Resource Politics

Resource politics – the politics of access, use and control of resources as well as contested knowledge claims around these – has leapt up the global development agenda in recent years. Climate change, ‘planetary boundaries’, humanity’s survival and role in the Anthropocene and the green economy have all animated discussions around sustainability, inequality and security.

We believe accelerating sustainability needs to go beyond current ‘think global, act global’ thinking, which emphasises the need for large-scale responses to resource challenges and the uncertainties brought by global environmental change. These macro solutions risk ignoring gender dimensions, livelihoods and politics concerning resource use, consumption and production. There is a need to understand these growing uncertain dynamics in terms of what they mean for local people’s resilience and ability to cope and to tease out sustainable pathways to development and growth that do not compromise poor people’s rights and interests.

Another set of challenges concern how local resource users are being subjected to new sets of exclusions and dispossessions, such as those relating to the recent proliferation of land, water and green grabs which have increased inequalities and local insecurities.

Making sense of the complex challenges around resource politics means engaging critically with questions of environmental and social justice and what these mean in diverse contexts. It also requires bringing together learnings, perspectives and approaches from different academic disciplines and societal sectors that otherwise rarely connect. Only then can we unmask the many pathways that exist to strengthen sustainability, equality and security.

Key contacts



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Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

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Amber Huff

Research Fellow

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Dominic Glover

Research Fellow

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Georgina Powell-Stevens

Hub Administration Manager

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Hadeer El Shafie

DPhil Student

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Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

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Jeremy Allouche

Research Fellow

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Jeremy Lind

Research Fellow

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Jim Sumberg

Research Fellow

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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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Marina Apgar

Research Fellow

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Mathilde Gingembre

DPhil Student

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Matteo Caravani

PhD Student

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Nathan Oxley

Impact Communications and Engagement Officer

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Ramy Hanna

Research Officer

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Roz Price

Research Officer

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Ruyu Lin

PhD Student

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Shilpi Srivastava

Research Fellow

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Vivienne Benson

Communications Officer



The Rapid Transition Alliance

The climate is changing faster than we are. Rapid, transformative changes are called for to prevent climate breakdown and create the conditions for people to thrive together. Keeping to the globally-recognised 1.5 degree upper limit on global warming means significant changes in economies, lives...

Recent work


Sustainable Livelihoods and Rural Development: Book launches in Japan

As part of book launches of the Japanese edition of Sustainable Livelihoods and Rural Development, STEPS Centre Director Ian Scoones will be giving two talks in Japan. The talks explore the linkages between livelihoods and agrarian political economy and the links between a politically-informed...

23 November 2018

Past Event

Picturing change: Oil development in rural northern Kenya

This photographic exhibition tells the story of changing lives and livelihoods in Lokichar, a small town in Turkana County, and surrounding villages that are at the centre of northern Kenya’s oil frontier. This exhibition will be opened by the Labour MP for Kemptown and member of the...

9 November 2018

Journal Article

Uncertainty in Climate Science: Extreme Weather Events in India

In May 2018, multiple extreme weather events claimed scores of lives, damaged property and brought public life to a standstill in parts of India. In the aftermath of these events, a blame game ensued with some assigning responsibility to scientific and state agencies, and others calling for more...

4 August 2018

Impact Story

More funding for prizewinning STEPS Centre’s sustainability work

The STEPS Centre, co-hosted by IDS and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, has been awarded another four years of ‘transition funding’ in recognition of the value and impact of its work in helping to shape climate and sustainability policy processes. Read...

1 August 2018