Dr Nicola Favretto

Dr Nicola Favretto


Dr Nicola Favretto is an interdisciplinary social scientist based at the Sustainability Research Institute. He has a PhD in Environmental Sustainability and experience in mixed-method, multi-level research addressing environmental, economic and policy dimensions of sustainable development across dryland sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.


His core competencies include participatory livelihood impact assessments focused on agro-ecosystems, policy and stakeholder analysis and advice, and research project design, coordination and implementation. Throughout his work focused on addressing complex international development challenges and bridging major science-policy gaps, Dr Favretto has undertaken research and managerial roles across a range of international organisations (i.e. United Nations University, United Nations Development Programme, European Commission).

Research interests

Dr Favretto led the development, coordination and implementation of a range of research and capacity-building activities, including Massive Open Online Courses on environmental sustainability with thousands of registered participants. He organised and moderated various high-level science-policy events and published a number of policy-focused reports and briefs.

His key research / capacity building projects include:

  • 2021-[until 2022]. Social innovations for equitable and climate resilient landscapes in Africa, funded by the ESRC (UKRI-GCRF Climate Resilience). 
  • 2020. Advancing the impacts of socio-ecological restoration through multi-stakeholder partnerships in South Africa, funded by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Fund.
  • 2019-2020. African Climate Resilient Landscapes project, funded by World Universities Network (WUN).
  • 2018-2020. Building economic development and social welfare of small farming communities in Paraná, Brazil, through climate compatible development, funded by Newton Institutional Links.
  • 2016-2020. Exploring co-benefits and trade-offs in climate mitigation, adaptation and development in South Africa and Madagascar, funded by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP).
  • 2016-19: Interuniversity Learning in Higher Education on Advanced land Management - Egyptian Country, funded by Erasmus+.
  • 2016-18. MOOC: Connecting economy & ecology through integrated landscape management. How to design sustainable business models?, European Network for the Advancement of Business & Landscape Education (ENABLE) project, funded by the Erasmus +.  
  • 2018. MOOC: Integrating soil degradation concerns and solutions into policy processes, funded by GIZ.
  • 2018. Reversing land degradation in Africa through scaling-up EverGreen agriculture, funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
  • 2015. MOOC: Options and pathways for action: Stakeholder Engagement, funded by the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative.
  • 2014-15. Sustainable Liquid Biofuels from Biomass Biorefining (SUNLIBB), funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
  • 2014-15. Advancing knowledge on the costs, benefits, trade-offs of sustainable land management in southern Africa’s rangelands – Botswana case study, funded by the Economics of Land Degradation initiative.
  • 2009-14. Powering Mali with sustainable biofuels? Livelihood opportunities and policy challenges of Jatropha curcas, PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


Favretto N, Afionis S, Stringer LC, Dougill AJ, Quinn CH, Ranarijaona Tiana HL. 2020. Delivering climate-development co-benefits through multi-stakeholder forestry projects in Madagascar: opportunities and challenges. Land 9: 157. 

Sakai P, Afionis S, Favretto N, et al. 2020. Understanding the implications of alternative bioenergy crops to support smallholder farmers in Brazil. Sustainability 12: 2146. 

Favretto N, Dougill AJ, Stringer LC, Afionis S, Quinn CH. 2018. Links between climate change mitigation, adaptation and development in land policy and ecosystem restoration projects: lessons from South Africa. Sustainability 10: 779. 

Favretto N, Afionis S, Stringer LC, Buckeridge M. 2017. Policy and diplomacy in the production of second generation ethanol in Brazil: International relations with the EU, the USA and Africa. In: MS Buckeridge, AP de Souza (eds.), Advances of basic science for second generation bioethanol from sugarcane and their impact on technology. Springer

Favretto N, Stringer LC, Dougill AJ, Dallimer M, Perkins JS, Reed MS, Atlhopheng JR, Mulale K. 2016a. Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis to identify dryland ecosystem service trade-offs under different rangeland land uses. Ecosystem Services 17: 142-151

Favretto N, Luedeling E, Stringer LC, Dougill AJ. 2016b. Valuing Ecosystem Services in Semi-Arid Rangelands through Stochastic Simulation. Land Degradation & Development 28: 65–73. 

Afionis S, Stringer LC, Favretto N, Tomei J, Buckeridge M. 2016. Unpacking Brazil’s leadership in the global biofuels arena: Brazilian ethanol diplomacy in Africa. Global Environmental Politics 16: 127-150. 

Dougill AJ, Akanyang L, Perkins JS, Eckardt F, Stringer LC, Favretto N, Atlhopheng J, Mulale K. 2016. Land use, rangeland degradation and ecological changes in the southern Kalahari, Botswana. African Journal of Ecology 54: 59-67

Favretto N, Stringer LC, Dougill AJ. 2015. Towards improved policy and institutional coherence in the promotion of sustainable biofuels in Mali. Environmental Policy and Governance 25(1): 36–54. 

Reed MS, Stringer LC, Dougill AJ, Perkins JS, Atlhopheng JR, Mulale K, Favretto N. 2015. Reorienting land degradation towards sustainable land management: Linking sustainable livelihoods with ecosystem services in rangeland systems. Journal of Environmental Management 151: 472-485. 10.1016/j.jenvman.2014.11.010.

Favretto N, Stringer LC, Dougill AJ. 2014. Unpacking livelihood challenges and opportunities in energy crop cultivation: perspectives on Jatropha curcas projects in Mali. Geographical Journal 180(4): 365–376.

Afionis S, Favretto N, Buckeridge M, Van Alstine J, Stringer LC. 2013. The Environment in Latin America and the Caribbean in the aftermath of the Rio+20 Summit, In: Europa Publications (Ed) South America, Central America & the Caribbean 2014, The Europa Regional Surveys of the World, Routledge, pp. 17-21.



