Whether linked to water or land, forests or food, urbanisation or disease, rapid environmental change is posing major challenges for development policy.

With social systems also changing rapidly, the core development challenges of alleviating poverty and inequity are increasingly complex. IDS research seeks to expose these new challenges and explore ways of meeting them. Our approach enables a distinctive contribution to sustainability debates, as well as to broader discussions of changing relationships between science, society and participation.

Our major areas of work include: climate change, energy, water and sanitation, agriculture and food, health and disease, sustainable livelihoods, the Rio+20 process and beyond, and the completion of a decade's work on environmental policy processes.

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‘Seeing’ Conflicts at the Margins: Understanding Community Experiences Through Social Research and Digital Narrative in Kenya and Madagascar

In a context of unprecedented investment in natural resource developments, this project bridges the social sciences, the humanities and community-based participatory research to ask how different ‘communities’ of actors ‘see’ and experience resource conflicts in Kenya and Madagascar. We use social science alongside a variety of participatory multimedia methods to open up conflict research to more diverse framings and voices, which can offer new insights on the drivers of resource conflict and pathways to peace. More details

Climate Change, Uncertainty and Transformation

This project sees uncertainty as a key barrier to efforts to support social transformation to respond to the challenges posed by climate change. More details

DFID Innovation Prizes for Environment and Development

Running innovation prizes that will improve poor people's resilience to climate change. More details

Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium

A STEPS-led consortium of researchers aiming to advance understanding of the connections between disease and environment in Africa, focusing on animal-to-human disease transmission.. More details

Ebola: Lessons for development

IDS researchers argue that there is an urgent need to look beyond the immediate, on-the-ground concerns of disease control and containment to consider the bigger and broader questions about international development. More details

Environment and PRSPs

This research project was initiated and conceptualised in the framework of the Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP), an informal network of around 30-donor and non-governmental organisations that works on strengthening the nexus between poverty reduction and environmental protection in development cooperation. More details

Global Food and Farming Futures – Lead Expert Group

The Foresight Project on Global Food and Farming Futures addresses the question: ‘How can a future global population of 9 billion people all be fed healthily and sustainably?' More details

GM Crops and Indigenous Management Skill

This project examines the effects of GM seeds on the ‘indigenous management skill’ (IMS) that is crucial to the productivity and sustainability of small-scale crop cultivation. More details

Market-Based Mangrove Afforestation and Reforestation in Kenya and India

This study aims to understand and compare processes and relationships associated with the ‘marketization of nature’ – how nature-based commodities and markets for trading them are brought into being – in the context of mangrove afforestation, reforestation and restoration projects in Kenya and India. More details

Pro-Poor Electricity Provision

This programme will develop and promote evidence-based policy and programme guidance on low carbon energy investments to benefit poor people, especially women and girls. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

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IDS Working Paper

Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: A Framework for Analysis

IDS Working Paper 72 (1998)

The concept of 'sustainable livelihoods' is increasingly important in the development debate. This paper outlines a framework for analysing sustainable livelihoods, defined here in relation to five key indicators. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Reframing Deforestation

International concern over the extent and rate of tropical deforestation has intensified, whether for interests of biodiversity, climate change, forest peoples or respect for nature. West Africa is assumed to have experienced the most dramatic deforestation of all, supporting cataclysmic climate predictions. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Community Based Sustainable Development: Consensus or Conflict?

IDS Bulletin 28.4 (1997)

'Community-based sustainable development' has become a central approach to rural development and natural resource management. But this emerging consensus tends to overlook both ecological variability, and the potential for conflict within local communities More details

IDS publications on international development research

Guide to Environment and Development Sources of Information on CD-ROM and the Internet

Information is the glue that binds our complex and fast changing world together and it is the key to changing long established patterns of social behaviour. Information, especially on environmental management for sustainable development, can provide support to countries and communities for an improved and sustainable quality of life for all their citizens. More details

IDS Discussion paper

Environmental Entitlements: A Framework for Understanding the Institutional Dynamics of Environmental Change

IDS Discussion Paper 359 (1997)

This overview paper seeks to complement and add to emerging critiques of 'community-based sustainable development' by focusing on the implications of intra-community dynamics and ecological heterogeneity More details

IDS Working Paper

Water, Difference and Power: Kutch and the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Project

IDS Working Paper 54 (1997)

This report examines the relationship between the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), a controversial dam under construction in western India, and Kutch, which is supposed to benefit from the dam. More details

This is the cover to the video Second Nature.

Second Nature

West Africa's transition zone is one of the world's most ecologically fragile areas and is widely assumed to be experiencing a deforestation crisis. For a century experts have held villagers responsible. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Misreading the African Landscape: Society and Ecology in a Forest-Savanna Mosaic

Islands of dense forest in the savanna of 'forest' Guinea have long been regarded as the last relics of a once more extensive forest cover, degraded and degrading fast due to its inhabitants' land use. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Sustaining the Soil: Indigenous Soil and Water Conservation in Africa

Indigenous soil and water conservation practices are rarely acknowledged in the design of projects. Instead, the history of soil and water conservation in Africa has been one of imposing external solutions without regard to local practice. More details

IDS Working Paper

Programme Aid as an Appropriate Policy Response to Drought

IDS Working Paper 34 (1996)

This paper puts forward the argument for programme aid as a policy response to drought. It suggests its importance lies in the initial impact of the aid transfer, and in the additional opportunities thereby made available to carry out strategic policy. More details

IDS Working Paper

Integrating Gender into Environmental Research and Policy

IDS Working Paper 27 (1996)

This study looks at the reasons why this has happened, blaming it on a flawed conceptualisation of gender relations that ignores the differing interests of men and women. Recommendations on how women's interests can be better safeguarded are proposed. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Environmental Policy

Gender and Development In Brief 1 (1995)
IDS Policy Briefing

New Thinking on Gender and Environment

IDS Policy Briefing 5 (1995)

The need to build women's interests into policy making on the environment is widely accepted and many environment projects have made attempts to involve women. But up to now the approach has been too narrow. As a result, women have gained little, and in some cases have become worse off. More details