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

Dominic Glover

Rural Futures Cluster Lead




Postgraduate Researcher

Amber Huff

Resource Politics and Environmental Change Cluster Lead

Amy Warmington

Project Manager (ICTD)

Carolina Szyp

Research Officer

Dirk Willenbockel

Research Fellow

Dominic Glover

Rural Futures Cluster Lead

Elise Wach

Research Advisor

Gabriele Köhler

Honorary Associate



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...

Recent work


Opportunities to join IDS as a Research Fellow

IDS is recruiting up to three Fellows to join our research clusters. This includes two vacancies to join the Rural Futures cluster as Social Protection Fellow and a vacancy to join the Digital and Technology cluster as Cluster Leader. Social Protection Fellows The Rural Futures Cluster...

4 January 2023

Working Paper

Citizen Voice and the Arts: Opportunities and Challenges for Citizen–Policy Engagement on Environmental Issues in Sahelian West Africa

IDS Working Paper 584

Citizen and policy groups address environmental challenges in the Sahel, but rarely together. In Sahelian West Africa, including in Mauritania, Senegal, and Mali, artists and citizens have used protest art to make their voices heard, in contexts where this can carry risks of conflict with...

21 December 2022

Working Paper

Challenging the Normalisation of Hunger in Highly Unequal Societies

IDS Working Paper 582

This paper starts from an empirical observation that levels of hunger or food insecurity in middle-income and high-income countries are often higher than might be expected, and in some cases are rising rather than falling in recent years. We document levels and trends in selected food security...

19 December 2022