IIED research and evidence in academia

IIED researchers regularly contribute to a range of external high-profile publications, books and renowned journals that help to influence the academic discourse. This page highlights the most recent work.

Man talking while two others take notes

IIED’s research features in a wide range of international high-profile publications, books and journals. This enables the institute's mission to identify local solutions that can work at scale and introduce these to global forums, by influencing the academic discourse that drives sustainable development (Photo: Mike Goldwater/IIED)

While IIED’s Publications Library hosts more than 7,000 policy briefings, working papers, event reports and more, the work of IIED’s experts is also often featured in a range of international and distinguished journals.

IIED’s research has been featured in noted journals such as World Development, The Lancet and One Earth, on subjects ranging from sustainable agricultural intensification to the potential of social assistance policies in the context of increasing challenges of global inequality, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Publishing research in such journals, and subjecting our work to peer review, enables the institute to produce research that influences the academic discourse and it also enables IIED’s researchers to reach a wide and highly credible audience while ensuring that our evidence is of the highest quality.

Below is the latest IIED research published in academic journals. Some of these articles are behind a paywall and cannot be accessed without a paid-for subscription. Please contact your local library or institution to see if they can provide you with access.


Kenya’s informal milk markets and the regulation–reality gap

This article in Development Policy Review seeks to better understand if, and why, Kenya’s informal milk sector and regulatory system are disconnected from one another and how the policy–reality gap might be better bridged. Featuring IIED principal researcher Alejandro Guarín and associate Emma Blackmore.

Recalibrating rights, limitations and obligations in land governance

This article explores pathways for legal reforms to recalibrate rights, limitations and obligations in land governance. It reconfigures long-established notions of “bundles of rights” and discusses illustrative arrangements that limit tenure rights or connect them to obligations. Featuring IIED's Lorenzo Cotula.

Contributions of marine area-based management tools to the UN sustainable development goals (2022), Cleaner Production journal

This paper evaluates the contribution of area-based management tools to sustainable development goals, including SDG14 which addresses conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas, and marine resources. Featuring IIED's Cristina Pita.

The aquaculture supply chain in the time of covid-19 pandemic: Vulnerability, resilience, solutions and priorities at the global scale (2022), Environmental Science & Policy journal

This paper collates the findings of a rapid global assessment undertaken to evaluate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related emerging control measures on the aquaculture supply chain. Featuring IIED's Cristina Pita.


Impact investment in marine conservation (2021), Ecosystem Services journal

This paper reviews an innovative collaborative management approach recently implemented in the Dominican Republic for one of the largest marine protected areas in the Caribbean. Featuring IIED's Annabelle Bladon.

Labour rights in Special Economic Zones: between unilateralism and transnational law diffusion (2021), Journal of International Economic Law

This article discusses the law governing labour rights in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Kenya. It explores the complex interplay of different ‘unilateral’ and international legal regimes and the structural features that affect labour rights. Featuring IIED's Lorenzo Cotula.

Public participation and investment treaties: towards a new settlement? (2021), Public Participation and Foreign Investment Law journal

This chapter looks at the case and channels for public participation in the making of international investment law. Featuring IIED's Lorenzo Cotula.

Towards a political economy of the COVID-19 crisis: reflections on an agenda for research and action (2021), World Development journal

This article discusses continuities with longstanding patterns as well as ruptures and distinctive features that outline the initial contours of an agenda for research and action after COVID-19. Featuring IIED's Lorenzo Cotula


Scrutinizing impact investment in sustainable fisheries (2020) Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

This chapter discusses the potential for impact investments to help finance the transition to sustainable fisheries. It contends that greater scrutiny is warranted for how positive impacts and financial returns are conceived and measured. Featuring IIED's Annabelle Bladon.

Investment contracts and international law: charting a research agenda (2020), European Journal of International Law

This article reviews two books which are part of a new surge in academic writing about investment contracts, in a field that is currently dominated by concerns about investment treaties and treaty-based arbitration. Featuring IIED's Lorenzo Cotula

Beyond banning wildlife trade: COVID-19, conservation and development (2020), World Development journal

This article suggests that the COVID-19 crisis provides a unique opportunity for a paradigm shift both in our global food system and also in our approach to conservation. Featuring IIED's Dilys Roe.

(Dis)integration in global resource governance: extractivism, human rights, and investment treaties (2020), Journal of International Economic Law

This article explores the legal arrangements that integrate resource-dependent countries into the global economy. Featuring IIED's Lorenzo Cotula.

Conserving Africa’s wildlife and wildlands through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond (2020), Nature journal

This article describes how the COVID-19 creates a perfect storm of reduced funding, restrictions on the operations of conservation agencies, and elevated human threats to nature. It also identifies the immediate steps necessary to address these challenges and support ongoing conservation efforts. Featuring IIED's Dilys Roe.

