Smallholding farmer in India

Supporting global sustainable development

Increasing environmental degradation, due to global population growth and climate change among other causes, was a major consideration in the formulation of the United Nations UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SUNRISE supports the realisation of the SDGs by improving livelihoods and wellbeing through research to:

  • reduce environmental risk
  • improve environmental quality
  • improve reliability of the supply of food, water and other natural resources

UKCEH will apply its expertise to investigate and provide advice on flood and drought modelling and water management, improving air quality, reduced livestock disease, enhancing soil quality and the sustainability and resilience of smallhold farming systems.

A key challenge is to adapt and transfer existing environmental research methods and models, developed in the UK for relatively un-degraded and highly monitored systems, for effective use in degraded and data sparse contexts.

SUNRISE will deliver its objectives through:

  • Developing hydro-climate services for water management

This aims to address the challenge of understanding and predicting water dynamics in areas of incomplete and spatially diverse data, and so improve decision-making. (Lead scientist: Harry Dixon)

  • Restoration and remediation of degraded resources

This will fill a knowledge gap by attributing the main causes of degradation of air quality, water and soil systems and by determining the key factors that affect both rate and stability of recovery. (Lead scientist: Niall McNamara)

  • Managing land to ensure environmental sustainability

This will investigate the factors limiting productivity and/or compromising the resilience of smallholder farming systems in and investigate new interventions to enable the local development of systems that are resilient to environmental change. (Lead scientist: Stephen Cavers)

SUNRISE will directly contribute to the following SDGs by providing new understanding to inform and improve sustainable environmental management, at relevant scales in parts of Asia (including China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia) and parts of sub-Saharan Africa (including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi):

Chair, Programme Executive Board

Gwyn Rees, Science Area Head Water Resources


The four year SUNRISE programme is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) as part of a National Capability Long-Term Science - Official Development Assistance (LTS-ODA) Award and will run until [end] March 2021.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted on 25 September 2015 when countries came together with a unified commitment to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

Contact us

SUNRISE Project office