London RCE News

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By Asitha Jayawardena

Biodiversity was the third online seminar of the RCE (Regional Centre of Expertise) London held on 27 January 2022 via Zoom. The RCE London is hosted by London South Bank University and has networks across Europe and the whole of the world.

This was part of the celebration of 10 years of the RCE having gained the recognition of the global network of centres that are endorsed by the UN University Institute of Sustainability Science. Currently, 170 RCEs are located around the world and RCE London is one of the eight in the UK.

Earlier, two more seminars – one on Arts, Nature and Sustainability and the other on Storytelling, Documenting, Inspiring – were held under the ongoing seminar series, called Sustainability and Beyond.

“If you are interested in working with sustainability, please do check out the UNESCO website and look up the nearest RCE to you,” said Prof Ros Wade, Chair of the RCE London.


“The RCE network is a network of networks so the idea is we build networks locally and then those networks interact with networks elsewhere to build a critical mass on these things”, said Dr Neil Herrington, Independent Scholar and recently retired from the University of East London.

“When we think about the work we had done and the work that we would like to do in the future, the networks that we would like to build, biodiversity was something which we identified, needing to give attention to in terms of the networks and the work that we as an RCE in London had done,” he said. He organised this webinar on biodiversity.

Dr Herrington reminded that the first seminar of this series was about art, which represents nature and wildlife.

“I found this comment by Laura Cumming, which was published in The Guardian in 2019 in response to an exhibition of Whistler,” he said. “She said that Whistler famously despised nature’s rampant chaos. She said things like nature is very rarely right to such an extent even that almost be said that nature is usually wrong.”

“If art is a manifestation of culture, then maybe the representation of nature in art and the way in which some artists think about this might not necessarily be the most positive way of looking at nature,” he concluded.

Then he went on to the book by Jay Griffiths published by Penguin.

“Griffith talks about the futurist manifesto in which the future is described as solar flares of fascism,” he mentioned.

There is a link between art and the storytelling that Griffith does in this book, he said. “When I opened the book, I was taken by the first paragraph, which basically says, I wish that everybody who said that they believed in angels would actually believe in insects who tactfully and quietly remove the dead. Without them, we would be wading through corpses at every step.”

“There are lots that one could unpack in that particular statement because it’s not just insects obviously,” he added. 

“We stopped doing everything except the very thing that had caused the virus in the first place again,” he went on. “Some discussion about which was annihilating the living world although humans are just point zero one percent of all life, we have destroyed 83 per cent of wild animals.”

“We have done so without awareness,” he said. “That led me to think about another form of storytelling.”

“The nature exists in its own right, whether or not we paint it, write about it or sing about it but we need to have some way of pictures,” he paused and asked, “However, if we don’t picture it in some way, do we ignore it or do we privilege some of the iconic species over others.”

There is a plenty of ways in which we can begin to engage with nature and wildlife in their real context, he said.

“Real versus virtual engagement is an important thing to grasp as well because it’s almost a mantra nowadays that wellbeing and nature connectedness are interlinked,” he supposed. “If you see images of nature on screens, the endorphins of the wellbeing are very similar if you are actually out in nature.”

Three speakers, one voice

Dr Neil Herrington introduced the three speakers.

Taking field studies online

Keiron Brown

Keiron has done a lot of awareness of those organisms which may be less well-known. He developed an interest in invertebrates through a field-based entomology module at university and became a volunteer on soil biodiversity research projects at the Natural History Museum in London, He now manages the bio-links project for the Fields Studies Council as well as teaching on a number of their courses. He also chairs the ecology and entomology section of the London History Society.

Exploring ways to meaningfully engage people with local nature spaces

Dr Paula Vandergert

Paula is the Director of the social enterprise Em | Path. She has led action research projects internationally, exploring what it takes to embed environmental and social justice in practice. She has worked with a range of environmental, developmental and human rights NGOs and regularly publishes in academic and non-academic publications. Today, she will discuss the action research work that she led in Barking.

Supporting nature in cities with biodiverse nature-based solutions

Dr Caroline Nash

Caroline turned her fascination with wildlife into her career as an ecologist. Much of her work subsequently is focused on urban wildlife, exploring ways to support biodiversity in diverse urban settings connecting people with nature. Her doctoral research developed a design approach that draws inspiration from ecologically attuned urban green infrastructure. She is a research fellow at the University of East London and co-director of a start-up connecting ecology which provides clients with the support and tools required for effective biodiversity conservation through nature-based solutions.

