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Governance and Inclusive Development

Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies
Governance and Inclusive Development

 It thereby  emphasizes that development pathways are affecting and affected by ‘planetary boundaries’ and climate change.   

  • Governance for environmental justice in the Anthropocene
  • Governance for social justice
  • Politics of knowledge

You can find more information on these themes in the full strategy document linked below.

Research goals

The team focuses on the strategic issues of multi-level (glocal) governance and inclusive development. The reason for doing this is that drivers of change and development processes emerge and interact at all scale levels in unpredictable ways. Such dynamics include feedback loops at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. 

Centre for sustainable development studies and Centre for Maritime Research

GID hosts the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and chairs the social-science Centre for Maritime Research, each stimulating the vibrant intellectual exchange of knowledge through their biennial conferences and associated academic journals, newsletters and publication series.  

Our projects
  • ‘Glocal’ water governance

    The ‘Glocal’ Water Governance Research Agenda consists of two separate but synergising projects.

    The first research project 'Water Justice and Beyond' contributes to the work of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water and is aiming to redefine the way we value and govern water for the common good.

    The second research project ‘Water Allocation, Rights and Institution Study’ reviews a small sample of countries regarding the nature and effectiveness of the current legal, regulatory, and administrative practices in the application of water valuation and water allocation.

    Project team

    Prof. J. (Joyeeta) Gupta

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

    Dr. H.J. (Hilmer) Bosch

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    Dep. Human Geography, Planning & International Development Studies

    Dr A.B. (Andrea) Mueller

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

  • Putting Heads Together: Knowledge brokering and co-creation in multi-stakeholder partnerships


    Multi-stakeholder platforms are increasingly seen as important vehicles to address challenges related to agriculture, food security and sustainable and inclusive development. However, it is insufficiently clear what contextual factors and institutional dynamics affect multi-actor and cross-sector learning; and whether it leads to research uptake and sustainable institutional change.


    This research project aims to unravel processes of knowledge exchange, co-creation and brokering in multi-stakeholder platforms. Such platforms function as important vehicles to address challenges related to agriculture, food security and sustainable and inclusive development.


    The project comprises a systematic literature review (SLR) and empirical research on knowledge exchange and joint learning in two farmer-centered projects. These are:

    • The researchers-driven Inclusive Value Chain Collaboration (Inclusive VCC) project in Ghana and South Africa
    • The practitioners-driven Treefarms project in Ghana.

    Both projects are financed by NWO-WOTRO, under the Global Challenge Programme (GCP) and Applied Research Fund (ARF) respectively. Lastly, the research analyses how lessons learned in these two projects are shared into the Dutch-based Food & Business Knowledge Platform.

    Project duration: 2017-2020

    Dr. M.A.F. (Mirjam) Ros-Tonen

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

  • Small Fish Food

    Technical, institutional and socio-cultural transitions are required to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). Fisheries are almost invisible in strategies to achieve SDG2 and nutrition and food security are not the primary focus in SDG14, which also does not mention freshwater resources that play a dominant role in African fisheries. Following a value chain (food system) approach, the Small Fish for Food project conceptualises advantages of Small Indigenous Fish Species (SIS) utilisation as well as highlights barriers and societal consequences of a constrained access to this important food resource. With that approach the Small Fish for Food project addresses SDG2 (Zero hunger), which aims to achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture, and SDG14 (Life below water), promoting the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources.

    The Small Fish for Food project works on innovative integration of fish in African food systems to improve nutrition. Our international consortium collaborates to understand how socio-cultural, economic and institutional transformations of the fish food and value chain – from ecosystem to consumer – can contribute to improved, sustainable utilisation of small fish resources for Africa’s low-income population. Next to scientific research, our partners also test and examine technical and infrastructural innovations related to fish processing and marketing. The project is funded by LEAP AGRI, a joint Europe Africa research and innovation initiative related to food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture.

    SmallFishFood is an interdisciplinary project working on four interconnected objectives:

    1. Identify, quantify and map current patterns of production and distribution of small fish for food and feed, with particular reference to Ghana, Kenya and Uganda;
    2. Identify and describe the harvesting, marketing and utilization patterns of small fish and how they contribute to food and nutritional security in these countries;
    3. Improve the production processes to achieve better quality and longer shelf life;
    4. Disseminate the nutritious value of small fish to stakeholders and governance agencies and analyse how barriers to sustainable utilization can be resolved.
    Dr J.M. (Maarten) Bavinck

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

    Dr. J. (Joeri) Scholtens

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

  • Development of a municipal wellbeing index for Amsterdam

    In collaboration with the ‘99 van Amsterdam’.

