Lyla Mehta

Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Professor Lyla Mehta is a Professorial Fellow at IDS and a Visiting Professor at Noragric, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. She trained as a sociologist (University of Vienna) and has a PhD in Development Studies (University of Sussex).

Her work focuses on the water and sanitation, climate change, transformation, rights, resource grabbing and the politics of sustainability, scarcity and uncertainty. She has extensive field research in India but also other parts of South Asia, southern and eastern Africa. Lyla has engaged in advisory work with various UN agencies and has also been active in advocacy and activist work on gender, environment and development issues with NGOs and social movements in Europe and India. She is and has been Principal Investigator of several multi-country projects, including Tapestry and Towards Brown Gold.

She was Team leader of the UN High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) report on Water and Food Security (2014–2015) and was water and sanitation convenor of the STEPS Centre. She is currently lead author of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessment on transformative change, on the board of the journal Water Alternatives and is co-editor of the journal Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space.

Google Scholar



Towards Brown Gold: Nepal

Nepal was declared open defecation free (ODF) in 2019 by former prime minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli. However, sanitation challenges persist. The Towards Brown Gold project is working in two rapidly growing cities in south-western Nepal: Gulariya and Lumbini. We are bringing together natural...


Towards Brown Gold: Nanded, India

Nanded is a fast-growing city in the Nanded district, Maharashtra. The city pioneered a city-wide community-led total sanitation (CLTS) in 2011. But challenges still exist, and poor communities face barriers in accessing sanitation infrastructure. Nanded has a rapidly growing population – a...



The sanitation circular economy - rhetoric vs. reality

Sanitation remains one of the most off-track Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with 3.4 billion people, about 46 percent of the world’s population, still without access to safe sanitation facilities. Approaches such as Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) have helped shift countries...

Deepa Joshi & 2 others

18 March 2024


Working Paper

Increased Attention to Water is Key to Adaptation

There is growing awareness that water is central to climate change adaptation. Water is a top adaptation priority in 79% of the Nationally Determined Contributions. However, there are several challenges in translating these commitments to substantive benefits on the ground, in particular for...

3 February 2022


The Politics of Climate Change and Uncertainty in India

This book brings together diverse perspectives concerning uncertainty and climate change in India. Uncertainty is a key factor shaping climate and environmental policy at international, national and local levels. Climate change and events such as cyclones, floods, droughts and changing rainfall...

23 December 2021

Journal Article

The social Life of Mangroves: Neoliberal Development and Mangrove Conservation in the Changing Landscape of Kutch

Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space

This article explores the convergence of neoliberal development and mangrove conservation in marginal environments, which are becoming the new resource frontiers. We focus on Kutch, a border district in western India and highlight how the contested trajectories of accelerated and aggressive...

29 October 2021

Lyla Mehta’s recent work

Past Event

After the UN Water conference: Examining the global dissonance

How did the latest UN Water Conference influence the progress of global water governance? Join us in a hybrid discussion of what matters! Global water and sanitation governance still have a long way to go before attaining the ambition of SDG 6 to "ensure access to water and sanitation for...

7 June 2023

Past Event

Revisiting the UN Water Conference: 46 years of learning and forgetting?

This event examines the progress and challenges that have shaped water and development from Mar-del- Plata (1977) to the upcoming UN Water Conference in New York City (2023). Speakers will focus on key achievements and missed opportunities, and reflect on what’s proposed at New York in terms...

14 March 2023


New IDS research project seeks to re-imagine ‘shit’ as ‘brown gold’

A new IDS-led research project seeks to re-imagine sanitation in rapidly urbanising areas in Asia and Africa to help address the sanitation crisis, enhance off–grid economies and improve the well-being of poor and vulnerable women and men, and marginalised communities such as Dalits,...

24 November 2020