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



Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture

Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture (ACHA) is a seven-year, DFID-funded research programme that started in January 2020. The aim of the programme is to build evidence on: the forms, drivers, and experiences of children’s harmful work in African agriculture; ...

Recent work

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Journal Article

Food Security and the Environment


There is an obvious connection between poor people's food security and the preservation of the environment in which they live. Yet there is little consensus about the nature of this relationship. Unless their interactions are better understood, there is a danger that policies for environmental...

1 July 1991


Food Security and the Environment: A Select Annotated Bibliography

This Bibliography explores the links between food security and the environment. It aims to identify material that directly addresses the relationship between food security and the environment and to indicate other literature which provides useful insights into the issue.

1 January 1991


To the Hands of the Poor: Water and Trees

To the Hands of the Poor explores how poor people can gain more from rural India's vast and often underestimated potential from groundwater and from growing trees. Starting with the livelihoods and priorities of the poor themselves, the authors use empirical evidence and practical political...

1 January 1989


New Seeds and Poor People


We have, as economists, felt compelled to invade several areas of natural science that were quite unfamiliar to us. In some parts of this book, we are reporting our learning processes.

1 January 1989


The Greening of Aid: Sustainable Livelihoods in Practice

This book uses examples from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America to show that there are forms of development which allow people to control their own resources while improving their condition and enhancing their environment. It contains a chapter by Robert Chambers.

1 January 1988


Seasonality and Ultrapoverty

IDS Bulletin Vol. 17 Nos. 3

The ultra-poor – a group of people who eat below 80 per cent of their energy requirements despite spending at least 80 per cent of income on food – are most vulnerable to seasonal fluctuations in food supply and wage employment, and seasonally induced nutrition and health risks.

1 July 1986