Environment and Society in Developing Countries

The aim of the research group is to contribute to understanding globalisation processes and human dimensions of global change in developing countries.

Environment and Society in Developing Countries

The group is engaged in a large number of externally funded research projects and several international collaborations.


Members of the research group

PhD students


Ongoing Research Projects

The research group is engaged in projects that are funded through national and international grants. Most of the projects are carried out in cooperation with other research institutions in Denmark, Europe, and the Global South.

The list is organized chronologically, with the most recent projects first:

  • COUPLED - Operationalising telecouplings for solving sustainability challenges related to land use, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action - Innovative Training Network (ITN), 2018-2021
  • Inspire4Nature - International training at the Science-Policy Interface for Researchers in Europe, for Nature, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action - Innovative Training Network (ITN), 2018-2021
  • Sustainable Value-Chains: Aquaponics in Colombia. Danida Consultative Research Committee for Development Research (FFU), 2018-2020.
  • Socio-economic Benefits of Ecological Infrastructure. Danida Consultative Research Committee for Development Research (FFU), 2018-2020.
  • Building Stronger Universities (BSU – Phase III). Program with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania.  Danida, 2017-2021
  • Beyond the 'Supermarket Revolution Myopia' - Traditional Markets and Sustainable Upgrading opportunities in Domestic Food Value Chains. Det Frie Forskningsråd, Samfund og Erhverv, 2017-2020
  • AIDA, Agricultural Investors as Development Actors? Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) and IGN in collaboration with Makerere University, Uganda and Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania. Danida Consultative Research Committee for Development Research (FFU), 2016-2021.
  • The Shadow of the future and the shadow of the past: studying the impact of climate change on human behavior. Philipps Universität Marburg, Germany, Robert Bosch Foundation, 2016-2020
  • Rural-Urban Transformation, Governance, Mobility and Economic Dynamics, in Emerging Urban Centres for Poverty Reduction, in collaboration with Sokoine Agricultural University (SUA) Tanzania, 2015-2019
  • Organic Cotton for Employment, Danida-FFU, 2015–2019,
  • POLICOFA II: Enhancing Productivity, Market Access and Incomes for Small Farming Business in Tanzania: Potentials and Limitations in Contract Farming, Danida-FFU, 2014-2018
  • TGG-N: Transiting to green growth (Nepal), Danida-FFU, 2014-2018

Recently completed Research Projects

  • ESPA-Frontiers - Land-use intensification in forest-agriculture frontier landscapes: effects on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation. Natural Environment Research Council, the Social Science Research Council and the UK Department for International Development through the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Programme (ESPA), 2016-2017
  • BALTRAK, Balancing trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in the steppes of Kazakhstan. Volkswagen Foundation, 2015-2017
  • Biophysical Changes in the Sahel, Ground and Satellite Based Evidence Across Scales and Disciplines, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships, 2015-2017
  • Building Stronger Universities, (BSU – Phase II), Programme partners in the South with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania and Kathmandu University (KU), Nepal, Danida, 2014-2017
  • GlobTemperature, User Case Study for Soil moisture assessment using the triangle method with SEVIRI and AATSR land surface temperature, European Space Agency, 2014-2017
See full list of completed Research Projects


The research group Environment and Society in Developing Countries explores a broad portfolio of disciplinary entrance points, combined in various ways in our concrete research activities. These three build on analyses of:

  • The dynamics of coupled human-environment systems, including natural resource management and sustainability science. More specifically, we deal with changes in ‘land systems', land use and land cover; agricultural systems and their sustainability; environmental problems, such as land degradation; local livelihood strategies in rural areas; climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation, including bio-fuel production and deforestation (REDD).

  • Global value chains and livelihoods, which are combined in new ways to examine the relationship between globalization and rural-urban linkages (i.e. flows of commodities, people, money and information). Of particular interest is the relationship between world market dynamics, agricultural transformation processes, agro-industrial activities and rural livelihood changes, including rural-urban migration. Research themes include the impact of new markets (domestic and foreign), quality concepts and food standards, contract farming, diversification of rural livelihoods, mobility and migration practices.

  • Earth Observation of terrestrial ecosystems with a main focus on remote sensing of vegetation and in hydrology. Specific activities include application of remote sensing techniques of the land surface, in particular evapotranspiration; large-scale distributed hydrological modeling; soil-vegetation-atmosphere-transfer, drought assessment and vegetation modeling (primary production); modeling of spatial processes and validation of satellite data and algorithms consolidating the Dahra test site in the semi-arid West Africa. Based on the receiving and processing system for data from the geostationary Meteosat Second Generation (MSG), application of geostationary data is sought achieved in the above applications areas.

The empirical research activities are concentrated in Africa (both East, West and South), South-East Asia and the Pacific, or deal with issues at the global scale. All scales from the household to continental, are considered. Great importance is attached to the mutual influence of processes at different scales, and a variety of data sources from interviews to Earth Observation is employed.

The research group continuously emphasizes to capitalize the interdisciplinary potential which lies in developing research approaches that cut across the key research areas described above.


Global Land project
Sustainable Land Use and Natural Resource Management (SLUSE)
Building Stronger Universities

International collaboration

The group attracts many young, international researchers and in connection with the FFU funded activities, the group receives visiting Ph.D. students and guest researchers from the Global South for education and collaborative work.

International collaboration is highly appreciated and ensured through a range of other mechanisms such as:

  • Planned sabbaticals for permanent staff abroad
  • Research capacity projects in the Global South
  • Participation in international field experiments within earth observation and validation
  • Participation in international research networks
  • Advisory services to international organisations (e.g. OECD, WB, UNCTAD, UNFCCC)
  • Participation in centres of excellence at UoC (Waterworlds, CAST)
  • Participation in cross-Faculty thematic centres (Space Science, Earth Systems Science)
  • Contributing to the platforms in ‘Building Stronger Universities' (Danish Universities)
  • Leadership of Ernst Strungman Forum on ‘Global Land Use', etc.

Our research focuses on earth observation and land surface processes, the complexity of land use and land cover change, natural resource management, livelihood strategies and societal processes. This includes urbanisation, migration and rural-urban linkages, industrialisation processes and agro-industrial organisation, small-scale mining as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation. Methodologically, we work with qualitative and quantitative data and interdisciplinary approaches are strongly emphasised.