Cárdenas B, Favretto N, Antwi-Agyei P, Dougill AJ, Stringer LC. 2018. Policy coherence for climate-sensitive planning in Ghana. SRI Briefing Note Series No 18. University of Leeds: UK.

Favretto N, Dougill AJ, Stringer LC, Afionis S, Quinn CH. 2018. Links between climate change mitigation, adaptation and development in land policy and ecosystem restoration projects: lessons from South Africa. SRI Briefing Note Series No 16. University of Leeds: UK. 

Favretto N, Dallimer M, Johnson I, Kubiszweski I, Etter H, Thomas R. 2017. The economics of land policy, planning and practice. Global Land Outlook Working Paper. UNCCD: Germany.

Favretto N. 2017. Sustainable Development Goals and the Economics of Land Degradation. UNU-INWEH Policy Brief. United Nations University Institute for Water Environment and Health: Hamilton, Canada.

ELD Initiative (Favretto N: coordination and co-author). 2015. The value of land: Prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management. ELD Initiative, GIZ: Bonn, Germany.

Favretto N, Quillérou E, Etter H. 2015. A 6+1 step approach to assess the economics of land management. ELD Initiative, GIZ: Bonn, Germany. 

Quillérou E, Stringer LC, Øystese S, Thomas R, Bailly D, Favretto N, Stewart N. 2015. Enabling action: Conditions for success, In: ELD Initiative, The value of land: Prosperous lands and positive rewards through sustainable land management. GIZ: Bonn, Germany. 

Musekamp C, Quillérou E, Favretto N, Falk T, Salha A, Schmidt L, Reed M, Buckmaster S. 2015. Practitioner’s Guide: Pathways and options for action and stakeholder engagement, based on the 2015 ELD Massive Open Online Course “Stakeholder Engagement”. .

Favretto N, Stringer LC, Dougill AJ, Perkins JS, Reed MS, Akanyang L, Dallimer M, Atlhopheng JR, Mulale K. 2014. Assessing the socio-economic and environmental dimensions of land degradation: A Case Study of Botswana’s Kalahari. Report for the ELD Initiative. 

Favretto N, Stringer LC, Dougill AJ. 2014. Applying a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis to identify ecosystem service trade-offs under four different land uses in Botswana’s Kalahari rangelands. Policy brief for the ELD Initiative. 

Favretto N. 2013. Energising development with Jatropha curcas? Policy and institutional frameworks in the promotion of sustainable biofuels in Mali. Policy Innovation Systems for Clean Energy Security Policy Brief. Practical Action Consulting. 



Adapting conservation projects to benefit communities and climate, ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP).

Sharing a field research experience from Botswana's drylands, Univeristy of Leeds.



  • 2019, (Organiser and Moderator) ‘Linking land and water conservation to community development in ecological restoration policy and projects: lessons from South Africa’ Symposium, 8th World Conference on Ecological restoration (SER2019), South Africa
  • 2018, (Invited speaker) ‘Assessing ecosystem service co-benefits and trade-offs across alternative land management practices in Botswana’s rangelands: a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis’, 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology, Finland
  • 2018, (Invited speaker) ‘Links between Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation and Development in Land Policy and Restoration Projects’, Seedbeds of Transformation Conference, South Africa
  • 2018, (Invited speaker) ‘Assessing successes and challenges of landscape restoration through holistic approaches’, online lecture, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • 2016, ‘Governing Sustainable Energy Transitions: the case of bioenergy in Mozambique’, Association of American Geographers Conference, S. Francisco
  • 2015, (Invited speaker) ‘Investment Platform for Land Degradation Neutrality in Central America’, UNCCD Public-Private Dialogue Workshop, Costa Rica
  • 2015, (Moderator) ‘Launch of ELD Reports’, UNCCD COP 12, Ankara
  • 2015, (Invited speaker) ‘Land degradation in the context of the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals: the economics of land degradation’, Webinar, United Nations University, Canada and China
  • 2015, ‘Applying Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis to inform policies that better protect ecosystem services’, 6th Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, World Bank, Washington DC
  • 2014, (Invited speaker), Webinar, Summer School, Economics of Land Degradation initiative, Germany
  • 2013, ‘Bioenergy in Africa’, 4th International Conference, Ministry of Mines, Quarry and Energy of Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso
  • 2013, (Invited speaker) ‘Biofuel Investments in Mali’, Brazilian Development Bank, Brazil
  • 2013, ’Sustainable land management and livelihoods research’, 2nd UNCCD Scientific Conference, UNCCD, Germany
  • 2012, (Invited speaker) Seminar on energy and sustainable development, Yale University, CT2012, Talk on biofuel policies in Mali, United Nations Development Programme, NY
  • 2012, Workshop on Sustainable Development, Columbia University, NY
  • 2012, Knowledge gaps in climate change research, University of East Anglia, UK
  • 2011, Energy and people: futures, complexity and challenges, Oxford University, UK
  • 2010, Towards low carbon, climate resilient societies, London School of Economics, UK
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Environmental Sustainability, University of Leeds
  • MSc, International Economic Integration, University of Pavia
  • BSc, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca

Professional memberships

  • Associate Researcher, ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, University of Leeds & London School of Economics and Political Science
  • (Former) Advisory board member, European Network for the Advancement of Business & Landscape Education (ENABLE) project
  • (Former) Steering Committee member, Interuniversity Learning in Higher Education on Advanced land Management - Egyptian Country
  • (Former) Steering Committee member and author, Global Land Outlook of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

Research groups and institutes

  • Environment and Development
  • Sustainability Research Institute
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>