ESPA Insights into Resilience and Wellbeing: Research Frontiers for Sustainable Development

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Geography


In the decade since ESPA started, a new approach to sustainability has been forged. New Sustainable Development Goals have been agreed, a Climate Change agreement signed, and initiatives on Disaster Risk Reduction have become mainstreamed in international development. These each respond to the recognition of the scale and significance of global-scale change, and the necessity to more effectively integrate global poverty elimination, global environmental change, and shifting and uncertain geopolitics, insecurity and increasing inequalities. Within this context, ESPA research can play an important role, and potentially contribute to the new policy arenas that have emerged. Our proposed project aims to enhance the impacts and relevance of the ESPA programme and its projects, and help to define and shape future research agendas to inform global sustainability. This work will explore the lessons learned through 10 years of ESPA projects. It will bring together two critical fields of knowledge that provide powerful conceptual and analytical lens to inform sustainability: resilience and wellbeing. We use these lenses to review ESPA research, and specifically to generate new insights on understanding of the dynamics of poverty and responses to change. Through a synthesis of the literature, an analysis of ESPA science, and a workshop with leading scholars in relevant fields, this project will produce a synthesis of ESPA science on Resilience and Wellbeing for Sustainability, and an interactive guide for policy. The interplay between wellbeing and resilience offers exciting opportunities for informing sustainable development in the face of global unprecedented changes. The synthesis of ESPA findings together with a deeper investigation of the wellbeing and resilience literature will enhance the utility of ESPA project output for future research and policy in a world facing these new challenges.

Planned Impact

The project will benefit a number of different groups of people, both within the timeframe of the project and beyond (see also Pathways to Impact).

Who will benefit from the research?
Ultimate beneficiaries are defined by ESPA as poor people in poor countries. They are expected to benefit, ultimately through the improved management of, and access to, ecosystem services to provided sustained benefits which contribute towards poverty alleviation. Our research will inform the science of sustainability, by enhancing understanding of dynamic processes (by applying a resilience lens) and multi-dimensional and disaggregated poverty (by using cutting-edge wellbeing analysis), and by accelerating how this is applied in policy interventions for sustainable development.
Donor organizations and development agencies will benefit as research provides evidence to inform strategies to support sustainable development
International scientific community will benefit through dissemination of findings via conferences and scientific publications (all open access).

How might they benefit from this research?
These beneficiaries will be impacted in a number of different ways, as detailed in Pathways to Impact. We will draw on our findings to produce an interactive guide for policy and decision makers on how to use wellbeing and resilience approaches for sustainability. It will target a wide range of audiences involved in sustainability and environmental change research and governance. The findings will speak to the sustainable development goals which have been adopted by more than 150 world leaders which emphasises both ending poverty but also protecting the planet from degradation.

Academic impact will be enhanced through several strategies:
-Outputs from the project will directly reach the academic community through two high impact journal publications.
-Outputs will also spread more indirectly through participants at the workshop who will be leaders/experts in their fields of research.
-The creation of an interactive digital guide for policy and decision makers will be made public via our institutions and project website and will be widely disseminated electronically.


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Description The project is still on-going
Exploitation Route The project is still on-going
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment