Climate change, biodiversity and urban pollution are currently the key global challenges facing politicians and practitioners. In spite of increasing attention on the link between sustainability and development, climate change is told to disproportionately affect the poorest people in the world. Unpredictable large and frequent storms may destroy livelihoods and exacerbate poverty. Furthermore, in low-income countries, increasing competition for lands and resources has led to agricultural intensification and to rising concerns with the issues of deforestation, biodiversity and of sustainable production of food. Then, the growing number of urban population water supply, public transportation and sanitation place crucial demands for local, regional and global development and environment. 

The purpose of this research programme is to provide interdisciplinary analysis to understand better how people and the natural world are affected by development decisions. Coverage includes: ethical and philosophical aspects of sustainable development, agriculture, interactions among formal and informal actors, development and environment, water, sanitation and their implication for malnutrition.

Ongoing projects

In the past twenty years, a fertile debate has investigated the determinants and the targets of development aid from Western countries. Recently, a burgeoning literature, both inside and outside academia, has studied the silhouette of aid from non-DAC donors. Scholars agree on some fundamental points. Despite proclaims, they say that there is no such a thing as a BRICS policy strategy in terms of South-to-South Cooperation. Countries like China, Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil have different ambitions and ways of implementation. Experts also agree on the fact that the proportion of aid from emerging donors is still minuscule compared to those of most DAC countries. Moreover, there is widespread scepticism about the positive social and political impact of SSC for receiving countries. 

In this research paper, in turn, we argue that something like BRICS aid exists and that it has a distinctive profile. Specifically, we investigate the form and complexity of BRICS aid in the agricultural sector. With a focus on Ethiopia, we unpack the relationship between South-to-South cooperation and national institutional arrangements. By reconstructing the evolution of the governance of agriculture in Ethiopia since the rise of investments from BRICS countries, we demonstrate that the construction of a resilient and functional policy environment is imperative for bringing BRICS aid to the expected results. A clear definition of the limits of BRICS investment area, through formal respect of local autonomy and the cooperation of third-party-institutions, seems a necessary step to make BRICS aid more efficient and socially sustainable. 

Project team

Valeria Lauria

Founder and Director

Corrado Fumagalli

Founder and CEO

RC Sudheesh

Research Associate

Focus areas

  • Global environmental changes
  • Water and sanitation
  • Agriculture and rural development
  • Sustainable development and the management of global resources