Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures: The story so far

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The story so far. An ambitious and innovative collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.

Professor Tony Ryan with a trailer built to help collect and transport recycling in Za’atari to the recycling centre in camp.


Introduction.......................................................................................................................... p3 Research................................................................................................................................ p4 Training...................................................................................................................................p8 Engagement.........................................................................................................................p12 Communication.................................................................................................................p20

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The story so far. This is not the first introduction I have written and the stark reality is that things obviously aren’t getting any better. In fact it looks like it gets tougher every year. Business as usual clearly isn’t working and climatic events that should only happen every century become more commonplace. We have ever more mouths to feed and our consumption of the planetary resources still accelerates. But there are reasons for optimism. For example, the UK produced twice as much energy from wind than coal last year as the carbon intensity of our economy continued to fall. And this change is faster than could have been predicted five years ago. The one thing I could have predicted, though, is that the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures gets better every year. We now have a steady-state of about 70 PhD scholars and add more supervisors, and their research power every year, growing our Grantham community at the University of Sheffield committed to sustainable development. Innovation is imperative in a world constrained by resources and under threat from environmental damage, and in the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures we are developing the sustainability innovators and leaders of the future. Our first cohort graduate in 2018 and their prototypes from Project Sunshine are already making their way, as industry researchers, policy makers and activists. Our philosophy is underpinned by the triple bottom line; that is we must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. We have world leading research on renewable energy systems, crop protection, water purification and recycling of waste, as well as fostering a full understanding of issues such as climate change, resource efficiency, the circular economy and how sustainable options impact industries, processes, the environment and society. Our goals are to ensure there is enough for everyone whilst at the same time reducing global consumption of resources. Over the next few pages you can learn more about our research, our industry and policy engagement, and our burgeoning activism. We’ll show you how we look to analyse, codify and intervene; looking for practical solutions that we can deliver with optimism, presenting examples of our training of brilliant researchers and how their research has provided the underpinning for multimillion pound research programmes that address the needs of industry, as well as the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Throughout we share stories of how they have engaged with the public and politicians on issues both global and local, how their research has led to new environmentally responsible products and processes, influencing industrial practice and provoking evidence-led policy. I was particularly pleased when our evidence to the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee contributed to the proposed ‘latte levy’ and the Chancellor announcing a deposit scheme for plastic bottles. And it’s really good to see the Grantham community engaged in some old-fashioned activism, waving a banner on the March for Science in London, and being featured in The Guardian. Like everyone, I am still worried about the state of the planet we will leave behind, but knowing of the work that we are doing at the University of Sheffield, and the cohorts of future leaders that we are developing through the Grantham Scholars, I am filled with optimism for a sustainable future. Professor Tony Ryan OBE Director, Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures

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Expanding our reach Our ambition when embarking on the Grantham Centre venture was to embed ourselves in all the University of Sheffield research that underpins the attainment of a sustainable future. With our fourth Cohort of Scholars, Grantham Centre has reached a critical mass of 66 Scholars, and our reach across university sustainability efforts is almost total. Our Scholars now hail from all five faculties, 26 departments, and all of our affiliated sustainability research centres. With this expansion in Scholar numbers, our research aims are still fully encompassed by the two themes Enough For Everyone and Reducing Global Consumption. And now we are clearly aligned with six of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a collection of global targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years. As part our new communications strategy, we will put SDGs at the forefront of our messages thus connecting to a global set of concepts.

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Research in relation to to the UN SDGs Our Scholars work across disciplines conducting research on sustainable agriculture, equitable access to food and water, climate change adaptation and mitigation, the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable energy, and reducing resource consumption, providing evidence to shape public policy all over the world. Many of our new Scholars originate from, or work in, the developing world, facilitating a bi-directional flow of sustainability knowledge and practice. Our supervisors span a similarly formidable range of expertise, from soil health to plastics, from social media analysis in relation to natural disasters to sustainable Sunday lunches. What follows are a few examples of how our work fits into seven of the SDGs. As Grantham Centre continues to grow, we will broaden our commitment to the SDGs.

SDG 2: Zero Hunger Professors Duncan Cameron and Tony Ryan have been given new funding by the British Council to develop a modular ‘microcosm farm’ solution with Sohar University in Oman. This is an innovative approach to increasing agricultural productivity in adverse, arid, environments. The underlying philosophy is all agriculture relies on solar-desalinated water, and in most places this is called rain! But if you have no rain then you must make your own by solar desalination of sea-water. Likewise, if you have no soil then you must make your own, and we use polyurethane foam to do this. And if the sun is too hot then you need a greenhouse to keep things cool. All of these technologies come together to give year-round production of high value horticulture crops. Grantham Scholar Monica Ortiz has developed a statistical model linking climate data and crop yields, so that reliable prediction for the future can be made. The extent of adaption needed will depend on how well we can control greenhouse gas emissions and reduce other environmental impacts, over 30% of which come from food production. The complexity of improving the agri-food system was the subject of research led by Grantham Centre Chief Research Advisor Professor Peter Horton, who co-authored an agenda setting paper with Professor Peter Jackson, Professor Duncan Cameron, Richard Bruce and others. This paper presents a bold new vision for interdisciplinary agri-food research that advocates a system-wide approach that integrates all aspects of food production and consumption, environmental protection and human health.

