Participant 8 - University of Leeds (UNIVLEEDS), UK (WP8)

Institute description: The School of Earth and Environment (SEE), University of Leeds is recognised as carrying out research of 'world leading' and 'internationally excellent' standard, and was ranked second in the UK for research power in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. The Sustainability Research Institute (part of SEE) is the largest grouping of environmental social scientists in the UK and a centre of excellence for participatory and policy-relevant research, conducting interdisciplinary environmental analysis for sustainable land management and feeding that through into policy at national and international levels.
Role in project: WP8 leader, participating in WPs 1 and 5-9.
Past experience: The Institute has extensive research experience in Europe and Africa through a series of EU-funded projects (e.g. DESIRE, Governat, WAHARA) and work funded by UNDP/GEF, Royal Society, DFID and the UK Government Research Councils. It co-hosts a national ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy that displays its strong links from research into policy and practice, nationally and internationally. The team conducts research that connects environmental knowledge to public and private sector decision-making at local, regional, national and international levels. Expertise centres around integrated modelling, coupled economic and environmental models at a landscape scale, policy impact, scenario development and multi-stakeholder engagement.

Involved personnel

  • Dr. Luuk Fleskens Impact assessment of land and water management, integrated environmental modelling and scenario analysis. Involved in a range of EU projects, most recently DESIRE and WAHARA.
  • Prof. Andrew Dougill Expertise in design and implementation of interdisciplinary research projects focused on dryland environmental change and applied to land management / sustainability issues.
  • Dr. Lindsay Stringer Interdisciplinary environmental social scientist, expertise in participatory approaches and policy impact, particularly relating to land and livelihood issues in drylands.

Dr. Luuk Fleskens specializes in impact assessment of land and water management, both in physical and economic terms. He has been involved in a range of EU FP4-7 projects (WAHIA, AWACAD, OLIVERO, DESIRE, and WAHARA). His current research focuses on developing integrated models and methodologies capable of assessing the impact of environmental change as well as evaluating the effects of adaptation and mitigation strategies on rural livelihoods and ecosystem services. Strategies thereby include both farmer management practices (including technological innovations) and policies. He has extensive experience in southern Europe and Africa. The University of Leeds team is further uniquely positioned to lead on participatory approaches and policy impact, with Dr. Stringer having both a strong record of publications on land degradation policy and strong links at the international policy level with the UNCCD, and Prof. Dougill having 20 years of experience developing innovative approaches involving rural communities in environmental monitoring, assessment and research in drylands in general and rangelands in particular.


  • Dougill AJ, Fraser EDG, and Reed MS. (2010). Anticipating vulnerability to climate change in dryland pastoral systems: using dynamic systems models for the Kalahari. Ecology and Society, 15(2), 17.
  • Fleskens L, and de Graaff J. (2010). Conserving natural resources in olive orchards on sloping land: alternative goal programming approaches towards designing effective cross-compliance and agri-environmental measures. Agricultural Systems, 103, 521-534.
  • Stringer LC, Dyer JC, Reed MS, Dougill AJ, Twyman C, and Mkwambisi DD. (2009). Adaptations to climate change, drought and desertification: local insights to enhance policy in southern Africa. Environmental Science and Policy, 12, 748-765. 
  • Stringer LC. (2008). Can the UN Convention to Combat Desertification guide sustainable use of the world's soils? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 6, 138-144. 
  • Reed MS, Dougill AJ, and Baker T. (2008). Participatory Indicator Development: What can ecologists and local communities learn from each other? Ecological Applications, 18(5), 1253-1269. 
  • Fleskens L, Ataev A, Mamedov B, and Spaan WP. (2007). Desert water harvesting from takyr surfaces: anassessment of the potential of traditional and experimental technologies in the Karakum. Land Degradation and Development, 18, 17-39.
  • Stringer LC, Reed MS, Dougill AJ, Seely MK, and Rokitzki M. (2007). Implementing the UNCCD: participatory challenges. Natural Resources Forum, 31, 198-211.
  • Fleskens L, Stroosnijder L, Ouessar M, and de Graaff J. (2005). Evaluation of the on-site impact of water harvesting in southern Tunisia. Journal of Arid Environments, 62, 613-630.