The Centre for Sustainability Transitions (CST) is a flagship research initiative at Stellenbosch University (SU) that brings together research on transdisciplinary, complexity, sustainability and social-ecological resilience to inform pressing national, continental and global sustainability and development challenges.

The CST hosts leading scientists and students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and fosters collaborations with a variety of departments across the university, nationally and globally, providing a vibrant hub for solution-oriented, transdisciplinary sustainability science, that is primarily funded from external research grants.

The primary objective of the CST is to co-produce transformational knowledge on the dynamics of multi-scale social-ecological change in partnership with key stakeholders, and thereby provide strategic insights into the new modes of research and governance that can bring about a just transition to a more equitable and sustainable society, in southern Africa and globally.

This call is associated with the Reconfiguring Energy for Social Equity (ReSET) research project, led by Dr Megan Davies. The CST seeks to contract a Researcher to join the ReSET project, which forms part of the Energy Transitions research group.

About the Reconfiguring Energy for Social Equity (ReSET) research project    

ReSET is a research collaboration funded by the Volkswagen Foundation with academic partners from the Netherlands (Utrecht University), India (Indian Institute for Human Settlements), Germany (University of Freiburg) and South Africa (Stellenbosch University). ReSET aims to investigate how the transition from fossil to renewable energy can be leveraged to address the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG7 (transition to renewables) and, while doing so, deliver on SDG5 & SDG10 (reducing inequalities) and SDG16 (inclusive and just institutions). This 4-year project (2020 – 2024) also investigates how investments in the energy transition can improve social equity in the global north and south and illuminate key principles that can help achieve this.

ReSET’s guiding research question is: what processes of institutional work determine the social equity outcomes (SEOs) of investments in the energy transition?

We address this question by investigating in four countries the emergence of RE configurations that explicitly aim to improve social equity outcomes by re-imagining, re-coding and re-configuring the energy transition.

This research position relates to a specific work package of the ReSET project, namely, Reconfiguring Energy for Post-Covid-19 Development (ReCODE). A core focus of this work will be convening and facilitating an international community of practice with stakeholders, including practitioners and experts in the fields of climate finance and development finance, as well as researchers and students in the energy transitions and sustainable development fields. This community of practice will participate in a ‘mixed classroom’, a hybrid transdisciplinary research initiative hosted over a six- to nine-month period, which brings together researchers, professionals and students in a creative and innovative format to explore ideas together. The Researcher will co-design and co-lead this community of practice and the mixed classroom initiative, where design thinking and `techniques of futuring’ will be employed to facilitate knowledge co-production.

ReCODE addresses the problem of how investments in renewable energy may be leveraged for the socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, by development finance institutions (DFIs) and other financial actors. To do so, it investigates whether and how this crisis creates a window of opportunity for the work that goes into ‘recoding’ the rules in financial decision-making in terms of the potential alignments between investments in renewable energy (SDG7) and other SDGs. By developing a comparative understanding of how actors in DFIs can rewrite the rules of the game, ReCODE aims to adapt and refocus the overarching ReSET project to changed circumstances in a post-COVID-19 world.

The research questions in ReCODE are:

  • How/to what extent does the COVID-19 crisis change how DFIs look at greening their investments in development projects, in particular in relation to renewable energy?   
  • How can the present COVID-19 crisis provide a window of opportunity for institutional work on re-aligning investments in renewable energy and developmental objectives within Development Finance Institutions?  

The position is for an 18-month contract appointment. The continuation of the position is subject to the availability of funding. The researcher will work closely with, and report to, Dr. Megan Davies and Prof. Mark Swilling at the Centre for Sustainability Transitions.

For more information, and to apply, click here.