Chatham House
  • London, United Kingdom
Recent publications
Climate change will put millions more people in Africa at risk of food and nutrition insecurity by 2050. Integrated assessments of food systems tend to be limited by either heavy reliance on models or a lack of information on food and nutrition security. Accordingly, we developed a novel integrated assessment framework that combines models with in-country knowledge and expert academic judgement to explore climate-smart and nutrition-secure food system futures: the integrated Future Estimator for Emissions and Diets (iFEED). Here, we describe iFEED and present its application in Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The iFEED process begins with a participatory scenario workshop. In-country stakeholders identify two key drivers of food system change, and from these, four possible scenarios are defined. These scenarios provide the underlying narratives of change to the food system. Integrated modelling of climate change, food production and greenhouse gas emissions is then used to explore nutrition security and climate-smart agriculture outcomes for each scenario. Model results are summarised using calibrated statements - quantitative statements of model outcomes and our confidence in them. These include statements about the way in which different trade futures interact with climate change and domestic production in determining nutrition security at the national level. To understand what the model results mean for food systems, the calibrated statements are expanded upon using implication statements. The implications rely on input from a wide range of academic experts – including agro-ecologists and social scientists. A series of workshops are used to incorporate in-country expertise, identifying any gaps in knowledge and summarising information for country-level recommendations. iFEED stakeholder champions help throughout by providing in-country expertise and disseminating knowledge to policy makers. iFEED has numerous novel aspects that can be used and developed in future work. It provides information to support evidence-based decisions for a climate-smart and nutrition-secure future. In particular, iFEED: i. employs novel and inclusive reporting of model results and associated in-country food system activities, with comprehensive reporting of uncertainty; ii. includes climate change mitigation alongside adaptation measures; and iii. quantifies future population-level nutrition security, as opposed to simply assessing future production and food security implications.
Global health crises require coordination and collaboration among actors and global health agendas including health security, health promotion, and universal health coverage. This study investigated whether national public health institutes (NPHIs) unify agendas and actors, how this can be achieved, and what factors contribute to success. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 24 public health leaders from 18 countries in six WHO regions between 2019 and 2020. Respondents described how NPHIs bridge agendas reporting five strategies that institutes employ: serving as a trusted scientific advisor; convening actors across and within sectors; prioritizing transdisciplinary approaches; integrating public health infrastructures, and training that builds public health capacity. Findings also revealed five enabling factors critical to success: a strong legal foundation; scientific independence; public trust and legitimacy; networks and partnerships at global, national, and local levels; and stable funding. The Covid-19 pandemic underscores the urgency of securing scientific independence and promoting national institutes’ responsiveness to public health challenges.
Interactions between soil quality and climate change may influence the capacity of croplands to produce sufficient food. Here, we address this issue by using a new dataset of soil, climate and associated yield observations for 12,115 site-years representing 90% of total cereal production in China. Across crops and environmental conditions, we show that high-quality soils reduced the sensitivity of crop yield to climate variability leading to both higher mean crop yield (10.3 ± 6.7%) and higher yield stability (decreasing variability by 15.6 ± 14.4%). High-quality soils improve the outcome for yields under climate change by 1.7% (0.5–4.0%), compared to low-quality soils. Climate-driven yield change could result in reductions of national cereal production of 11.4 Mt annually under representative concentration pathway RCP 8.5 by 2080–2099. While this production reduction was exacerbated by 14% due to soil degradation, it can be reduced by 21% through soil improvement. This study emphasizes the vital role of soil quality in agriculture under climate change.
Brexit has potentially wide-ranging implications for UK policy, although little is known about what these are yet. Now, post the transition period, is a good time to consider its actual impacts as opposed to what was expected by academics, and by proponents of Brexit. In the absence of any established theory of EU-exit, and drawing on insights from (de-)Europeanisation, Brexit energy and climate policy studies, and political economy, this article develops a framework to identify the impact of EU-exit on UK energy policy. This is applied to sustainable energy, an area in urgent need of policy development to meet legally binding national targets. We conclude that, so far, despite leaving various EU bodies there has been relatively little divergence from Europeanised policy; that new UK energy and climate policies, required to replace EU membership benefits, are relatively less effective; and that hard-pressed civil servants have been drawn away from other important policymaking tasks.
