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UNEP-WCMC led partnership wins major Global Challenges Research Fund award

21 July 2017
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A new four year project, led by UNEP-WCMC, has been awarded around £5 million by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

The China, East Africa and UK Development Corridors Partnership will help countries to be better equipped to plan for a sustainable future. This global partnership of cross-disciplinary research and capacity building capability will contribute to the design of sustainable and resilient development corridors in East Africa and spearhead an international network of shared learning.

Development corridors are increasingly used to support economic growth in Africa and boost agricultural production, commodity exports and economic integration. However, there are concerns that development at this scale could destroy wildlife corridors, release carbon from natural storage and undermine biodiversity and ecosystems.

The project, Encouraging sustainable growth: East Africa Growth Corridors and the China to Africa Connection, will take a detailed looked at some of the proposed development corridors in East Africa and consider how they can be designed to deliver sustainable, inclusive and resilient economic growth.

Research priorities include natural capital and ecosystem services assessment and valuation, scenario analysis of the development potential of corridors, as well as political and practical analysis and implementation of corridors. The findings will be fed through existing bodies and appropriate UN agencies and to inform decision-making by those planning and implementing these corridor visions. A key goal will be to increase the ability of researchers in Kenya and Tanzania to get the business case for natural capital accounted for in infrastructure projects.

Professor Neil Burgess, Principal Investigator and Head of Science at UNEP-WCMC said:

“I am excited to be part of this multinational collaboration that will greatly enhance national capacity in east Africa and address fundamental development challenges.  Bringing together African, Chinese and UK Researchers will change the way that all of these countries think about development corridors in Africa and generate positive environmental impact that will persist for decades.”

UNEP-WCMC is leading a consortium of five universities (Cambridge, London School of Economics, Nairobi, Sokoine University of Agriculture and York) and three boundary agents (WWF for Nature (Tanzania), African Conservation Centre and the China National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation of the National Development and Reform Commission).