Declan Conway

Professorial Research Fellow

Declan Conway joined the Grantham Research Institute as a Professorial Research Fellow on the 28th October 2013.


Declan’s research cuts across water, climate and society, with a strong focus on adaptation and international development. Originally a geographer, Declan draws on insights from different disciplines to pursue problem focused research. He has over 20 years experience working in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia (particularly China). Declan’s research funding has included the EU, UK departments DFID, Defra and DECC, UK NERC and ESRC, US NSF and the World Bank.

  • Chair of the Programme Executive Board of UPGro; Unlocking the Potential for Groundwater in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Member of the international editorial board of Global Environmental Change
  • Project Lead on UMFULA (Uncertainty reduction in Models For Understanding deveLopment Applications ) and The economic impact of El Niño related floods and drought on small and medium enterprises in Botswana, Kenya and Zambia
  •  Lead the Sustainable Development Theme in GRI

Research Interests

  • Water security and climate change
  • Adaptation and development
  • Water-energy-food Nexus
  • China and climate change
  • Nile Basin and climate change

Prospective PhD Students

Declan welcomes prospective PhD students and can be contacted with ideas related to any of the above areas. He is particularly interested in novel/unusual ideas that cut across disciplines.
Visit the ‘Study with us’ page for further information on applying to be a PhD student with us.


Research article  5 January, 2018

Hydrological Response and Complex Impact Pathways of the 2015/2016 El Niño in Eastern and Southern Africa

The 2015/2016 El Niño was one of the three most severe on record. El Niño is commonly linked to droughts in southern Africa and extreme rainfall in eastern Africa but … read more »


Research article  8 December, 2017

Hydropower plans in eastern and southern Africa increase risk of concurrent climate-related electricity supply disruption

This paper explores how hydropower dams planned for eastern and southern Africa could put electricity supply at risk for vast regions because they rely on the same rainfall patterns for electricity generation. read more »

Research article  6 December, 2017

Climate change and the water–energy–food nexus: insights from policy and practice in Tanzania

Using document analysis and key informant interviews, this article examines how climate change is addressed in policy, how it is being mainstreamed into water, energy and agriculture sector policies and the extent to which cross-sectoral linkages enable coordinated action. These questions are addressed through a case study of Tanzania, highlighting broader lessons for other developing countries, particularly those in SSA facing similar challenges. read more »

Research article  23 November, 2017

Designing the next generation of climate adaptation research for development

This paper presents an agenda for the next generation of climate adaptation research for development. The agenda is based on insights from a dialogue session held at the 2016 Adaptation Futures conference as well as drawing on the collective experience of the authors. read more »

Research article  26 September, 2017

Subjective measures of climate resilience: What is the added value for policy and programming?

Subjective approaches to resilience measurement are gaining traction as a complementary approach to the standard frameworks that typically contain objective measures. Proponents suggest that subjective approaches may add value … read more »

Research article  12 March, 2017

Evolving discourses on water resource management and climate change in the Equatorial Nile Basin

Transboundary water resources management in the Equatorial Nile Basin (EQNB) is a politically contested issue. There is a growing body of literature examining water-related discourses which identifies the ability … read more »

Research article  25 January, 2017

Characterising half a degree difference: a review of methods for identifying regional climate responses to global warming targets

The Paris Agreement long-term global temperature goal refers to two global warming levels: well below 2°C and 1.5°C above preindustrial. Regional climate signals at specific global warming levels, and … read more »


Research article  29 September, 2016

Barriers and opportunities for robust decision making approaches to support climate change adaptation in the developing world

Climate change adaptation is unavoidable, particularly in developing countries where the adaptation deficit is often larger than in developed countries. Robust Decision Making (RDM) approaches are considered useful for … read more »

Research article  15 July, 2016

Co-benefits and trade-offs in the water–energy nexus of irrigation modernization in China

There are strong interdependencies between water use in agriculture and energy consumption as water saving technologies can require increased pumping and pressurizing. The Chinese Government includes water efficiency improvement … read more »

Research article  18 April, 2016

Regional disparities in the beneficial effects of rising CO2 concentrations on crop water productivity

Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations ([CO2]) are expected to enhance photosynthesis and reduce crop water use. However, there is high uncertainty about the global implications of these effects for future … read more »

Research article  27 January, 2016

Water resources transfers through southern African food trade: water efficiency and climate signals

We combine global hydrological model simulations with international food trade data to quantify the water resources embedded in international food trade in southern Africa and with the rest of the world, from 1986–2011. read more »


Research article  15 December, 2015

Invention and diffusion of water supply and water efficiency technologies: insights from a global patent dataset

This paper identifies over 50,000 patents filed worldwide in various water-related technologies between 1990 and 2010, distinguishing between those related to availability (supply) and conservation (demand) technologies. Patenting activity is … read more »

Research article  26 August, 2015

Climate and southern Africa's water–energy–food nexus

In southern Africa, the connections between climate and the water–energy–food nexus are strong. Physical and socioeconomic exposure to climate is high in many areas and in crucial economic sectors. Spatial … read more »

Research article  17 August, 2015

Tracing the water-energy-food nexus: description, theory and practice

The ‘nexus’ between water, energy and food (WEF) has gained increasing attention globally in research, business and policy spheres. We review the premise of recent initiatives framed around the nexus, … read more »

Working paper  24 June, 2015

Invention and diffusion of water supply and water efficiency technologies: insights from a global patent dataset

This paper identifies over 50 000 patents filed worldwide in various water-related technologies between 1990 and 2010, distinguishing between those related to availability (supply) and conservation (demand) technologies. read more »


Research article  20 December, 2014

Social vulnerability in three high-poverty climate change hot spots: What does the climate change literature tell us?

