This seminar was the third in a series aiming to share cutting-edge thinking and research at IDS and the University of Sussex around practically how we capture and account for complexity across a variety of sustainable development contexts.
Uncertainties are everywhere: climate change, financial crises, migration flows, infrastructure development, disease outbreaks and more. Yet contemporary institutions and policy processes are poor at responding to and embracing uncertainties, where we don’t know about either the likely outcomes or their probabilities. Too often political, procedural and professional pressures force us to ignore uncertainties, constructing problems and solutions in terms of manageable risk. Ian Scoones argues that this is highly problematic, and that we can learn much from those who live daily with uncertainty and make use of it as a productive resource.
The seminar launches a new European Research Council Advanced Grant, involving research on pastoral systems in Chinese Tibet, East Africa and Sardinia, encouraging a conversation with those in other fields grappling with uncertainties. The ERC grant is led by the STEPS Centre at Sussex and involves collaboration with the Global Governance Programme at EUI, Florence, amongst others.
Ian Scoones is a professorial fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre. He has worked for 30 years on livelihoods, land and environmental/agrarian change, mostly in Africa. On pastoralism, he co-edited ‘Rangelands at Disequilbrium’ (1993), ‘Living with Uncertainty’ (1995) and ‘Pastoralism and Development in Africa: Dynamic Change at the Margins’ (2012). He is a recent recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant, Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience: Global Lessons from the Margins (PASTRES).