These three presentations are available from the link on YouTube:

Dr Neil Herrington held a Q&A session with the three guest speakers to end the event.

Biodiversity is crying for help

“This seminar series is an RCE event, which is a global event,” said Dr Herrington. “But it is the London RCE so it is sort of the global and the local.”

He went on that, within the seminar series, we know the way art is used to engage people and the way that storytelling is used to engage things which were picked up by Paula in terms of the work that she has done in Sarajevo and Nicosia.

Now engagement with biodiversity which is crying for help, he said patiently.

“It would be nice if we lived in a world which ticked along like it should but we know we don’t,” he ended the evening. “Everybody has an environment they aren’t divorced from it.”

Note: Neil Basing of London South Bank University managed the event.




London RCE News


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Storytelling is part of the agenda when we feel very strongly that the arts offer us new ways of seeing and feeling and give us inspiration and new avenues for reflection and action, said Professor Ros Wade, Chair of the RCE London, on the second of the online webinar series on 25 November 2021.

RCE London

This webinar series called Sustainability and Beyond celebrated the 10 years of RCE London and it is hosted by London South Bank University. RCE London is the London Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainability.

RCE London is part of the global network of centres that are endorsed by the UN University Institute of Sustainability Science. Currently, 181 RCEs are located around the world and RCE London is one of the eight in the UK.

Education for Sustainability

For those who are interested in education for a sustainable future, we found this network offers inspiration, ideas, solidarity in joint action and reflection for the sustainable development goals, said Prof Wade.

This webinar series comes in the context of the global meeting of COP26 and the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which highlighted the extreme urgency of addressing that with the title of the report, Code Red for Humanity, to keep within the 1.5C of warming, she said.

‘We can’t solve the problems of today with ideas that cause them so how do we make changes,’ she asked. In reply to this question, she said that she felt very strongly that the arts offer them new ways of seeing and feeling and give us inspiration and new avenues for reflection and action.

‘And storytelling is part of all that agenda,’ she said and handed over the proceedings to Sigfried Janzing from the Netherlands. 


Involved with COMMEET worldwide fellowship, a not-for-profit organisation, Sigfried aims to assist people in their community empowerment. He is also a director of the Freedom and Peace Museum in the Netherlands.

In 2020 he participated in a team of experts and activists from across the globe to collaborate design of a toolkit for communities to promote the well-being of migrants and displaced persons creating welcoming spaces in their local environment

‘That group was headed by Ros Wade and she made collaboration a wonderful experience’ said Sigfried. ‘We as a team learned many lessons in that journey and one of the lessons was to address the urgent global challenges of today’s world.’

‘We need to change the dominant political narrative and storytelling is a valuable tool for this,’ he emphasized. So, they collected in-depth toolkit experience for stories from 5 continents and wrote a chapter in the toolkit about how to develop our own community stories.

‘This is the background of today’s webinar on storytelling, he said.

A new way of storytelling

We have designed ourselves a new way of storytelling, said Sigfried. Not so much listening and reacting but contributing together into a common story to achieve what in South Africa is called ubuntu which essentially means I am through other people.

There is oneness in humanity and this oneness is presented by three wonderful activists of community empowerment from three different parts of the world, from Bangladesh, Iran and Portugal:

  • Barbara Moreira from Portugal
  • Astera Mortezai from Kurdistan in Iran
  • Philip Gain from Bangladesh

Barbara Moreira: Barbara is a community activist from the city of Portal. She started an initiative in the small city of Ima to create a welcoming space for refugees and connect this space with care for the elderly and sustainable agriculture.

Astera Mortezai: Astera is a performance artist and she empowers communities by inviting them to produce powerful displacement stories and promoting a different way to look at refugees. We are not victims, we are avant-garde (i.e., new and experimental ideas and methods in art, music and literature) examples to the world.

Philip Gain: Philip is a lifelong journalist and an activist who decided that there is another way to look at journalism. Not by Philip but through Philip, marginalized people who can’t speak took us by him. Their voices are heard by him.

