Grantham Centre For Sustainable Futures: The Story Continues

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The story continues.

Maria del Carmen Redondo Bermudez (right) has launched her green barrier project in Sheffield and Buenos Aires. This work has received a lot of press attention - for instance, Maria was interviewed by the Daily Mail and the BBC - and has been commended by our Vice Chancellor.

Jonas Cromwell, Gloria Mensah, Eunice Oppon and Ye Jiang created a food waste reduction programme for schools, work that highlights the substantial amount of food waste from non-domestic sources. Further, it introduces children to information about sustainability and higher education.

Introduction to the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures’ Annual Review 2020 Associate Director Dr Rachael Rothman I’m a chemical engineer with a passion for developing sustainable processes and clean energy systems. I became Associate Director of the Grantham Centre a year ago and I’m excited to introduce our annual review, which showcases the tremendous research our scholars are undertaking.

The Link Between The University of Sheffield’s Sustainability Strategy and the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures The University of Sheffield is committed to tackling the global climate emergency - but what does this actually mean? I am the Academic Lead for Sustainability at The University of Sheffield (TUoS), a role I’ve recently taken over from Duncan Cameron. As part of the Sustainability Steering and Delivery Groups, I am developing a sustainability strategy to be published alongside the University’s vision and strategy in Spring 2020. To ensure TUoS really does tackle the climate emergency, we are:

developing strategy and action plans to make TUoS as sustainable as possible

leading research that will provide an evidence base for an informed move towards de-fossilisation

embedding education for sustainable development in

Further, we are debating contentious topics such as academic flying, where best to spend money to reduce our carbon footprint and eliminating/reducing meat in our cafes. Together with scientists, we are working out the best strategies for offsetting carbon. We are using the university as a ‘living lab’ to test the viability and acceptability of research ideas. Only by working together in diverse, multidisciplinary teams, just as we operate in the Grantham Centre, can we start to address sustainable development.

Diversity is Key for Sustainability

the curricula of all our students We are taking an evidence-based approach to set a target for the University becoming carbon neutral. Four groups (energy, transport, buildings and food/packaging) are analysing our pratices and estate to work out ‘how low can we go’, by when, and what level of residual carbon emissions will need to be offset.

Developing inclusive, diverse teams is critical for success. This is an issue I feel strongly about, especially having formerly been Faculty Director for Women in Engineering covering all aspects on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion.

Our Pathway to a Sustainable Future We are committed to developing a sustainable future that delivers enough for everyone and reduces global resource consumption to within the capacity of planetary boundaries. We will build the pathways from research to evidence synthesis, knowledge exchange and ultimately policy interventions. In planning for this new future, we will focus on the implications of climate change, both short term mitigation and long term adaptation, based on our interdisciplinary expertise. In the first instance we will concentrate on cities and infrastructure, the future of food and water, and a route to the de-fossilisation of human activities. As part of this we will find answers to a range of contentious and unresolved questions.

Grantham Scholars: Where We Are Now: Grantham Centre Graduate Updates

Peter Venn and 2 of his students at the 2019 ASEAN+3 Educational Forum and Young Speakers’ Contest in Thailand on the topic of “Social Sustainability in ASEAN+3: The Challenges of Inclusive Growth”. The student on the right won an award for her participation with a collaboration of students from different countries whose work was later presented to the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly to make recommendations regarding social sustainability. I am now an Assistant Professor at the prestigious Chung-Ang University, Seoul, in South Korea. Students in South Korea are accustomed to memorizing knowledge without questioning it. So I teach students how to critically evaluate sources of information to become responsible consumers and producers of information. I also ensure that students discuss issues relating to environmental sustainability. Peter Venn, Grantham Scholar I am an Associate Professor in Applied Data Science at the Noroff University College in Norway. I provide research for a Norwegian hydro-power company - designing predictive models for extreme weather scenarios. I also lead a project to model the vegetation dynamics of the Amazon rainforest as a function of surface temperature to enable sustainable land management practices. Angesh Anupam, Grantham Scholar At the University of Sheffield, I am initiating a pilot project to test my selective logging detection algorithm (which I developed for my PhD as a Grantham Scholar) to help a Peruvian government agency. Matt Hethcoat, Grantham Scholar

I work for DEFRA as a policy advisor with Environmental Land Management. The ELM will replace the Common Agricultural Policy when we leave the EU. My team works on advice to incentivise land managers to help deliver the government’s 25 year Environment Plan. Emma Jardine, Grantham Scholar

