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Global Development Institute

Politics and Environment

Rooted in the critical analysis of the relationship of rural livelihoods, this research group looks into sustainable use of natural resources and the political economy of management of natural resources in developing countries.

Thematically, the group's particular strengths are in studying the social impacts of conservation, water governance and livelihoods, agricultural change and the socio-environmental conflicts surrounding extractive industries.

Current projects

Assessing the growth potential of farmer-led irrigation potential in sub-Saharan Africa (2015-2017)

Funded by: DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme (DEGRP), award ES/L01239/1

Research Group members: Professor Philip Woodhouse, Professor Dan Brockington (Sheffield)

This research brings together researchers from Manchester and Wageningen and from the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology and the Instituto Superior Politécnico de Manica.

The project will engage policy-makers on irrigation and agricultural development at national and international level to evaluate the potential for contemporary farmer-led irrigation development to contribute to more inclusive economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. We seek to use empirical data from this study to inform a dialogue with policy makers and technical advisors concerned with irrigation in Mozambique and Tanzania in particular and in sub-Saharan Africa more generally.

Urban Climate Resilience: How does Land Tenure affect Adaptation to Climate Change in Dhaka? 

Funded by: The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) with an Environment and Sustainability Research Grant (Grant ESRG 6/15) and University of Manchester Strategic Investment Fund

Research group members: Dr Joanne Jordan

This project specifically examines how land tenure influences impacts of climate change and in turn how land tenure can enable or limit strategies for enhancing resilience to climate change, in the context of a likely increase in migration and associated competition for land and potential changes in access to land and land tenure arrangements in Dhaka.

Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Value (2012-2016)

Funded by: The Leverhulme Trust

Research group members: Professor Philip Woodhouse, Dr Aurora Fredriksen, Dr Elisa Greco, Jonas Bruun, Fortunate Machingura, Robert Watt

The Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Value (LCSV), is dedicated to understanding how new and competing ways of valuing social and environmental harm and care present both challenges and opportunities in a rapidly changing world.

Our research explores value in a variety of social and environmental contexts, from the valuation of human life and development in the public and private sectors to the values being created in new markets for carbon, biodiversity, land and water.

Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility: Linking Global Drivers and Local Impacts

Funded by: British Academy

Research group members: Tomas Frederiksen

This research project examines the global governance and development impacts of the extractive sector in Africa; specifically, relationships between emerging international governance regimes, mining companies and changing multi-faceted community development corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes in Zambia. Over three years, this research will develop a critical multi-scalar analysis that links international governance and an in-depth understanding of changing mining company practice with the development impacts of extractive industry in Zambia. Linking these three elements together in a single study, this research will trace the effects of global pressures and dynamics in local communities in Africa. This will generate insights into wider processes of global governance, the role of the private sector in development, the effects of new complex modes of governance in developing countries and the role of extraction in broader development.

Tracking the politics of natural resources and inclusive development over time

Funded by: DFID/ Effective States for Inclusive Development programme (ESID)

Research group members: Tomas Frederiksen, Anthony Bebbington, Paul Mosley

This project is examining the role of natural resource extraction and political settlements in Bolivia, Ghana, Peru and Zambia and the implications of this for inclusive development.

Agricultural production collectivities and collective action theory

Funded by: The Leverhulme Trust (2013-16)

Research Group members: Professor Bina Agarwal

This research examines whether small farmer collectivities (wherein the farmers pool resources and cooperate in production) can provide an alternative—or additional—model to small family farms and large corporative farms, for enhancing smallholder productivity, welfare and empowerment. In India the research involves ongoing intensive primary data collection in two states where such institutional innovations can be found in sufficient number to provide adequate samples, and is funded mainly by the two state governments. The data are both quantitative (on crop production cycles), and qualitative (on the processes of cooperation in work, decision-making and benefit sharing). The research will be extended to some other parts of Asia as well as Europe, depending on the prevalence there of similar cooperative models that go beyond simply joint marketing. This research is being undertaken in collaboration with a civil society group in one state of India, and with local government in another state. The results will feed into policy framing in agriculture, as well as theory building on collective action.



Other academic members

Current PGR membership

  • Jonas Bruun
  • Simon Chin-yee (POL)
  • Ana Dos Santos Ganho
  • Jessica Hope
  • Paul James
  • Aarti Krishnan
  • Gediminas Lesutis (POL)
  • Malunga Syacumpi
  • Mario Hernandez Trejo (Geography)
  • Robbie Watt