Melissa Leach

Melissa Leach is Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. As a Professorial Fellow of IDS, she founded and directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre ( from 2006 – 2014, a global research-policy centre working with core partnerships in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A geographer and social anthropologist, her research in Africa and beyond has integrated social science with science-policy and natural sciences across many environmental, agricultural, health, technology and gender issues, with publications including the books Misreading the African Landscape (Cambridge, 1996); Reframing Deforestation (Routledge, 1998); Science, Society and Power (Cambridge, 2003); The Lie of the Land: Challenging Received Wisdom on the African Environment (James Currey, 1996); Dynamic Sustainabilities: Technology, Environment, Social justice (2010, Earthscan), and Green Grabbing (2012, Taylor and Francis). Her contributions to shaping global agendas around sustainability and development include leading UN Women’s 2014 World Survey Report on Gender Equality and Sustainable Development, and vice-chairing the Science Committee of Future Earth. She is an advisor to the ESRC-funded ‘Nexus Network: New connections in food, energy, water and the environment’ (

Plenary Speech