    Currently, the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the most important indicator of the performance of the economy and employment. However, this indicator says little about what economic growth or decline means for our society. Moreover, it stimulates an urban economy in which more growth instead of well-being are central. Even in periods of growth (as well as in decline), inequality has been increasing for decades.

    The assumption that economic growth automatically has positive consequences for all kinds of groups in society has not proven true for years. And while recently a fairly high degree of consensus on the failure of orthodox economic policy theories has developed, this is much less the case for alternative measures, let alone a translation of this into a new vision for economic policy, especially at municipal / urban level. “Economy is about making choices. But economic choices are about more than just money. Economy is also about health and wellbeing. Instead of setting the maximization of economic growth as the main goal, optimization of wellbeing should be central ”(Pouw, 2020).

    Wellbeing is defined within this vision as the wellbeing of people in relation to themselves and their social, physical and natural living environment. Wellbeing is therefore not only about individual prosperity, but about the quality of life in relation to an environment. In this sense, wellbeing has three dimensions: a (i material (e.g. income, work, housing, infrastructure, climate, technology), (ii) relational (e.g. social capital, trust, security, sustainability), and (iii) subjective dimension (eg perception of opportunities, neighborhood experience) (see figure 1). Within these three dimensions, specific indicators can be identified that are important for the wellbeing of all residents in the city. The ideal scenario strives for a representative wellbeing index, in which the residents of Amsterdam feel recognized and seen. We recognize this is a negotiated and multi-scalar outcome, that needs revision over time. This applied research project aims to give an impulse to this wellbeing vision of the urban economy.

    To pursue an economy in which the wellbeing of everyone is the goal, we need another measuring ‘tool’ that monitors the development of a wider range of indicators. These indicators need to be integrally connected to the municipal budgets and instruments. If not, alternative indicators will not be used in the daily practice of urban policy and planning. To that end, this projects aims to develop a wellbeing index – and an accompanying “dashboard” that can be used to guide and monitor policy. More specifically, it develops indicators (at the level of households, individuals, neighbourhoods and the city) that are in line with daily practice and urban policy, audit institutions and citizen perceptions, and; provides a broader set of indicators for government, businesses and civil society to look ahead and back.

    The first stage of the project (September-December 2020) focuses on the collection and analysis of various alternative indices developed and initiatives undertaken in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and beyond; on the preliminary identification of relevant indicators for the well-being index for Amsterdam; on collecting the perspectives of key actors in the Amsterdam municipality on alternative economic policy and measurements. This is done in order to realize the following goals:

    1. To know how a wellbeing index links with these existing initiatives, how it can be of added value, and which indicators are available?
    2. To make sure a well-being index fulfills a need and gap in current policy processes and goals in Amsterdam.

    Subsequent stages will focus on the further development of the index through participatory action research.

    Dr. N.R.M. (Nicky) Pouw

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

    Dr. H.J.L.M. (Hebe) Verrest

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

  • Beyond the blue water basin: governing green and atmospheric water

    This interdisciplinary research project funded by the Interdisciplinary Doctorate Agreement from the UvA sets out to explore governance questions with respect to green water (soil moisture) and atmospheric water.

    Green and atmospheric water are significant and crucial components of the hydrological cycle that support many ecosystem contributions to humans. In the Anthropocene, rapid environmental change is increasingly interfering with the hydrological cycle and is – in combination with climate change - making water increasingly scarce. However, most water governance, including policies, laws and (international) agreements, is limited to blue surface water and to some extent ground water. In this project, we emphasize the need to expand the field of water governance to include the systemic nature of water, including green and atmospheric water. By bringing together different disciplines (i.e. water governance and law, hydrology, theoretical and computational ecology) we aim to better understand the drivers of change for green and atmospheric water, as well as develop a preemptive framework for inclusive and sustainable governance of green and atmospheric water.

    The following research questions is addressed:

    What are the key social-ecological and technological challenges associated with green and atmospheric water and its relation to land degradation, and how can we design key elements of a proactive multi-level water governance system?

    1. Why is it urgent to go beyond blue water management and govern green and atmospheric water?
    2. How is green and atmospheric water currently implicitly governed?
    3. What are the current and anticipated ecological challenges related to green and atmospheric water?
    4. What are the social and technological challenges related to green and atmospheric water?
    5. How can we effectively govern green and atmospheric water governance and their identified social, ecological and technological challenges?  

