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Sustainability Science

SSS UN Day Blog- Dr Craig Hutton

Published: 22 October 2012
ESPA Deltas Team

This is the latest blog in our series of speaker and project bios for the Sustainability Science at Southampton UN World Development Information Day Seminar (24 October, 2012)

Blog Speaker profile- SSS UN World Development & Information Day

Dr Craig Hutton

Project title: Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA): Assessing Health, Livelihoods, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation In Populous Deltas

1. Tell us a bit about you and your project team:

The ‘ESPA Delta' project has built a strategic team of partners in Bangladesh, India and the UK, with support from China, and across a wide range of relevant disciplines.  There are UK partners in the Universities of Southampton (lead), Exeter, Dundee, Oxford as well as The Plymouth Marine Laboratory, NOCS Liverpool and the Hadley Centre. In Bangladesh partnerships are established with Bangladeshi University of Engineering & Technology  (BUET/Lead), Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BARI), Technological Assistance for Rural Advancement (TARA),  Ashroy Foundation (Rural development), Bangladeshi Agricultural University (BAU),Bangladeshi institute of Development Studies (BIDS), CEGIS & International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B). The project's Indian and Chinese partners are IITR (Roorkee), University of Jadavpur  and Aranyak (Rural Development) and  East China Normal University (ECNU), Shanghai

2. Tell us a bit about your project:

Rural livelihoods are inextricably linked with the natural ecosystems and low income farmers are highly vulnerable to changes in ecosystem services. Their health, wellbeing and financial security are under threat from many directions such as unreliable supplies of clean water, increasing salinisation of soils and arsenic-contaminated groundwater, while in the longer term they are threatened by subsidence and sea-level rise. This study will contribute to the understanding of this present vulnerability and help the people who live there to make more informed choices about how best to reduce this vulnerability.

This project aims to provide policy makers with the knowledge and tools to enable them to evaluate the effects of policy decisions on people's livelihoods. This will be done by a multidisciplinary and multi-national team of policy analysts, social and natural scientists and engineers. Collectively they will use a participatory approach to create a holistic approach to formally evaluating ecosystem services and poverty in the context of the wide range of changes that are occurring. These changes include subsidence and sea level rise, land degradation and population pressure in delta regions. The approach will be developed, tested and applied in coastal Bangladesh and also tested conceptually in two other populous deltas in India.

The Ecosystem Services (ES) of river deltas often support high population densities, estimated at over 500 million people globally, with particular concentrations in South, South-East and East Asia and Africa. Further, a large proportion of delta populations experience extremes of poverty and are highly vulnerable to the environmental and ecological stress and degradation that is occurring.

3. Describe the impact of your project in terms of providing solutions to global development challenges:

The key objects of the project can be summarised as:

  • To understand the present relationship between ecosystem services and human well-being and health in the Bangladeshi portion of the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta.
  • To develop participatory methods to predict how these ecosystem services might evolve over the coming years and decades (up to 50 years) and their influence on human well-being and health under the multiple drivers of change in operation.
  • To analyse how policy can influence these outcomes and promote ecosystem services and human well-being and health.
  • To develop participatory methods to select robust policies that are effective across the range of uncertainty, including adaptive management approaches.
  • To test the transferability of these methods to other populated deltas.

Further Information:

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