Listen to their stories in their own words in this slide:

After telling the story, Sigfried asked questions and then the breakout rooms came for three smaller discussions.

I hope that this webinar becomes a story itself, he said.

Storytelling into our own lives

Concluding the session, Professor Wade had noted down some of the key elements of the excellent roundup of three conversations and put them into future discussions and future conversations.

‘This is the way to carry on storytelling and to advance Sigfried’s idea that the whole webinar being a story and now we are all part of that story of the webinar,’ she said. ‘Hopefully, we can take this forward into our future activities and lives and take something from this into our own stories.’

Note: Neil Basing of London South Bank University managed the event.


Storytelling, documenting, inspiring (event on slide)

Storytelling, documenting, inspiring

London RCE News



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  • Comments Off on Art, Nature and Sustainability: first webinar of RCE London, celebrating 10 years

I am not an expert on art, but I became an enthusiastic amateur, said Dr Hugh Atkinson, Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Policy at London South Bank University, on the inaugural webinar on Art, Nature and Sustainability on 30 September 2021.

Celebrating 10 years of the endorsement and admission to the global RCE (Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development) network by the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), RCE London holds the webinar series and this is the first one. The others will be on:

  • 21 October on Education for Sustainable Development: past, present and future
  • 25 November on Storytelling, documenting, inspiring
  • 27 January 2022 on Biodiversity
  • 24 February 2022 on After COP 26, where to next?

Each event will start at 5 pm. To see the details of each event and to sign up, visit:

Painters teach us to see…

Always continue walking a lot and loving nature for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better, said Dr Atkinson, quoting Vincent Van Gogh speaking to Theo in London in 1874. Painters understand nature and love it, they teach us to see.

It’s an eclectic mix of paintings, Dr Atkinson said. Some of them have a message, some of them are explicit, some implicit others. It’s up to us to analyse ourselves.

But it’s good to see paintings in their values, enjoyable and beautiful, he said. Art can speak to themes that words on their own cannot address. Or perhaps only partially.

In his webinar, over 20 paintings are discussed but only 7 paintings are taken in this post.

Impression: Soleil Levant by Claude Monet, 1872

Monet was staying in a hotel. From the hotel window, he painted a view of the southeast of the fore port. There are cranes, chimneys and masts bathing in the midst of the vapour of the autumn dawns.

The orange sun and its reflection are added at the end of the painting when Monet was concluding the canvas. It seeks to render an atmosphere of an impression of nature. It coined the phrase called impressionism.

I think that the lack of detail in this painting is a success in a way you know. It encapsulates nature but in a very minimalist way. I think that it’s a success.

It’s a painting that shows how human activity impacts nature. The fumes from the chimneys and all the industrial activity change the colour of the sky.

Surprised by Henri Rousseau, 1891

Henri is a part of a Naïve school. In the painting, you have a tiger crouching low in the thick jungle foliage and his back is arched and his teeth are bad. It’s not clear what is happening.

I think this ambiguity adds an element of mystery to the work which was possibly Rousso’s intention.

But this particular work actually, creates an illusion of nature.

This is one of 20 jungle paintings that Rousso did. But the jungle scenes are entirely imaginary. This particular scene, its foliage is a mixture of domestic house plants and tropical variants which he saw at the Paris botanical gardens.

Rousso never left France despite the claim he served in the French army in Mexico.

A woman and a child in a garden by Berthe Morrison in 1883-1886

This particular painting features the artist’s daughter Julie who’s on the right of the canvas and a nurse or companion on the left.

The composition appears to imitate the natural focus of the eye becoming more sketch-like and indistinct towards the periphery.

There is a central tree in the middle of the garden. The device of the central tree dividing the canvas into two distinct spheres evokes the separate worlds of nurse and child. They are sharing their garden but the young girl comes from a much more privileged bourgeois background. She is a different level of society to the woman on the left who may be a nurse or companion. So, it’s using nature and art I think as a form of social commentary.

Above the clouds by Georgia O’Keeffe in 1962 to 1963

Georgia is probably one of the most famous and well-known female artists of all time. She was a major environmental campaigner. Landscapes in the environment feature strongly in her work.

This is a painting of a view that she got from the seat of her plane above the sky. It’s a beautiful image of how you would see the clouds and the skyline. When you are on the plane, you know the little beautiful sunset in the distance and the white fluffy clouds.