      Funding: University of Amsterdam
      Period: Jan 2019 – Jan 2023
    Prof. J. (Joyeeta) Gupta

    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

    GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

  • CLIFF – Climate Change & Fossil Fuels

    To combat global warming, we have to stop using fossil fuels. This will have a major impact on both investors in related industries who will have to write off trillions of dollars and developing countries that had hoped to use the fossil fuel industry to drive economic growth. This project looks into the roles of the various different stakeholders and develops tools to help them all move towards climate-resilient change and inclusive development.

    We argue that to halt climate change, the 2015 Paris Agreement implicitly requires leaving fossil fuels (FF) underground (LFFU) and coherent financial flows. This implies stranding huge amounts of FF resources and assets (worth $16-300 trillion), affecting big investors: FF firms, shareholders (pension funds/philanthropies), debt financers (aid agencies/development banks) and governments. Research is scarce on big investors, the implications for developing countries with FF resources, and how LFFU can be equitably mobilized.

    CLIFF combines institutional analysis and a theory of change for inclusive development (ICID) using a transdisciplinary, comparative case study approach. CLIFF will prepare an Interactive Atlas, and a Stranded Asset Index, co-create equitable policy instruments and assess strategies of agents of change to make such climate policy instruments politically feasible and effective. Rather than ‘Building Back Better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic, CLIFF strives for Catalysing Climate-resilient Change.

    Case studies

    CLIFF is using a transdisciplinary, comparative case study approach and has identified nine countries/regions within which these financial actors operate. From the industrialized world, CLIFF will examine the EU, UK, US and Canada; from the G77 & China: Brazil, South Africa, India and China; the BASIC countries; and possibly Saudi Arabia. These countries are selected since they are dominant players in financial flows and investments in FF, and have a strong potential blocking or promoting role in LFFU. In addition, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique will be studied as LMICs that are developing themselves as FF producers.

    CLIFF is funded by the European Research Council and runs for a period of five years (Nov 2021- Nov 2026).

    Project team

    Prof. J. (Joyeeta) Gupta

    Principal Investigator


    dr. Yang Chen | Global Inventory of FF and Financial Flows (to be appointed).


    Augusto Heras | Focuses on Low- & Middle-Income Countries

    Frank de Morrée | His work relates to Philanthropic Foundations

    (Ja)Nina Herzog-Hawelka | Her research deals with Fossil Fuel Firms

    Moataz Yakan Talaat | His work relates to Debt Financiers

    Clara McDonnell | Her research focuses on Pension Funds

    Master students

    Together they work as a team on comparative and integrative research to ensure that the sum of all projects is significantly more than the sum of the individual work of each researcher.

    Inès Boivin, Claire Boogard, Thomas Cordes, Giuliana Gentile, Lynn Haasloop-Werner, Robin Hids, Juliette Linn, Marc Olsen, Vivien Schüßler, Gabriela Zuntová, Quynh Anh Chu, Glenn Dijks, Ben Kapadia, Blanca Reemst, Marika Schmitz, Ellen Snaathorst, Phani Varnava, Elise Granlie, Ingrid Ronglan, Janne Piper.

  • Earth Commission

    The Earth Commission is an international team of natural and social scientists, composed of 17 members from 12 countries, and divided into 5 working groups: Modelling, Biodiversity, Nutrients & Pollution, Transformation, and Translation Methods. It is led by three renowned professors: Johan Rockström, Joyeeta Gupta, and Dahe Qin.

    The commission aims to facilitate climate action based on science through solid academic cooperation for people and the planet. In doing so, it incentives individuals, companies, cities, and countries to hold stewardship of the global commons. The work of the commission serves as a form of translation from scientific calculations to science-based targets for nature, which can then be implemented at the local and global levels.

    Prof. Joyeeta Gupta co-leads with Diana Liverman Working Group 4, Transformation. This working group focuses on integrating justice framework into the Earth Commission work by investigating synergies and trade-offs between social and environmental goals, and socio-economic drivers of Earth system changes. The group, composed of social scientists, analyses policies and actors in order to identify transformative change, as well as the design of governance architecture and mechanisms aimed at achieving desired transformations. 

    On May 31st, the Earth Commission presented the Nature publication Safe and Just Earth system boundaries, which for the first time incorporated justice into boundary setting, and received considerable amounts of engagement both from academia and the general public.


    Global Challenges Foundation; the Global Commons Alliance, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (with support from Oak Foundation, MAVA, Porticus, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett and the Global Environment Facility).

    Project period

    • Phase 1 : 2020-2023.
    • Phase 2 : 2023 - 

    Project Team Working Group 4 

    University of Amsterdam


Programme group leader

Prof. dr. W.H.M. (Maggi) Leung

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

GPIO : Governance and Inclusive Development

Research staff