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation Water shortage is a worldwide challenge, posing a great threat to people all over the world. Converting dirty water to clean water via effective purification technology is one of the most potential ways to solve this problem. Grantham Scholar Changyan Zhou is developing a low cost water purification technology through sustainable experimentation practices.

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy Grantham Scholar Saeed Mohammed Wazed’s project will develop a low c ­ ost, portable and solar-powered pump for improving income, food and energy security in developing countries. His research will also look at the manufacturing process of the pump to ensure use of local resources, reducing the cost as well as carbon footprint of the technology. Access to clean energy is a key step in relieving poverty and it also means less burning of fuels which are detrimental to health. Over 1.2bn people on Earth have no access to electricity, most of whom live in rural communities in developing countries, because it is uneconomical to connect distant communities to the national grid. However, clean electricity can be provided in the form of a microgrid. Grantham Scholar Amy Crum is studying factors which ultimately lead to success or failure of microgrids in developing communities. What if we could harness the power of photosynthesis to power the world? Grantham Scholar Guy Mayneord is trying to do just that. Previous work on bacteria has shown that there are many mechanisms that allow energy to be captured in a highly efficient way, and his project aims to build on this by studying the energy capture mechanisms in plants and algae. The ultimate goal is to use this knowledge to create efficient photovoltaic devices which can convert energy into an electrical current.

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SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities Working as part of the Acting Together Against Climate Change interdisciplinary scholarship network, Grantham Scholar Sally Faulkner is examining the impact of mining on migration in Peru. The project also aims to understand how the illegal status of some miners’ impacts on these social relationships and, if and how, these realities are reflected in local and national policy. Cities are responsible for nearly 80% of global energy consumption and are central to business and economic growth. More than half of the world’s population now live in cities and predictions show the urban population will approach 5bn people by the year 2030. The increasing demands for energetic and landmass resources draws concerns about sustainability of urban settlements. Grantham Scholar Ling Min Tan is researching how we can use the paradigm of ‘Urban Metabolism’ to describe the characteristics of a city and provide a foundation for urban planning and environmental policy making. A missing ingredient in our understanding of human influence on global environmental change is the quantitative measure of the energy interactions of societies operating under varied technological and geographical conditions. Grantham Scholar Theresa Nelson seeks to employ the archaeological and historical data for the comparative investigation of energy use in different societies. The project lies at the interfaces between physics, archaeology and ecology and will provide baseline data to inform current and emerging policy decisions about the future of our planet.

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production Increasing temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions are expected to have adverse impacts on food production this century. Rice is extremely sensitive to heat stress and under global warming, much of the world’s rice crop will experience damaging temperatures. Grantham Scholar Ligia Bertolino’s project, developed in collaboration with The International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, will investigate whether the manipulation of stomatal density could become a viable route towards developing thermotolerant rice cultivars. How protected areas (PAs) influence people’s well-being and livelihoods is one of the most controversial debates in conservation policy. PAs can constrain economic development by preventing exploitation of natural resources, thus increasing poverty. In contrast, PAs may also secure long-term flows of ecosystem services and generate economic benefits from natural capital, thus reducing poverty in local communities. Grantham Scholar Bowy den Braber’s studentship focuses on Brazil and Indonesia and will apply recently developed analytical techniques and novel datasets to answer the question of how protected areas influence the economic development and poverty of local communities.

SDG 13: Climate Action When you burn fossil fuels by driving your car, standard emissions accounting attributes those emissions to you (and more generally, to your city, or country). But this ignores the history of the fuels: where they were drilled for, and the potentially many steps in the supply chain between the source and your eventual act of burning them. The question Grantham Scholar Anton Eriksson addresses in his project is whether the current ‘statist’ model of accounting for greenhouse gas emissions can be justified given extensive international trade relationships. Making accurate projections of future climate change relies on us having reliable and large amounts of data, as well as a finely tuned climate model. By analysing natural archives of preserved physical and chemical characteristics, such as ice cores, Grantham Scholar Fiona Turner’s project aims to avoid scientific errors that have been made in the past - (the ‘hockey stick’ and the ‘climategate’ controversies were both due to arguments over the statistical treatment of palaeo data) to make better predictions of future changes in the planets’ climate. There is increased pressure to engineer buildings to use less energy and provide improved comfort for occupants. Grantham Scholar Jonathan Sykes applies machine learning and surrogate modelling techniques to analyse the impact of climate change on built environments. This motivates the provision of risk assessments as to the risk of over- or under-engineering of environmental systems. Such models could be linked to costing models to directly facilitate decision making.

