February 2013 Newsletter


  1. Editorial  - ESPA Connecting Research and Impact
  2. ESPA 2013 Annual Science Conference: 20th and 21st November 2013
  3. Welcome to the New ESPA Website
  4. ESPA PFG Project Highlight – what types of investment can most cost-effectively ensure ecosystem service provision? A randomized program evaluation
  5. ESPA EIRG Project Highlight: Impact of Jatropha production on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in southern Africa
  6. New Guidance on ESPA Reporting
  7. Biodiversity, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: what constitutes good evidence?
  8. British Ecological Society Annual Meeting: University of Birmingham, 17–20 December, 2012
  9. Impact update from ESPA’s Swahili Seas Programme Framework Grant
  10. 'From Panic to Planning' – New Briefing on Responses to Zoonoses
  11. Announcement of Opportunity for BESS Workshops
  12. DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme
  13. EcoAgriculture Partners Welcomes New Director of Research
  14. Global Development Network Event 20th February 2013: Experts' Roundtable - Supporting Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
  15. The Global Development Network (GDN) announces its Global Development Awards and Medals Competition (AMC) 2012
  16. Climate-Smart Agriculture: Global Science Conference
  17. Africagrowth Institute: Call for Papers
  18. Review of Development Finance: Journal Call for Papers
  19. Articles of Interest to the ESPA Community
  20. Other News and Information of Interest to ESPA
  21. Events
  22. Recent ESPA Blogs
  23. Useful ESPA Documents
  24. Videos on the ESPA website
  25. ESPA Adverts from Projects

Editorial – ESPA Connecting Research and Impact

By Paul van Gardingen, ESPA Director

This last month has seen the ESPA programme stepping up its efforts to link researchers and their work with potential users of research around the world. Our new website, at www.espa.ac.uk, is central to this and has been designed to make it far easier for people to find out about the things that our projects and the overall programme are doing.

If you visit the website you’ll see stories about an ESPA project in Kenya which has developed a carbon offset project being piloted on the coast near Mombasa. You can find a link to a new impact note on this project, along with a recent blog by the project’s Principal Investigator, Mark Huxham. ESPA’s Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa project has produced a rapid response briefing that sets out recommendations for a new integrated ‘One Health’ approach to dealing with zoonotic diseases. We also see a discussion paper from a small ESPA project testing the assumptions that biodiversity and ecosystems services can help efforts to tackle poverty

The new ESPA website is all about making information produced by the programme much more readily available to users. The Directorate has been working with ESPA’s funders to ensure that the information that projects produce in their reporting is readily available. ESPA-funded projects are currently submitting their annual reports and lists of publications, and other outcomes, through the new Research Councils UK (RCUK) Research Outcomes System (ROS).  From next month, the Directorate will be highlighting topical outcomes that projects submit, particular recent research publications or examples of development impact. From later this year, all the main outcomes from each project will be accessible from the ESPA website, with all academic publications also replicated on the UK’s new Gateway to Research website. The ESPA programme is pioneering the way that the information provided by projects is used in order to enhance the visibility of ESPA research and, through this, to build enhanced impact.

The need for good access to ESPA’s research evidence will grow over the coming years. At the end of January 2013, the first session of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) met in Bonn, Germany. One of the main roles of IPBES is “to perform regular and timely assessments of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services and their interlinkages”. 

One of the main roles of the ESPA Directorate is to ensure that ESPA’s research is put into use to benefit poor people in developing countries. The new ESPA website, and the support we provide to projects to capture and communicate their research outcomes, is putting ESPA well ahead of most research programmes around the world in making that happen.

ESPA 2013 Annual Science Conference: 20th and 21st November 2013

ESPA’s 2013 Annual Science Conference will be held on the 20th and 21st of November at Charles Darwin House, London, UK.

More details of the conference will be publicised by way of the ESPA website, newsletter and mailing list in the coming weeks and months. Please watch this space!

Welcome to the New ESPA Website

By Dave Stevens, ESPA Communications Officer

The ESPA programme is now almost three years old. Many of ESPA’s projects are starting to have impact – not just academically but also in terms of the difference they are making to policy, practice, and ultimately, to the everyday lives of poor people around the globe.

In redesigning the ESPA website, we wanted to ensure that we still meet the needs of current and prospective ESPA grant holders but that we also give a much greater profile to the achievements of the programme’s network of global researchers.

These achievements include updates from established work like Swahili Seas (which has made great inroads into the worlds of policy and practice in East Africa) and comparatively younger projects, such as the Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa consortium, who are already bringing together thinking from a wide range of academic disciplines to suggest new and better ways of tackling the misery wrought by animal-borne diseases.

Similarly, over the coming months, more and more ESPA research will be making an impact - from the first announcements of key findings to news of projects providing on-the-ground solutions. We will announce it all on the ESPA website.

We hope this new version of the site gives the potential beneficiaries of ESPA research a chance to learn about the wealth of new knowledge the programme has created, as well as providing them with a platform to engage with ESPA-funded researchers and the wider community of people interested in the relationships between the environment and human health and well-being.

Please communications [at] espa.ac.uk (let us know) what you think about the new ESPA website.

ESPA PFG Project Highlight – what types of investment can most cost-effectively ensure ecosystem service provision? A randomized program evaluation

By PI, Nigel Asquith, Fundación Natura Bolivia

Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are increasingly common as a conservation and development tool. Countries such as Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico have developed national level schemes in which the governments pay individual landowners up to £40 per ha per year to leave their forests standing. Mexico alone has spent more than £300 million on paying land managers to adopt practices that maintain reliable water flows and sequester carbon. However, and despite such investments, there is rarely good evidence that these projects do help to conserve ecosystems and reduce poverty. Our ESPA Programme Framework Grant – What types of investment can most cost-effectively ensure ecosystem service provision? A randomized program evaluation – set up an experiment to find out whether PES actually works.

