Global development experts

Our global development experts are committed to creating meaningful change in communities around the world.

Our impact

Gender and gemstones

UQ Sustainable Minerals Institute researcher Lynda Lawson is working with international partners to improve the livelihood of women sapphire miners in Madagascar. Women sapphire miners are among the poorest in Madagascar with very low rates of education and few opportunities. Despite while the price for small, rough stones can be under a dollar a carat, when cut and polished, the best of these stones can fetch up to A$100 a carat. Lawson worked with UQ geology graduate and gemmologist Charles Lawson to create a basic field gemmology course for the region’s women miners. Her research has led to the development of training and resources that are empowering Madagascar’s women miners and improving their financial autonomy and independence, while also helping to create change for the gem industry globally.

Combating migrant smuggling in Southeast Asia

UQ researchers are promoting regional approaches to make migration safer and criminalise the smuggling of migrants in South-East Asia. Led by Professor Schloenhardt, the research revealed that great disparities exist between the ways in which individual countries design, express, and enforce their offences relating to the smuggling of migrants, and that some States have yet to legislate on this issue. The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has started a three-year work program to further explore this topic and examine avenues for regional cooperation to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants

Optimising community-based climate change adaptation in the Pacific Islands

Donor organisations that fund climate change projects are spending billions of dollars per year in the Pacific. But with their largely underwhelming adaptation successes, aid is being redirected towards new approaches that are rarely monitored. A research team led by Dr Karen McNamara evaluated the effectiveness of a series of community-based adaptation initiatives in 20 communities in Fiji, Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia between 2017 and 2019. Through a series of focus groups and interviews, researchers collected local perspectives on the effectiveness, appropriateness, impact, sustainability and equity of 32 community-based adaptation initiatives. The project's findings and recommendations provide best practice to guide the effective use of future resources by NGOs, donors and governments.

Development researchers

Our researchers are working to address the most pressing challenges facing the developing world — including climate change and the environment, agriculture and food security, governance, health and wellbeing, and gender equality. 

Through close engagement with our external partners and stakeholders, our researchers apply their expertise through development projects, fieldwork, applied research, capability building, knowledge management and policy-making.

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Video: Associate Professor Elske van de Fliert speaks about her passion for communication that brings social change.