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.

Photo of IDS researcher Amber Huff More details

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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 Tranformation

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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Scenarios of Waste and Resource Management: for Cities in India and Elsewhere

IDS Evidence Report 114 (2015)

Rising prosperity around the globe – welcome and overdue in many respects – has certain undesirable consequences. It leads to an increase in the demand for raw materials, putting pressure on our limited natural resources. More details


Managing the Emerging Waste Crisis in Developing Countries’ Large Cities

IDS Policy Briefing 86 (2015)

Rising prosperity around the globe is both welcome and, in many countries, long overdue. However, it brings with it a number of undesirable consequences, such as an increased demand for raw materials, which puts pressure on limited natural resources, and the generation of waste, due to dominant linear economic models of ‘make-use-throw’. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Utilising Electricity Access for Poverty Reduction - Literature Review

The literature review generated insight into the findings of previous studies regarding productive uses of electricity and poverty impacts, and was used to inform the design of the case study research. More details


Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs November 2012 – March 2014

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2014)

Knowledge and evidence are important elements of all policy processes. While the availability of more or higher quality evidence does not guarantee better policy processes, it is difficult to imagine how development policy and outcomes can be improved without it. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Liquid Dynamics: Challenges for Sustainability in the Water Domain

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water 1.4 (2014)

We argue that debates about access have so far paid insufficient attention to the long-term sustainability of systems and services for accessing water. They have also neglected issues concerning uncertainty and social, environmental, and technological dynamics—particularly through addressing power imbalances and enhancing equity. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Comparing Supply-Side Specifications in Models of Global Agriculture and the Food System

Agricultural Economics 45.1 (2014)

This article compares the theoretical and functional specification of production in partial equilibrium (PE) and computable general equilibrium (CGE) models of the global agricultural and food system included in the AgMIP model comparison study. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Oceans and Human Health: Implications for Society and Well-Being

This pioneering book will be of value to advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students taking courses in public health, environmental, economic, and policy fields. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Impacts of Increased Bioenergy Demand on Global Food Markets

Agricultural Economics 45.1 (2014)

This article shows to what extent a strong increase in ligno-cellulosic bioenergy deployment may affect agricultural markets and land-use change. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Future of Food Demand: Understanding Differences in Global Economic Models

Agricultural Economics 45.1 (2013)

This article reviews demand modeling approaches from 10 global economic models participating in the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP). More details

This is the image for IDS Working Paper 433, 'Environmental Taxation and Development: A Scoping Study'.

Environmental Taxation and Development: A Scoping Study

IDS Working Paper 433 (2013)

This paper reviews the potential of one type of mechanism to address both goals simultaneously: environmental taxation. More details

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The Evidence of Benefits for Poor People of Increased Renewable Electricity Capacity: Literature Review

IDS Evidence Report 31 (2013)

Lack of access to electricity is seen as a major constraint to economic growth and increased welfare in developing countries. More details

Image Teaser for ER12, 'Real Time Monitoring Technologies for Pro-Poor Access to Electricity' by Ana Pueyo

Real Time Monitoring Technologies for Pro-Poor Access to Electricity

IDS Evidence Report 12 (2013)

Existing literature strongly and consistently reports the high upfront cost of energy technology hardware as one of the main demand-side barriers to increased use of modern energy services by the poor. More details

Rent Management – The Heart of Green Industrial Policy

IDS Working Paper 418 (2013)

At the heart of green industrial policy is rent management: government creating and withdrawing opportunities for highly profitable investment. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Global Political Ecology

The world is caught in the mesh of a series of environmental crises. So far attempts at resolving the deep basis of these have been superficial and disorganized. Global Political Ecology links the political economy of global capitalism with the political ecology of a series of environmental disasters and failed attempts at environmental policies. More details

IDS Working Paper

Competition and Cooperation between Europe and China in the Wind Power Sector

IDS Working Paper 377 (2011)

This paper uses a value chain lens to examine the prospects for competition and cooperation between Europe and China in the global wind power sector. More details

This is the cover of The Politics of Seed in Africa’s Green Revolution.

The Politics of Seed in Africa’s Green Revolution

IDS Bulletin 42.4 (2011)

This IDS Bulletin takes one element of a bigger debate - the future of cereal seed systems in Africa - and examines some of the challenges, dilemmas, prospects and possibilities for the future, deploying an explicitly critical analytical lens to look at the political economy of seed systems in Africa's Green Revolution. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Forest Voices: Competing Narratives over REDD+

IDS Bulletin 42.3 (2011)

The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (known collectively as REDD+) initiative has emerged as a means through which individuals, projects and communities in developing countries can be financially rewarded for reducing emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and enhancement of carbon stock. More details