SDG 15: Life on Land Currently, the planet is experiencing first human induced mass extinction, which will have a detrimental effect on our economies and our way of life. Yet the existing political economy literature has little to say about the relationship between the economy and biodiversity. Grantham Scholar Kaisa Pietilä’s research will reflect on one core research question: What are the factors that influence public policy decisions affecting biodiversity loss? This will shed light on the politicaleconomic processes of both causing biodiversity loss as well as tackling it. Despite the importance of all species to the survival of ecosystems and humans, companies do not disclose information on biodiversity loss in a meaningful, transparent way. Using a combination of linguistic analysis tools, Grantham Scholar Mira Lieberman’s project examines whether integrated reports produced by corporations reporting on their impact on species aligns with the spoken report given to various stakeholders.

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Research Impact: Beyond PhDs Grantham Opportunities (GO) Fund £50,000 was set aside in 2016 to provide grants of less than £10,000 to the University of Sheffield academic staff and early career researchers to support projects that enhance the activities of Grantham Centre. Such projects include pump-priming funding to develop new research ideas and collaborations across the University. The interest in the GO Fund across the University and successful outcomes have prompted us to commit resources to a further round of funding. We can already report significant progress in a broad range of sustainability topics. Delivering solutions to one of the problems outlined in the UN SDGs is the focus of the project of Dr George Konstantopoulos and colleagues, who have used the GO Fund to establish a partnership with South Africa’s ‘Specialised Solar Systems’ (SSS) to promote their energy research in developing countries. SSS will electrify 4,000 houses in Africa next year and 15,000 houses by 2021, with the Sheffield group now planning to develop an automated system for optimising power distribution and management. Keeping with the sustainable development agenda, in the biodiversity field, Dr David Edwards has created a large database of all research published on the environmental, social and economic impacts of rubber in order to identify the externalities of rubber plantation growth and development. The funding has enabled a major collaboration with Waxman, the Washington-based lobbying group who have successfully campaigned on many environmental issues. Together, the project team and Waxman are developing a series of environmental sustainability goals for rubber producers. Preserving soils is a crucial issue for sustainable agriculture. Complementing existing Grantham Centre research on the chemistry and biology of soil, Dr Anna Krzywoszynska’s GO Fund project has enabled a novel interdisciplinary workshop on soils, and the launch of the Soil Care Network, a global community of scholars from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. Soils are key to addressing current challenges to human and ecological flourishing. This unique network is a place for soil scholars to find one another, and a space for the supportive and creative exchange of ideas. The above images have been taken at Dr Anna Krzywoszynska’s Soil Care Network workshop ‘Rediscovering soils’.

Affiliated research groups We work closely with our partner sustainability teams at the University of Sheffield. The researchers behind these groups are mentors to many of of Grantham Scholars and are coming up with innovative new solutions to sustainability challenges.

Plant Production and Protection (P3): The University of Sheffield’s centre of excellence for translational plant and soil biology. Led by Professor Duncan Cameron and Professor Jurriaan Ton, who design projects that connect ground-breaking research and state-of-the-art facilities with industry partners. Visit

The University of Sheffield Sustainable Food Futures (SheFF): A network of scientists, engineers, social scientists and health researchers, chaired by Professor Peter Jackson. The group’s focus is on how food is produced, distributed and consumed, and how these processes can be improved to build a secure and sustainable food system. Visit

Energy2050: More than 120 academics and 250 PhD students working on new sustainable energy technologies, with an industry and policy focus. Led by Professor Mohammed Pourkashanian, Head of University Energy Research. Visit

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Tomorrow’s leaders Our Scholar training program is unique, policy-relevant, highly visible and attractive to both prospective students and funders. We equip Scholars to actively initiate and make the most of external engagement, communicate effectively across many platforms, and to take public roles as activists in sustainability causes.

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We have developed our training programme across seven core areas – research skills, interdisciplinary working, policy engagement, business and enterprise, public engagement, media and digital engagement, and leadership – enabling Scholars to learn how to turn academic ideas into evidence-based action on sustainability. We are always looking to adapt and expand our training and this year we have added the following courses: Infographics: Working with the Slow Journalism Company, we have taught Scholars and their supervisors how to convey complex ideas using clear graphics, and they have made infographics about sustainability issues for us to use online. Enterprise: University of Sheffield Enterprise have shown Scholars how to commercialise ideas, and the Scholars met and learned from local people who run successful social enterprises Lobbying: Working with the charity Hope for the Future, our Scholars have learned how to influence their elected representatives, by using an empathetic approach to understand the motivations of their politicians. One of our scholars Emma Stevens now works for Hope for the Future, organizing their events. Science advice: Professor James Wilsdon showed Scholars how scientific advice is used by governments and how best to present it. James draws on a wealth of experience and expertise in the science and art of providing scientific advice to policymakers, for example as Vice-Chair of International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA). Together with our established courses these new elements enable Scholars to develop the skills and experience needed to advocate evidence-based change in a diverse range of public and policy settings. For British Science Week we set up stalls in a part of Sheffield not normally frequented by scientists, the Moor Market, where Grantham Scholar Harry Wright explained his hydroponics research to curious shoppers.

