Melissa Leach is (from 2014) Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. As a Professorial Fellow of IDS, she founded and directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre (www.steps-centre.org) from 2006 - 2014. Her research in Africa and beyond has integrated social science with science-policy and natural sciences across many environmental, agricultural, health, technology, and gender issues. She has written several books, including Misreading the African Landscape (Cambridge, 1996); Reframing Deforestation (Routledge, 1998); Science, Society and Power (Cambridge, 2003); The Lie of the Land: Challenging Received Wisdom on the African Environment (James Currey, 1996); Dynamic Sustainabilities: Technology, Environment, Social justice (2010, Earthscan); and Green Grabbing (2012, Taylor and Francis). She has led and managed many large, interdisciplinary research and policy engagement programmes including ‘Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto’ (2010, ongoing) and the 19-partner, ESPA-funded Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium (2011 – 2015). Her contributions to shaping global sustainability agendas include roles in the closed High-Level Dialogue on Global Sustainability at Rio+20, the Royal Society Global Science Report, and the Science Committee of Future Earth.
Tellus Publications (Selected)
As the world gears up for the Rio + 20 conference in June 2012, many are pinning hopes on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a concrete outcome. Yet there is little clarity on what SDGs should involve, who should set them, and how they can be realized in practice. This commentary article draws on recent research by the STEPS Centre, the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Tellus Institute to argue that Sustainable Development Goals that keep human societies within a “safe operating space” are now urgently needed. However, delivering on these requires a radically new approach to innovation that gives far greater recognition and power to grassroots actors and processes, involving them within an inclusive, multiscale innovation politics.