Background: Global sustainability is an enmeshed system of complex socioeconomic, climatological, and ecological interactions. The numerous objectives of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement have various levels of interdependence, making it difficult to ascertain the influence of changes to particular indicators across the whole system. In this analysis, we aimed to detect and rank the complex interlinkages between objectives of sustainability agendas. Methods: We developed a method to find interlinkages among the 17 SDGs and climate change, including non-linear and non-monotonic dependences. We used time series of indicators defined by the World Bank, consisting of 400 indicators that measure progress towards the 17 SDGs and an 18th variable (annual average temperatures), representing progress in the response to the climate crisis, from 2000 to 2019. This method detects significant dependencies among the time evolution of the objectives by using partial distance correlations, a non-linear measure of conditional dependence that also discounts spurious correlations originating from lurking variables. We then used a network representation to identify the most important objectives (using network centrality) and to obtain nexuses of objectives (defined as highly interconnected clusters in the network). Findings: Using temporal data from 181 countries spanning 20 years, we analysed dependencies among SDGs and climate for 35 country groupings based on region, development, and income level. The observed significant interlinkages, central objectives, and nexuses identified varied greatly across country groupings; however, SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals) and climate change ranked as highly important across many country groupings. Temperature rise was strongly linked to urbanisation, air pollution, and slum expansion (SDG 11), especially in country groupings likely to be worst affected by climate breakdown, such as Africa. In several country groupings composed of developing nations, we observed a consistent nexus of strongly interconnected objectives formed by SDG 1 (poverty reduction), SDG 4 (education), and SDG 8 (economic growth), sometimes incorporating SDG 5 (gender equality), and SDG 16 (peace and justice). Interpretation: The differences across groupings emphasise the need to define goals in accordance with local circumstances and priorities. Our analysis highlights global partnerships (SDG 17) as a pivot in global sustainability efforts, which have been strongly linked to economic growth (SDG 8). However, if economic growth and trade expansion were repositioned as a means instead of an end goal of development, our analysis showed that education (SDG 4) and poverty reduction (SDG 1) become more central, thus suggesting that these could be prioritised in global partnerships. Urban livelihoods (SDG 11) were also flagged as important to avoid replicating unsustainable patterns of the past.
Pressures on natural resources, such as from environmental change, have influenced the global human mobility landscape. In this article, we review the scientific evidence on the interlinkages between natural resources, human migration and sustainability. Drawing on a review of the existing literature in combination with the authors’ research experience, we consider a range of conceptual perspectives and empirical studies covered in the literature since the turn of the millennium. Our analysis considers the broad mobility spectrum—from adaptive migration to forced displacement and immobility. Climate change both acts as a natural resource threat in this context as well as having the potential to influence mobility drivers, which, in turn, can influence natural resource availability. The review aims to provide scholars of sustainability science with a coherent curation of the research thus far on the topic for charting a way forward for more constructive and original investigations. To overcome scientific gaps identified, finally we suggest that the multiplicity of linkages and feedbacks between natural resources and migration across different spatial, temporal and social scales lends itself to a complex adaptive (sub)system (CAS) framing within larger socio-ecological systems. As a CAS, the outcomes of migration and natural resources linkages are highly non-linear and can be emergent: the sustainable management of them, therefore, requires flexible, robust and equitable approaches.
Kurzfassung Deutschland verfügt über eine Vielzahl von Wissen und Erfahrungen über Russland und den Umgang mit Russland. Dennoch haben sich die politischen Entscheidungsträger in Deutschland über viele Jahre schwer damit getan, zu begreifen, dass Moskaus Versuche, die Mächtebalance in Europa neu zu strukturieren, einen frontalen Angriff auf Deutschlands Interessen darstellen, die auf Integration in die EU und NATO basieren. Für Deutsche sind Konflikte mit Russland etwas zutiefst Unbehagliches; allein der Gedanke weckt Emotionen, die klares Denken und konsistentes Handeln behindern. Dieser Artikel beleuchtet die Herausforderung, die diese Einstellungsmuster für Deutschland bei der Entwicklung politischer Strategien im Umgang mit Russland darstellt. Er analysiert, wie mehrere aufeinanderfolgende Bundesregierungen zwischen 1991 und 2014 die russischen Absichten missverstanden und unbeabsichtigt die Herausbildung eines russischen Systems gefördert haben, das deutschen Interessen gegenüber feindlich gesonnen ist.
