Securing livelihoods – what role for science and science communication?

How could anyone be against the idea of securing livelihoods? The concept is a common good that all can get behind. But there is often contention over the details behind how to secure livelihoods. New ideas about how to secure livelihoods can bring real or imagined threat to older ways of doing; many of these new models stem from scientific and technological innovations. Think about the “gig economy” embodied by the ride-sharing applications that are replacing the taxi as a viable business. Or turn to developments in automation and artificial intelligence for ways that the new is threatening fundamental change to old business models and you will quickly find contentious touch points over securing livelihoods in societies. Other sources of contention stem from differences over how societies should invest in industries. One example in the U.S. centers around how much to invest in research and development or subsidies for the coal industry as opposed to wind, solar and other renewable energies.

The Rockefeller Foundation highlights the importance of “expanding opportunity and creating more inclusive markets” in securing livelihoods. This raises issues of equity in access and opportunity. As with all of the foundation’s priority areas, these issues pose challenges for both developed and developing economies.

What are the challenges for securing livelihoods in the countries you are familiar with? How do changing population characteristics play into these challenges? What role does scientific and technological innovation play in these challenges?