Green Transformations

Accelerating sustainability is a priority theme of IDS. The undeniable search for more material prosperity by more and more people undermines the sustainability of human life on our planet. The newly established Green Transformations Cluster concentrates on this dilemma and the name seeks to bring this out. We define green transformations as processes of restructuring which bring the economy within the planetary boundaries.

We prioritise two big changes:

  • From fossil fuel to renewable energy
  • From throw away to circular economy.

Our research on these transformations will concentrate on two questions:

  • Who drives these green transformations or holds them back? How do these drivers differ between levels of development, institutional systems and stages of policy process?
  • Do green transformations and social inclusion reinforce each other? Under what conditions? How can these conditions be influenced by policy?

Papers and blogs arising from these projects pay particular attention to the role of Transformative Alliances in accelerating sustainability. This Briefing Paper: From Sustainable Development to the Green Transformation shows how our work fits in the green conceptual landscape and how we see the way forward.

The work on Green Transformations is being carried out in conjunction with various Centres of IDS and the University of Sussex, notably the STEPS CentreSPRU and the Centre for Global Political Economy. We also work in close collaboration with several centres in other countries which are named on the web pages of specific projects.

Key contacts

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Hannah Corbett

Head of Communications and Engagement

+44 (0)1273 915640



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Ana Pueyo

Research Fellow

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Ashish Chaturvedi

Honorary Associate

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Dirk Willenbockel

Research Fellow

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Dominic Glover

Research Fellow

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Emilie Wilson

Communications Officer

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Georgina Powell-Stevens

Hub Administration Manager

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Hubert Schmitz

Emeritus Fellow

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Ian Scoones

Research Fellow

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Jing Gu

Research Fellow, Centre Director

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John Thompson

Research Fellow

Katy Hutchison

Assistant Project Accountant

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Lars Otto Naess

Research Fellow

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Mike Morris

Honorary Associate

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Patrick Schröder

Research Fellow

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Simon Jeavons

Senior Project Support Officer

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Simon Maxwell

Emeritus Fellow

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Sufang Zhang

Honorary Associate

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Wei Shen

Research Fellow



CDC Longitudinal Development Impact Study

The CDC Group plc is a Development Finance Institution (DFI) wholly owned by the UK government. Its mission is to support the growth of businesses and infrastructure development throughout Africa and South Asia in order to create jobs and make a difference to people’s lives in some of the poorest areas of the world.


Requirements for a Sustainable Bioeconomy in the Context of SDG Implementation

A sustainable bioeconomy can potentially do its part to replace the era of fossil resources and supply a growing world population. The transformation to such a sustainable bioeconomy is characterized by economic, ecological and social opportunities, but also by risks. These potentials and challenges of the sustainable bioeconomy are specified by this project for the German Environment Agency (UBA).

Recent work


What constrains renewable energy investment in Sub-Saharan Africa? A comparison of Kenya and Ghana

Published by World Development

Policymakers in Sub-Saharan Africa face several choices to increase levels of access to electricity under severe budget constraints. First, they need to prioritise technologies that can supply electricity at a low cost. Second, they need to design and implement appropriate policies to attract private investment. On the first choice, renewable energy is becoming increasingly competitive with fossil fuels. Moreover, it contributes to energy security and environmental sustainability, while providing access to new sources of (sustainable) finance. On the second choice, developing countries typically face a multitude of constraints to attract investment to their energy sector. It can be daunting and expensive to address them all at once.

1 September 2018


The Impact of Solar Mini-Grids on Kenya’s Rural Enterprises

Published by Elsevier

Off-grid, renewable based electricity systems are becoming increasingly competitive for remote rural communities. When the electricity supplied is used productively by micro and small enterprises (MSE), it has the potential to contribute to income generation and poverty reduction. MSE are prevalent in rural Kenya to complement agricultural activities. However, most of them struggle to survive and they provide insufficient income to escape poverty. This paper investigates if the provision of electricity through solar mini-grids could contribute to improving business performance in rural Kenya.

1 August 2018