NERC 2017 Evidence Synthesis Training Grantham Centre has teamed up with the Grantham Institute at Imperial College and external partners to offer training on how evidence is used in policymaking and how to synthesise scientific data for this purpose. The training course builds on our experience working with Grantham Scholars, and will develop a new environmental data synthesis course with School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR). The training, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), extends our reach into a new area, and is the first joint activity between Grantham Centre and the Grantham Institute.

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Illegal miner walks home through La Rinconada after finishing work inside the mountain.

My research looks at the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector in Peru and its impacts on social relationships and collective actions, particularly through the high-levels of migration as people move from the Andes to mine in the Amazon. I spent nine months in Peru, in Ocongate, a district in the Andes which experiences high-levels of out migration, and Tambopata in the Amazon, which is a key destination for mining migrants. I also visited La Rinconada, the highest permanent human settlement in the world, which is also a mining town. I interviewed miners, wives of miners, community members, government representatives and NGO workers. It was far more challenging than I had anticipated, and I learnt valuable lessons about conducting interviews in foreign countries, particularly when the subject matter is a sensitive, illegal activity. I was also surprised at some of my key findings. I had assumed that in the mining settlements there would be high levels of social exclusion, with new migrants finding it difficult to forge social networks. In fact, it seems that the some of the more short-term migrants almost self-exclude, as they see their presence in the community simply as a means to work, and are not concerned with becoming involved in community activities or, more importantly, the communities struggle with the government. Sally Faulkner, Grantham Scholar

I collected soil cores on an agricultural field for conducting my experiment on greenhouse gas emissions and plant growth. This involved hammering down pipes into peat soil to preserve the soil structure. It was hard work, requiring the use of mallets and shovels. It took us the whole day and we returned to Sheffield at night. Magdalena Matysek, Grantham Scholar

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Fieldwork highlights

I am currently preparing a field experiment in Leicester, in a city council allotment plot. The field experiments consist in understanding how different typologies of urban green spaces affect urban soil quality. I will also examine how the application of biochar influence the soil quality and affect the soil available proportion of heavy metals to own-grown food. I am currently setting up the experiment and taking soil samples to characterise the soil. Then, the biochar will be added to some plots and later, I will proceed with sowing and planting grass, different types of vegetables and willow. During the following 3 years, soil samples and crop samples will be analyse to keep monitored the changes in the soil qualities and in the crops. Marta Crispo, Grantham Scholar

A prototype nutrient film technique (NFT) hydroponic system made from upcycled waste materials, which will be implemented into community spaces in the Za’atari camp.

I have been to Jordan twice to work at the Za’atari refugee camp, where we are trying to implement communal hydroponic grow areas within the camp to give residents the freedom to grow their own produce. This is otherwise not possible due to soil health problems, lack of water, and rules which do not allow refugees to plant anything in the ground. The current idea is to use a nutrient film technique style of growing hydroponically. This system is built almost entirely from recycled materials and uses polyurethane foam mattresses as a growing media. An initial system has been built and is currently waiting approval to have several systems installed within the camp. Harry Wright, Grantham Scholar

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Connecting to the world Engagement is vital. We need to work with the people who count when it comes to sustainability: industry representatives, policymakers, sustainability colleagues, and the public. In this way, we make sure that our research is providing solutions that reflect the needs of people who shape policy, production and consumption.

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Citywide Engagement Festival of Debate We play a major role in raising local awareness about sustainability through the participation of Grantham Scholars in The University of Sheffield’s annual event Festival of Debate. Grantham Scholars decide on topics, book speakers, and create publicity materials for a series of seminars designed to address key issues of public as well as academic interest. In most cases there are three speakers, not only outstanding academics, but experts from NGOs, the media, business and government, selected to offer different perspectives on the issue. In contrast to the typical academic seminar, these seminars are public events, with experts holding widely different roles within the topic area, answering questions from the chair and the audience. Some of the topics covered include the use of insects as a sustainable protein source; the challenge of building sustainable public housing; tensions surrounding secure and equitable access to water; obstacles to public and political action on climate change; red meat and sustainability and clean power for all. Our participation has been a great success, typically attracting audiences of 200 people, providing Scholars with valuable leadership experience, and enhancing the reputation of Sheffield University as a sustainability leader within the region. Upcoming debates include: should people in the UK have fewer children to save the world, and the dark side of renewable energy. ‘Would you eat bugs?’ seminar attendees are tasting edible insects and YUMPA bars made of cricket flour.

Guest Lecture Series We have been fortunate in attracting some big names in sustainability to speak at our Guest Lecture Series, events which grow our reputation as a centre of sustainability research and expand our reach. Speakers so far have included Professor Sir Peter Gluckman FRS (Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Prime Minister), Dr Tara Garnett (runs the Food Climate Research Network,) and Professor Steve Long FRS (Gutgesell Endowed Professor at the University of Illinois). Upcoming speakers include Professor Corinna Hawkes (Director of the Centre for Food Policy at the City University) and Professor Melissa Leach (Director of the Institute of Development studies at the University of Sussex). These events have been attended by hundreds of people, including colleagues from the UoS and the general public.

