Introducing the GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE FUTURES: Progress through Partnerships Network. Guest blog by our research assistant – education and sustainability, Dr Renuka Thakore

Posted on: 2020-12-18


The research collaboration between the Global South and Global North, and within, between and beyond low-, middle- and high- income countries to secure global sustainable futures is more important than ever. The GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE FUTURES: Progress through Partnerships Network committed to create collaboration/partnerships across national borders and academic disciplines made a formal start to this grand and innovative initiative through a kick-off meeting at the end of November.

I strongly believe that collaborations between various stakeholders, research partnerships between diverse academics and knowledge exchange and enhancement in education could be the key to achieving global sustainable futures. The objective of the GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE FUTURES: Progress through Partnerships Network is to develop and facilitate an innovative and vibrant platform between researchers from diverse universities from all over the globe and to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Network has already secured partners from 27 countries including Austria, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Congo, Dubai, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom. This Network aims to increase synergies and partnerships in research, education, and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Renuka Thakore

Dr Renuka Thakore


Through the GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE FUTURES: Progress through Partnerships Network, we want to increase the research and innovation capacity of the early career researchers, start-ups and targeted stakeholders, and increase visibility and enthusiasm around collaboration in the Global South and Global North, and within, between and beyond low-, middle- and high- income countries. All partners are keen to engage with each other between different disciplines and Sustainable Development Goals.

The kick-off meeting was organised with an objective to shape and get closer to realising the vision of the Network and making it more viable with effective implementation. Everyone in the meeting was invited to contribute to the vision and strengthen the foundation of the network.

I shared my initial thoughts on the importance of building global sustainable futures and stressed that those who were attending the kick-off meeting, shared the same thoughts. Referring to the correlation between income and satisfaction, I highlighted that the rate of decrease in poverty does not necessarily mean that the rate of satisfaction has increased. It is equally important to know that the absence of poverty does not guarantee happiness, but the presence often prevents it. This assessment is true in the current context of the unsustainable developments around the world.

I highlighted that the Network would be a vehicle, a global platform, to make early improvements in achieving sustainable futures. Just as the Sustainable Development Goals are for people, this network is also for people.

Multidisciplinary partnerships development platform

Capacity development, stronger links between research, policy and practice and the importance of a systems approach are the three continuing priorities for Global South early career researchers. Though several strategies have been employed to address specific barriers, open, inclusive, and proactively engaging platforms for developing and disseminating empirical research, as well as monitoring and evaluating their effectiveness in delivering SDGs goals and targets, are very few. The Global South and Global North, and within, between and beyond low-, middle- and high- income countries need to steadily progress in research capacity, but a major barrier to research is a lack of empirical evidence on strategic transdisciplinary interventions. Despite an evolution in sustainable development thinking, local actors continue to use outdated development strategies that are recognised as unsustainable. To realise multi-dimensional sustainable innovative strategies, research capacity outcomes need to be valued as equally as research output on international platforms.

Given this context, it is important that the key players – academics, researchers, industry professionals, technocrats and research-oriented institutions – respond to ongoing and emerging climate change, environmental and sustainability challenges in the Global South and Global North, and within, between and beyond low-, middle- and high- income countries. Missing, however, are the ‘knowledge and skills’ to ‘integrate’ and ‘network’ these fundamental ingredients of capacity development in organic, real-time and innovative ways. Thus, the case is made for a considered, deliberate effort to build a platform that integrates all the above listed elements, ultimately to improve the research capacity and capability of researchers and sustainability professionals throughout the globe.

The fundamental objective of the Network is ‘to create a strong research environment’ building to a multi-disciplinary and multisectoral team of endogenous professionals that would be capable of pursuing and utilising participatory and integrative approaches in solving public and environmental sustainability problems.

The kick-off meeting I held online, supported by Aled Williams, UCEM’s Director of Research, Innovations and Partnerships, was a highly collaborative and interactive event.

It was attended by several leading academics drawn from higher education institutions and knowledge-generating centres. Using a participatory and integrative approach, commonly referred to as transdisciplinary, attempts were made to involve potential partners (the list of partners is provided in the full report and is available from Dr Renuka Thakore – in the formulation and design phase of the vision of a multidisciplinary partnership development platform. The Network, which was formed through this collaborative process between the group of international researchers and non-researchers, identified and agreed the following key points for research and partnership development:

To tackle persistent global issues:

  • Social inequalities such as poverty, poverty due to climate change, inequal distribution of knowledge and resource availability, needs of local people;
  • Unsustainable resource use, materialism and consumerism, urbanisation (especially organic urbanisation);
  • Legal governance, health and wellbeing;
  • Affordability, inclusiveness and stakeholders’ engagement.

Priorities to tackle global issues:

  • Working together – partnerships, teamworking, cooperatives;
  • Imparting education and creating self-employment opportunities to tackle poverty;
  • Socio-technical production – development of social complimentaries for food production, management and consumption, water management and consumption, and energy use and security;
  • Creating political commitment working with local governance bodies, authorities, mayors and people;
  • Imparting knowledge and providing training;
  • Creating sustainable community knowledge working conscientious and working in partnerships while tackling urbanisation, sustainability of infrastructures, tackling desertification and climate change impacts.


I am keen to promote partnerships for this network. All participants felt involved and appreciated being invited and being part of the workshop and the wider international research partnerships’ development programme. According to participants, the proposed theme presented opportunities for projects of great relevance with great results.

I am liaising with coordinators for the next steps, which will be disclosed soon. I am eager to hear from anyone interested in the Network. Email me via to get in touch!