ELLIE the Robot Dog - Sphere Cover
If you're interested in contributing to a future edition of Sphere, please email the Sustainable Earth Institute on sei@plymouth.ac.uk 

“It is a great pleasure to introduce this edition of Sphere, which focuses on the impactful research projects that take place within the Sustainable Earth Institute (SEI).” 

The SEI plays a key role in the University of Plymouth’s commitment to responding to the UN’s 17 SDGs, advancing research and innovation for a more sustainable earth and delivering real world impact through knowledge exchange. 
The SEI is currently focused on addressing four key research areas which allow the institute to explore four of the 17 goals with a holistic approach:
  • Healthy Landscapes/Life on Land (SDG 15)
  • Natural Resources/Clean Affordable Energy (SDG7)
  • Net-zero Carbon/Climate Action (SDG 13)
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11)
Archie Clements DVC For Research
This holistic approach to research offers rich collaborations which seek to drive solutions to global challenges. The diverse approach to research across the SEI brings together world-leading academics and pioneering early career researchers, as well as drawing on community groups, local businesses and individuals all seeking to innovate and build a resilient future for our planet.
This systems-thinking approach is vital to the Knowledge Exchange work that is built into all SEI projects, work which equips researchers, industry partners and the public with information that allows them to make or  advocate for actionable changes. Those conducting research across the SEI know that the stewardship of our world’s complex ecological and social systems depends on the interconnected efforts of all those who rely on it.
Therefore, the institute is dedicated to carrying out research projects which have a direct impact, offering implementable solutions to local businesses, whether that is in agriculture, energy or creative industries, so that we can better protect our dynamic and unique world. 
These pieces are just a snapshot of the work being undertaken across the SEI and I hope that they interest you as much as they have interested me. Please do take a look at our webpages for further information on past, present and future research across the institute.
Archie Clements 
Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation

Carbon Creativity

The Low Carbon Devon (LCD) project came to an end this summer. The project ran from 2018 – 23 with the aim of helping businesses across Devon with a desire to work more sustainably and reduce their carbon outputs. Of the 73 businesses worked with during the project, 15 developed new products or services with our help. Across the five years, the project achieved impressive results. 
With many researchers on LCD coming from a scientific background, Dr Emma Whittaker led the Creative Industries element of LCD, bringing an arts background. We spoke to Emma about her time as Creative Industries Research Fellow on the Low Carbon Devon Project.
Sustainability Hub Green Wall

ELMS-Exchange: Addressing the Key Environmental Challenges Facing Farmers and Landowners

Aiming to promote sustainable farming practices that support the recovery of local nature and improve food production, the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) is a policy framework created by DEFRA and is integral to the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. 
Led by Professor Will Blake, ELMS-Exchange takes an interdisciplinary, systems-thinking approach and is utilising the expertise from across natural and social sciences. In partnership with the Sustainable Soils Alliance, ELMS-Exchange has hosted workshops centred around the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), exploring how the incentive can deliver for soil health, farm productivity and food security.

AgriTech – The Missing Link

Our world is changing, and agricultural impacts have a large part to play in its decline. In the UK, intensive food production has caused arable soils to lose 40 – 60% of their organic carbon, has removed the food sources and home for our birds, reducing their numbers to less than half of those in 1970 and is responsible for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions. Something needs to be done to slow down, if not stop, the decline of our wildlife, soil health, waterways and climate. 
The Environmental Space Living Lab (ESLL) is a project with a regional focus that could lead to a national, potentially global, impact. Working in partnership with SatAppsCatapult, and a host of wider industry partners, researchers at the University of Plymouth aim to unlock the potential of satellite technology for sustainable land and resource management.
Prof William Blake taking carbon samples in soil
ELLIE the Robot Dog working in a lavender patch

Making Waves in Clean Maritime Innovation

The UK’s Clean Maritime plan sets out a proactive approach for the transition to Net-Zero shipping emissions and is globally recognised as a leader in the field. Following in the UK's wake, The University of Plymouth is at the cutting edge of UK research in clean maritime innovation, with a track record of securing government funding including through the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.
An interdisciplinary approach has been the key to success for the University’s recent research successes, with projects, activities and external collaborations accessing academic expertise from across our diverse staff. Our research brings together interdisciplinary experts.
clean maritime 

Geoscience Diplomacy: Working Together to Solve Global GeoEnvironmental Challenges

Our world faces many pressing challenges, from climate change and environmental degradation to resource scarcity. To address these global challenges and enact global change, we need to encourage innovative solutions and new ways of thinking. Science diplomacy offers one such solution, bringing together scientists, policymakers, and other key stakeholders to collaborate on finding real world solutions to worldwide problems.

A Journey to the Bottom of the Celtic Sea

Onshore and offshore, natural resources have always intertwined with the South West and its coastal communities, with traditional industries like fishing and mining flourishing. But now this region is on the cusp of a fresh frontier, a new decarbonised future that will harness the power of nature through floating offshore windfarms. The sheer scale of the prospect is breath taking, with plans for phase one of the project in place to generate enough energy to power all the homes in the South West and beyond. 
Munira Raji at the UN in Paris
University of Plymouth researchers filming 'A Journey to the Bottom of the Celtic Sea'