Big Questions Little Time - Webinars on Sustainable Development

Thursday, April 14, 2022 - 14:00 to 15:00
The COVID-19 pandemic can be placed amongst several current or impending disruptions in the Anthropocene era; one that both demands and offers directions for a major re-casting of sustainable development. My talk will consider how the pandemic’s origins and unfolding effects reveal cracks in fundamental systems and deep problems with longstanding development models. I will suggest five key themes to inform post-pandemic transformations: re-working relationships with non-human natures; redressing inequalities and vulnerabilities; taking uncertainty seriously; building resilient economies, and reconfiguring state-citizen relations. Where mainstream sustainable development approaches have often been top down, rigid and technocratic, I will suggest that post-pandemic sustainable development must have a radically transformative, egalitarian and inclusive knowledge and politics at its core, and reflect on the extent to which crisis offers opportunities for such transformation to happen.
Melissa Leach is Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. She co-founded and co-directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre ( from 2006 – 2014. As a social anthropologist she has carried out long-term ethnographic fieldwork in West Africa while engaging with scientific, policy and public discourses and debates around health, sustainability and development. She has led numerous interdisciplinary, policy-engaged research programmes in Africa and beyond. Amongst external roles, she was  vice-chair of the Science Committee of Future Earth 2012 – 2017, lead author of the 2016 World Social Science Report 2016 on Challenging Inequalities, and is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). She is now working on COVID-19 as co-lead of the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform and the Wellcome Trust-funded Pandemic Preparedness Project. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and in 2017 was awarded a CBE for Services to Social Science.
Read more about the seminar and the seminar series here. Organised by the Centre for Business and Development Studies (CBDS) and CBS Sustainability.


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