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Centre for Resilience and Sustainable Development

A transdisciplinary action-research centre in applied resilience science
 

The CRSD is focused on three of the most dynamic areas of inquiry that are critical in shaping our world. We co-create sustainable solutions while training the participants in complex system design thinking using world-class research, embedded knowledge, and enquiring techniques.

The scientific pursuit of the research Centre is to give the generalities and broad-based approach of "sustainability" and “sustainable development” a stronger “systemic” analytic and scientific underpinning to reduce the tension between disciplines looking at ‘the parts’ and ‘the whole’.

While science provides an increasingly robust case for urgent transformative action and pinpointing the changes that are required to make global production and consumption more equitable, sustainable, and healthy, action to change policy, business practices and consumption behaviors remains lagging. 

We are inspired by the many solution propositions generated from around the world in the run-up to the various global Summits, and by large and small changes already happening, in communities, in big cities, at national and even regional levels. Cries for equality, and justice are increasing, and we see civil society organizations joining hands with researchers and private companies to improve environmental, social and governance (ESG) system to improve trust and transparency, for example. We are going through a transformational change. Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Start-ups are leading the way to sustainable development and a resilient economy. Big ideas to revolutionize the way we produce, store, transport, market, consume and dispose of products and food are out there across the world.

Yet, there is a catch! Systemic change is hard and changing food systems is certainly no exception. Take for example, currently, up to 40% of people in rural poverty are directly reliant on food and land use systems for their livelihood and current food and land use systems cause up to 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions. It was estimated by the Land and Food Use Coalition (FOLU) in 2019 that, hidden environmental, health and poverty costs are estimated at almost $12 trillion while the annualised market value of the global food system is estimated at $10 trillion amounting to a multi-trillion annual loss to society overall.

Compounding the challenges at hand, conventional approaches to generating and implementing new policies tend to be slow and piecemeal – they are not fit for purpose in addressing challenges which threaten the very fabric of society, notably inequity, and climate change. The process of moving from identification of potential ideas all the way to enacting new policy can take years, and often even the seemingly best and most compelling ideas never make it into real life implementation, due to entrenched interests, conflicting agendas, political gridlock, lack of public interest or involvement. There are no simple solutions for systemic problems; changing policy systems to deliver better outcomes is intrinsically hard. 

The Centre brings together scholarship and practice, global and local perspectives, and disciplines across the natural and social sciences, and engineering, to help create knowledge, capabilities, and creativity in finding smart solutions for the decision makers to improve equitable resilience. Equitable resilience research recognizes subjectivities, the importance of working toward inclusion and representation, while working across scales by promoting transformative change. Three themes are central to the Centre's action research work:

Sustainable Investment

Climate Finance is a subset of ‘Sustainable Finance’ which we define as investment opportunities that are both environmentally and socially rewarding while minimising negative unintended consequence by integrating good governance and responsible innovation. How best to create innovation in public policy to facilitate long term private sector investment? As what was once a niche activity reaches the tipping point and becomes mainstream, the CRSD is focused on providing an impartial academic view on what investments are truly beneficial to both investors and recipient societies and which are not. This highly nuanced subject is at early stages of development and our interest is to ensure the very constructive developments now taking place are built on the most solid basis possible.

Good Governance

How to achieve resilient governance of these fast-moving developments in often complex local situations? Industrial sustainability, financial stability and social diversity are the foundations of any economy. They depend on the performance of the public sector to ensure public goods and services are delivered adequately and efficiently to fulfil the needs of the private sector. Local private sector development, regardless of its status in the global value chain, always has the need for scaling up, moving up and catching up to withstand internal and external market challenges and trade-offs. We have studied good governance and have developed tools, frameworks, and methods to help public and private players to make the right decisions.

Responsible Innovation

How can technology be harnessed to deliver step changes in sustainable wealth creation and public good? The huge leaps being enabled by technology, in communications, AI, blockchain or 3D printing are reshaping developed economies, but are also beginning to profoundly influence the growth potential of emerging economies. They can be forces for good, for example in solving distribution problems in rural healthcare, or can present real challenges to resource poor countries whose main offering is labour. Being at the cutting edge of this revolution enables the CRSD to bring together all the relevant stakeholders to help maximize the potential and manage the challenges created.

 

 

Get in touch: crsd@landecon.cam.ac.uk

From the perspective of trust and cooperation as key to solving global challenges, we break down the silos between sectors, harness new theories of change and consider legacy effects using evidence, so that new systems can be introduced. By blending system dynamics with political and economic analysis and rigorously developed business cases, we help achieve lasting change. We have helped over 160 companies and over 20 countries through our cutting-edge research and capacity building efforts.

 

Our research enables:

  • Governments and civil sector foster innovation and enterprise to deliver social and economic benefits consistently.
  • Companies to develop life-changing products and services, build better businesses, create meaningful jobs, and improve the environment for the future collectively.
  • Decision makers to reinvent policies and practices to facilitate their institutions to move to higher sustainable and productive activities.

Get in touch: crsd@landecon.cam.ac.uk