Grantham Centre Annual Symposium The term “sustainability” has many uses, and so we began by defining exactly what sustainability research should entail. In a unique consultation exercise, our community of academics (PhD supervisors and others with interests in sustainability across The University of Sheffield) defined what it considered would constitute a sustainable future, identifying Reducing Global Consumption and Enough for Everyone as priorities. These pillars have underpinned our work to achieve human health, well-being and prosperity within the finite resources of Planet Earth. Continuing this important dialogue about our research, we have now had four annual symposia, and keynote speakers have been: Professor Sir Keith Burnett (VC The University of Sheffield); Sir Richard Roberts (Nobel laureate); Helen Browning (CEO Soil Association); Professor Joanna Haigh (Co-Director Imperial Grantham Institute). They've all been attended by more than 100 delegates each year, we've heard from 32 academics from every university faculty, and 16 scholars over the four symposia.

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Policy stakeholder engagement

Engagement with policy-makers

Whilst we continue to encourage centre members to produce materials for policy-makers based on their research - our most successful example being the influential briefing note on a sustainable model for intensive agriculture - our approach to policy influence is increasingly geared toward relationship building with relevant individuals to better understand their evidence needs.

Grantham Centre member Dr Anna Krzywoszynska (who supervises Scholar research assessing the potential of no-­till farming across European soils) is a social science adviser to the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA), a partnership of businesses, campaigning organisations, the applied scientific community, academia, governmental and non-governmental organisations working together to reverse the current crisis in soil health. In October 2017 Anna presented at the official launch of the alliance at the UK Parliament attended by the DEFRA Secretary of State Michael Gove who undertook to work with SSA to ensure soil health gets the attention it deserves from Government.

For 2017-18 we partnered with the Grantham Institute at Imperial College in a successful bid to develop training for PhD and post-doc scholars in environmental research evidence synthesis and on translating research into policy. This has enabled us to build relationships with partners from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA); Natural England, the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England; international conservation organisation WWF; and water utility Anglian Water. We will continue to develop these relationships to facilitate policy dialogue and impact for research undertaken by Grantham Centre members. More broadly, in his role as co-chair of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA), Grantham Centre board member Professor James Wilsdon is jointly leading work to share experience, build capacity and develop theoretical and practical approaches to the use of scientific evidence in informing policy at all levels of government.

Grantham Centre member Dr Ruth Little (who supervises scholar research evaluating the role of public-private partnerships in the delivery of ecosystem services in UK agriculture) combines her research with policy impact work with the animal and plant health evidence and analysis team within DEFRA, increasing understanding of the human factors that influence the management of disease in livestock and piloting innovative approaches to increase involvement of stakeholders and the wider public in decision-making on animal health and welfare policy. Building on this, Ruth has recently taken up a position with DEFRA to support the department’s plan to alter the farm payment system post-Brexit, from one largely based around the amount of land farmed, toward a payment system that links payments to the provision of public goods such as environmental benefits.

UN Framework on Climate Change: Conference of the Parties (COP) We continue to take the opportunity of the UNFCC COP events to expose our scholars to international policy making, giving them opportunities to practice their advocacy skills, and also to provide a platform for our members to inform and influence decisionmaking through our research findings. At COP21 in Paris, our researchers presented on a range of topics including low carbon technologies, conservation of ecosystems, and sustainable agriculture. The latter in particular prompted considerable discussion and press interest, with its stark warning on the crisis in global soil health. Scholars James Thackery and Robert Hardie joined the COP21 meeting in Paris as observers in the Climate Generations Area, with Rob gaining access as an observer in the UN area during the second week of negotiations and side events.

Grantham Scholar Angesh Anupam at COP22 in Marrakech.

Similarly, we took a strong Grantham Centre delegation to COP22 in Marrakech. We hosted and participated in presentations and panel discussions on the topics of the global energy transition, food security and sustainable agriculture with a range of international partners. Connections made at these events have proved valuable, with one outcome being an invitation to visit OFID (the OPEC Fund for International Development) in Vienna to develop work in the energy-food-water nexus arena.

Chatham House As with the COP events, our sponsorship and participation in the prestigious ‘sustainable food futures’ conferences hosted by Chatham House (the Royal Institute for International Affairs) have provided excellent opportunities to present our research findings and build valuable connections with international decision-makers and influencers. Our interventions included presentations by Professor Tony Ryan on sustainable intensification and soil health, with Professor Duncan Cameron chairing a debate on sustainable development through agriculture.

Supporting parliamentary scrutiny We continue to provide training for our scholars in parliamentary impact and engagement and also offer places on the programme to our academic members. Building on this, we continue to identify and promote opportunities to feed into inquiries and briefing reports by UK Parliamentary select committees. Examples of successful inputs include a response to the ‘Soil Health’ inquiry; responses to the inquiries into ‘Food waste in England’ and ‘Coffee cups and plastic bottles: disposable packaging’. We’ve continued to engage with the influential Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology (POST), both for scholar development and to support their mission, with well-received contributions to ‘POST note’ (parliamentary briefing note) on environmentally sustainable agriculture.

