New research hub for environmentally and socially responsible global trade

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1 February 2019

Some of the world’s most pressing challenges are being tackled through new global research hubs launched by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), including one focusing on the socio-environmental impacts of global trade supported by the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

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

One of the new research hubs is the UKRI GCRF Trade, Development and the Environment Hub (TRADE Hub), led by the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Thousands of species are threatened globally with extinction, and there has been an alarmingly swift decline in biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. People are being kept in poverty while trade in wildlife and agricultural commodities from low and middle-income countries has rapidly increased. The TRADE Hub is a collaboration between economists, trade modellers, political scientists, ecologists, development scientists, large companies, UN bodies and NGOs. The geographical focus covers South America; Central, East and West Africa; and East and South-East Asia.

“The TRADE Hub aims to reshape the ways in which multiple sectors come together through research, and to work towards re-orientating how trade can contribute to positive outcomes for biodiversity and people,” said Melanie Ryan, Senior Programme Manager at the Luc Hoffmann Institute. “We look forward to working with global partners across supply chains to influence trade-related policy and practice to design more sustainable futures that include global trade.”

UKRI invested £200M across the 12 global research hubs covering wide range of global challenges – from fortifying ecological systems and biodiversity on land and sea to generating agricultural sustainability and fostering greater resilience to natural disasters. Over the next five years the interdisciplinary research hubs will develop creative and sustainable solutions to help make the world safer, healthier and more prosperous.

“The sheer scale and ambition of these Hubs is what makes them so exciting,” said Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI Executive Champion for International. “They enable us to deliver a coordinated global response with UK researchers working in partnership with governments, NGOs, community groups, international agencies and researchers across developing countries. Each Hub has the potential to transform the quality of life for many people throughout the world and safeguard our planet for future generations.”

“The UK has a reputation for globally influential research and innovation, and is at the centre of a web of global collaboration – showing that science has no borders,” said Chris Skidmore, the UK Science and Universities Minister. “We have a strong history of partnering with other countries – over 50% of UK authored research involves collaborations with international partners. The projects being announced reinforce our commitment to enhance the UK’s excellence in innovation at home and around the world, driving high-skilled jobs, economic growth and productivity as part of the modern Industrial Strategy.”

The UKRI GCRF Global Interdisciplinary Research Hubs have been announced alongside the Fund for International Development, a £79 million investment delivered by UKRI aimed at enhancing the UK’s excellence in research and innovation through global engagement, forging new bilateral and multilateral research and innovation programmes with global partners.

UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.

The Global Challenges Research Fund supports cutting-edge research and innovation that addresses the global issues faced by developing countries. It harnesses the expertise of the UK’s world-leading researchers, focusing on: funding challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research; strengthening capability for research, innovation and knowledge exchange; and providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research or on-the-ground need. It is a £1.5 billion fund which forms part of the UK Government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment and is overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through nine delivery partners including UK Research and Innovation, the UK Academies, the UK Space Agency and other funding bodies.

Read more about the TRADE Hub project.

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