Published: 07 May 2020

Networks launched to identify solutions to global challenges

Twenty networks will bring together UK researchers with collaborators from across the developing world to tackle global challenges.

The Global Engagement Networks will develop practical solutions to address issues such as the prevalence of single-use plastic in Kenya, hurricane recovery in the Caribbean and water management across Africa.

Each network, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund, will work on problems and solutions identified within the countries themselves and will bring together a diverse range of organisations and skillsets.

Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI International Champion, said: “Equal partnerships are the cornerstone of the Global Challenges Research Fund – with researchers from the UK working alongside researchers from developing countries to share ideas and expertise to solve global challenges.

“These new Networks have equitability at their heart and are led by researchers from across Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. They’ve been driven by the challenges faced across these regions and bring together diverse teams to identify practical, sustainable and scalable solutions that will improve the lives of many disadvantaged communities worldwide.”

The GCRF Plastics Pollution Governance Framework Network, led by Professor Nicholas Oguge of the University of Nairobi in Kenya and Professor Rosalind Malcolm of the University of Surrey, UK will explore all aspects of plastic use, from the composition of plastics that are imported across Africa to the slum communities who make a livelihood from selling and cleaning discarded plastics.

The network will explore how plastic waste can be better managed across the continent, and how it could be integrated into a circular economy that uses and reuses waste products to deliver economic benefits.

Professor Oguge said: “We are getting the right people together to bring the problems and potential solutions to the surface. We will then work together to develop plastic waste governance at all levels.

“By looking at plastics as part of the circular economy, this GCRF network offers an exciting and important chance to join academics, industry and community groups to improve social structures for our citizens. If plastic waste can be incorporated into a circular economy, then it is no longer waste but part of a sustainable solution that can provide employment.”

Professor Malcolm said: ‘Our network starts with 6 partner countries in Africa together with support from a number of others around the world.  The experiences of governing plastics in these countries will be shared and solutions sought to design an effective system for a circular plastics economy which will seek to turn plastic waste into a resource which will not damage the environment and human health. The project will run concurrently with our AHRC / GCRF funded project, ‘The Wicked Problem of Plastics’ which will look at the messages and communications which are made and which influence regulators and policy-makers about the management of plastic and its waste.’

The network demonstrates the global, collaborative scope of the Global Engagement Networks, as researchers will be working with academics and businesses from across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Malawi, as well as in the UK, Denmark, Sweden and the Caribbean.

The GCRF Global Engagement Networks:

  • GCRF Anaemia Network (ANET)

    Led by: Professor Kamija Phiri, University of Malawi

  • GCRF Andean Network for Venezuelan Migrants

    Led by: Dr Juan Arroyo Laguna, Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia

  • GCRF Building Cultures of Peace in Rwanda Schools Network

    Led by: Dr Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo, University of Rwanda

  • GCRF Caribbean Resilience and Recovery Knowledge Network

    Led by: Dr Donovan Campbell, University of the West Indies

  • GCRF Clean Environment and Planetary Health in Asia (CEPHA) Network

    Led by: Professor Shiva Nagendra, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

  • GCRF Community, Science and Education Network

    Led by: Dr Armando Solares-Rojas, Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico

  • GCRF Gender and Violent Extremism Network

    Led by: Dr Fatuma Ahmed Ali, United States International University

  • GCRF Global Engagement Network on Internal Displacement in Africa (GENIDA)

    Led by: Dr Romola Adeola, University of Pretoria

  • GCRF Global Health and Clean Water Network

    Led by: Professor Jacquie McGlade, British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi

  • GCRF Groundwater for Resilience in Africa Network

    Led by: Dr Karen Grothe Villholth, International Water Management Institute

  • GCRF Mine Dust and Health Network

    Led by Associate Professor Jennifer Broadhurst, University of Cape Town

  • GCRF Open Network for Water-Related Diseases (ONWARD)

    Led by: Dr Milton Kampel, Division for Remote Sensing (Divisão de Sensoriamento Remoto) at the National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), Brazil

  • GCRF Partnerships for Resilience through Innovation and Integrated Management of Emergencies and Disasters (PRIMED)

    Led by: Dr Adelina Mensah, University of Ghana

  • The GCRF Plastics Pollution Governance Framework Network

    Led by: Professor Nicholas Oguge, University of Nairobi

  • GCRF Resilience to Coupled Human-Natural Multi-hazards Network

    Led by: Dr Nguyen Quoc Dinh, Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources

  • GCRF Resilient Silk Route Cultural Heritage Network

    Led by: Dr Elmira Köchümkulova, University of Central Asia

  • GCRF Slavery Free Communities Network

    Led by: Dr Silvia Pinheiro, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro

  • GCRF TB Epidemic in the Post-Soviet Countries Network

    Led by: Dr Kateryna Bornukova, Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC)

  • GCRF Urban Violence & Climate Change Network

    Led by: Dr Nausheen Anwar, Institute of Business Administration

  • GCRF Vector-borne disease control in Venezuela Network

    Led by: Dr Mario Grijalva, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador

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