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Industry engagement Engagement Board Established in 2015, the Grantham Engagement Board provides strategic advice with a view to strengthening and broadening both the impact of Grantham Centre research and Scholar development. The Board is composed of influential figures from business and various public bodies and provides a vital forum for a sustainability conversation with industry. Many companies are involved in projects or project proposals with Grantham Centre, initiated or supported by the Business Engagement Lead, Richard Bruce. These include Jaguar Land Rover, EDF Energy, ITM Power, Siemens, Sheffield City Council, Hovis, Foresight Group, Puratos, William Jackson Food Group, VegPro (Kenya), and Agrii. One example is a project to establish sustainable rubber production in the manufacture of tyres, involving Jaguar Land Rover. This is in collaboration with Grantham Supervisor Dr David Edwards, an ecologist who specialises in understanding the impacts of land-use change on tropical diversity.

Business in the Community (BiTC) We have established an excellent working relationship with BiTC, the Prince of Wales’s sustainable business charity. Most major companies with a significant presence in the UK and many other organisations are members. We co-sponsored (with EDF Energy) a BiTC summit in April 2017 in London with presentations from Professor Tony Ryan and four Scholars. The summit provided a platform to display the work of Grantham Centre to some 120 leaders in the UK, and substantially raised our profile. Other examples of business engagement leading to ground breaking research include: Mapping the environmental impact embodied in a wheat-to-bread supply chain, a collaboration between Professors Lenny Koh, Peter Horton and Duncan Cameron, the international agricultural services provider Agrii and the major miller and bread baker Hovis. Sharing energy data collected by Sheffield Solar, the UK photovoltaic industry’s leading scientific data resource, which is led by Dr Alastair Buckley, a Grantham supervisor, in a project developed in collaboration with the Foresight Group, a specialist venture capital group focused on sustainability. Making new types of concrete utilising nanofibres from food waste, a collaboration between Marshalls, the major UK manufacturer of paving slabs, and Professor Luca Susmel. There are also several embryonic projects under development including ones with Nestlé SA and Nestlé UK, Stateside Foods, Tesla and the Crown Estate.

Scholar engagement Some Scholars have been outstanding in their engagement activities over the five years of the Grantham Centre.

Mira Lieberman is a dedicated animal rights activist who volunteers at an animal refuge centre alongside her studies. She has written numerous blogs for our website, including a piece for International Women’s’ Day about the transformative power of education, as well running her own blog online.

Tinashe Mawodza and Patience Muchada taught schoolchildren at Macheke High School in Zimbabwe, introducing the class of 40 science and geography students to the work of the Grantham Centre, before explaining their own research projects and how their work can help to create a more sustainable world.

Grantham Scholar Patience Muchada gives her presentation to students at Macheke High School.

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Theresa Nelson arranged a meeting with Republican Congressman Kelly to educate him about the merits of renewable energy. She wrote a blog about her experiences where she discussed that in this age of political extremes it was comforting to know that democratic systems still allow for such face to face meetings with political leaders.

Ling Min Tan wrote a beautiful call to action for women to take part in STEM for International Women’s Day. Featured on our website, this popular piece attracted much positive comment from scholars and academics.

Harry Wright has gone above and beyond the fieldwork expectations of his PhD with his work in Za’atari refugee camp. Not only has his work out there had practical effects for refugees, allowing them to grow their own fruit and vegetables, his blog about the subject was one of our widest read pieces. He is also due to feature on BBC radio for an interview about his experiences.

Monica Ortiz produced and starred in Food Footprints a video in which she explains the challenges of achieving global food security in a fair and sustainable way. Viewed over 600 times on various platforms, the video also formed part of a local exhibition.

Magdalena Matysek attended the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon, FAO, Rome to present, ‘Effects of a raised water table on CO2 and CH4 soil emissions and celery yield from agricultural peat under climate warming conditions’.

Jon Sykes has written two blogs exploring the Conservative party’s new policy on green issues, asking how much we can trust this swing towards what are traditionally left ideals. This blog was our most read piece on Facebook.

Carolyn Auma attended A Sustainable Food Future: Climate Change, Urbanisation and Innovation held at Chatham House in December 2016.

Dan Casey was invited to a reception to meet the International Development Select Committee of the House of Commons.

In an effort to encourage a sustainable Christmas, Akis Bimpizas-Pinis put together advice on why we should ignore multipack offers, use cooking guidelines to avoid mishaps, and how to interpret use-by dates. His advice was featured on Sheffield University homepage during the festive season.

