Sustainability

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.

Programmes and centres

Projects

Project

Addressing Synergies and Trade-Offs between Goals for Climate-Resilient Agricultural Systems

What factors lead state and market actors in Africa to commit to implementing more ‘climate smart’ and ‘climate resilient’ agricultural approaches and practices that promoting more sustainable and pro-poor outcomes? This study is examining how different governance systems are handling the complex interface between food, energy, water and climate in pursuit of the SDGs pertaining to these sectors in four countries in Africa.

Project

‘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.

Project

Building Resilience and Inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa through Social Learning around Climate Risks

Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to droughts, floods and other climate-related stressors and shocks. This research aims to contribute to greater understanding of the underlying drivers of risk, while also identifying pathways to improve the impact that climatic information may have on building resilience through bridging the 'usability gap'.

Project

Universalising Water and Sanitation Coverage in Urban Areas: From Global Targets To Local Realities in Dar Es Salaam

The Sustainable Development Goals have targeted universal access to water and sanitation, and associated monitoring is intended to help achieve this target. Reflecting on Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this consultancy explores how global monitoring could better support local efforts to improve water and sanitation in low-income urban settlements.

Recent work

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News

Authoritarian populism is on the rise, claiming support from rural areas.

A new resource hosted by OpenDemocracy explores how authoritarian populism has taken hold, and how rural people are responding to it. A series of videos and articles features perspectives from scholars and activists from around the world. Authoritarian populism. Illustration: Boy...

18 September 2018

Publication

The Impact of Solar Mini-Grids on Kenya’s Rural Enterprises

Published by Elsevier

Off-grid, renewable based electricity systems are becoming increasingly competitive for remote rural communities. When the electricity supplied is used productively by micro and small enterprises (MSE), it has the potential to contribute to income generation and poverty reduction. MSE are prevalent in rural Kenya to complement agricultural activities. However, most of them struggle to survive and they provide insufficient income to escape poverty. This paper investigates if the provision of electricity through solar mini-grids could contribute to improving business performance in rural Kenya.

1 August 2018

Publication

Ideas from IDS: Graduate Papers from 2016/17

Published by IDS

It gives me great pleasure to present this first edition of published term papers authored by IDS graduates (2016/17) from across our suite of master’s degrees.

30 July 2018

Publication

Ideas from IDS: Graduate Papers from 2016/17

Published by IDS

It gives me great pleasure to present this first edition of published term papers authored by IDS graduates (2016/17) from across our suite of master’s degrees.

30 July 2018

Publication

Narratives of Scarcity: Framing the Global Land Rush

Published by Elsevier

Global resource scarcity has become a central policy concern, with predictions of rising populations, natural resource depletion and hunger. The narratives of scarcity that arise as a result justify actions to harness resources considered ‘underutilised’, leading to contestations over rights and entitlements and producing new scarcities.

9 June 2018