I work at the Department for International Trade (UK) as the Head of Consultation. I lead a team that ensures that public views are integrated into policy decision-making including those related to sustainability. James Thackery, Grantham Scholar

I’m at UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources working on biodiversity, agriculture and trade. I have a few manuscripts under review about the impacts of consumption on species. One is on the impacts of banana plantations on biodiversity in the Philippines, and a second looks at minimising the risks of these systems to climate extremes through agroecological practices. Monica Ortiz, Grantham Scholar

I am a postdoctoral researcher developing xLFAs - tools that enable early detection of crop disease and prevent spread, and so reduce crop loss. The project aims to detect multiple viruses using one device to improve the economic value of LFAs. Sarah Sommer, Grantham Scholar

Past and Present Publications from Grantham Scholars More Grantham Scholars than ever have been published over the last year. This list highlights the diversity of sustainability knowledge and expertise Grantham Scholars past and present contribute. Nicole Kennard had 2 chapters published in Springer’s Encyclopedia of the UN SDGs, both are in the Zero Hunger volume. Nicole also spread the news about this opportunity to other Grantham Scholars and now a number of them have future chapters under review. August Lindemer co-authored an article ‘Urban sprawl, food security and agricultural systems in developing countries: A systematic review of the literature’. Carolyn Auma was published a paper in the peer-reviewed, high-impact Nutrients Journal that explores evidence for dietary transitions and identifies how sustainable women’s dietary patterns are. Emanga Alobwede looks at achieving circular economy fertilisation through recycling algal biomass back to agricultural land for soil quality and crop nutrition in a “circular-economy”. Fiona Graham was published in Sustainability, for research that found that beef sandwiches and milk-based drinks had the highest environmental impact and vegan options the lowest.

James Bezzina published a paper about recovering heavy metals from sewage to turn them into a sustainable resource. Kristin Bash published a paper (with the influential Soil Association as co-author) that discusses links between food systems, population and environmental health. It makes recommendations for public health action to support healthy and sustainable food systems. Ligia Bertolino’s paper discusses the potential of manipulating stomatal development, to increase drought tolerance and reduce water loss in crops, which is increasingly necessary as the climate changes. Tinashe Mawodza published a paper that demonstrates it’s possible to non-invasively determine the 3D root architecture of wheat seedlings grown in an aggregated sandy loam soil. Florentine Weber’s paper examined atmospheric drying, which is a result of climate change, deforestation and dynamic factors, Not one, but two papers from Tavengwa Chitata. One looks at water governance on the micro scale of practice. The second looks at land cover characterisation in semi-arid regions. And three from Martin Appleby, all of which explore using techniques that enable discovery of new medicines. Magdalena Matysek’s attempts to find a water table level that would balance peat preservation and crop yield for agricultural fen peat.

Ling Min Tan’s paper tackles the global resource problem through the sustainable use of existing resources.

Activism Prizes Congratulations are in order to Roberta Fabrizi, Ye Jiang, Matt Hethcoat, Tavengwa Chitata and Eleanor O’Doherty who all won prizes in 2019. Eleanor’s award also included funding to make bio-based soaps with Nouryon’s help.

Our Scholars are encouraged to be expert activists, and we help remove the financial burden of activism by paying travel and accommodation to attend various forms of activism. Nicole Kennard took a group to London for the Food, Farming, & Climate Justice March. Maria Wang and Marta Crispo went to the mass lobby Time Is Now in June, and featured on the website for this cause. George Coiley has been working in the kitchens of the Extinction Rebellion protests, and was interviewed about this for the Economist.

Plastics, Policy and Potential It’s been a good year for Plastics: Redefining Single-Use. Our packaging technologist, Sarah Greenwood, gave evidence to a Parliamentary Inquiry and played a key role, alongside project administrator Steffi Tille, in submissions to 4 policy consultations to HM Treasury and DEFRA. Plastics: Redefining Single-Use now has 7 research associates, broadening the scope of our expertise across disciplines. A number of our team members have been to The Gambia to help create a strategy to reduce single-use plastics on the MRC Unit campus, field sites, and more widely in The Gambia. Harriet Baird coordinated our submission to DEFRA’s single-use carrier bag consultation. Sheffield MP, Paul Blomfield, highlighted our project during a debate in parliament on unsustainable packaging. We have had meetings with Treasury, DEFRA and BEIS to provide technical advice on a range of plastics policy issues. Further, the plastics team responded to a government call for evidence on bioplastics packaging. Grantham Centre Manager Deborah Beck coordinated further responses to 2 POSTnotes. POSTnotes provide information to policy makers, and also generate publicity for our project. Our news stories about these 2 POSTnotes were one of our most successful stories in 2019, receiving thousands of views across media and social media. The increased visibility of our plastics project has led to press interest. For example, Associate Director Rachael Rothman has been interviewed by Vice and national newspaper The Telegraph. And project lead Tony Ryan has featured on multiple BBC programmes about sustainable plastics.

