Members of the Oxford Martin School’s Advisory Council, who bring an international focus and experience from a broad range of sectors to bear on the School’s strategy and research agenda, gathered for their annual meeting on 11th November.
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University, warmly welcomed the Council. They received an update on developments over the past year from the School’s Director, Professor Sir Charles Godfray, and were treated to presentations from some of the School’s most established programmes as well as some of its newest.
Professor Ian Goldin, Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technical & Economic Change, discussed the team’s research on understanding the stagnation in productivity growth across the world at a time of apparently rapid innovation. He explained the difficulty of understanding this critical economic challenge, showing that no single answer currently proposed can explain why productivity growth has stagnated in the way that it has.
The Council heard from Professor Susan Jebb on the research being undertaken by the Wellcome-funded Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) programme. Professor Jebb also discussed how the findings of the research were being used to support the public in making healthier and more environmentally-friendly choices in their diets. Of particular note was the ‘Meat Your Persona’ installation at an Oxford shopping centre earlier this year, and an idea in progress to help shoppers choose sustainable food at the point of purchase.
Three of the School’s newest programmes also presented their plans to find solutions to achieve multiple, intersecting Sustainable Development Goals. Professor Michael Keith from the Oxford Martin Programme on Informal Cities discussed the data gap that is making it difficult to understand, let alone solve, the problems faced by people living in informal settlements like slums and favelas. He described the work his team will be doing to capture that data.
The challenge of meeting rising demand for cooling as the world experiences warming temperatures and more regular heatwaves was outlined by Dr Radhika Khosla. She also explained that the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Cooling was looking to find a sustainable route for this challenging transition before it fully begins.
Finally, the Council heard about the outstanding work already underway in the Oxford Martin Programme on Transboundary Resource Management. Dr Kevin Wheeler and Dr Deborah Sandler discussed efforts to bring people together in areas facing conflict or political deadlock to address the equitable sharing of precious water resources.
All of this drove a rich discussion on strategic agenda for the school, which continued over a dinner hosted by the Vice-Chancellor.