“The symposium aims to foreground migrant perspectives and experiences, and situate these within contemporary debates on migration and the socio-political context of Brexit Britain as well as the broader debates on migration across Europe. Current political, media and scholarly debates on migration overwhelmingly revolve around the quantifiable economic contribution of migrant workers and less around migrant subjectivities, working lives, wellbeing and contribution to local communities.
Through this symposium, we seek to give greater visibility to migrant experiences. Beyond dominant neoliberal discourses, migrants’ contributions go past the economic into the social and local community spheres, aspects that are important for community cohesion but often under-valued in mainstream debates. Migrant lives and identities are shaped and affected – enabled as well as constrained – by spatial contexts and social relationships as well as place-based socio-economic and political structures.”
Nigeria’s biggest urbanisation conference for fifty years was held on 12th and 13th March 2018 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja. Our School Director of Teaching and Learning, Dr Adegbola Ojo was invited to speak at the Urbanisation Research Nigeria (URN) Conference themed around how Nigeria can benefit from urbanisation.
Dr Ojo’s talk focused on urban crime in Nigeria. His presentation exposed contemporary patterns, trends, drivers, costs and a range of strategic and operational policy responses to the urban crime challenge across multiple cities.
Nigeria’s estimated current population of 180 to 200 million is Africa’s highest. The urban population surpassed the number of people living in rural areas in 2010. By 2050, it is projected that more than 70 percent of the country’s population would be characterised as urban. Urbanisation is therefore a significant issue for decision-makers across Nigeria.
Over the last five years, Dr Ojo has been leading a number of projects within the URN research programme as well as working collaboratively with other scholars. The URN is a research programme (2013 – 2018) supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and implemented by a consortium of global experts led by ICF’s International Development Division in London. The URN programme uses four themes to deliver research:
Urban Change Processes – developing a better understanding of the urbanisation process
Urban Economic Growth, Infrastructure and Livelihoods – examining Nigeria’s urban economies and the opportunities they provide
Well-being of Urban Citizens – exploring the material, relational and subjective dimensions of well-being
Urban Land, Planning and Governance – uncovering the process of urban development based on land resources
ICF International, London – Programme Lead
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
Benue State University, Makurdi
The Foundation for Development and Environmental Initiatives, Ibadan
Federal University of Technology, Minna
University of Calabar
University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Kogi State University, Anyigba
CLEEN Foundation, Abuja
The Development Planning Unit, University College London
University of the West of England, Bristol
University of Ibadan
University of Lagos
School of Geography, University of Lincoln
University of Miami
Michigan State University
The Max Lock Centre, University of Westminster
University of Sheffield
University of Pretoria
Wits University, Johannesburg
The URN programme is designed to produce work that is both academically rigorous and highly relevant to urban policy and practice. The building of urban research capacity in Nigeria has also emerged as an important accomplishment of the programme. The country has a long-run and formerly world-renowned tradition of urban sector research. However, human and financial resource constraints have resulted in a reduction of research capacity. Urban challenges are increasingly of great significance for Nigeria. URN aims at assisting the reinvigoration of the research tradition and urban studies.
To help inform the Baseline Study of SalFar, Professor Dirk Strijker, who holds the Mansholt Chair in Rural Development at the University of Groningen, gave an illuminating presentation at the University of Lincoln on half a century of change in Western European Agriculture.
Prof Strijker began by reminding the audience that agriculture and horticulture account for just 0.6% of the UK’s Gross Added Value (GVA) (2016). Although this is three-times larger in the Netherlands, 1.8% of GVA remains a very small share of the total economy. However, once food supply chains, environmental factors and wider rural development issues are considered, agriculture and horticulture remain very important sectors across Europe.
When thinking about new innovations, such as saline agriculture, it is important to set these in the context of longer terms trends. Prof Strijker explained how the introduction of levies and subsidies to protect a high European price for agricultural output saw a significant investment in technology to capitalise on the guaranteed income streams on offer. He also outlined the significant impacts of the MacSharry reforms in 1992 placing greater emphasis on environmental issues rather than continuing to subsidise higher and higher production levels.
As a tool for illustrating some of the changes among the EU-9 states (Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, UK) Prof Strijker used “Centre of Gravity” modelling which provides a weighted locational average of a variable. Firstly, analysis showed that the central point of Total Agricultural Land was moving in a north-westerly direction over the second half of the 20th Century as a result of new agricultural land being brought into production to the north-west, particularly in the UK and Netherlands, alongside the abandonment of land in southern Italy. When focusing on wheat production, the data also illustrated that the north-easterly direction of travel was more apparent in productivity rates, illustrating that the loss of productivity in the south of Italy was a precursor to land being taken out of production. The sharp leftward turn in 1970 represents the UK and Ireland joining the EU and the sudden increase in wheat production among their farmers. (Note: all 9 countries are included in the analysis for all of the years – this change is a the response of UK and Irish farmers to the new policy environment that guaranteed them higher prices for wheat)
By contrast, the pattern for tobacco told a very different story reflecting changing consumer tastes. Production initially migrated south-eastwards as a response to lower demand for darker French tobaccos but, more recently, this trend reversed in response to declining environmental and institutional productivity conditions in southern Italy.
Finally, Prof Strijker looked at the changing distribution of pig production across the EU-9. The story here is complicated by combinations of technological change and trade agreements. Starting in Hanover and based on potato-feed, the pig industry migrated northwards in response to improved mechanisation in barley and wheat production making these alternative feeds more cost effective. The subsequent shift to the present day dominance of Flanders and southern Holland was explained by the availability of new crops from outside of the EU whose prices were not subject to import tariffs which made locations close to global ports (Rotterdam and Antwerp) most efficient, as illustrated below.
With these very different factors contributing to significant changes in the patterns of European agricultural production across different sectors of activity, it is important to consider how emerging policy changes as well as environmental trends will continue to alter the baseline conditions for saline innovations. On the one hand, environmental changes appear to clearly support the argument that more agricultural land will become saline in future decades. On the other hand, the impacts of personal tastes and preferences, branding and agri-food policy are less certain and can be shaped by key actors engaging in saline innovations.
You can find out more about the SalFar project online.