The irony of this of course is that to get this special view or an aspect of nature and the environment, you are getting from a plane. You know planes are a major contributor to climate change and the pressures that the earth faces but it’s still a very interesting and quite striking piece of work.

Big summer wave by Maggie Hambling in 2010

This particular work features the North Sea in England off the coast of Suffolk on the east coast of Britain. This particular coast in the North Sea has dominated Maggie Hambling’s career since 2002.

If you look at the artist’s own words, the waves of the North Sea vicariously consume our coast. These new paintings respond to the energy of their actions as they break this sea the widest of the mouths so we can see a big mouth there, almost looks like a dragon.

I think their roaring or laughing is always seductive. Life and death mysteriously coexist in the timeless rhythm of the wave. I think it gives you a real sense of motion and movement of the sea.

It’s beauty but yet at the same time, it’s a destructive force.

They breathe out we breathe in by Luchita Hurtado in 2018

Luchita was described as an environmental worrier. It is abstract with a strong focus on the environment.

This particular work you know, it’s self-evident in many ways. You have got the human form here. It’s in animal stripes which may signify the argument that humans are one with nature so this particular character is both human but also animal at the same time.

The title says, the trees breathe out oxygen and we breathe it in. It’s symbolizing the crucial importance to the environment of trees.

Pandas on tour by Paulo Grangeon in 2008 (paper mache)

This is a representation of 1600 pandas, meant to be all the surviving pandas in the natural world, in paper mache.

This particular project, which he launched in 2008, was done in collaboration with Worldwide Fund for Nature.

A better future

Dr Atkinson concludes the webinar with three quotations.

Celebrating the role of the artists in showing us the hidden potentials of nature that we cannot yet see, says Joshua Reynolds.

Art is essential to build a better future, says Nanjala Nyabola, a political analyst based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Nature contains the elements in colour and form of all pictures as the keyboard contains the notes of all music. But the artist is born to pick and choose and group with science these elements that the result may be beautiful. As the musicians gather their notes and forms and chords until he brings forth or she brings forth glorious harmony. To say to the painter that nature is to be taken as it is, is to say to the player that he or she may sit on their piano, says James Whistler.

At the end of the presentation, the participants were joined in discussion in the breakout groups.


Art, nature and sustainability (full video)

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By Ros Wade

From October 1st to November 12th 2021, the UK, together with our partners Italy, will host COP26 – an event many believe to be the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control. For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time climate change has become a global priority. This year will be the 26th annual summit – giving it the name COP26.

We are now seeing the effects of climate change in every country and region, with severe weather events becoming ever more frequent, resulting in food shortages and major displacements of people. Our planet is warming up and during the last decades this has actually been speeding up rather than slowing down. Our most urgent and challenging global goal is to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

How will this happen?

Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.

To deliver on these stretching targets, countries will need to:

  • accelerate the phase-out of coal
  • curtail deforestation
  • speed up the switch to electric vehicles
  • encourage investment in renewables.

Politicians need to make the big decisions now to end our dependence on fossil fuels and they need our support to do this. This is our opportunity to let our representatives know that we want them to take action NOW.

  • Write to our local councillors and MPs, stating your concerns for urgent action (politicians listen to their public as they need our votes)
  • Join a campaign with a local or national group such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Extinction Rebellion
  • Join in one of the actions to support COP 26, the global climate conference in Glasgow on October. More information can be found on the ‘Climate Coalition’ website at
  • Join a local climate action group to raise awareness and encourage action
  • Invite a speaker who can inspire and encourage local action
  • Organise a local activity to encourage climate change awareness, e.g. an art competition, story writing
  • Ask all your friends and family to make one climate change commitment for the next year and to keep to it

And we can also support COP26 by:

If you need some more ideas, these websites provide ideas and resources for individual, schools, faith groups, community groups and businesses.

Note: Ros Wade is the Chair of RCE London

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  • Comments Off on Celebrating 10 years, RCE London holds webinars on Art, Education, Storytelling, Biodiversity and COP26

RCE London is celebrating 10 years since it was endorsed and admitted to the global RCE network (Regional Centre of Expertise for Education for Sustainable Development) by the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). It is established at London South Bank University (LSBU).

