School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences

 [PVG Photo]  [UNESCO Chair]

Professor Paul van Gardingen

UNESCO Chair of International Development

Director, Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Programme (

 [ESPA Logo]

A current curriculum vitae can be downloaded here: (PDF Version)

Ensuring that science, technology and innovation contributes to international development.

Good Science has the potential to improve people's lives, locally and globally, both now and in the future.

The application of Science, Technology and Innovation will be essential to support global efforts to achieve the UN's Millennium Development Goals by 2015. My work aims to support this process through four complementary approaches.

  1. Science, Technology and Innovation for Development.
    International development should adopt new approaches for people to improve their own lives and the conditions of those around them.  Science and the knowledge it creates will be essential to this process, providing the technology and innovation that will lift people out of poverty.  My research on forests, biodiversity and the emerging global challenges is designed to provide world-class research that will improve the lives of the poor.

  2. Building Evidence for Development Policy and Practice.
    There is an urgent need to improve the quality of the evidence-based used in international development.  Existing and current research may fail to achieve its potential impact, unless it is linked to both policy and practice.  The SYMFOR framework was designed to integrate and adapt previous forest management research in Indonesia to generate new knowledge that met the needs of both managers and policy makers.  This successful approach was subsequently extended for use in both Brazil and Guyana.  The same challenge faced Defra in 2007 with their Darwin Initiative, an international research programme designed to support the Convention on Biological Diversity.  The Darwin Information Project was designed and implemented as a way to enhance the impact of the initiative's research results from a range of projects which by 2009 totalled 672 projects, in 148 countries and an overall investment by the UK Government of nearly 74 million.

  3. Capacity Building for International Development.
    Building human capacity is widely recognised as being one of the most effective investments to promote international development.  My postgraduate course on International Development  has students coming from around the world each year to learn new skills to support their future careers.  Previous graduates are now working as development professionals and continue to use the course website as a resource.  We also realise that there is far more demand for educational opportunities than can be provided by this single course.  For this reason, the EIDC is working with educational and research partners in developing countries to enhanced the opportunities that they provide locally.  This approach will make use of on-line distance learning materials, as part of the new Global Academy model being adopted by the University of Edinburgh and facilitated through the EIDC.

  4. Institutional Change for Development Impact.
    International development is a rapidly changing field that needs to respond quickly to emerging challenges and opportunities.  It also demands solutions that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.  New institutional structures and arrangements may be necessary to facilitate the transition for researchers and educators to be able enhance their impact, through adopting multidisciplinary approaches and being far more fleet of foot.  Examples of support for the challenging process of institutional change include the establishment of the Edinburgh International Development Centre at the University of Edinburgh, support for the creation of new legal and institutional structures for science, technology and innovation in Rwanda and the scoping study for the Scottish Initiative for International Development Sciences (SIIDS).