Our interdisciplinary research explores how pathways to sustainability, green transformations and equitable access to resources such as land, water and food can be achieved and help us meet the environmental as well as human development-related goals of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Our work builds on a long tradition of critical social science engagement with environmental issues and resource politics in collaboration with partners globally. It explores how pathways to sustainability are shaped by political-economic and social processes, and understands how they are driven by technology, markets, states and citizens.  Our research sheds new light on how we can achieve green transformations that move us from fossil fuel to renewable energy, from throw-away to circular economies. It addresses the politics of sustainability, and understands how transformations occur at local levels as well as global, in both rural and urban settings, and be led by citizens as well as national governments. In doing so, it shines a light on how sustainable resource use, consumption and production is shaped by issues such as gender, livelihoods and politics.


Image of Lyla Mehta
Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Image of Ian Scoones
Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

Image of Patrick Schröder
Patrick Schröder

Research Fellow

Image of Amber Huff
Amber Huff

Research Fellow

Image of Jeremy Allouche
Jeremy Allouche

Research Fellow

Image of Lars Otto Naess
Lars Otto Naess

Research Fellow

Image of Wei Shen
Wei Shen

Research Fellow

Programmes and centres



Demanding Power: Struggles Over Energy Access in Fragile Settings (A4EA)

Part of the A4EA programme. How and under which conditions do struggles over energy access in fragile and conflict affected settings empower marginalised groups to hold public authorities to account – both over energy and more broadly? Energy prices, subsidies, and availability have...


System Change Hive

The System Change HIVE will explore and communicate visions of better lives to inform public thinking and work towards fairer systems that safeguard life-support systems and prioritise well-being and justice.

Recent work

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Working Paper

Crises in Variegated Capitalism, Co-produced, Hydro-Social Impacts

STEPS Working Papers 108

My PhD fieldwork on Dutch aid in the Mozambican waterscape took me from one crisis-ridden research context, the Netherlands, to another, Mozambique. This working paper asks how seemingly unrelated crises in both countries have jointly reproduced politico-economic and hydro-social conditions in...

12 August 2019

Journal Article

Young People and Land in Zimbabwe: Livelihood Challenges After Land Reform

Review of African Political Economy;46

This article explores the livelihood challenges and opportunities of young people following Zimbabwe’s land reform in 2000. The article explores the life courses of a cohort of men and women, all children of land reform settlers, in two contrasting smallholder land reform sites. Major...

Image of Ian Scoones
Ian Scoones & 2 others

8 August 2019


Food certification schemes, impact and existential questions

Certification systems, like Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and organic agriculture are crucial social capital in the food system. They need to show that they are credible. Therefore, a large part of published research on sustainability in food production concerns the impact of certification. The...

31 July 2019

Journal Article

The Pathway toward a Net-Zero-Emissions Future

The UK’s commitment to zero carbon by 2050 and the preceding Climate Emergency Declaration represent a change to policy. More significantly, they represent a change to the narrative by centering attention on the catastrophic emergency that climate change poses as well as the profound challenge...

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Ian Scoones & 6 others

25 July 2019

Journal Article

Unpacking Uncertainty and Climate Change From ‘Above’ and ‘Below’

Regional Environmental Change;6

Uncertainty is a key factor shaping climate and environmental policy at international, national and sub-national levels. It is usually defined as a situation characterised by indeterminacies and refers to what we cannot know for certain in terms of outcomes, effects or impacts of a particular...

Image of Lyla Mehta
Lyla Mehta & 2 others

13 July 2019


A Gender Approach to the Promotion of Productive Uses of Electricity

IDS Policy Briefing;162

Interventions promoting productive use of electricity (PUE) without gender approaches are more likely to benefit men than women. Men typically own more businesses and operate in a wider range of more productive, electricity‑intensive activities. Gender approaches improve the effectiveness of...

10 July 2019