In early 2011, we gathered baseline data on the socio-economic situation of 2700 families in 130 communities in Bolivia’s Rio Grande Protected Area. In addition to well-being, measured through parameters such as household goods, income and community cohesiveness, we assessed perceptions about the environment and local institutions. We also collected biophysical data (water turbidity, temperature, levels of fecal coliforms and dissolved oxygen) above, in, and below every community, and gathered baseline data on biodiversity – using the proxies of amphibians, beetles and aquatic macro invertebrates – in the forests that protect the water supplies of each community.

We then designed and implemented an information presentation, in which field technicians returned to all 130 communities and presented some of the most interesting results of the data collection phase. Such highlights included the fact that one in six of the areas’ children missed days in school in the last year because of diarrhoea, and that the area supports 30,000 head of cattle, many of which are grazing close to and defecating into the regions streams. The second part of each presentation educated community-members on how forest degradation affects both their own community and the farmers downstream, and explained the economics of three alternative/complementary livelihood strategies: intensified cattle grazing, fruit production and bee-keeping.

We then processed and analyzed the baseline data, and stratified the communities into four groups: small and large populations, with few and many cows. Municipal authorities then selected, by randomized drawing, half of the communities which would receive the experimental treatment – i.e. those that would be offered the opportunity to enter a PES scheme.

We had developed a standardized protocol to guide how field technicians would implement the compensation schemes, and trained the technicians in how to use the protocol. Three meetings were held in each of the 65 selected communities: 1) to explain the compensation offers and identify eligible landowners, 2) to measure and map the land parcels offered, and make copies of land tenure documents, and 3) to give the compensation packages.

Three types of 3-year compensation packages were offered to landowners. In each compensation type, the first two years of payments were made up front, while the third year payment will be dependent on compliance:

  1. Within 100m of water courses, cattle excluded, £70 up-front payment to help with protection, plus £7/ha/year
  2. Within 100m of water courses, cattle permitted transitionally, £2/ha/year
  3. All other forests in the watershed, cattle permitted transitionally, £0.5/ha/year

Compensation types 1 and 2 are most interesting for our program evaluation, because both are targeted at areas close to streams that are most likely to be “additional”. Compensation type 3 was offered primarily to maintain interest of all community members in the initiative. Its results will be analyzed separately.

The PES “payments” – funded by the European Commission, the Swiss Development Corporation, and IUCN-Netherlands – are not in cash, but rather participants are offered a menu of options of in-kind compensation packages, in the form of barbed wire, cement, and plastic piping (which will allow landowners to keep cattle out of the conservation areas), and fruit tree seedlings, grass seeds and bee-hives (and associated equipment), as alternative livelihoods.

Given that both the treatment and the control communities received the same basic information session, during which they learned about water quality and cattle impacts, any observed treatment effects will be attributable to the presence of incentive contracts, not to information differences between treatment and control communities.

The in-kind payments for environmental services were initiated in the 65 selected communities in late 2011. Initial take-up was low, as only “early adopters” joined in the first stage. However, by the end of 2012, 474 families in 57 communities had enrolled in the program, putting a total of 17,105 hectares under contract. The first wave of contracts was signed in 2011, and a year later, forest conservation compliance was 100%, while cattle removal compliance was c. 75%.

Although the compliance data is preliminary, and it is still too early to evaluate program impacts, the experiment is already providing interesting information about who joins PES schemes (Table 1). The people who have joined the scheme are better off, are more involved in their community and are more likely to think that the environment provides them with benefits, than the general population. While these results are perhaps to be expected, this evidence may be useful as practitioners try to implement similar schemes around the world.

Table 1: Key differences between participants in the PES scheme and the general population

We have also learned important lessons in terms of field logistics. Eight people implemented the 2011 campaign, while the 2012 team had only five members. The value of the compensation paid increased by 70% between 2011 and 2012, while the cost of providing this compensation fell by 41%. Within each community, the compensation is offered on day 1, land parcels are measured before pre-contracts are then signed on days 2 and 3. Final contacts are then signed and compensations are delivered on days 6 and 7. It thus now takes less than a week from first offering the compensation package to a particular farmer, to actually delivering it.

Our research colleagues at Harvard, Tufts and the National University of Colombia are currently analyzing the data we collected during the project, while Natura’s field technicians are preparing to enter the field in March 2013 to initiate the next wave of compensation deals. They will be expecting to build on cases such as in the community of Huantas, where 8 families joined the program in 2012, signing contracts to conserve 160 ha. In return for their conservation commitments, the families (5 led by women, 3 led by men) received compensation packages of apple and plum tree seedlings and barbed wire worth a total of £645, with an average value of £80 per family.

In an eroded landscape where average annual incomes are less than £1000, such deals, it appears, actually put into practice the concept of protection of ecosystem services for poverty alleviation.

Initial Publications

  • Asquith N.M. 2011. Reciprocal Agreements for Water: An Environmental Management Revolution in the Santa Cruz Valleys. Harvard Review of Latin America 3: 58–60.
  • Asquith N.M. 2013. Protecting Latin America’s water factories for climate compatible development. Harvard Review of Latin America 1: 21–24.
  • Jack, B.K., and M.P. Recalde 2013. Local leadership and the voluntary provision of public goods: Field evidence from Bolivia. In prep.

ESPA Evidence and Impact Research Grant Project Highlight: Impact of Jatropha production on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in southern Africa

By Professor Katherine J. Willis, University of Oxford; PI, ESPA Evidence and Impact Research Grant

Liquid biofuel production and use has been perceived as a potentially important poverty alleviation strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Jatropha-based biofuels, in particular, captured the imagination of policy-makers and investors across the continent in the mid-to-late 2000s. The potential to produce biodiesel from jatropha oil for local use or for export to the nascent EU biofuel market, combined with claims of high jatropha yields, drought tolerance, and the ability to grow in dry areas with poor soils, created huge expectations. As a result, countries as diverse as Tanzania, Senegal, Mali, Madagascar and several southern Africa countries pursued jatropha production.