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My work focuses on resources consumption in urban areas. I am solving global problems for sustainable developments. I am playing a role in creating a better living environment for our next generations. I am making an impact to change for a brighter future. My voice is being heard. My opinions are being appreciated. My efforts are paying off. I am proud of where I am. I am ambitious with what I am going to achieve. As a woman in STEM research, I was given the opportunity that I deserved. I am being respected for who I am. I am willing to bear the responsibilities. I am ready to face the challenges. I am working towards a career in STEM, following my dreams. Are you in doubt? There is no right answer, it is only the passion for a better world. If you want it, just go for it. Believe in yourself, women in STEM. Ling Min Tan, Grantham Scholar

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An adapted wheelchair prototype, allowing disabled residents more freedom around camp. The hand crank and front end comes from an end of life bicycle. Several prototypes are now being tested based on this design.

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March for Science activism: The efforts of Grantham Scholars to make the case for sustainability have also attracted media coverage. Photographs of the Scholars taking part in the March for Science were included at the top of The Guardian’s online coverage, as well as in the Mail Online and Buzzfeed News’ coverage.

Za’atari refugee camp: Necessity is the mother of invention Professor Tony Ryan has been working in the Za’atari refugee camp since 2016, when when he and Professor Helen Storey from the London College of Fashion were invited to visit Za’atari by the UNHCR. Now they’re part of an international team of varied experts – from engineers to fashion designers – trying to come up with solutions to some of the most complicated problems on the planet. At the refugee camp, necessity is the mother of invention, limitations improve creativity and Tony’s team developed solutions that would never have been thought of in a lab. They’ve made windmills, wheelchairs and recycling trucks out of old bikes, and grown tomatoes without soil. A team of seven scientists and engineers went to Za’atari for a week of ‘scrap yard challenges’ to come up with co-created solutions for home-scale water heating and electricity generation. There are plenty of materials to hand - including a stock of recovered bicycles donated by the Amsterdam Police. The bicycles provided lots of parts for subsequent build projects. Working with Grantham Scholar Harry Wright they have created high-tech polyurethane foam as synthetic soils with lower water requirements. It is exactly these sorts of solutions the world needs to embrace to respond to another global crisis: the environmental crisis. Not only does mitigating this crisis necessitate the sort of recycling of used goods that goes on in Za’atari, it will also mean changes in climates and conditions for growing food and providing power, just the sorts of issues people face daily in the refugee camp. And predictions estimate there will be millions of environmental refugees as a result of climate change - so finding innovative ways to help people is all part and parcel of creating a sustainable future.

Microcosm Farm A team from the Grantham Centre and P3 bid successfully for a research collaboration with Sohar University, Sultanate of Oman, on the joint development of an innovative capability for the expansion of agriculture in Oman and the wider MENA region that significantly reduces fresh water consumption. The collaboration will demonstrate the technological and business potential for a sustainable, resource-efficient ‘soil-less agriculture sector’. The project will include two main research challenges. The first challenge is related to the experimentation on the use of novel, biologically active soil substitutes, novel plant varieties, methods for water conservation, support with demonstrating plant maintenance, pest control and pollination. Whereas the second challenge is the investigation of developing efficient water desalination and irrigation/pumping systems for this greenhouse using renewable (solar) energy. For both challenges work will be undertaken to develop low cost instrumentation to measure and control key system parameters. The project will also facilitate teaching of agricultural techniques and renewable energy.

This image from a visit to Sohar in March 2018 shows the foundations for the new demonstrator greenhouse in place, ready for construction to start.

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Communication: Truth and post-truth

In this ‘post-truth’ world, people are bombarded with fake news, the truth is framed as alternative fact, and experts are deemed suspicious. It is more important than ever that the evidence proving climate change and its knock-on effects is well communicated. Equally, people need to know that there is still hope for our planet, and that it lies in well-researched action to safeguard the future for the next generation.

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Grantham Centre and social media: Connecting people Social media continues to be a key mechanism for the Grantham Centre to share its research, expand our reach and make new connections.

Twitter Twitter has continued to be an important way for Grantham Centre to communicate. In 2014 we had 3,800 followers, we now have over six thousand. This expansion in numbers means we appear in timelines and searches nearly 300 times a day, and receive more than 500 profile visits a month. Our Twitter audience is primarily made up of science professionals following us for news and updates, and sustainability colleagues who connect to keep up-to-date with the many events we put on. During many of our outreach and engagement activities, Twitter has maximised the impact of what we’ve achieved on the ground. There was a particular spike in online engagement around COP21 and the soil health briefing note, posts from the Grantham Centre account appeared in users’ feeds roughly 471,900 times, thanks to more than 9,000 retweets. During COP22, Grantham Centre tweets appeared in users’ feeds more than 40,000 times, and on the day of the March for Science, Grantham Centre tweets appeared in users feeds just under 10,000 times.

Facebook The Grantham Centre Facebook page is a perfect platform for connecting with the local community in Sheffield to advertise events, as well as reaching further afield. For example, a post to advertise PhD opportunities was seen by more than 700 users, the news story on the Nature Plants study into the bread supply chain was seen by more than 600 users, and photographs from the outreach event hosted in Zimbabwe by Grantham Scholars Patience Muchada and Tinashe Mawodza were seen by more than 500 users.