To commemorate this milestone year, RCE London is holding a virtual webinar series entitled ‘Sustainability and Beyond’ with the emphasis around the Sustainable Development Goals. The series has been curated in partnership with LSBU’s Sustainability Research Group and will include several guest speakers joining us to celebrate and share their expertise.

Check out the schedule below (starting at 5pm):

30 Sept 2021

Art, Nature and Sustainability

By Hugh Atkinson

21 Oct 2021

Education for Sustainable Development: past, present and future

Dr Vasiliki Kioupi Vasiliki, Professor Daniella Tilbury, Dr Jaya Gajparia and Professor Ros Wade

25 Nov 2021

Storytelling, documenting, inspiring

Professor Ros Wade and Sigfried Janzing

27 Jan 2022


Dr Neil Herrington

24 Feb 2022

After COP 26, where to next?

Dr Alan Winter and Lynn Vickery

To see the details of each event and to sign up, visit:

All events will be delivered virtually. They’re free to attend and everyone is welcome.

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  • Comments Off on Webinar: COMMEET’s new toolkit for community groups: Promoting the wellbeing of migrants and displaced persons

Titled ‘Promoting the wellbeing of migrants and displaced persons’, a webinar will be launched for community groups, informing COMMEET’s new toolkit on 24 September, 2020, 10.00–11.30 (UK time) free of charge.

The toolkit was initiated by the COMMEET Fellowship for Community Empowerment and developed with an international team of experts and practitioners in partnership with the London Regional Centre on Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) (

The toolkit provides a 10 point plan for community groups who wish to promote wellbeing and inclusion. Proposed activities address negative perceptions and stereotypes of migrants and offer ideas to support the challenges they face. Activities can be adapted for different regions and countries. Examples and stories from around the globe provide inspiration and encouragement for community self empowerment. Forced migration as a result of conflict, persecution, climate change, natural disaster or extreme poverty is now at unprecedented levels (UNHCR 2019). The world crisis over the Covid 19 virus has shown that there is a danger that some vulnerable communities can be sidelined or forgotten.

This webinar will discuss ways in which the toolkit can help communities to welcome and include migrants and displaced people. In doing so, it will demonstrate how this can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Following an introduction and welcome by Jos Hermans (Founder of COMMEET), Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak (Rector of the International Islamic University Malaysia IIUM) will deliver a Keynote speech. Then, Ros Wade (London RCE) will give a brief outline of the toolkit.

After that, there will be a panel discussion with members of the toolkit team (Chair Ros Wade with Saima Raza, Ahmet Sayer, Akpezi Ogbuigwe, Sigfried Janzing).

This event will be delivered virtually using Zoom Webinar and hosted by LSBU.

To register, please visit the Eventbrite page:


COMMEET Fellowship for Community Empowerment

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Dr Hugh Atkinson, London RCE

Over the last decade or more the image of global finance has taken something of a battering, Examples include excessive corporate pay, short term speculation, and the miss selling of pensions.  The culmination of such hubris was the global financial crisis of 2007/8 when the illicit acts of some of the world’s biggest banks and financial institutions brought the global economy to its knees, inflicting misery and hardship on countless millions of people.

But just as global finance has been a big part of the problem in attempting to create a more socially just and sustainable world, so it also has the potential to be an important part of the solution. But how does this work you may well ask?Well for one thing, as from 2020 all financial advisers will have to ask their clients if they want to invest in ethical products to tackle the climate emergency and help shape a more sustainable world. Failure to do so could constitute miss selling.

On a broader level, a key aspect of making finance work for the common good is through much greater transparency on the workings of what is a very opaque system. It might seem a strange thing to say but the solution for the future is to go back to the past. In the nineteenth century if you went to the London Stock Exchange you would have a very good idea of who owned what company, what was their main source of business, and what they invested in. If we fast forward to the twenty first century, the world of finance is more akin to a labyrinth of complex patterns of ownership and investments which can be very difficult to penetrate. However, a number of initiatives are out there which are seeking to address this challenge.

One such initiative is the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials or PCAF.

 The PCAF has estimated that since the Paris Climate Agreement, the largest global banks have invested some $2 trillion dollars in fossils fuels. The PCAF is a global partnership of financial institutions which have worked together to create a standardised way to capture their carbon footprint, both direct and indirect. Banks and other financial institutions supporting the PCAF include ABN Ambro, Amalgamated Bank, ASN Bank and the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. Such innovative approaches have the potential to make the finance sector a key player in creating a more sustainable world and taking effective action to tackle the climate emergency.