However, this jatropha expansion happened without proper knowledge about the potential yields and the factors that could affect them. Furthermore, there was a very incomplete understanding of the environmental and socioeconomic impacts, and the complex trade-offs that could arise following the conversion of agricultural land or natural ecosystems into jatropha landscapes.

In the past few years there have been reports that several jatropha projects have collapsed across Africa. In some cases, this has left local communities even more impoverished than they were initially. Yet there have also been examples of projects that have managed some degree of economic viability, becoming an agent of poverty alleviation for rural communities. The reasons behind these successes and failures have been highly contested, but there is strong evidence to suggest that the emergence of complex trade-offs following land conversion has been an important factor.

Considering the above, the aim of this ESPA Evidence and Impact Research Project, “Impact of Jatropha production on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in southern Africa”, has been to synthesize and critically discuss the evidence about the impact of jatropha landscapes on ecosystem services, biodiversity and human well-being. A key part of the project has been to identify the types of trade-offs that emerge and whether (and how) such trade-offs can become a driver of poverty alleviation in the region.

This project brings together a highly multidisciplinary group of researchers from Oxford University (Kathy Willis, Alexandros Gasparatos), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of South Africa (Graham von Maltitz) and the Institute of Advanced Studies of the United Nations University in Japan (Jose Puppim de Oliveira, Lisa Lee, Manu Mathai).

We conducted an in-depth review of the available evidence and we found that jatropha landscapes in Africa can indeed provide, displace, divert and degrade a large number of provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services. There is strong evidence to suggest that changes in the flow of such ecosystem services can indeed affect human well-being in multiple ways. For example, jatropha production (a provisioning service) and use can provide directly and indirectly, income and employment opportunities and as such become an agent of poverty alleviation in the region. However, the extent to which this can happen depends on a multitude of factors including among others:

  • the type and extent of displacement, diversion and/or degradation of other ecosystem services from jatropha production;
  • the mode of jatropha production (e.g. large plantations, smallholder schemes);
  • the type and functionality of the land converted into jatropha;
  • the policy instruments in place during jatropha production, use and trade.

It should also be mentioned that even though some of these trade-offs are inevitable, in many cases at least part of the negative impact can be mitigated through careful planning.

The findings of this review were included in an extensive UNU-IAS policy report that was released during the 11th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD-COP11) in Hyderabad, India (October, 2012). This report also identified the significant research gaps at the interface of biofuels and ecosystem services in Africa, and offered a number of policy recommendations that can promote biofuel sustainability in the region.  Currently, the project partners are producing two journal papers that highlight the key academic findings of this work.

For the second stage of this project researchers from CSIR and Oxford will undertake fieldwork in two jatropha landscapes in southern Africa. This fieldwork will take place in March 2013 and its aim will be two-fold. Firstly, it will allow the project team to supplement the knowledge synthesized in the past few months with fresh empirical evidence. Secondly, it will be used to test whether the mechanisms for linking the changes in ecosystem services flows (from jatropha landscapes) and human well-being that were derived after the critical analysis of the reviewed literature, can actually explain the reality on the ground. 

New Guidance on ESPA Reporting

New guidance on the way that ESPA grant holders are to report from this year has been disseminated to projects. The new reporting structure aims to better capture outcomes and impacts, while meeting the needs of the funders (DFID, NERC and ESRC). These reporting requirements reflect the distinct objectives of the programme and relate to ESPA’s recently updated Logical Framework, which is used to measure the success of the programme. 

The majority of reporting will now be through the new RCUK Research Outcomes System (ROS). With the transition to ROS comes the benefit of being able to disseminate and publicise projects’ work as and when it happens, with publications, for example, being instantly displayed on the ESPA website as soon as they have been accepted as an outcome on ROS.

ESPA requires some additional information that cannot be captured through ROS. Projects have been asked to complete an additional reporting template with this information. This includes details of all the peer-reviewed publications which have one or more southern authors and which have been produced since the start of the grant. Many projects have also engaged additional research staff not listed in the original proposal, including students. ESPA projects are now required to provide details of all individuals who are paid to work on projects using ESPA funds who are also employees of governments or public officials in any ESPA partner country. 

The additional reporting template also includes a checklist of information that projects now need to directly report through ROS.  In addition to recording details both of academic and of non-academic publications, there is a range of outputs that should be captured through ROS.

Impact records can be used to describe outputs contributing to national/regional/international development policies or investments, as well as the benefits of any project outputs that will lead to the alleviation of poverty of poor people in developing countries. There is also capacity to describe important impact indicators for the programme including how research has been put into use, demonstrating a link between ecosystem services and poverty alleviation.

Also of importance is projects’ involvement in partnerships to promote knowledge exchange or development impact, as well as dissemination/communication activities such as events and workshops.  It is expected that many ESPA projects will develop new methods, computer tools and products and will collect new data which can now be reported through ROS. In addition to this, funding and investments (or in-kind support and partnerships) provided to support projects or to help put research into use must be reported through ROS.

Going forward, reporting will be much improved for the programme. Detailed guidance on submitting outcomes to ROS is available for projects in two new documents produced by the ESPA Directorate: the ‘ROS User Guide’ and ‘Guidance on ROS Outcome Types’. For further information please contact Sarah Harley at evidence [at] espa.ac.uk.

Biodiversity, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: what constitutes good evidence?

An ESPA project testing the assumption that biodiversity and ecosystem services can help in efforts to tackle poverty, has produced its first discussion paper: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation: What constitutes good evidence?

