POSTED: January 6, 2017
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Nexus Network Conference

Thursday, 16 March 2017

These are turbulent times in which to advance sustainable development. Environmental and social challenges are as pressing as ever, and the political, regulatory and funding landscape is changing rapidly, creating new uncertainties – and opportunities.

Over the next few years, Brexit, a new US administration, and unpredictable waves of populism and authoritarianism are likely to recast key environmental and social policies. International frameworks of governance and collaboration will need to be redesigned, and the legitimacy of some forms of expertise and evidence may be called into question.

This one-day, agenda-setting conference brings together researchers, policy makers, business and civil society leaders to take stock and consider ways ahead. Drawing on the activities, networks and findings of three flagship ESRC programmes: the Nexus Network; the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), and the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN), the conference debate what interdisciplinary research can contribute to the future sustainability of a post-Brexit Britain and an uncertain world.

Video recordings of all the sessions are available on the Nexus Network website. You can revisit the discussion on Twitter with the Hashtag #SITT2017. More details about the CUSP breakout session on the Political Nature of Sustainable Prosperity can be accessed here.


09:00 – 09:45  Registration & coffee

09:45 – 10.00  Welcome and introduction | James Wilsdon, Director, The Nexus Network

10.00 – 10.45  Global sustainability goals in a new political climate Achim Steiner, Director, Oxford Martin School and former Executive Director, UNEP

10.45 – 12.00  Political populism and sustainability :: What are the implications of recent swings towards populism and nationalism around the world, for the relationship between inequality, democracy and sustainability? Chaired by Tim Jackson (Director, CUSP). Confirmed speakers: Natalie Bennett (Green Party); Mike Hulme (Kings College London); Andrea Westall (FDSD); Craig Bennett (Friends of the Earth).                           

12.00 – 13.00  Networking lunch & poster gallery

13.00 – 14.00  Post-Brexit environmental policy :: What are the likely implications of Brexit for agriculture, fisheries, wildlife, water, energy, climate and nexus issues? How might the economic impacts of Brexit effect environmental policy? Chaired by Rebecca Willis (Green Alliance/Lancaster University). Confirmed speakers: Mary Creagh MP (Chair of Environmental Audit Committee), Michael Jacobs (UCL); Andy Richardson (Head of Corporate Affairs, Volac International) ; Charlotte Burns (York)

14.00 – 15.00  Global challenges and national priorities: the changing landscape for interdisciplinary research :: Big shifts are underway in UKs research funding and policy landscape. What opportunities are created by GCRF, the imminent launch of UKRI and reform of the REF? Chaired by James Wilsdon. Confirmed speakers: Jane Elliot (Chief Executive, ESRC); Dame Athene Donald (Master, Churchill College, Cambridge & Chair, HEFCE Interdisciplinary Advisory Group); Ian Boyd (Chief Scientific Adviser, Defra); Beck Smith (Senior Policy & Advocacy Adviser, Save the Children)

15.00 – 15.30  Tea break

15.30 – 16.45  Parallel sessions

  • The political nature of sustainable prosperity (Plenary Room) How can we build a political consensus for sustainability that is inclusive and fair? How do research and practice move beyond the divisive nature of ‘post-truth’ populism? Chair: Kate Burningham (CUSP, University of Surrey); Speakers: Fanny Broholm (Alternative Party, Denmark), Joan Walley (former Labour MP, Chair of Aldersgate Group), Will Davies (PERC, Goldsmiths, CUSP), Phil Catney (CUSP, Keele University).
  • World cafe’ session: ‘Fear and hope in turbulent times’ (Westminster Room): small group discussions of personal responses and strategies to the current global political turbulence, and ways that the sustainability community can/should respond. Chairs: Andy Stirling and Rose Cairns (Nexus Network/ SPRU)
  • Skills and capabilities for transformative transdisciplinarity (Thames 1 Room): What skills and capabilities are required for transdisciplinary research with transformative potential, and how can these be nurtured and supported? Chair: James Wilsdon (Sheffield University). Speakers: Candice Howarth (University of Surrey); Andy Wales (Global Vice President Sustainable Development at Anheuser-Busch InBev); Fergus Lyon (Middlesex University, CUSP); Anna Krzywoszynska (Sheffield University/ Nexus Network Defra Fellow)
  • Learning from history (Thames 2 Room): How can we use experience of earlier environmental policies to formulate better ones in the new political climate, and what could the role of evaluation be in doing so? Invited speakers: Sara Eppel (Eppel Sustainability Ltd); Bill Sutherland (University of Cambridge); Tamsin Cooper (Green Alliance); Annette Boaz (Kingston and St. George’s)

16.45 – 17.45  Brokers and boundary spanners: where next for evidence and experts at the food-water-energy nexus? :: Evidence informed policy making has never been in greater demand, nor has it been more contested. How can we better understand the complexities of the research policy interface? Chaired by Nigel Gilbert (Director, CECAN). Confirmed speakers: Clare Matterson CBE (Special Adviser, Wellcome Trust); Kathryn Oliver (University of Oxford); Andy Stirling (Nexus Network & SPRU), Dipak Gyawali (Director, Nepal Water Conservation Foundation).

17.45 – 18.30  Drinks reception and networking


Westminster Bridge – ETC venue County Hall, London
Belvedere Road
London, UK


Thursday, 16 March 2017

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