University to play key role in two global research hubs

Published: 22 January 2019

Hubs are part of a £200m investment by UKRI

The University of Glasgow is set to play a key role in two global research hub – funded through UKRI’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and announced by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of an ambitious new approach to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

The UKRI GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub will see the University of Glasgow join forces with universities and organisations from across the world to explore how the movement of people in the Global South is affecting inequality and development in less developed regions. This Hub will be led by Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR). The initiative is thought to be the largest study into global migration undertaken anywhere in the world.

The UKRI GCRF Living Deltas Hub will see th‌‌‌‌‌‌‌e University of Glasgow join other universities and partner organisations, led by Newcastle University,  and aim to safeguard three delta futures in Asia through more resilient communities and sustainable development.‌‌‌ Living Deltas Hub 650

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is pioneering an ambitious new approach to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges through a £200 million investment across 12 global research Hubs.  Over the next five years the Interdisciplinary Research Hubs will work across 85 countries with governments, international agencies, partners and NGOs on the ground in developing countries and around the globe, to develop creative and sustainable solutions which help make the world, and the UK, safer, healthier and more prosperous.

The new Hubs are funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which is a key component in delivering the UK AID strategy and puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI champion for international and executive chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), said: “The sheer scale and ambition of these Hubs is what makes them so exciting. They enable us to deliver a coordinated global response with UK researchers working in partnership with researchers, governments, NGOs, community groups and international agencies across developing countries. Each Hub has the potential to transform the quality of life for multitudes throughout the world and safeguard our planet for future generations.”‌

Over the next five years, the UKRI GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub will seek to maximise the benefits of South-South migration for development – and to investigate how it contributes to the delivery of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as ending poverty and reducing inequality.GCRF Research Hub 650

South-South migration is estimated to account for nearly half of all international migration (up to 70% in some places), but its potential benefits have been undermined by limited and unequal access to rights and to the economic and social opportunities that migration can bring.

The Hub, which will receive £18.8 million, will explore South-South migration in six global "corridors" linking origin and destination countries, focusing in particular on the following routes: Nepal–Malaysia; China–Ghana; Burkina Faso–Cote D’Ivoire; Ethiopia–South Africa; Haiti–Brazil; and Egypt–Jordan.

Professor Heaven Crawley, an expert in international migration at Coventry University, will lead the Hub’s network of partners which includes:

  • 20 leading universities, as well as the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), PositiveNegatives, Samuel Hall and @iLabAfrica;
  • Six international organisations – the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Research Institute For Social Development (UNRISD); and
  • Numerous local organisations in the 12 countries in which the hub will work: Burkina Faso, Brazil, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Jordan, Malaysia, Nepal and South Africa.

Professor Alison Phipps, UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at University of Glasgow, and Co-Investigator of the UKRI SSMID Hub said: “Our team is thrilled and honoured to be part of this ground-breaking project exploring the challenges associated with migration in the Global South. Our team has considerable experience in this area from previous UKRI-funded projects. We will work with local artists and new partners using arts-based, practice-led approaches which seek to build equitable partnerships and to intervene in and expand social-scientific and scientific frames of reference for research into migration and inequality. Not only will this Hub help to build new and valuable partnerships in countries where migration and development are closely connected, it will also enable these countries to bring their own perspectives, knowledge and capabilities to the table to support future migration policy development.”

The Living Deltas Hub is one of the recently announced 12 GCRF Global Research Hubs to tackle development challenges over the next five years and will be led by Newcastle University. This Hub will see the University of Glasgow's School of Interdisciplinary Studies (Prof. Fabrice Renaud) and the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences (Dr. Adrian Bass, Dr. Thorsten Balke), play a key role and, in collaboration with partners from around the world, they will engage in research on coastal systems' tipping points in three South and South East Asian deltas, focusing on social systems - mangrove ecosystems interactions, bio-physical process understanding of mangrove coasts and delta-scale vulnerability and risk assessment. They will develop a monitoring framework allowing environmental health, biogeochemical and biogeomorphological functioning to be maintained and improved, and contribute to the development of a new delta-specific, indicator-based assessment framework for selected sustainable development goals and targets.

“We are very much looking forward to engaging with partners from around the world to carry out joint research that will lead to concrete solutions for the sustainability of delta socio-ecological systems. The Hub will provide a unique opportunity to engage with a broad range of stakeholders in the deltas and beyond to ensure that these fragile landscapes play a crucial role in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals nationally, while at the same time being protected from environmental threats and securing the livelihoods of local communities with a focus on the most vulnerable ones," said Professor Fabrice Renaud.

Dr Adrian Bass and Dr Thorsten Balke issued a joint comment: “One of the most significant challenges scientists have is often how we utilise the knowledge we gain for a coherent social benefit. Through a comprehensive collaboration with stakeholders and local communities, the Living Deltas Hub will allow us to accomplish this, providing both excellent science and the capabilities to maximise its impact towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Professor Carol Hill, Head of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, said “We are thrilled that the School of Interdisciplinary Studies is playing an important role in the Living Deltas Hub, yet another example of world class research being undertaken by academics based at the University’s campus at Dumfries."


First published: 22 January 2019

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