The concept of evidence-based policy and practice is intuitively appealing, and has rapidly gained popularity in a range of different domains – including in international development and biodiversity conservation, and it is clearly desirable for important decisions to take account of available information.

However, the relationship between ‘evidence’ and good decisions is not always straightforward. Indeed, an emerging literature identifies a range of challenges with the evidence-based approach to policy and practice including:

  • How to deal with different sources of evidence? Are some better than others?
  • How important are controls / counterfactuals?
  • How does evidence get taken up and translated into policy?

This paper is intended to stimulate discussion – and solicit feedback – on these challenges and how to address them.

The paper has been produced as a component of the ESPA project Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation: Assessing the Current State of the Evidence.

British Ecological Society Annual Meeting: University of Birmingham, 17–20 December, 2012

By Caroline Howe, ESPA Research Associate in Ecosystems and Poverty Alleviation

Last December, the University of Birmingham hosted the British Ecological Society’s (BES) Annual Meeting, which was the first to be held in winter in over a decade. Over 1000 ecologists, from all over the globe, attended the meeting, enticed by the exciting programme on offer.

The event heralded the introduction to this year’s centenary celebrations for the BES, which will include hosting the International Ecological Meeting (INTECOL) in London in August, at which ESPA will convene a symposium on 'Ecosystem services contributing to poverty alleviation’. The BES Annual Meeting was hosted by the ESPA Knowledge Director, and President of the British Ecological Society, Professor Georgina Mace.

The Annual Meeting began with the opening ceremony and Tansley Lecture given by Professor Steve P. Ellner, from Cornell University. This was a stimulating start to the event and Professor Ellner reviewed our current understanding of rapid evolution and its implications for ecology and ecologists, and ultimately (from an ESPA perspective) for ESPA researchers. Rapid evolution is the evolution of ecologically important traits that can sometimes evolve substantially on the same time scale as ecological change and that may have large ecological effects.

The BES Lecture this year was on ‘Planetary Stewardship in the Anthropocene’ and was given by Professor Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. This was a sobering lecture, describing how humanity may have reached a saturation point in terms of pressures on the Earth system, not only due to exhaustion of natural resources but also due to the risk of crossing catastrophic thresholds triggering large regime shifts; i.e. that humanity has become a quasi-ecological force of change at the planetary scale. However, the lecture ended on a more positive note with a discussion on the key strategies required for planetary stewardship including; reconnecting our societies to the biosphere, recognizing cross-scale dynamics, and investing in strategies for adaptation and transformation.

I had been accepted to present at the BES Annual Meeting during the session on Ecosystem Services, on: ‘Dispelling the myth of win–win: analysing trade-offs in ecosystem service-based conservation and development’. The talk was a summary of the work that the ESPA Knowledge team has been doing on evaluating the trade-offs involved in ecosystem service-based conservation and development, through a systematic mapping exercise and mixed-effects models. The rest of the session was an interesting mix of talks on shifting baselines, ecosystem models and optimization, social-ecological innovation in the city, critical appraisals of payments for ecosystem services schemes and lessons from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.

Throughout the rest of the meeting, I attended a series of other presentations on a wide-range of ESPA-relevant subjects including ‘Biodiversity and the Promotion of Good Health and Well-being’, ‘Large-Scale Ecology’, ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function’ and ‘Delivering Sustainable Agriculture – promoting dialogue between ecologists and economists’. There were also a number of thought-provoking workshops including ‘Being Creative About Public Engagement’ and ‘Informing Climate Change Adaptation: Developing the Links Between Research, Policy and Conservation’. In the evenings, there were two lively social events, the welcoming mixer being held in the Birmingham City Art Gallery and the meeting dinner at the Jam House.

Overall, the event provided a fantastic opportunity to network and to learn about ESPA-related research and activities and was a source of inspiration for future work related to ESPA.

Watch for an overview of the Annual Meeting 2012 on the BES website.

Impact update from ESPA’s Swahili Seas Programme Framework Grant

Here are the latest updates from ESPA’s Swahili Seas project.

Lead researcher, Professor Mark Huxham, and his team:

- have produced a risk map for mangrove forests in Kenya. This will be used by policy makers to identify the forests at highest risk and also to consider those factors that need control. The model has been submitted as a paper to Global Change Biology.

- are establishing a new charity, the Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services. The charity will allow for the transparent and tax efficient transfer of funds from northern donors and investors to local communities as payments for ecosystem services.

- are awaiting final validation of their community payments for ecosystem services project. A confirmation of tenureship for the community from the Kenyan government is needed before the project can be accredited and they sell carbon credits.

- organised for the elected representatives from the villages neighbouring the mangrove ecosystem to go on a fact-finding visit to a carbon project elsewhere in Kenya, to observe the opportunities and challenges involved in payments for ecosystem services.

'From Panic to Planning' – New Briefing on Responses to Zoonoses from the ESPA-2011 Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Grant

The Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium has produced a Rapid Response briefing that sets out recommendations for a new, integrated ‘One Health’ approach to zoonoses that moves away from top-down disease-focused intervention to putting people first.

Over two thirds of all human infectious diseases have their origins in animals. The rate at which these zoonotic diseases have appeared in people has increased over the past 40 years, with at least 43 newly identified outbreaks since 2004.

In 2012, outbreaks included Ebola in Uganda, yellow fever in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rift Valley fever in Mauritania.

Zoonotic diseases have a huge impact – and a disproportionate one on the poorest people in the poorest countries.

In low-income countries, 20% of human sickness and death is due to zoonoses. Poor people suffer further when development implications are not factored into disease planning and response strategies.

A new, integrated ‘One Health’ approach to zoonoses that moves away from top-down disease-focused intervention is urgently needed. With this, we can put people first by factoring development implications in to disease preparation and response strategies – and so move from panic to planning.

