Bristol Poverty Institute presents - 'Poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals: From the Local to the Global.' The Sixth Peter Townsend Memorial Conference

27 April 2021, 9.30 AM - 29 April 2021, 5.00 PM


The Bristol Poverty Institute (BPI) are delighted to formally announce our upcoming online conference on Poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals: From the Local to the Global.

Every two years since his death in 2009 a free poverty research conference has been organised by the University of Bristol in memory of Professor Peter Townsend, a world leading social scientist who revolutionised poverty research. We invite you to join us at this international, interdisciplinary online conference which will feature a range of sessions across three days, including formal presentations, interactive workshops and networking opportunities. We aim to attract a broad audience, representing the public, private and civil sectors alongside academics from across the globe at all career stages from PhD researchers to world-renowned professors.

The conference is broadly framed around how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can help to reduce poverty. These goals provide a blueprint to help all countries around the world to work together to achieve a better and more sustainable future free from the scourge of poverty.  Our fantastic interdisciplinary programme for this conference is framed around the interconnected SDGs.

We are honoured to have a wide range of speakers and participants from all over the world bringing different theoretical, methodological and disciplinary approaches to the analysis and mitigation of poverty. The conference is structured around six broad thematic sessions aligning with the Bristol Poverty Institute’s areas of research focus. Each session cuts across at least two of the SDGs and, in some cases, many more.

Click the link below to download the full conference programme, including speaker details and session abstracts. A summary of the programme is also at the bottom of this page.

BPI Conference 2021 programme (PDF, 485kB)

We are now inviting submissions for our poster sessions. We welcome submissions from either individuals or teams, and particularly encourage inter- and transdisciplinary and/or international collaborations, provided that your proposed poster topic has a clear link to poverty. To find out more, including how to submit your poster, please visit this page.

Please note: We have taken the decision to waive our conference fees. In lieu of a registration fee, we instead ask all attendees to please make a donation to a poverty-relevant cause of your choosing. This could include, for example, local food banks and/or community-based initiatives, as well as national and international NGOs or campaigning organisations such as the WHO COVID-Solidarity Response Fund. The recommended donation amounts are as follows:

£25     Standard ticket

£10     Student ticket

£5       Low and Middle-Income Country ticket

The conference is free to attend even if you cannot afford to make a donation to an anti-poverty organisation.

When making your donation please feel free to take a screenshot and tag us on Twitter via @bristolpoverty as well as the recipient of your donation with the conference hashtag #BPIconference2021. This is optional.

If you have any queries please contact the BPI team via

Programme Summary 

1. Multidimensional Poverty (Tuesday 27 April, morning)

  • Setting the scene: Poverty in 2021
  • Policy and Poverty Measurement

 2. Child Health and Nutrition (Tuesday 27 April, afternoon)

  • Inequalities and Child Health 1: Child Survival and Inequality in UK  
  • Inequalities and Child Health 2: Codesigning Local Interventions 
  • Early Child Development in Disadvantaged Environments – Developing Appropriate Interventions 

3. Livelihoods and Debt (Wednesday 28 April, morning)

  • Access to welfare benefits and advice and impacts on health in Bristol
  • Closing the digital divide – opportunities and challenges 

4. Food and Nutrition (Wednesday 28 April, afternoon)

  • Food Insecurity and Malnutrition
  • Food, Nutrition, Poverty and SDGs: Beyond Zero Hunger

 5. Engaging with Policy and Practice  (Thursday 29 April, morning)

  • Impact on inequalities: partnering with charities and campaigning organisations   
  • Policy Solutions for a better world

6. Education (Thursday 29 April, afternoon)

  • Critical Perspectives on Education and Poverty Reduction in a Global Context 

We will then have a plenary closing session (Thursday 29 April, afternoon) on the concept of ‘Building Back Fairer, reflecting on the themes and discussions which have emerged through the course of the conference and exploring future directions for poverty alleviation research, policy, and practice.

The full programme, including speaker details and session abstracts will be available shortly. 

This conference is part of the University of Bristol Festival of International Research and Partnerships, a month-long celebration exhibiting, highlighting, and promoting international research collaborations, opportunities, and partnerships from across the University.

Data Bursaries

The Bristol Poverty Institute (BPI) works extensively with partners from all over the globe and we are aware of some of the challenges our collaborators can face in accessing online events, such as the costs involved in using pay-as-you-go internet data. We are therefore delighted to announce that we are making up to 20 data bursaries available to conference attendees for whom data costs would be a barrier to participation.

For further information and to apply for a bursary please visit Bristol Poverty Institute Conference Data Bursaries. 


Bristol University Press


As part of the online conference Bristol University Press have created this virtual space so that they can connect with everyone they would have at the physical event. They are also offering you 50% off a selection of their latest books, as well as free content from the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice.   

The Peter Townsend Memorial Conference Series

Every two years since his death in 2009 a free poverty research conference has been organised by the University of Bristol in memory of Professor Peter Townsend.  

Professor Townsend was one of the World’s greatest social scientists.  He made seminal contributions to the study of inequalities in health, disability, social care of the elderly, human rights, domestic and international social policy.  He is, however, best known for his lifelong work which revolutionised both the theory and practice of poverty research. 

Peter Townsend did not only create new knowledge - he then acted upon it.  He did not just understand the world - he changed it.  His work inspired thousands and benefited millions.  He helped to found both the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and the Disability Alliance, organisations whose advocacy and campaigning work have helped improve many lives.  Peter also worked effectively with politicians and policy makers, such as UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), to improve the human rights of poor adults and children, including campaigning for a global child benefit, as a means to reduce poverty. 

UNICEF acknowledged the debt they owed to him with the following tribute: “Peter Townsend will be missed by UNICEF, but even more by the millions of poor children around the world, who never heard his voice, but whom he never forgot either in his research or in his advocacy, nor, most importantly, in his heart.  Yet his voice will echo beyond his lifetime, and continue to influence efforts to end child poverty, in the rich and the poor world.” 

Peter Townsend’s final lecture, was an e-lecture on Social Policy and Poverty to South African MSc students.  After Peter died the students sent a short and poignant farewell: 

Hamba Kahle – “Go well” Champion of the Poor


Contact information

Sarah Blackmore:

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