Geoscience for Sustainable Futures : our journey towards impact

Gill, Joel C.; Sargeant, Susanne; Dobbs, Marcus; Mills, Keely; White, Debbie. 2022 Geoscience for Sustainable Futures : our journey towards impact. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 53pp. (OR/22/017) (Unpublished)

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This report describes the BGS Geoscience for Sustainable Futures (GSF) National Capability (NC)/Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme. It used ODA funding to advance collaborative geoscience research and innovation to address challenges in lower- and middle-income countries. We describe the programme’s progress towards achieving lasting change (‘impact’) in the contexts where activities were carried out. These activities were organised into projects under three research platforms (RPs) focusing on different development issues and working in different regions: • RP1: integrated resource management in eastern Africa (addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2, 3, 6 and 12) • RP2: resilience of Asian cities (SDGs 6, 11 and 13) • RP3: global geological risk (SDGs 1, 9 and 11) For each platform, a ‘Theory of Change’ (ToC) approach was used to plan and navigate the pathway to impact. This approach requires first analysing the institutional and environmental context of the location being considered, so that an impact objective may be defined. From this, the behaviour and capacity changes (‘outcomes’) that are expected to lead to that impact are identified. Those outcomes will rely on outputs such as reports, policy briefing notes, databases and web portals, which are produced by various activities, such as workshops, research and conference attendance. An idealised ToC is shown in Figure 1. The theories of change developed during the programme in this report are significantly more complex. As of 27 May 2022, the programme’s outputs include: • 96 peer-review journal articles • 42 reports • 8 book chapters • 15 maps • 14 technical products, databases and datasets • 4 webtools Around 200 engagement activities have also been undertaken. To assess how much progress the RPs have made towards producing outcomes and impact, ‘impact narratives’ were prepared for each project and analysed to determine the types of outcome that had emerged or were emerging as of August 2021: • conceptual: changes in knowledge, understanding and attitudes • capacity (skills) strengthening: increased ability (of individuals and organisations) to conduct similar work in future • enduring connectivity: changes to the existence and strength of networks of people and one-to-one relationships, and organisations who understand and can make use of the research • instrumental: changes in policy and practice While it is possible to point to many positive outcomes arising from the GSF programme (Table 1), we recognise the journey to impact is not yet over. The knowledge, skills and relationships developed will potentially contribute to further outcomes and impact after the programme ends. Maximising this potential impact will depend on the steps taken by BGS staff and our partners in the coming months and years. Numerous lessons have been learned during the programme about doing impact-focused research and using ToC. They point to the need for greater input from partners in: • developing theories of change • detailed stakeholder mapping • emphasising knowledge brokering activities • clear indicators of progress towards impact that can be monitored both during a project and after it ends

Item Type: Publication - Report
Funders/Sponsors: British Geological Survey
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item has been internally reviewed, but not externally peer-reviewed.
Date made live: 03 Oct 2022 12:45 +0 (UTC)

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