Announcement of Opportunity for BESS Workshops

The BESS (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Sustainability) programme is a 6-year, £13 million research programme addressing NERC strategic challenges and societal needs and the UK Government’s strategic priorities with respect to biodiversity, ecosystems and their services. The science plan for BESS can be found on the BESS website: http://www.nerc-bess.net.

This funding call is for workshops which contribute to the goals of the BESS programme, with an indicative cost of up to £8000 per workshop or series of workshops.  Workshops should provide a platform to bring together researchers and their relevant stakeholder community to explore particular issues or ideas. Bringing together people with different skills, experiences and viewpoints can generate new ideas and approaches to scientific challenges, helping to advance scientific progress on topics that that might otherwise represent significant stumbling blocks.

How to get involved

BESS is now accepting proposals for one-off workshops, or short series of workshops, in any BESS area. Applications must come from individuals at UK HEIs and independent research institutes eligible for RCUK.  Applications should be made using the pro-forma, detailing the work to be done, the composition and membership of the workshop group, likely outputs and deliverables and costings.

Workshops will be funded up to a maximum of £8,000, which could include travel for up to two international participants.

Meetings may take any form, although it is suggested that the maximum number of participants should not exceed 20. Workshops that involve any of the following are particularly welcomed: the creation of continuing links between researchers and practitioners; those which facilitate the professional development of early career researchers; those that help to generate greater application of BESS science in the policy and user community; those that seek to develop proposals for further work to funding bodies outside BESS.

Evaluation will be based on the following criteria: scientific merit; fit to the BESS programme; defined outputs, as publication or other concrete form; topicality or need; knowledge transfer; professional development of early career researchers; value for money.

All applications will be assessed by members of the BESS Programme Advisory Group (PAG) and Directorate and specialist reviewers sought where and if appropriate.  There is no specific closing date for applications. It should be note that successful applicants will not receive an up-front award to an institution; rather the costs incurred will be claimed from the BESS Directorate. An application pro-forma and further details are available at the BESS website.

Informal enquiries should be directed to the BESS Director david.raffaelli [at] york.ac.uk.

DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme

Call 2: Pre-call Notice

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) are pleased to announce that they will be funding a second call of the DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme.

The call for proposals will open on 25 February and will close on 25 April.  For more information, please see: www.esrc.ac.uk/degp.

The programme funds world-class scientific research on issues relating to economic growth in low-income countries (LICs), with high potential for impact on policy and practice. Applications are sought from across the social sciences. The programme will allow academics from developing and developed countries to work together in any configuration of their choosing, and principal investigators can be from anywhere in the world. Projects with developing country partners are strongly encouraged.

Applications will be invited for projects with a Full Economic Cost (FEC) value of £100,000 and above.

Call Launch Open Meeting: 28 February 2013

To support the call, there will be an open meeting in London on 28 February at which prospective applicants can learn more about the programme, and network with other potential applicants. This will be held at Church House Conference Centre, Westminster. For more information and to book a place, visit the ODI website or email degpdirectorate [at] odi.org.uk

Background Information

The DFID and the ESRC are collaborating in a programme on economic growth in developing countries. The DFID-ESRC Growth Programme aims to fund world class scientific research on issues relating to inclusive economic growth in LICs, with high potential for impact on policy and practice.

There are currently three themes under the programme:

  • Agriculture and growth: This theme focuses on developing understanding of the relationship between agricultural development and broader economic growth, and on the impact of policies on agricultural productivity. 
  • Financial Sector Development and Growth: This theme focuses on macro issues in finance in LICs, including regulation and supervision of financial markets, the structure of the sector, and management of capital inflows.
  • Innovation and Productivity Growth in Low-Income Countries: This theme investigates issues around innovation, the spread of know-how, and the process of adapting know-how to meet local conditions in LICs.

EcoAgriculture Partners Welcomes New Director of Research

Dr Christine Negra will take up the position of Director of Research at EcoAgriculture Partners in February 2013.

Dr Negra is an experienced scientist with a strong and dynamic track record of linking science with policy in the areas of climate change, food security, land use, and ecosystem services. 

In 2011–12, she led the Secretariat of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, convened by CGIAR-CCAFS, which developed and disseminated science-based policy recommendations for "Achieving Food Security in the Context of Climate Change." As Program Director at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment in Washington, DC from 2005–2011, Dr Negra collaborated with individuals in government, academia, industry, and NGOs to bring technical analyses and consensus-based solutions into policy dialogues. She developed indicators of carbon storage and environmental contamination for "The State of the Nation's Ecosystems 2008," directed the Ecological Effects of Air Quality project for the US Environmental Protection Agency, and served as Science Director for the Terrestrial Carbon Group project. She began her career as a soil scientist and, early on in her career, worked on sustainable agriculture and community leadership with farmers and local and state officials at the US Department of Agriculture Extension System.

Over the past few years, Dr Negra has contributed to the work of EcoAgriculture Partners on climate-smart agricultural landscapes.

Global Development Network Event 20th February 2013: Experts' Roundtable - Supporting Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

Experts’ Roundtable: 20 February 2013, Washington D.C. Time: 9:00am to 1:00pm EDT; please join the live webcast.

Location: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Headquarters, Fourth Floor Conference Facility, 2033 K St, NW, Washington D.C. 20006-1002 USA

The Global Development Network (GDN) project, Supporting Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to help shape North-South and South-South debates on agricultural policies. The crux of the project is to bridge the research-policy gap in connection with agricultural policies in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In a large measure, the project is an attempt to bring forth policy issues that are relevant to the regions in question. Over and above that, it is an attempt to see development through a Southern lens and also add developing country perspectives to this important project.

