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 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

Image of Shilpi Srivastava
Shilpi Srivastava

Research Fellow

Programmes and centres



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

Rules, Norms and the Pursuit of Sustainable Livelihoods

IDS working papers;52

The central aim of this Paper is to review the current understanding of how institutional arrangements can either encourage or discourage the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods.

1 January 1997

Journal Article

Social Difference and Water Resources Management


The article focuses on the interface between water resources management and social and power relations. It shows that the propagators of both macro and micro‐level water interventions have flawed notions of local institutions and the ‘community’. As a result, new water interventions could...

1 January 1997

Working Paper

Programme Aid as an Appropriate Policy Response to Drought

IDS working papers;34

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.

1 January 1996