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In spring 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, research projects funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) were subjected to budget cuts. The cuts were the result of UK government’s decision to reduce its Official Development Assistance (ODA), which had devastating effects for humanitarian, development and research work. This article draws on focus group discussions with project teams working on three large GCRF-funded projects to explore the effects of these cuts. The article documents how the cuts curtailed project aspirations and impact, had a negative toll on the mental health of researchers, and imperilled the trusting relationships upon which international research collaborations are built. The article argues that the cuts expose the shallow commitments to research ethics and equitable partnerships of powerful actors in the UK research ecosystem, including research councils and government. In ‘doing harm’ via these cuts, the article explores the failure of research governance structures and the continued coloniality underpinning the UK’s approach to researching ‘global challenges’.

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Following the 2008 global financial crisis, Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) have become a common feature of the urban landscape in cities throughout Europe. An emerging body of literature suggests that Fab Labs go beyond providing access to digital fabrication tools, and function as ‘third places’ as they enhance social connectedness. Drawing on a case study of a Fab Lab in the English city of Coventry, this article utilises the concept of ‘austerity urbanism’ to understand the changing nature of third places in England since the 2008 global financial crash. In doing so, we argue that a confluence of austerity urbanism and digital advancements has influenced both the emergence of new third places (such as Fab Labs) while simultaneously undermining long-established third places (such as libraries). As a result, vital aspects of social infrastructure are being shaped and reshaped in the contemporary era. The article reflects on what these changes mean for individual and community well-being.

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The 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) awakened the world to the critical need for food systems transformation. Several commitments were made during the summit, with the UN Secretary-General reiterating the need to support national mechanisms that develop and implement national pathways to 2030 that are inclusive and consistent with countries’ climate commitments, building upon the national food systems dialogues. Much of the discussion in the post-summit era has mostly been high level and focused on how countries can be supported to transform pathways into strategies and to design and operationalise investment plans aimed at fostering sustainable and inclusive food systems transformation. However, what has been missing in these discussions is what the envisaged transformation means for the smallholder farmer, and what it takes for smallholder farmers to embrace the transformative agenda and transition to more sustainable methods of production. In this article, reference is made to two of the Five Action Tracks, namely Action Track 3 (boost nature-based solutions) and Action Track 5 (build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stresses), whose central themes are anchored around resilience and sustainability. The paper discusses the underpinnings of nature-positive production systems and explores how these systems interface with smallholder farmers’ circumstances and production goals, and how this might affect implementation of the envisaged practices at the farm level. The central argument in this article is that discussions around food systems transformation must include the smallholder farmers, their lived experiences, socio-economic circumstances, aspirations and production goals.

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This study examines how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be leveraged to facilitate strategic change towards sustainability involving multiple stakeholders in a pluralistic city environment. By drawing on an exemplary case study of the localisation of the SDGs in Bristol, a medium-sized UK city, we show how the goals can operate as a boundary object. In particular, we identify a pattern in which the discursive localisation of the SDGs moved from problematisation and visioning through strategising and structuring towards embedding and performing. In addition, we elaborate on the three tensions that the SDGs help participants to understand and use productively, that is, across scale, time and different ways of valuing. Our study contributes to research on strategic change in pluralistic settings, such as cities, by offering a nuanced account of the discursive use of the SDGs by organisations involved in a city’s sustainable development. Furthermore, by proposing a framework based on the specific tensions that play an important role in the discursive localisation, our study advances research on the role of city strategising and practice more generally.

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In early 2022, over 30 years after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first report on the challenges posed by climate change and four subsequent Assessment Reports later, the word ‘colonialism’ finally entered its official lexicon. The sixth report on ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’ references colonialism, not only as a historical driver of the climate crisis, but also as something that continues to exacerbate the vulnerabilities of communities to it (). As argues, this comes in the wake of long-standing arguments made by Indigenous groups and others on the frontline of climate change about the centrality of colonialism to comprehending and responding to the crisis. The last decade has also seen a significant increase in scholarly literature that draws explicit links between colonialism and climate change – much of which is referenced in the latest IPCC report. While formal acknowledgement of this relationship is long overdue, in this article we argue for caution and precision in the invocation of colonialism within these debates. Following classic article setting out why ‘decolonization is not a metaphor’, we argue relatedly that colonialism needs to be understood as more than a metaphor in climate change debates.