Draft Agenda

  • 9:00am - 9:30am Session 1: Welcome Remarks

Speaker(s): George Mavrotas, Chief Economist and Project Director, GDN; Shenggen Fan, Director General, IFPRI; Tuhin Sen, Lead Strategist, GDN

  • 9:30am - 11:00am Session 2: Experts’ Roundtable on Agricultural Research and Policies in South Asia

- Short project documentary on South Asia (5 mins)

Panelists (in alphabetical order):

  1. Douglas Gollin, GDN Project Principal Advisor, University of Oxford, UK
  2. Ali Hasanain, GDN Project Team Leader, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
  3. William Masters, GDN Project Senior Advisor, Tufts University, USA
  4. Vijay Paul Sharma, GDN Project Team Leader, Indian Institute of Management, India
  5. Alexandros Sarris, GDN Project Senior Advisor, University of Athens, Greece
  • 11:30am - 1:00pm Session 3: Experts’ Roundtable on Agricultural Research and Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa

- Short project documentary on Sub-Saharan Africa (5 mins)

Panelists (in alphabetical order):

  1. Saa Dittoh, GDN Project Team Leader, University of Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana
  2. Lillian Mbogo-Omollo, NEPAD Kenya Secretariat, Ministry of Planning, National Development & Vision 2030, Nairobi, Kenya
  3. Victor Olusegun Okoruwa, GDN Project Country Team Representative, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  4. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, GDN Project Senior Advisor, Cornell University, USA
  5. David Zilberman, GDN Project Senior Advisor, University of California, Berkeley

Contact/RSVP: //tsen [at] gdn.int">Tuhin Sen; 202-286-1779 (Mobile in DC); +91-8800221811 (Mobile in India)

For more information on GDN, visit www.gdn.int

For more information on the project visit http://agripolicyoutreach.org

The Global Development Network (GDN) announces its Global Development Awards and Medals Competition (AMC) 2012

The Global Development Awards and Medals Competition is an innovative award scheme launched by the Global Development Network (GDN) with generous support from the Ministry of Finance, Government of Japan, and other donors. Since its inception in 2000, GDN has provided US$ 3.6 million in research and travel grants to finalists and winners.

About the competition:
The AMC is an innovative competition that encourages original research and development work in developing countries and transition economies. Finalists will get an opportunity to present their work at the 14th Annual Global Development Conference and to participate in a research communication workshop. An eminent jury selects winners at GDN’s Annual Global Development Conference; an event attended by over 500 researchers and development practitioners. Travel and stay will be funded by GDN.

The 2012 GDN Global Development Awards and Medals Competition (AMC) is accepting submissions in three categories. Apply now and get a chance to present at GDN’s 14th Annual Global Development Conference in Manila, the Philippines, in June 2013 and win grants of up to US$ 30,000!

Submission Deadline: 11 March 2013

Submissions are being accepted under the following three competition categories:

  • Category 1: Japanese Award for Most Innovative Development Project (MIDP)
  • Category 2: Japanese Award for Outstanding Research on Development (ORD)
  • Category 3: Medals for Research on Development (Medals)

Competition themes are (applicable only for research proposals and research papers):

  1. Inequality
  2. Social Protection and Social Policies
  3. Inclusive Growth

To Apply:

  • Submissions and documents are accepted electronically. To apply, visit: www.gdn.int/amc
  • Deadline: 11 March, 2013
  • For queries email: awards [at] gdn.int

Climate-Smart Agriculture: Global Science Conference

The University of California, Davis and The World Bank invite you to attend the Climate-Smart Agriculture: Global Science Conference, March 20–22, 2013, UC Davis, USA.

With the uncertainty of future climate change and the environmental challenges that the world is facing, the Climate-Smart Agriculture: Global Science Conference will provide a forum for the presentation of science-based knowledge that will help inform strategies for:
  • Farm and Food System Issues
  • Sustainable intensification, agroecosystem management and food systems
  • Landscape and Regional Issues
  • Land use, ecosystem services and regional resilience
  • Integrative and Transformative Institutional and Policy Issues
  • Bridging across scales
This conference will play an important role in strengthening the science basis for international policy and action regarding desirable global responses to climate change.
For conference details and registration, visit the conference website
For additional information, email climatesmart [at] ucdavis.edu.

See the conference flyer here.

Africagowth Institute: Call for Papers, 10th African Finance Journal Conference

Theme: Emerging Trends in Accounting, Finance and Economics for Africa's Development

Dates: 15 and 16 May 2013; Venue:  Coastlands Umhlanga Hotel, Durban, South Africa

Deadline for Abstracts - 28 February 2013

As research and development in development accounting, finance and economics on Africa begins to world-wide recognition and support, there is the need for researchers to begin to identify ways and means of producing relevant research that can help put the continent in the right footing to compete with the rest of the world. The current "scramble for Africa" by major developed and emerging countries, including the BRIC countries, reinforces the continent's relevance as a preferred destination for global commerce by governments and international institutions.  There is, therefore, the urgent need for researchers, with interest in Africa, to work together to produce relevant research that can provide support, government, investors, financial and economic policy makers with interest in the continent's development.

The African Finance Journal and African Finance Association, in association with several academic institutions, will be hosting the 10th African Finance Journal Conference at Cape Town, Durban (South Africa). The Association would like to invite you to submit an abstract or paper for presentation at the conference.

The emphasis of the conference will be on high-quality, theoretical and/or applied research focusing on issues relevant to emerging trends in accounting, finance and economics which have special relevance to Africa's development. The conference will focus (not exclusively) on the following sub-themes:

  • Emerging Stock Markets Research
  • Microfinance
  • Emerging Corporate Finance
  • Commodities Markets Research
  • Emerging Bond Markets Research
  • Trade Finance
  • Environmental Finance
  • Responsible Investment
  • Development Accounting
  • Development Economics
  • Emerging Banking Research
  • Corporate Governance
  • Regulatory Issues in Africa
  • SME Finance
  • Issues on the Basel Accord
  • FDI and Portfolio Investment in Africa
  • Financial Risk Management in Emerging Markets
  • Other areas of Development Finance and Economics

All conference papers will be reviewed for possible publication in a special issue of the African Finance Journal.

