IIED's best of 2015: publications

IIED published hundreds of publications during 2015, ranging from short discussion papers to in-depth reports. Here are the top 10 most downloaded, with links to related blogs and project pages.

Article, 31 December 2015
Some of the publications produced by IIED during 2015 (Image: IIED)

Some of the publications produced by IIED during 2015 (Image: IIED)

We aim to make IIED's work available to as wide an audience as possible: you can download all the publications in this top-10 list free of charge in PDF format.

You can also search all our publications, both formal published works and informal literature, from the main page of our publications site. We offer libraries and resource centres in the global South our publications free of charge: to find out more, please contact us.

Here is our top 10 for 2015:

Democratising international investment law: recent trends and lessons from experience

Rapid, far-reaching policy developments make this an important time for shaping international investment law. Citizens' groups around the globe are stepping up advocacy – by scrutinising treaty negotiations, intervening in investor-state arbitrations, catalysing grassroots mobilisation and promoting public debate.

This 28-page report looks at the fundamental challenge of "democratising" international investment law. It reviews trends in citizen engagement and distils lessons from recent civil society experience.

This report was prepared as part of the Legal Tools for Citizen Empowerment programme, a collaborative initiative designed to strengthen local rights in natural resource investments in low and middle-income countries.

Urbanisation, rural–urban migration and urban poverty

Rural-urban migration continues to attract much interest, but also growing concern. Migrants are often blamed for increasing urban poverty, although not all migrants are poor. In many cases when city governments try to reduce or control rural-urban migration, their actions impact low-income residents and not just migrants.  

This 34-page working paper looks at the role of municipal governments in addressing rural–urban migration and urban poverty. It suggests that in many cases, local governments lack information, resources and, perhaps most importantly, political will. 

Read more: IIED's Human Settlements Group is working with partners around the world to identify the challenges and opportunites related to urbanisation and rural-urban migration. Our new Urban Matters blog focuses on urban poverty, climate change in cities and rural-urban linkages. 

Impact of climate change on Least Developed Countries: are the SDGs possible?

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set the United Nations' development agenda beyond 2015. But climate change impacts will render these goals deeply challenging for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) unless the current ambitions for development and climate action are increased. 

This briefing paper breaks down how climate change will impact the LDC's ability to achieve each goal. It sets out policy pointers for the LDCs and their partners for upcoming negotiations, including talks on the post-2015 agenda, on financing for development, and the Paris climate summit.

Read more: This guest blog discusses the potential impact of climate change on the LDCs.


Equity and the energy trilemma: delivering sustainable energy access in low income communities

A central challenge for global energy governance is to manage a complex 'energy trilemma' that involves the interconnected, but often competing, demands of energy security, climate change mitigation and energy poverty.

This collection of papers draws on in-depth field research in Latin America, Asia and Africa to explore the challenges of delivering access to modern energy services. 

The papers document the ongoing inequities of energy landscapes across a range of geographies, scales and political economic contexts. The authors draw attention to the need to take local people's needs and livelihood aspirations into account. 

Read more: This blog looks at the technological, regulatory and financial considerations for promoting micro-grid electricity generation in rural communities.

PLA 59: Change at hand: web 2.0 for development

This issue of the journal Participatory Learning and Action looks at digital applications and web services that encourage users to collaborate and interact online, collectively known as 'web 2.0'.

PLA59 shares examples of using web 2.0 for development, and especially, how web 2.0 tools can help Southern development stakeholders in the sectors of agriculture, rural development and natural resource management.

First published in 1988, Participatory Learning and Action helped to set a radical new development agenda and facilitated the development of an international community of participatory learning and action practitioners. Our new online PLA archive brings together four decades of learning and experience documented in the series. 

Reframing the debate on urbanisation, rural transformation and food security

This briefing paper looks at global narratives on food security. It suggests that current narratives are outdated: urban dwellers are not all 'over consumers' and rural communities are not just food producers.

The paper says the debate on food security must focus on access, affordability, safety and nutrition for both rural and urban low-income groups. Policy can be informed by innovations in trade networks and governance systems that span both urban and rural contexts. 

Read more: We are working with partners in Africa and Asia on an ambitious change initiative that aims to suport an evidence-based shift in global food security narratives. We also recently published an innovative online report on how local communities are creating and using maps to improve food safety in Nairobi's informal settlements.

The business case for bilateral support to improve sustainability of private sector hydropower

This 48-page publication looks at the case for the voluntary improvement of environmental and social risk-management practices on private hydropower developments in developing countries. It proposes the consideration of funding mechanisms within bilateral official development assistance (ODA) programmes to help de-risk private hydropower development, where public- and private-sector roles are intertwined and overlap. 

Although the focus is on independent private hydropower-financing, the discussion is valid for other public-private projects.

Read more: In early 2015 IIED and partners launched a website for the Global Water Initiative (GWI) West Africa. This joint research and advocacy programme focuses on large dams, family farmers and governance and benefit-sharing mechanisms for large dams and irrigation schemes. GWI West Africa contributed to discussions on water and sustainable development at World Water Week in August. 

Sustainable intensification revisited

Sustainable intensification in agriculture is receiving growing attention as a way to address the challenge of feeding an increasingly populous and resource-constrained world. But are we asking too much of it? 

This briefing paper looks at what sustainable intensification is: a useful guiding framework for raising agricultural productivity on existing arable land in a sustainable manner; and what it is not: a paradigm for achieving food security overall. 

The paper summarises the history of and controversy surrounding the term, its main assumptions and risks, as well as its value for the future. It calls for a rerooting of sustainable intensification as a key element of a sustainable food system situated within a green economy.

Read more: This blog describes a workshop in Mozambique that looked at ways to sustainably intensify agricultural production.

Abriendo Brecha – Capítulo 2: producción y venta de los minerales

This Spanish-language publication, chapter two of 'Breaking new ground', is from the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project report and provides a general overview of the mineral production cycle, from exploration through to final use.

It also looks at issues around economic dependency, employment, and mineral markets.

Read more: In 2015, IIED consolidated its MMSD project within the institute's wider work towards inclusive and responsible mining, which includes supporting multi-stakeholder dialogue for small and large-scale mining, and promotes local voices and explores innovations that help deliver a more inclusive and accountable mining sector.

Conservation, crime and communities: case studies of efforts to engage local communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade

Current strategies for addressing wildlife crime focus on law enforcement, reducing consumer demand and engaging local communities in conservation. Considerably more attention has been paid to the first two strategies than to the third. 

This 52-page compilaton of case studies documents efforts to engage local communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade. It explores different models of community engagement and incentives for conservation. The case studies highlight that while community engagement is not a panacea for tackling wildlife crime – and indeed there are examples where it has proved to be a real challenge – it can, under the right circumstances, be highly effective. 

Read more: IIED is working with partners to identify how communities can be incentivised to conserve wildlife and not to engage in poaching.