Plastics Project Update Harriet Baird and Tom Webb are both members of Plastics: Redefining Single-Use. This photo was taken during a trip to The Gambia where they worked on a plastics reuse project that created paving from plastic waste with charity Waste Aid.

Symposium Annual Symposium 2019: Protest, Policy and the SDGs The Grantham Centre Annual Symposium 2019 showcased sustainability research across every faculty of the University. It gave researchers a chance to meet Grantham Scholars and supervisors. As well as our usual series of talks from Grantham Scholars and sustainability researchers, this year we added a panel debate.

Panel Debate: From Policy to Protest It’s been a year of headline grabbing environmental protests, so there was lots to discuss. Our panel debate addressed questions like: What is the use of protest? Does it do any good? And, are policies changed because of protest? We gathered an expert panel - including a member of extinction rebellion, a special advisor to previous Prime Ministers and - recently appointed to the House of Lords - MP for the Green Party, Natalie Bennett.

Impact from the Annual Symposium Our Symposium occurred on the day of the Yorkshire floods. Despite this - and perhaps fittingly - our event was trending on social media for our region. As always, people met at the Symposium who would not normally have the chance. One outcome of this was a member of our panel becoming involved in the University group that is examining the role of aviation pollution in academia.

Grantham Scholar Maria Wang (top left) presented her research at the symposium. Baroness Natalie Bennett (top right), former leader of the Green Party and MP. The panel discussion sparked lively a debate with audience members.

Communications: Our Best Year Ever

In 2019 we showcased the young researchers at the heart of the Grantham Centre with a series of interviews. This was our most successful communications campaign ever: it was shared widely on social media and reached around the world to thousands of people. The interview with Rohit Chakraborty (pictured) - one of the most read pages on our website - prompted contact from the WHO and international air pollution experts. Local, national and international press have interviewed both Grantham Centre staff and Scholars in 2019. We’ve been on the BBC and ITV several times, as well as being featured in national mass media outlets such as The Telegraph, Vice and the Daily Mail. Our audience continues to grow and our rate of growth has risen for the 2nd year. Also, our audience engaged with our content more in 2019: more people read and shared our stories. A Grantham Scholar was even retweeted by Greta Thunberg! This demonstrates the success of a communications strategy that endeavours to explain sustainability in a way non-experts can understand. Further, some notable people and groups are among our followers on Twitter - including Climate-KIC (the largest public-private climate change partnership & main EU initiative, 40.5K followers), activist Heather Patterson (116K followers) and academic publishers Frontiers and Springer. New followers also include MPs and Ministers, as well as environment journalists and editors from New Scientist, National Geographic, The Telegraph, and the BBC. This year has also seen our website broaden both its geographical reach and audience, partly due to a communications focus on our international students. Whereas in 2018 our audience was primarily in the UK, we now have sizable audiences in the United States, all over Europe, several African states, and many Asian countries - including China and India. We have an average of 500 hundred visitors to our website each week - in the first week of January 2020 we had more than a thousand visitors. Most readers find us from search engines (e.g. Google) seeking sustainability information.

Cohort 7: A New Way To Train the Sustainability Leaders of the Future 2019 saw the introduction of a new funding system for Grantham Scholars. As a result, we can now offer the unique Grantham Centre training to a larger group of PhD students. So this year we have our biggest cohort - 22 rather than the usual 18. To build on this momentum, we have plans to put on more training courses - especially in policy - for PhD students studying sustainability. Additionally, advertising our new funding system has led to new academics and PhD students across the University contacting the Grantham Centre. This increases the potential for partnerships and connections.


Every year we send a group of Grantham Scholars to COP so that they can see policy making in action. This year we sent 8, and one of them, Fiona Turner, presented her research on past Antarctic ice sheet shapes.

Find out more Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures The University of Sheffield Ella Armitage Building 40 Leavygreave Road Sheffield S3 7RD United Kingdom W: E: /granthamcsf @granthamcsf

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