Conference Co-ordination:

The Conference organizing committee includes:  Professor Nicholas Biekpe (President), Dina Potgieter (Executive Manager)

All scientific questions to be addressed to Professor Biekpe: nicholas [at] africagrowth.com

Abstract, paper submission and all other questions: Lydia le Roux: Lydia [at] africagrowth.com

Website: www.africagrowth.com

Telephone: +27 21 914 6778/6769

Review of Development Finance: Journal's Call for Papers

CALL FOR PAPERS: Review of Development Finance

Over the last six years, Africa has witnessed an average growth rate of about 6% as a result of, among other things, the commodity price boom and significant positive trade figures between China and the continent. The continent is currently going through positive and visible capital markets and financial services transformation with increasing flow of FDI into the growth sectors including commodities, capital markets and financial services sectors. However, the growth in these sectors is not matched with adequate and sustainable research output that can assist policy makers to make better-informed decisions.

This issue of Review of Development Finance will focus on capital markets and financial services development in Africa. The Journal is interested in contributions with strong empirical, theoretical and policy content for deepening our understanding of capital markets and financial services in Africa. Submissions may explore the following themes, and any further issues that arise from this outline:

  • Risk, Assets and Liability Management
  • Regulation of African Capital Markets
  • Studies in Depository and Non-depository Financial Institutions
  • Development in derivatives markets
  • Foreign Exchange Markets
  • Studies in Non-banking financial institutions
  • Studies on financial sustainability of Development Finance Institutions
  • Banking in Africa
  • Public Equities Market
  • Debt Market Development
  • Development in Financial Service Sector
  • Private Equity and Venture Capital Markets
  • Microfinance
  • Credit Risk Analysis
  • Asset Market Bubbles and Contagion

Submission Guidelines

Abstracts of approximately 500 words should be sent as word document to the editorial office by February 28, 2013. Please make sure that you include your name, institutional affiliation and the full title of your paper. The authors who are successful will be invited to submit a full manuscript, which will be reviewed by at least two external referees. Contributors should consult the journal's style guidance at http://www.journals.elsevier.com/review-of-development-finance/

Important Dates

  • 28 February 2013: Submission of abstracts (500 words)
  • 02 March 2013: Decision on abstracts
  • 30 June 2013: Submission of full papers (7,000 words)

If you already have a full paper, the Journal is happy to receive it now.

Subject to satisfactory revisions, selected papers meeting the highest quality will be published in a Special Issue of the Review of Development Finance under the guest editorship of Professor Joshua Abor (University of Ghana); Professor Matthew Ocran (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) Professor Paul Alagidede (Rhodes University) and Professor Charles Adjasi (University of Stellenbosch).

All submission enquiries and abstracts should be sent to Dina Potgieter at dina [at] africagrowth.com

Website: www.africagrowth.com

Telephone: +27 21 914 6778/6769

Articles of Interest to the ESPA Community

  • Food Security in the Times of Climate Change

Of possible interest to ESPA readers is an open access paper published recently in the journal Current Biology on Food security in the times of Climate Change.

  • Why the Economy Needs Nature

Nature is not a drag on growth – its protection is an unavoidable prerequisite for sustaining economic development. One hundred per cent of economic activity is dependent on the services and benefits provided by nature. For some time, and during the last decade in particular, researchers have investigated the dependence of economic systems on ecological ones, and in the process have generated some striking conclusions. Read more in an article published recently in the Guardian.

  • An African Account of Ecosystem Service Provision

A recent article in the journal Ecosystem Services examines the range of ecosystem services in Africa, the threats to them, and policies to preserve them. The article touches on an issue related to a recent Landscapes Blog post on the EcoAgriculture Partners website on sparing land for nature. While the authors of the blog recognize the importance of protected areas for biodiversity conservation, they also emphasize the need for solutions to come from communities and address the variety of land uses within a geographic area. One of the authors, Louise Willemen (EcoAgriculture Partners and Cornell University), provides an overview of the main findings related to the merits of community-based solutions to environmental and livelihood issues. Read more on the Eco Agriculture Partners website.

  • Ecosystems: Time to Model all Life on Earth

No report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would fail to mention global climate models. Yet the international bodies that are charged with addressing global challenges in conservation — including the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which held its first plenary meeting in Bonn, Germany, recently — cannot refer to analogous models of the world's ecosystems. Why? Because ecologists have not yet built them. Read more in an article by D. Purves et al, publish in Nature in January 2013.

  • Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services from Coral Reefs in the South Pacific: Taking Stock of Recent Experience

The economic valuation of coral reefs ecosystem services is currently seen as a promising approach to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable management of coral ecosystems to policymakers and to provide useful information for improved decisions. Most coral reefs economic studies have been conducted in the United States, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, and only a few have covered the South Pacific region. In this region, coral reefs are essential assets for small island developing states as well as for developed countries. Accordingly, a series of ecosystem services valuations has been carried out recently in the South Pacific, to try and supply decision-makers with new information. Of possible interest to ESPA readers is an article by Y. Laurans et al. in the Journal of Environmental Management. Read the article online.

Biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation are both important societal goals demanding increasing international attention. While they may seem to be unrelated, the international policy frameworks that guide action to address them make an explicit assumption that conserving biodiversity will help to tackle global poverty. Part of the Conservation Science and Practice Series published by Wiley-Blackwell with the Zoological Society of London, this book explores the validity of that assumption.

