Fully Funded Ph.d in Natural Capital Accounting – University of Leeds

Project Description:

The area of Natural Capital Accounting, understood as the process of calculating the total stocks and flows of ecosystem services in a given ecosystem or region, is likely to be very topical internationally in the next 5- 10 years. Specially, Natural Capital Accounting will be one of the instruments by which Nation States and the UN consider whether they have met some of their international environmental commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change or the Aichi Targets of the Convention of Biological Diversity. However, it is increasingly noted that standard natural accounting processes are detached from the philosophy behind many of these global agreements, namely the importance of democracy, empowerment, collective learning and public participation. Furthermore, there has been little progress on combining ‘human and social rights’ with ‘natural limits’ in the discourse and practice around natural capital accounting.

This studentship is focused on addressing a critical challenge in the operationalization of Natural Capital accounting in this context, i.e. understanding the distribution of benefits from ecosystem services across society. To date, there has been little if any attention to the distribution of benefits and dis-benefits derived from natural capital across socio-demographic groups in the standard economic valuation or accounting literatures, nor how the benefits of conservation (and costs of degradation) are distributed across different generations. This is despite the actual and potential private and public benefits being often referred to in narratives about the need to protect or restore natural capital. Under the supervision of two leading scholars on the area of environmental governance and ecosystem services, the student will have the opportunity to develop and implement his/her own ideas on addressing this critical challenge and making a significant contribution to policy practice in this area at the national and international level. The successful candidate will be encouraged to adopt a transdisciplinary research approach, working in partnership with natural scientists and non-academic stakeholders, including the Scottish Forum for Natural Capital.

Eligibility Criteria:

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, a minimum British Honours Degree 2.1 (or equivalent) in Economics, Geography, Sustainability and Environmental Management or similar that has exposed them to an understanding of managing and valuing natural systems.

They should have a working knowledge of Natural Capital and ecosystem service concepts, approaches to valuation, approaches to equity, equality, fairness and distributive justice.

They should have experience in literature searching and reviewing; methodological design; primary data collection and analysis; communicating and disseminating results to a range of audiences. They should have an aptitude for: both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis.

Supervision and location of study:

This is a joint studentship by the James Hutton Institute and the University of Leeds, which will be the awarding institution. The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr Julia Martin-Ortega (University of Leeds) and Dr Kirsty Blackstock (The James Hutton Institute).

The location of study is Leeds and Aberdeen. The successful candidate is expected to spend time at both those locations. They will be predominantly based in Leeds for the first year but fieldwork will take place in Scotland. They will also be expected to travel within the UK and internationally to discuss and disseminate their results.

Funded Amount:

The studentship is fully funded by the Macaulay Development Trust and will be part of a cluster of research focusing on natural capital accounting at James Hutton Institute. Funding is available for European applications, but worldwide applicants who possess suitable self-funding are also invited to apply. The funding is available for three years and will be open to UK and EU candidates only. Funding will cover tuition fees at the current RCUK rates of £4,250. A tax free stipend of £19,506 will also be covered.

Application Procedure:

Candidates should apply to the James Hutton Institute by filling in the appropriate applications forms and attaching their CV with the application forms.

James Hutton Postgraduate Application Form can be obtained by contacting Mrs Laura Logie, Postgraduate School Administrator (Laura.Logie(at)hutton.ac.uk).

The most promising candidates will be interviewed in October/November 2017 and the successful applicant will start at University of Leeds in February 2018.

Informal inquiries should be made to Dr Blackstock (kirsky.blackstock(at)hutton.ac.ukkirsty.blackstock(at)hutton.ac.uk) or Dr Martin-Ortega (J.MartinOrtega(at)leeds.ac.uk) to discuss potential project proposal development.

SupervisorsDr J Martin-Ortega and Dr K Blackstock

Application deadline: 17th September 2017

Leave a Reply