Another important initiative is that of the World Benchmarking Alliance or WBA. Its main aim is to build a movement to measure and incentivise business impact towards a sustainable future that works for everyone. One of its principal aims is to scale up and redirect private capital towards the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate investment. The WBA brings together a broad range of stakeholders from the world of finance (including Aviva, ABN Ambro, Allianz Global Investors, and Bridges Fund Management, NGOs (including Oxfam and WWF) and government. Its strategy is to develop a benchmark index that will compare private sector companies and financial institutions progress on the SDGs across a range of policy areas including financial systems, decarbonisation and energy, and agriculture and food.

Corporate Citizenship has argued that if the benchmark index takes off it could shake up the investment community. And indeed the investment community does need to be shaken up very rapidly if we are to effectively tackle the climate emergency and build a more sustainable world. Data from the Menzies Australia Institute shows that 93 per cent of institutional investors report that climate change has still not been priced into key global financial markets as an investment risk. This includes investments in fossil fuel companies whose balance sheets contain stranded assets such as oil and coal reserves which can never be realised if we are to meet the agreed global agreements on greenhouse gas emissions.

To sum up, there is no doubt that the global financial system has a key role to play in efforts to tackle the climate emergency and build a more sustainable world. We have noted some promising initiatives with regard to this. But there is still so much that needs to be done. The United Nations Environment Programme has spoken out on the limited progress on sustainable finance to address the climate emergency. What is required is a cultural change away from short term financial gain, what the outgoing Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has called the tragedy of the horizon, What is need is a more holistic and systems based approach to the relationship between finance and the world we live in. We need an end to investment that damages both people and planet. To put it simply: the first rule of capitalism is Do not kill your customers!

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  • Comments Off on A Visit to the DH Lawrence Ranch

Professor Ros Wade and Dr Hugh Atkinson visited the DH Lawrence Ranch in New Mexico. The following piece by Ros appeared in the University of New Mexico website.

A Visit to the DH Lawrence Ranch in Taos, NM,-nm.html

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  • Comments Off on Debating Brexit and the UN Sustainable Development Goals at London South Bank University

In the first week of April, the Sustainability Research Group: Policy, Practice, Pedagogy at London South Bank University, UK held its third Round Table evening in its series of events to present and debate research on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that is undertaken by its members.

Prof Ros Wade

Prof Ros Wade gave a warm welcome to the audience whilst offering a brief summary of the work of the Sustainability Research Group. The Round Table was  ably chaired by Ms. Lynn Vickery who introduced the topic for the evening’s event. Lynn then presented the panellists who were invited to respond to the research presented by Dr. Alex Mifsud. The rich and diverse backgrounds of the three panellists  augured well for a healthy debate.  These were: Ms. Emily Auckland, Network Director at UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD); Dr. Jenneth Parker, Research Director at the Schumacher Institute; and Mr. Graham Petersen, secretary of the Greener Jobs Alliance.

Lynn Vickery
Dr Alex Mifsud

By means of her presentation, Is Brexit Side-lining the Sustainable Development Goals, Alex offered the audience a brief backgound to the approach adopted by the European Union in assisting its Member States in their implementation of the SDGs. She gave an overview of the various policies, financial and legal instruments of the EU that support each of the 17 SDGs. This was followed by a summary of the UK’s approach to the implementation of the SDGs, a role that has been assigned to the Department of International Development (DFID) wherby a shift in the political narrative was noted as a result of the ongoing Brexit uncertainty.  Alex listed the preliminary findings of the research which highlight a lack of visibility, awareness and understanding of the SDGs with Brexit obscuring the obligations of the UK to implement the SDGs as well as reducing the ability of all stakeholders and government to address the issues pertaining to the SDGs. Alex also spoke of the findings that show concerns about the loss of the EU legal framework on standards and policies that could serve as a key platform for UK to implement the SDGs. However, Alex mentioned the significant hope pinned to the fact that the SDGs could serve as a replacement to the legal and policy guarantees UK will lose as a result of exiting the EU. Research also uncovered the pressing sense of panic from all sectors across the UK of the risks and damage from a no deal Brexit and hence ended her presentation on a positive by emphasising the need for stakeholders and individuals to use the SDGs as a springboard for positive and constructive action in the midst of the political and economic uncertainy poised by Brexit. Indeed, can the SDG’s be seen as a key framework to be used across UK organisations to help guide the post Brexit decision making?