Website: More than just a platform We train and mentor a new generation of sustainability researchers to have the skills to become advocates for change when they graduate. One of the ways we encourage them to advocate is through finding their voice, their way of fighting for a sustainable future, through producing online content. Our Communications Officer looks for engaging stories arising out of research, fieldwork, journal papers and other activities, such as conferences or protests. Both supervisors and Scholars alike are then encouraged to produce blogs or comment pieces, and given guidance on creating a narrative, avoiding jargon and good use of images.

International Women’s Day coverage As part of our new communications strategy, we now also proactively commission Grantham Centre staff and Scholars to write about upcoming national and international days and events related to sustainability, thus connecting ourselves to global conversations. In March 2018 we joined up with International Women’s Day to highlight the diverse work of our female Scholars and supervisors. Our Communications Officer reached out to supervisors and students to create content explaining their work, research and experiences as female academics. All together, we created six separate stories related to International Women’s Day, which reached an audience of more than 7,000 people on Twitter alone, and were shared widely across the globe. Our website traffic rose by 300% in response to these articles being published.

Some of the highlights of this campaign included Grantham supervisor Dr Diana Maynard’s fascinating account of how linguistics can save lives during national disasters. Her work in Nepal with the Comrades group has modeled a way of sorting truth from untruth on social media in the aftermath of an earthquake. This article was one of the most widely read on the website in 2018, as well as being one of our most widely shared, and the most engaged with, post on Twitter.

Grantham Scholar Theresa Nelson took great initiative and reached out to Republican Congressman Kelly to meet up and talk about renewable energy. Her engaging blog, exploring the political divisions in America and how they influence environmental issues, appeared in over a thousand timelines, and was the third most engaged with post in 2018 so far.

Future upcoming national and international events we will be covering include Brexit. For this Professor James Wilsdon will explain how Brexit impacts on sustainability, and Grantham Scholars will relate Brexit to their research.

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In Praise of Air, the world’s first air-cleansing poem, has been produced by scientists and writers at the University of Sheffield.

Changes Our new communications strategy, created by Professor James Wilsdon (our Associate Director for Public and Policy Engagement) and Claire Moran (new Communications Officer) includes aligning our messages to the SDGs front and centre - allowing us to connect our research to globally to NGOs, governments and the UN (more on SDGs in Research). We have commissioned a new website to better reflect our commitment to communication. The new website will go live this Summer, and will forefront SDGs, allow for better reporting of our research, and provide an easier sitemap for visitors to find key information. It will also be easier to use and update, which makes best use of a limited communication budget.

In January 2018 we launched an external newsletter using a free online service. Issue one was a great success, with a high read rate of 70%. Since its launch the subscriber list has doubled in size by word of mouth, and we average 5 new subscribers a week. The newsletter allows us to stay in touch with people who may not follow us on social media, and is sent out to all those who sign up or participate in the many Grantham Centre events, as well as members of our Engagement and Advisory Boards. We have created an Grantham Centre LinkedIn account to keep in touch with alumni, and keep them in touch with each other, their supervisors, as well as various professional, political and activist friends of the Grantham Centre.

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Successes Some notable communication successes over the five years of the Grantham Centre include In Praise of Air, the world’s first air-cleansing poem. Written by award-winning writer Simon Armitage and made out of pollution-busting technology created by Professor Tony Ryan, In Praise of Air adorned the side of a University of Sheffield building for 3 years. During this time it communicated the virtues of clean air, whilst sucking more than more than two tons of of nitrogen oxide from the environment. ‘The environmental impact of fertilizer embodied in a wheatto-bread supply chain’, written by Professor Peter Horton and Richard Bruce (and other authors) and published in prodigious journal Nature Plants. This was Nature Plants fourth most discussed paper in its 3 year history, and was also covered by the BBC, NPR, New Scientist, The Daily Mail and Metro, where the story was on the front page. A related comment piece written by Professor Peter Horton for The Conversation was subsequently republished by CNN, IFLScience and others. To date, the comment piece has been viewed 55,000 times across multiple sites.

‘Growing food from mattresses: what experts can learn from working in refugee camps’, written by Professor Tony Ryan for The Conversation, has been read nearly three thousand times, shared to Facebook nearly 300 times and retweeted widely. Focusing on his experiences in the Za’atari refugee camp, Tony reflects that knowledge and research has to be exchanged on the ground – laboratories and theory are not enough. Several Grantham Centre supervisors have also made the news. Dr Donatella Zona’s study of arable peatlands was covered by BBC News. A new project led by Dr Jill Edmondson, who is running a nationwide survey of home-grown fruit and vegetables has attracted significant local and regional press. Professor Edward Hanna’s studies into the impact of climate change on weather systems were covered by The Daily Mail, and an article on The Guardian website that he was interviewed for in December 2016 was shared more than 17,000 times.

Basic deep water hydroponic system using upcycled yogurt pots and reused mattress foam, based on similar systems available for purchase in the UK.

Find out more Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures The University of Sheffield Dainton Building Brook Hill Sheffield S3 7HF United Kingdom W: E: /granthamcsf @granthamcsf