Supporting smallholders’ decision making: managing trade-offs and synergies for sustainable agricultural intensification (2020), International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability

This study explores how different types of farm households in Northwest Ghana, Eastern Burkina Faso and Central Malawi make choices about resource allocation and farming strategies, and how they manage the trade-offs encountered. Featuring IIED’s Barbara Adolph and Sam Barrett.

“Inclusive business” in agriculture: evidence from the evolution of agricultural value chains (2020), World Development journal

This review paper examines published evidence on the structural factors shaping agricultural value chains and their implications for social inclusion. Featuring IIED’s Lorenzo Cotula.

Global recognition of the importance of nature-based solutions to the impacts of climate change (2020), Global sustainability journal

This article we argues that nature-based solutions are key to meeting global goals for climate and biodiversity, and it urges researchers to work more closely with policymakers to identify targets that benefit both people and ecosystems. Featuring IIED’s Dilys Roe.

Between Hope and Critique: Human Rights, Social Justice and Re-Imagining International Law from the Bottom Up (2020), Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law

This article analyses indigenous peoples’ use of regional human rights systems to defend or reclaim their ancestral lands, and agrarian movements’ advocacy for the recently adopted United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. Featuring IIED’s Lorenzo Cotula.

Harnessing employment-based social assistance programmes to scale up nature-based climate action (2020) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B journal

This article illustrates the potential of social assistance policies in the context of increasing challenges of global inequality, climate change and biodiversity loss. Featuring IIED’s Andrew Norton, Nathalie Seddon, Clare Shakya, Nanki Kaur and Ina Porras.

Net gain: seeking better outcomes for local people when mitigating biodiversity loss from development (2020), One Earth journal

This article presents ethical, practical, and regulatory reasons why development projects applying the mitigation hierarchy should consider related social impacts. Featuring IIED’s Dilys Roe.

Local conditions and policy design determine whether ecological compensation can achieve No Net Loss goals (2020), Nature communications journal

Through four case studies, this article explores whether compensation policies to address negative impacts of development projects and achieve No Net Loss (NNL) of biodiversity and ecosystem services can be successful. Featuring IIED’s Dilys Roe.

Moving from biodiversity offsets to a target-based approach for ecological compensation (2020), Conservation letters journal

This article reviews the limitations of biodiversity offsetting, and in response, propose a new framework for compensating for biodiversity losses from development in a way that is aligned explicitly with jurisdictional biodiversity targets. Featuring IIED’s Dilys Roe.


Land rights and investments: why the IFC performance standards are not enough: a comparison with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (2019), briefing, LEGEND  

This note studies differences in the approach of the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability (IFC-PS) and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT). It pinpoints differences that relate specifically to land rights in an investment context and considers the operational implications of these. Featuring IIED’s Lorenzo Cotula.

Cortec Mining Kenya Limited, Cortec (Pty) Limited, and Stirling Capital Limited v. Republic of Kenya (2019), American Journal of International Law

This case comment discusses an investor-state arbitral award rendered under the bilateral investment treaty between Kenya and the United Kingdom. The dispute relates to a mining project in Kenya. Featuring IIED’s Lorenzo Cotula.

Between Promising Advances and Deepening Concerns: A Bottom-Up Review of Trends in Land Governance 2015–2018 (2019), Land journal

An evolving land governance context compounds the case for practitioners to closely track developments as they unfold. The study discusses global trends in land governance over the period 2015-18, and highlights some of the developments practitioners grapple with in their work. Featuring IIED’s Lorenzo Cotula.

Biodiversity loss — more than an environmental emergency (2019), The Lancet

This paper highlights how biodiversity is as much as a development priority as the climate change emergency through discussing biodiversity loss' impact on agriculture, human health and climate resilience. Featuring IIED’s Dilys Roe.

Engaging local communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade: a synthesis of approaches and lessons for best practice (2019), Conservation Science and Practice journal

This paper examines a range of existing approaches to community engagement to tackle international IWT and reviews the evidence on their effectiveness. Featuring IIED’s Dilys Roe and Francesca Booker.

Understanding complex drivers of wildlife crime to design effective conservation interventions (2019), Conservation Biology journal

This article investigates the drivers and prevalence of wildlife crime in communities surrounding two national parks in Uganda and predicts the performance of potential interventions designed to tackle these crimes. Featuring IIED’s Dilys Roe.

Aligning evidence generation and use across health, development, and environment (2019), Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability journal

The Bridge Collaborative made recommendations that help harmonise methods for evidence generation and use. This article offers suggestions for how these recommendation can be applied in practice, streamlining efforts to apply multi-objective approaches and/or synthesise evidence in multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary teams. Featuring IIED’s Dilys Roe.

Wild life, wild livelihoods: involving communities on sustainable wildlife management and combating illegal wildlife trade (2018), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

This report summarises insights from decades of research on community wildlife management, and draws lessons from new analyses focused specifically on engaging Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in combating the illegal trade in wildlife. Featuring IIED’s Dilys Roe and Francesca Booker.