Lynn invited Emily to offer her views on the topic who expressed her belief that broadly speaking, the UK is not very good at coherence and systems thinking which explains why the country is not putting policies in place for the implementation of the SDGs. Emily also emphasised the need for stakeholders to fill this void by engaging more actively with the SDGs.

Graham informed those present that the international trade unions have made SDGs a priority which is encouraging. He also spoke about the concerns that Brexit could potentially see a reduction in employment laws and workers’ rights since the UK would be free to amend or even water down the rights and standards currently enjoyed by virtue of EU membership.

Jenneth spoke about the importance of systems thinking within the Brexit and SDGs context particularly since in her view, the UK is actively hostile to the SDGs due to its governance. She spoke of how Brexit is part of a wider agenda that aims to undermine the very values we hold so dear and which are reflected in the 17 SDGs by the United Nations.

A healthy and lively debate ensued with members of the audience touching upon how or whether the SDGs are interlinked to wealth management, climate emergency and labour conditions in some parts of Africa and India.

Informal discussions over some light refreshments brought the Round Table event to an end.

This blog was penned by Dr Alex Mifsud


London South Bank University’s Sustainability Research Group of the Centre for Social Justice and Global Responsibility in association with the London Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) will host a panel discussion on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the university (Room DC12/13 in the Clarence Centre) on Thursday 28 June 2018 from 5 to 6.30pm.


This event is free to attend but prior booking is required. EventBrite page:


Titled ‘The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): from Global to Local’, this insightful discussion on the role of the SDGS in supporting and promoting a more sustainable world feature three distinguished speakers:


Hilary Macleod (Environmental educator and consultant from Queensland, Australia): Has worked with a number of key global agencies including UNESCO.


Dr Katherine Eames (Senior Sustainability Project Officer at the Greater London Authority): Currently co-ordinates the pan-London Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition, which supports London’s students to come up with innovative solutions for London to reduce carbon emissions.


Dr Paul Vare (Senior Lecturer, Research Development, School of Education, University of Gloucestershire): Has extensive international experience in the field of sustainability and his research and teaching specialism is the area of education and sustainable development.


The discussion will be followed by a reception for networking.


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


The 17 SDGs that the 193 member states of the UN signed up to in 2015 are ambitious in scope and, when taken together, they represent a real opportunity to develop a global strategy for localities to fight poverty and global inequality, and to tackle climate change and protect the environment.


LSBU Sustainability Research Group


Launched in November 2017 and hosted by LSBU School of Law and Social Sciences, the Sustainability Research Group on Policy, Practice and Pedagogy aims to achieve sustainability through research, education and action.


The group will develop and promote research and action on sustainability as a new and emerging interdisciplinary area, drawing from the social sciences as well as other disciplinary landscapes in order to address the complex, real-world wicked problems of today, such as climate change,  global inequality, forced migration, biodiversity loss, social and environmental justice.


Framed within the context of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UNESCO’s Global Action Plan (GAP), the group’s work will be linked to the Centre for Social Justice and Global Responsibility at LSBU’s School of Law and Social Sciences.


Building on the work of the London Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), which is hosted at LSBU, the group will also link with the wider global RCE network of the UN University and UNESCO networks.


London Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)


In June 2009, London became the first capital city in Europe to become an RCE. Hosted at LSBU, the London Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a learning community of practice and offers expertise on a range of ESD approaches developed by the London RCE partners and stakeholders for the benefit of Londoners and other places that experience the particular challenges that living in a global city brings. Particular issues include inequality of housing, air quality, employment and green space.


Note: Logos in the graphic are from respective websites.




EventBrite page:


LSBU Centre for Social Justice and Global Responsibility


London RCE (Regional Centre of Expertise) on ESD (Education for Sustainable Development)


UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


Dr Vasiliki Kioupi
Lecturer, Institute of Education, UCL

Dr George Giannopoulos
Lecturer, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UCL

London RCE on ESD

London RCE logo

Global RCE Network logo

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