Sustainability network’s ‘reasons to be cheerful’

Posted on: 23 April, 2021

Last month, we shared an update on the progress made by the GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE FUTURES: Progress through Partnerships (GSF PtP) Network since its inception. Here, the Network’s founder and UCEM’s research assistant – education and sustainability, Dr Renuka Thakore, provides an update on its activity during the past month.

Renuka Thakore

Reasons to be cheerful

This month, we have made extensive progress with 125 coordinators from 28 new countries joining the Network. I attended the UK Research and Innovation Early Career Researcher (UKRI ECR) Forum, and engaged with the Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN), the Future Earth Knowledge-Action Network (KAN) on Sustainable Consumption and Production, and the International Research Network on Resilient Climate Development which enabled me to meet with many like-minded individuals and had a huge impact in increasing our Network’s numbers.

The GSF PtP Network now has 255 coordinators from 70 countries and I hope it will keep growing which will help us realise the aims and ambitions of the Network.


Collaboration between countries and coordinators have brought new opportunities for the Network researchers, and ‘progress through partnerships’ seems to be a useful strategy to strengthen the research communities in low- and middle-income countries and contribute towards the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The objective of the Network, among other things, is to create an opportunity for researchers to collaborate, exchange experiences and network. Most importantly, the Network seeks to contribute towards the SDGs, including reducing inequalities while providing better societies and economies in all parts of the world.

I am proud to share a few recent examples of ‘progress through partnerships’ and the research activities that the Network have taken part in.

Controlling household waste in Brazil (related SDGs: 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 17)

I worked with Prof Dr Jose Esteves from the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná in Brazil to deliver an innovative project entitled ‘Trash Buddy’.

The composting of household organic waste for reuse is still a major challenge in urban centres. With the advent of smart and sustainable cities, the issue of disposing of produced waste has become one of the main environmental problems in Brazil. Despite the existence of a legal framework that requires municipalities to stop using spawning landfills (known as garbage city dumps), only a small portion in Brazil adopted the established benchmarks in their urban planning, and the expectation is that even the legal and financial sanctions that may have been established for non-compliance with the legislation will do little to change this. Terms of adjustment of conduct (TACs) and heavy government fines have done little to mitigate the problem.

This project is targeting the core problem. The proposal with Trash Buddy is that we suggest equipping homes with simple technology which educates families on environmentalism to bring about a change in how Brazilians consume products. By educating people about the environmental impacts of waste, we hope more Brazilians will choose to dispose of their waste in the most sustainable manner.

Gender equality in STEM in Africa (related SDGs: 4, 5, 8, 10 and 17)

Dr Nseabasi Nsikakabasi Etim from Akwa Ibom State University in Nigeria and I have joined a consortium working on a proposal for ‘The Gender in STEM Research Initiative: Advancing gender analysis and women’s leadership in STEM’.

Dr Nseabasi Nsikakabasi Etim was recently recognised as an affiliate of the African Academy of Science. She is a lecturer in the Department of Animal Science and has conducted several ground-breaking research projects which have won several awards in the UK, Sri Lanka, India, and Ghana. She has also inspired several students in different countries of the world to love and choose STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. Her great passion and contributions to science led to her selection as a future leader at the 2017 Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum in Japan.

STRIDES (related SDGs: 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 17)

Prof Dr Harrysson Luiz Da Silva from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil and I, along with other Network coordinators, are developing an initial publication on the Systemic Transformative and Resilient Drivers for Education for Sustainability (STRIDES) project.

In 2007, Dr da Silva won an award from the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis for structuring an international network for the management of environmental conflicts, which managed to solve cross-border problems without the intervention of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the countries involved in the La Plata Basin in South America. He is actively supporting our Network activities, especially the STRIDES project that aims to promote an educational system in which feelings and emotions are the basis of those involved.

Social media activity

We are continuing to grow awareness of the SDGs through our social media channels. The past month has focused on SDGs 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land), 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships). Our follower numbers are growing. A Slack channel has also been created which offers the coordinators a space for immediate engagement and information-sharing.

Curriculum discussion

The April monthly meeting focused on integrating the SDGs into the curriculum. Many coordinators participated in the debate which acknowledged that there is a long way to go in embedding SDGs in curriculums across the world.

Get involved!

We are seeking participants to take part in a survey for the benefit of the STRIDES project. We are developing publications based on the responses. Get in touch with me if you are interested in joining the project.

Date for the diary

As part of my role on the Future Earth Knowledge-Action Network on Sustainable Consumption and Production (KAN SSCP) steering committee, I am developing a working group for GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE FUTURES: Progress through Partnerships. I’m hosting a webinar on Tuesday, 11 May from 12-1pm (BST) where I will present the objectives and activities of the Network and discuss how this working group can inspire and enable more active interaction. All stakeholders are invited to engage and plan collaborative activities and develop joint projects under this working group. I will also provide an update on current projects that are suitable for such collaborative activities.

If you would like to join the network, fill out this form, or if you wish to share news, research, stories, events or presentations for the attention of the Network, please email me on