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Centre for Sustainable Development Studies

CSDS members are engaged in a variety of research activities regarding sustainable development in North and South. More details will be posted here shortly. The CSDS research themes include:

  • Sustainable Development Goals
    1. The Sustainable Development Goals are to be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The CSDS participates in an international network project of the UN University in Tokyo on Sustainability Transformation Beyond 2015 which aims to bring together global scholars working on the sustainable development goals to harvest their  academic work together in a joint book and special issue.
    2. The Sustainable Development Goals and alternative world views: This PhD project looks at development in terms of being a ‘service’ with concepts such as ubuntyu, happiness and Buen Vivir as alternatives to economic growth as goals for the global community.
    3. The Sustainable Development Goals and Water: This PhD project examines how the expected SDG on water can be integrated and implemented in water law and policy from the global to the local level.
    4. Several MSc thesis projects are also examining various aspects of the SDGs including the challenges in trying to implement these goals.
  • Marine Governance
    1. Fishery governance:  After a century of industrial development and globalization of markets, capture fisheries are faced with serious governance challenges. We investigate the possibilities of improving the governability of fisheries from an interactive governance perspective, taking account of the goals of environmental health, livelihoods, food security, and social justice. We are particularly interested in the fate of small-scale fisheries. See also
    2. Coastal governance: Coastal regions the world over are economic power houses and population growth centres. They are also, however, facing challenges of ‘environmental squeeze’ and socio-economic conflict. We are interested in exploring the ramifications of such problems and identifying ways forward. Also see
  • Fresh Water Governance
    1. The human right to sanitation: This project, in collaboration with UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, examines the potential to enrich the legal understanding of the human right to sanitation in order to enable better implementation.
    2. Groundwater governance: This project in collaboration with UN IGRAC aims to understand the current state-of-the-art of groundwater governance and its potential to contribution to sustainable development. 
    3. Transboundary water governance: This project, in collaboration with UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, examines how transboundary water governance can be improved with a focus on the Kabul river.
  • Climate change governance
    1. Global politics of climate change governance: This project examines the historical evolution of the climate change regime and its future prospects. In particular, it looks at the North-South conflicts and the challenges facing the rapidly emerging economies.
    2. Climate change mitigation through forest governance; see 'Governance of forested landscapes'.
    3. Adaptation to the impacts of climate change: 
      - Coping with the potential climate change impacts of droughts and floods: This project aims at developing the theory of adaptive governance and analysing the governance of droughts and floods in particular in Canada, Chile and Argentina
      - Coastal Zone Management: This project examines climate change related risk aversion through spatial planning and urban design with special emphasis on Cape Town.
      - Another project focuses on disaster management and risk aversion through interactive and adaptive governance in Indonesia and India.
    4. Energy governance: This project, supported by KNAW of the UVA and IIAS looks at the Transnationalization of Chinese Oil Companies.


  • Governance of forested landscapes
    1. Assessing agency in REDD: This project examines the role of agents in promoting the concept of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the way in which this concept is being implemented.
    2. Assessing Ghana’s Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas as REDD+ Strategies: This project aims to unravel and develop terms for community empowerment through participatory spatial knowledge management and knowledge brokering in Ghana’s high forest zone in a context of multilevel forest governance.
    3. The New Agrarian Change (Burkina Faso): Within this broader project, commissioned by the Centre for International Forestry Research  (CIFOR), a PhD study hosted at the UvA explores the potential of inclusive landscape governance to managing trade-offs between increasing food production and the protection of environmental services in a context of growing agricultural intensification and forest use.
    4. Forest governmentality and social safeguards in REDD+ governance in Indonesia: This project aims to unravel the strategies of the state and other actors to negotiate, contest and implement social safeguards in REDD+, making use of the forest governmentality (or environmentality) concept as the process of environmental subject-making and creating forest-related identities in environmental politics. Based on a layered case study in Indonesia, it expects to generate a generalizable conclusion about the relationship between forest governmentality, social safeguards and inclusive development.
    5. Tree-based farming systems and sustainable landscapes: This project aims to make an integrated analysis of biophysical effects and perceptions of impacts of tree-crop farming systems in Ghana and South Africa, with a view to developing possible scenarios for sustainable multifunctional landscapes based on the principles of inclusive development.


  •  Natural Resource Governance
    1. Fisheries and conflict governance with a special focus on South Asia and South Africa: This project looks into ways to reincorporate marginalized, small-scale fishing peoples into the process of regional development (see
    2. Phosphorous governance: This project examines the politics of science on phosphorous resources and the nature of phosphorous governance with a view to critically examining the prospects for the future. 

Governance and Inclusive Development

The Governance and Inclusive Development programme group (GID) is responsible for the daily management of CSDS. The GID aims to understand how changing geo-processes influence the capabilities of actors at various administrative levels and how these actors in turn influence geo-processes. It focuses at local (urban/rural) through to global levels. Staff of GID are actively involved as lecturers in both Bachelor and Master Programmes.