Understanding the scaling of impacts of Natural Climate Solutions for people, nature, and the climate.


Supervisor: Morena Mills

Non-accademic partner: Conservation International

Studentship start date: 01/10/2023

Application deadline: 01/03/2023

Application details: To apply, please:
• Submit (with the subject line with the following format surname_initial_CASE) the following to Dr Morena Mills (m.mills@imperial.ac.uk), Dr Thomas Pienkowski (t.pienkowski@imperial.ac.uk), and Dr Arundhati Jagadish (ajagadish@conservation.org):
o Diversity Monitoring Form: https://kings.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/liss-dtp-diversity-monitoring-for-case-candidates-2023-ent
o Cover letter (maximum 2 pages) describing your interest and competencies relevant to the project.
o CV with two referees.
o Transcripts.

Submit an application for the Environmental Policy Research (PhD) at the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London through Imperial Gateway.

Details and a link to Imperial Gateway can be found here: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/apply/postgraduate-doctoral/application-process/

Morena Mills:

Link to Imperial Application Gateway here

The world faces unprecedented threats to its climate and biodiversity, increasingly impacting people worldwide. In response, Natural Climate Solutions aim to restore, manage, and protect nature to tackle these challenges. These Solutions might play a significant role in government, business, and civil society plans to meet global sustainability goals. For example, the Bonn Challenge is a major international initiative to restore 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. Similarly, restoration is a core approach in Conservation International’s (CI) Natural Climate Solutions Roadmap. As such, there have been widespread calls to “scale up” the implementation of Natural Climate Solutions.

But the success of these Solutions in delivering positive outcomes at scale for people, nature, and the climate has been mixed. In some cases, these initiatives fail to get widely adopted. For example, numerous forest restoration projects have not gone beyond the piloting stage. In other instances, these initiatives are implemented at scale but do not contribute to sustainable development outcomes. For instance, over one million mangrove seedlings were planted on the Filipino island of Luzon in 2012, but by 2020 less than 2% had survived. Conversely, some Natural Climate Solution initiatives have successfully delivered impacts at scale, such as the Nepal Community Forestry Program, which recovered forests while delivering livelihood benefits across 19,000 community forestry groups.

This LISS DTP CASE aims to identify the features of Natural Climate Solution initiatives that influence both their likelihood of “scaling up” and their ability to deliver positive outcomes. Equally, the project will also identify trade-offs between scalability and effectiveness. Identifying such synergies and trade-offs will help guide the design of initiatives with scalable impacts.

This LISS DTP CASE will leverage collaboration between Imperial College London and CI. The LISS DTP student could lead a comparative case study across several project sites. Candidate sites could include those in East Africa, South America, Asia, and elsewhere. The project is expected to use mixed qualitative and quantitative methods, potentially including spatial statistical analysis.

The CASE project will provide the student with unique training opportunities, developing, implementing, and disseminating research with a major international conservation organisation.

The LISS DTP CASE will involve three main components, conducted simultaneously across 2-3 case sites, answering three questions:

1. What are the factors that influence why some communities engage in Natural Climate Solution projects while others do not? This question will be explored through semi-structured key informant interviews among community representatives.

2. What are the predicted climate and biodiversity impacts of the project? This question will be answered by combining spatial data on the location of restoration with secondary information.

3. What are the short-term positive and negative impacts of the project on different aspects of residents’ well-being? This question will be explored through surveys among households in adopter communities. It will provide the student with unique training opportunities, developing, implementing, and disseminating research with a major international conservation organisation.