology is more advanced, and the additional costs can be passed onto consumers. 3) Developing new energy technologies can take a long time, and the process is often far from smooth. This requires patience, but government may need to decide at some point whether to continue funding CCS or divert money to other low carbon options 4) Dealing with storage liabilities. The report shows highlights lessons from UK nuclear waste management policy to show how complex liability arrangements for CO2 storage could be.
3. WWF UK report – ‘Barking up the right tree?’
A new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has assessed UK local authorities’ policies and actions on the environmentally responsible purchasing of timber and paper products. The report, which is based on survey responses from local authorities, forms part of WWF’s ‘What Wood You Choose?’ campaign that highlights the impact of using illegal and unsustainable wood and wood products. A total of 124 out of 433 local authorities across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland responded to the online survey – a response rate of nearly 30%. 71 of the 124 councils that responded had a timber and/or paper policy in place, and 16 respondents were given the highest green rating by the report’s authors. The public sector, which includes local authorities, is thought to account for as much as 40% of all wood products entering the UK market and it is estimated that up to 10% of wood products entering the UK from outside Europe comes from illegal sources.
4. Committee on Climate Change report – ‘Scope of carbon budgets – Statutory advice on inclusion of international aviation and shipping’
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published a report stating that there is no longer any reason to exclude international aviation and shipping emissions from UK carbon budgets. Emissions from international aviation and shipping were initially left out of carbon budgets and the 2050 target when the Climate Change Act was passed in 2008. Government carbon budgets have always assumed an 80% reduction in emissions across all sectors by 2050 (including aviation and shipping) but the authors note that ‘The current approach (i.e. an assumption that the 80% reduction includes international aviation and shipping) lacks legal underpinning and should be formalised in order to remove current uncertainties around the future interpretation of the 2050 target.’ The government is required to make a proposal to Parliament by the end of 2012 on whether or not to include these emissions.
5. Waste Watch report – ‘Addressing the social and cultural impact of marketing towards young people - through the lens of food’
In 2009, the market for goods and services aimed at children was worth £100bn. The authors argue that a significant portion of this total is spent on food marketing, predominantly promoting energy dense, low-nutrient food and beverages – typically unhealthy for children, but marketed to exaggerate health claims – and messaging (often with the help of celebrities) to suggest popularity, performance and mood. Waste Watch have conducted a literature review of the impact of this marketing on young people (part 1) and produced a structured list of recommendations aimed at policymakers (part 2). There are several interesting pieces of research highlighted; for example, one study showed that children exposed to junk food advertising ate 45% more junk food than children not exposed during the trial. Furthermore, the Hastings Review found evidence that advertising can have an effect upon the nutritional knowledge, food preferences, purchasing behaviour and diet of children.
6. IPPR report – ‘Wellbeing, choice and sustainability: What should economic policy target in a new era economy?’
The authors of this report state that ‘We believe a new era economy should not be focused entirely on material progress – whether it is measured by GDP or by other means. It should prioritise worthwhile lives: wellbeing, choice and sustainability. GDP growth is not a sufficient target for a 21st century progressive economy.’ The report is an opinion piece on economic policy targets, and builds on the work of Richard Layard of the LSE (who believes policy should be focused on happiness), Tim Jackson and the New Economics Foundation (who believe zero or even negative growth is necessary to reach environmental sustainability) and Neal Lawson and the Labour group Compass (who advocate for equality to be the central national policy goal).
7. CGIAR report – ‘Achieving food security in the face of climate change’
The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) have produced a summary report for policy makers from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, entitled ‘Achieving food security in the face of climate change’. The authors argue that major interventions are necessary at local to global scales, to transform current patterns of food production, distribution and consumption. The report identifies 5 essential changes that are needed to achieve food security in the face of climate change. These are to: 1) Reduce GHG emissions from agriculture 2) Adapt to climate change 3) Change diets towards more plant-based foods 4) Reduce waste and 5) Improve crop yields.
8. Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) briefing – ‘Climate Change and Health in Scotland’
On 10 April the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) published a briefing considering some of the anticipated impacts of climate change on health in Scotland, and associated policy. The briefing highlights that climate change is considered to be a “threat multiplier”, amplifying pre-existing health problems and inequities. The briefing includes a description of projected impacts on health in Scotland of: 1) changes to Scotland’s climate – including: changing patterns of temperature-related mortality, increased incidence of respiratory, water-borne and food-borne diseases and the effects of more frequent flooding 2) The transition to a low carbon economy – policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be contribute to tackling obesity, cardiovascular and respiratory disease. 3) The global effects of climate change – including: food security and environmental change and migration. The briefing can be found here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/49228.aspx and an excellent summary of other briefings SPICe have produced is available from the Sustainable Scotland Network here: http://www.sustainable-scotland.net/news.asp?id=2291
1. SDRN Website: Jobs and Training
Jobs and Training opportunities around the Sustainable Development Research network are updated frequently on the ‘Jobs and Training’ page of the SDRN website…
The SDRN Mailing is a moderated information resource and dissemination service for SDRN members. You can make use of this service by sending any information for inclusion in the mailing to Ben Watson.
To join or leave this list, please email Ben Watson or visit the JISCmail website.
SDRN Mailing, 24th April 2012