Environmental Governance

Research in our Environmental Governance theme pursues an explicit focus on the complex interlinkages between environmental problems caused by human actions, and issues surrounding governance processes, including planning, at various scales and in different geographical settings. 

Our research here has made a number of major contributions. For example, our work on climate governance and energy transitions has produced the first global analysis of factors shaping the design of national emissions trading schemes, and has developed new insights on how justice is contested in debates on climate and renewable energy policy. Further, our research into community-level socio-environmental resilience, undertaken in collaboration with national and international partners, has developed and applied resilience concepts across a range of communities, using interdisciplinary frameworks to explore the importance of social and economic resilience in conserving underpinning ecosystem services (eg soil conservation) in developing countries.    

Emerging and future research areas here include:

  • the development of further ground-breaking approaches to environmental governance by driving new understandings of how to manage the effects of issue-attention cycles on policies affecting plastics and climate change
  • the dynamics of local authority net-zero carbon initiatives
  • furthering understandings of the role of discourse and political bargaining in enabling advances in climate and energy policy
  • the ways in which transport policy is developed and delivered in devolved political systems
  • reconceptualising conservation-facing initiatives associated with ecological and protective bordering (eg rewilding, area designation), ecosystem services, and natural capital. 

We will continue to lead in social-ecological systems research to meet the ambitious challenges of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the ‘triple bottom line’ of economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion.

Our people


Abdallah Al-Noor

Supervisor: Sanzid Rahman with Geoff Wilson

Funding: Self-funded

Research theme: Mega-projects in developing economies: a case study of Merowe Dam in Sudan

Cara Clancy

Supervisor: Kim Ward with Nicki Whitehouse, Geoff Wilson

Funding: PU School studentship

Research theme: Socio-cultural impacts of re-wilding conservation

Magdalini Kechagia

Supervisor: Ian Bailey with Nicky Harmer, Geoff Wilson, Iain Stewart

Funding: PU Qr award

Research theme: Public understandings of fracking

Felipe Machado

Supervisor: Geoff Wilson with Sanzid Rahman

Funding: Brazilian government

Research theme: Resilience in Brazilian agriculture

J Sanchez-Garcia

Supervisor: Ian Bailey with Geoff Wilson

Funding: to be confirmed

Research theme: to be confirmed

​Tim Sydenham

Supervisors: Ian Bailey with Geoff Wilson

Funding: Plymouth University

Research theme: ​Interpreting local economic development governance: a decentred policy networks approach

Huw Thomas

Supervisor: Geoff Wilson

Funding: self-funding

Research theme: The resilience of fishing communities in the SW of England

Recently completed postgraduates:

Wendy Miller

Supervisors: Geoff Wilson/Richard Yarwood

Funding: Plymouth University

Research theme: Alternative food networks and urban deprivation

Jiska De Groot

Supervisor: Ian Bailey


Research theme: Attitudes to marine energy in small island communities​

Andrew Fox

Supervisors: Geoff Wilson, Stephen Essex

Research theme: Communities, institutions and flood risk