19 September 2018

Workshop on Sustainable Development Goals brings together researchers from UK and Brazil

A multi-disciplinary academic workshop took place this August in the city of Chapecó, in the Santa Catarina state of Brazil.

Wheat in a field

A multi-disciplinary academic workshop took place this August in the city of Chapecó, in the Santa Catarina state of Brazil.

Henry Staples, a first-year PhD student in the University of Sheffield and member of the Geographies of the Global South research cluster, was one of only twelve UK Early Career Researchers (ECRs) invited to participate.

The workshop was organised in partnership between Professors Neil Renwick (Coventry University, UK) and Giovanni Olsson, (UNOCHAPECÓ, Brazil), under the overall theme of "Governance and actors roles in sustainable development in a global-local framework".

The week-long series of discussions brought together ECRs from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines working in universities across both Brazil and the United Kingdom.

Attendees were given the chance to present their past and current research, debate common themes and concepts, and discuss how their work can effectively contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Agenda comprises 17 distinct objectives, known collectively as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted at a UN summit in 2015, the SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals which ran from 2000 to 2015, and are intended to address a wide variety of global challenges including tackling poverty, providing affordable and clean energy, and achieving gender equality.

The research topics presented during the workshop were highly diverse and ranged from the current science on treating tuberculosis to protecting the ocean's coral reefs; fostering entrepreneurship in the video games industry, and understanding the dynamics of trust and cooperation.

The event was made open to the public, and a range of guest speakers were also in attendance.

Henry said: "At first, I wasn't entirely sure of how my own research was connected to the Sustainable Development Goals, but as the week progressed I realised how interlinked the different themes and focuses are.

“It was also great to be back in Brazil - I did my Masters fieldwork research in Rio de Janeiro and was lucky enough to have time to visit before the conference.”

Thiago, a Brazilian researcher working on developing biogas technology, said: "The conference was very well organised, and the hosts did an excellent job of making sure everyone felt welcome. I met a lot of inspiring, passionate people and I'm looking forward to building on these new friendships.”

The workshop was funded as part of the Newton Fund, a government initiative managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Launched in 2014, the fund is intended to foster new international science and innovation partnerships, in order to promote the economic development and social welfare of partner countries.

Newton Fund projects are chosen and developed in collaboration with 17 partnering countries, with the aim of ensuring that the activities meet their development priorities. The funding forms part of the UK's official development assistance (ODA).

Professor Neil Renwick, who is Professor of Global Security in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Coventry University, said: “It was a pleasure to see students and professors come together in sharing such diverse ideas, and I am confident that the connections forged this week will be the start of many fruitful working relationships. We are looking forward to building this network over the coming years.”

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