  • Link between biodiversity and human disease

Preserving biodiversity seems to reduce the emergence and spread of human diseases in many cases, according to an investigation into the links between biodiversity and human health. It concludes that there is mounting evidence indicating that preserving ecosystems in their natural state generally decreases the occurrence of infectious diseases.

  • Changes in biodiversity can increase risk of infectious human disease

It is increasingly evident that human health is closely linked to the environment, and to biodiversity. A study commissioned by the European Commission summarises the many and varied ways in which disturbances to biodiversity affect the spread of human diseases.

  • ‘Alternative agriculture': key to preserving food security and biodiversity?

The goals of providing sufficient quantities of food to support the world's growing population, whilst simultaneously protecting its biodiversity, may seem incompatible. However, a recent review of the literature has highlighted how 'alternative' agricultural practices can offer a realistic solution to the problems of achieving both food security and biodiversity conservation.

  • Pavan Sukhdev's 2013 outlook for a sustainable world

Will 2013 bring a new, sustainable world?  Pavan Sukhdev, TEEB Advisory Board Chair, provides his comments to the Guardian's Sustainable Business Blog on how the new year will bring with it a host of ecological, governmental and social issues, but remains positive a new world is possible.

  • The Poverty and Conservation Learning Group (PCLG) Journal Digest

The Poverty and Conservation Learning Group (PCLG) has recently started producing a Journal Digest. It is a new PCLG information service and is intended to keep readers up-to-date with new journal articles on issues relating to biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation as they are published. See the January 2013 PCLG Journal Digest.

Other News and Information of Interest to ESPA

  • Horn of Africa 'should grow more climate-hardy cassava'

Farmers in the Horn of Africa should focus on growing more improved cassava varieties, which are high-yielding and resilient to drought, according to researchers. The improved varieties developed by the Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and tested in Ethiopia, may help tackle famine in the Horn of Africa, an area that was severely hit by drought and hunger in 2011. Read more on the SciDev.Net website.

  • Anti-sleeping sickness drives may also need to target animals

Trying to eliminate the main form of sleeping sickness in Africa by only targeting humans may end in failure as the disease would soon return from its animal reservoir, according to a study published in PLOS Computational Biology on 17th January 2013. Sleeping sickness is a deadly disease caused by Trypanosoma parasites transmitted by tsetse fly bites. It affects up to 30,000 people a year in 36 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, where there are two variants of the disease. Read more on the SciDev.Net website.

  • Launch of IF campaign to end hunger and under-nutrition

On 23rd January, 100 UK charities launched the IF campaign. It aims to lobby the British government to tackle global hunger and its causes. To find out more, see the short video for the campaign.

  • Sustainable water for multiple users

UKCDS hosted a workshop in London to explore ideas and suggestions around a future DFID research programme focusing on water security. Read more on the UKCDS website.


  • ESPA's 2013 Annual Science Conference

Location: London, UK

Date: 20 and 21 November 2013

ESPA’s 2013 Annual Science Conference will be held on the 20th and 21st of November at Charles Darwin House, London, UK.

More details of the conference will be publicised by way of the ESPA website, newsletter and mailing list in the coming weeks and months. Please watch this space!


  • Valuing Nature Network Event – Save the Date

The Valuing Nature Network (VNN) event will be held on Tuesday 19 March 2013 in London.

The event will highlight successes from the VNN, including insights into partnership working between academia, policy and business; and the benefits of working across academic disciplines. The event will be webcast live and will be available on the VNN website afterwards. Agenda and speakers: over the next few weeks more information about the speakers will become available but in the meantime you can see some early event information on the VNN website.


Location: Norwich, UK

Date: 10 June 2013 – 14 June 2013


Location: Norwich, UK

Date: 8 July 2013 – 19 July 2013


Location: Bali, Indonesia

Date: 26 August 2013 – 30 August 2013


Location: Norwich, UK

Date: 4 September 2013 – 17 September 2013

Location: Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands

Date: 29 September 2013 – 2 October 2013

Recent ESPA Blogs

In case you missed any of the recent ESPA blogs, please visit the ESPA website to catch up.

The most recent posts have included one by Professor Mark Huxham (PI of the ESPA project Swahili Seas), titled ‘Wise Ignorance’.

Useful ESPA Documents

Many useful ESPA-related documents are held on the ESPA website in the Toolkit section.

Of particular interest to current ESPA researchers are the ESPA Strategy documents:  the ESPA Knowledge Strategy, the Impact Strategy and the ESPA Communications Strategy are all available.

The ESPA Toolkit presents various guidance and policy notes on creating impact, data management, the use of ESPA logos, open access, reporting requirements and interdisciplinary working.

ESPA’s Poverty Framework is also available on the website. Whilst much work has been done on defining what is meant by ecosystem services, there has been less focus on the meaning of poverty in the context of ESPA. The simple and practical poverty framework addresses this imbalance.

Videos on the ESPA website

Please visit the ESPA website video archive to see videos from the ESPA Directorate, ESPA grant holders and videos which might be of general interest to ESPA readers.

If you have any videos of interest that we can share on the ESPA website please send details to pa [at] espa.ac.uk (Ruth Swanney) for consideration.

ESPA Adverts from Projects

This section of our Newsletter is devoted to adverts and requests from ESPA projects (e.g. adverts from projects requesting data or information on a particular topic or a simple request for some specific help/advice from the ESPA global community).

If you would like to post an advert or a request please let the ESPA Directorate know by contacting pa [at] espa.ac.uk (Ruth Swanney), and it will feature in a future Newsletter.

In the meantime, please post a link to the ESPA website on your website: our web link is www.espa.ac.uk.

Please note that the ESPA Directorate is now on Twitter! Follow us at 'espadirectorate'!


Issue Date: 
Fri, 02/15/2013