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This chapter explores the concept of ‘development’, its evolution over time, why it has often been contested, and the effects this has had on the understanding and practice of development today. Four main perspectives on development are outlined: the four Ps. These are development as a Process, a Project, a Prospect, and as being essentially about Participation. The chapter goes on to explore the history of development over several key periods from the mid-20th century to the new millennium and the move towards global development. It then concludes by pointing out that the evolution of the concept of development is clearly evident in a shift from viewing development as way of escaping the past towards addressing the concerns of the future, as reflected in the current concept of ‘sustainable development’.

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The conclusion highlights the fact that the preceding chapters demonstrate the many different topics associated with international development, the wide variety of contrasting perspectives on development, and the significant changes over time in the key issues that need to be addressed. The very concept of development and theoretical approaches have also evolved over time, leading to the emergence of new strategies for the best way forward. The conclusion goes on to emphasise the extent to which we are now living in a rapidly changing world of globalisation which has considerable implications for development. In looking to the future, the concept of ‘sustainable development’ is emphasised, and the crucial need to address inequality in its various forms. To portray what needs to be done in moving forward in a positive fashion, the chapter ends by drawing on the vision offered by the Happy Planet Index.

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The book is designed to address the concept, theory and practice of international development in all its different dimensions. It explores the key areas of international development and the changes that have taken place since the start of the development era in the middle of the 20th century through to the third decade of the 21st century. This transformative era has seen the rise of new concepts and theories in a period also marked by the rise of globalisation and growing concerns about the global environment and the possibility of sustainable development. The first part of the book provides an overview of the challenge of development, different ways of mapping and measuring progress, competing theoretical perspectives, and the dilemmas of development associated with globalisation. Part two of the book reviews the specific development challenges that impact on many different areas, including population, food and famine, poverty and inequality, health and education. The discussion of these areas of social and human development demonstrates their interconnectedness, and provides insights into where the developing world may be heading. In looking to the future, the very strong connections between new digital technologies, a green environment and gender equality, are given close attention, before moving on to consider whether and how international development can be made sustainable.

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The book is designed to address the concept, theory and practice of international development in all its different dimensions. It explores the key areas of international development and the changes that have taken place since the start of the development era in the middle of the 20th century through to the third decade of the 21st century. This transformative era has seen the rise of new concepts and theories in a period also marked by the rise of globalisation and growing concerns about the global environment and the possibility of sustainable development. The first part of the book provides an overview of the challenge of development, different ways of mapping and measuring progress, competing theoretical perspectives, and the dilemmas of development associated with globalisation. Part two of the book reviews the specific development challenges that impact on many different areas, including population, food and famine, poverty and inequality, health and education. The discussion of these areas of social and human development demonstrates their interconnectedness, and provides insights into where the developing world may be heading. In looking to the future, the very strong connections between new digital technologies, a green environment and gender equality, are given close attention, before moving on to consider whether and how international development can be made sustainable.

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The third chapter is about mapping and measuring development, as reflected in a conceptual shift from the Third World to the Global South. The emergence of related concepts such as the ‘developing world’ and ‘emerging countries’ is examined in relation to the new ways of identifying and comparing different levels of development. The introduction of key graphical indicators such as the Brandt Line, and a wide range of concepts to describe countries in need of development, such as the Underdeveloped World, the Poor World and the Less Developed World, are also examined. Relatedly, the range of different ways of measuring development are explored, from Gross National Income (GNI) per capita to World development Indicators (WDI) and the Human Development Index (HDI). The chapter concludes by pointing out that shifts in mapping and measuring development are likely to continue through the 21st century.

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