SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

SSRP funding announced for SPRU researchers

Professor Fiona Marshall has been awarded a project grant in the first round of funding from the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP). In addition, several members of SPRU will be working on other projects funded through this initiative, which supports interdisciplinary research focused on the trade-offs and synergies between – and related to – the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All projects address an environmental element.

Understanding trade-offs between SDGs in urbanising contexts: Novel methods of mapping rural-urban interactions in food systems to analyse risks and opportunities for environmental and human health

Principal Investigator:  Fiona Marshall

This project recognises the neglected peri-urban fringe as a key 'frontier' of transition and transformation; sitting between the needs of the urban and the conservation of the rural. We will develop a novel transdisciplinary methodology for analysing trade-offs between SDGs in peri-urban contexts. This will involve collaboration across BMEc, Life Sciences, Informatics, LPS, and IDS along with our overseas partners in India and China. The approach will be developed with user-friendly platforms and interactive maps which will demonstrate, for example, how urban development affects pollution at the urban fringe which in turn impacts food security/safety, health and livelihoods. The idea is to support multi stakeholder deliberations concerning how choices concerning interventions in the urban fringe can impact multiple dimensions of urban food security, ecosystem service function and poverty.

Start: 01 Apr 2017 End: 30 Sep 2018

People, Pollinators & Pesticides in Peri-Urban Farming

Includes Co-Investigators Rachael Durrant, Adrian Ely, Fiona Marshall.

In both the developing and developed world, gardens, small farms and allotments in the margins of cities contribute to reducing hunger and creating sustainable cities, but their agricultural practices are largely unmonitored and unregulated. This includes the use of a large variety of toxic pesticides whose application by larger farms is, in contrast, often closely monitored and controlled. In this research programme we will quantify the use of pesticides in peri-urban agriculture and assess their impacts on pollinators, using a “citizen science” approach. We will involve growers in collecting data on pesticide use, pollinator abundance, pollination success and crop yields. This truly interdisciplinary project will undertake two pilot programmes with established networks in two very different contexts: Brighton and Calcutta. The ultimate aim is to gather and analyse new and important data on pesticide use and pollinator impacts that has not previously been available, to raise awareness among peri-urban farmers and to develop protocols and policy recommendations to better protect pollinators and ensure the sustainability of peri-urban agriculture.

Start: 01 Mar 2017 End: 31 Feb 2019

Delivering food security, community resilience, and biodiversity through rewilding and community agriculture

Includes Co-Investigator Adrian Ely

If we give more land to wilder nature will this negatively impact food security and sustainability? Rewilding is gaining momentum as an exciting new initiative that seeks to restore nature to a more self-sustaining state. This is achieved by restoring ecological processes, such as grazing, by returning appropriate wildlife, e.g. large herbivores, to nature reserves. By doing so, the need for human management to preserve wildlife is reduced. Concurrently, demand for locally and sustainably produced food has increased significantly in recent years, as has participation in community agriculture initiatives such as city farms and community gardens. Rewilding projects and community agriculture are thus linked by their large herbivores and need for land. We will look for commonalities and compromise in the use of large herbivores in community agriculture and rewilding in the South-East of England, to determine how food security and nature can be supported in heavily populated regions.

Start: 01 April 2017 End: 31 Mar 2019

A partnership between the University of Sussex and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the SSRP seeks to address the complex socio-economic, technical and environmental challenges of sustainability through problem-focused and policy-relevant research across disciplines in the natural and social sciences. 

Further information

View the full list of projects awarded SSRP funding on the SSRP website.

For more information about SSRP and the SSRP Fund projects please contact the Programme Manager, Caroline Grundy.