Nigeria’s health spending per capita remains relatively low, with an out-of-pocket expenditure on health estimated at three-quarters of the nation's health expenditure in 2018. A large percentage of the population cannot afford—and have limited access to—cancer treatment services. Our study was aimed at analyzing all cancer funding-related policies from 2010 – 2020. We used qualitative methods to contextualize the challenges of funding cancer control, and recommend steps in policy implementation needed to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) for cancer care in Nigeria. We found that cancer control is grossly underfunded, with a glaring lack of political will identified by most participants as the root cause of underfunding. Recommendations by the participants included mandatory enrollment in health insurance schemes, encouraging public-private partnerships and advocacy for increased taxation to democratize access to treatment. Additionally, channeling a portion of tax revenues from tobacco sales to cancer will reduce catastrophic health spending and move Nigeria closer toward achieving UHC for cancer.
Debate continues in this journal on the climate impacts of burning woody biomass from forests. A recent review by Cowie et al (2021) addressed what it called “misconceptions“ in papers by us and other authors that examined issues of carbon debt and when burning forest biomass for energy could have a net climate benefit. This letter re‐emphasises the critical importance of the time dimension in assessing impacts, and takes particular issue with Cowie et al’s lack of concern over substantial delays in reducing emissions and increasing the risks of crossing climate tipping points.
COVID-19 has revealed how challenging it is to manage global, systemic and compounding crises. Like COVID-19, climate change impacts, and maladaptive responses to them, have potential to disrupt societies at multiple scales via networks of trade, finance, mobility and communication, and to impact hardest on the most vulnerable. However, these complex systems can also facilitate resilience if managed effectively. This review aims to distil lessons related to the transboundary management of systemic risks from the COVID-19 experience, to inform climate change policy and resilience building. Evidence from diverse fields is synthesised to illustrate the nature of systemic risks and our evolving understanding of resilience. We describe research methods that aim to capture systemic complexity to inform better management practices and increase resilience to crises. Finally, we recommend specific, practical actions for improving transboundary climate risk management and resilience building. These include mapping the direct, cross-border and cross-sectoral impacts of potential climate extremes, adopting adaptive risk management strategies that embrace heterogenous decision-making and uncertainty, and taking a broader approach to resilience which elevates human wellbeing, including societal and ecological resilience.
Beyond history deepens the contemporary discourse on African agency through presenting a collection of 13 chapters on state and non-state manifestations of it. The book explores examples of African agency in regional power dynamics and international relations within multilateral institutions and beyond. The collection draws on a roster of esteemed scholars—heavyweights in their respective fields––which affords readers a multidimensional exploration of African agency. The book's timing and relevance are particularly salient given the current shifting geopolitical context, marked by the decline of western hegemony; will African agency help the continent reposition itself in the emerging world order? The book analyses agency in three ways. Beyond the most commonly considered––agency as influence to shift power or outcomes (at a regional, continental or international scale)––the volume also explores how actors institutionalize or deepen their identity as agents, particularly through collective action. Additionally, it examines how African actors have shown creativity and initiative...
In 2021, the UN Human Rights Council recognized that human rights depend on a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Yet humans are not the only ones with rights––natural entities can hold them too. Legal provisions recognizing the Rights of Nature (RoN) have spread worldwide since 2006, now numbering at least 178 across 17 countries (p. 2). What does it mean for our human-centred legal and political systems when a river can bring a lawsuit against people or corporations for polluting it? In The politics of Rights of Nature, Craig M. Kauffman and Pamela L. Martin examine the contestation behind this new norm. They shed light on the strategies used by a transnational network of lawyers, activists and politicians to create laws and governance mechanisms that give Nature its own voice. This diverse group is united by Earth jurisprudence, which holds that as human wellbeing depends on the wellbeing of...
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41 members
Tim G Benton
  • Energy, Environment and Resources
Robyn Alders
  • Centre on Global Health Security
Thiago Hector Kanashiro Uehara
  • Environment and Society Programme
Patrick Schröder
  • Energy, Environment and Resources Programme
Valerie Marcel
  • Environment and Society Programme
10 St James's Square, SW1Y 4LE, London, United Kingdom
Head of institution
Robin Niblett