Rural Futures

Through our research, policy engagement, teaching and training, we support the emergence of development pathways that deliver both greater social justice and sustainability for rural people and places, while recognising their important interconnections with urban areas and the links between local change processes and those at national and global levels.

Rural societies, economies and areas face challenges and opportunities that can be qualitatively different from their urban analogues, including limited access to infrastructure, services and political decision-making and greater exposure to some kinds of environmental shocks and stresses.

Many possible rural futures can be envisaged, each carrying implications for local livelihoods, poverty and social relations, conflict, migration, production and distribution systems, food security, natural resource management and environmental change.

We believe that improvements in social justice and sustainability can be achieved by opening up a diversity of economic, environmental and technological pathways, practices, models and institutional arrangements that create new democratic spaces, strengthen social movements, enhance innovation and empower rural men, women and young people to take greater control over their productive assets.

The aspirations, agency, voices and assets of rural people must be central to these dynamic processes. The empowerment of people in rural areas who are poor and vulnerable are central to our concerns.

Key contacts

Lidia Cabral

Rural Futures Cluster Lead

Dominic Glover

Rural Futures Cluster Lead



Recent work

Past Event

Conference: Reimagining social protection in a time of global uncertainty

In this Centre for Social Protection international conference we will discuss and debate the past, present and future roles of social protection as a development policy agenda, at a time of global uncertainty and multiple crises. Themes include social protection policy processes, social...

From 12 September 2023 until 14 September 2023



Backstopping 2SCALE

With the financial support from the Dutch Ministry of Development Cooperation (DGIS), the 2SCALE programme started in June 2012, and is one of the largest incubators of inclusive agribusiness in sub-Saharan Africa. 2SCALE provides a range of support services to private partners – companies and...


Closing the Living Wage Gap 2022 – 2025

The research is targeted to the baseline phase of a four-year research effort to explore the living wage (LW) approach set out in the 2020 Rainforest Alliance (RA) Sustainable Agriculture Standard. The new standard requires that all workers receive at least the minimum wage in their country and...


Newton UK Peru Foodborne Diseases and Public Health Governance

IDS is part of a research consortium that implements the MRC-Newton project ‘Foodborne diseases and public health governance: comparing food safety consumer preferences and governance in the supply of meat to urban markets. The overall aim in this project is to propose public health policies...


Conceptualisation of Earmarked Taxes to Support Food Fortification

Food fortification is one of the most rapid, cost-effective, scalable and evidence-based impactful strategies to reach hundreds of millions to combat micronutrient malnutrition, when delivered as intended (Horton, 2006, Keats et al., 2019; Mbuya et al., 2020; Saha et al, 2021). However, the...