This paper reviews the state of knowledge on social vulnerability to climate change in three hot spots (deltas, semi-arid regions and snowpack- or glacier-fed river basins) in Africa, Central Asia and South Asia, using elements of systematic review methods. read more »

Research article  17 September, 2014

Climate change and International River Boundaries: fixed points in shifting sands

We review the historical and legal role of International River Boundaries highlighting the paradox that exists between the stability needed for a boundary and the dynamism of fluvial landscapes in a changing climate. read more »

Research article  25 April, 2014

Strategies for improving adaptation practice in developing countries

The international community's support for adaptation in developing countries has proliferated through numerous complementary funding mechanisms. A range of serious practical issues are emerging, however, as adaptation moves from theory and international negotiation to implementation. We identify three areas deserving greater scrutiny: in-country priorities, entry points and delivery systems, and provide recommendations for improving adaptation practice. These concerns, if not addressed, have the potential to hamper attempts at effective delivery and to increase the vulnerability of intended beneficiaries of the adaptation agenda. read more »

Research article  19 March, 2014

Global crop yield response to extreme heat stress under multiple climate change futures

This study applies the global crop model PEGASUS to quantify, for the first time at the global scale, impacts of extreme heat stress on maize, spring wheat and soybean yields resulting from 72 climate change scenarios for the 21st century. read more »

Research article  5 March, 2014

Global Environmental Change: taking stock at a time of transition

Conway, D., Barnett, J., Betsill, M.M., Lebel, L. and Seto, K.C. (2014). Global Environmental Change 25, 1-4.

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Policy report  4 November, 2017

Future climate projections for Tanzania

This brief provides an overview of future climate change in Tanzania, using results from the latest available climate model simulations. The UMFULA research team of the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) programme has analysed 34 Global Climate Models (GCMs) that provide projections for Tanzania to try to distil robust messages and some key trends that may help planning and decision-making. read more »

Policy report  27 October, 2017

Future climate projections for Malawi

This brief provides an overview of future climate change in Malawi, using results from the latest available climate model simulations. The UMFULA research team of the Future Climate for Africa … read more »

Policy report  26 September, 2017

Guide: How to understand and interpret global climate model results

Global climate models (GCMs) are the most widely used method to understand future climate change. A new guide from the Future Climate for Africa Programme explains how to interpret GCM … read more »

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Low water levels in Malawi
Commentary  13 December, 2017

Hydropower in Africa: Plans for new dams could increase the risk of disruption to electricity supply

New research published in Nature Energy this month finds that plans for new dams could put electricity generation and supply at risk and highlights the importance of considering rainfall patterns when planning the location of new hydropower dams in Africa read more »

In the news  24 April, 2017

Water resources: Future Nile river flows

Declan Conway comments on new research published in Nature Climate change on future Nile river flows. The work shows annual Nile flows are projected to increase and importantly, year-to-year variability … read more »

In the news  25 January, 2017

Guest post: What can climate models tell us about impacts at 1.5C and 2C?

Carbon Brief, 25 January 2017


Announcement  12 December, 2016

Global Environmental Change gets top CiteScore

Global Environmental Change, whose co-editor-in-chief is Declan Conway, was the top ranking journal for Social Sciences: Geography, Planning and Development according the CiteScore metric. This new journal metric, powered by … read more »

Commentary  14 October, 2016

How can Africa’s SMEs become more resilient to climatic disruption?

A new Grantham Research Institute project is exploring the impact of El Niño and La Niña events on small-and medium-sized enterprises in Africa. read more »

Announcement  20 June, 2016

Global Environmental Change journal sees boost in Impact Factor

Global Environmental Change, whose co-editor-in-chief is Declan Conway, saw a 5.679 increase in its Impact Factor during 2015. Global Environmental Change is a peer-reviewed international journal publishing high quality, theoretically … read more »

In the news  22 February, 2016

Invention and diffusion of water supply and water efficiency technologies: Insights from a global patent dataset

How technology can address the challenge of global water security. read more »


In the news  29 October, 2015

Physical and political impacts: Complex river boundaries at risk

Many international river basins are suffering from climate-driven impacts, with implications for national security. Now, research highlights the need to analyse shifting river boundaries to better understand potential socio-political threats. read more »

Announcement  28 October, 2015

Grantham Research Institute to lead consortium on climate variability and change in central and southern Africa

The Institute is to lead one of the five research consortia that form the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) Programme, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development and the Natural Environment Research Council. read more »

Commentary  26 August, 2015

Climate is critical in southern Africa’s water-energy-food nexus

Professorial Research Fellow, Declan Conway, writes about the recent upsurge in research and policy interest in natural resource scarcity, particularly in relation to the water-energy-food nexus. read more »

Announcement  14 August, 2015

What scale for water governance?

Declan Conway is among a number of leading experts in the field to contribute to a series of essays debating key issues in freshwater research and management in Science magazine. read more »

In the news  28 January, 2015

Policy: Hard choices and soft outcomes?

Asia's mega-deltas are densely populated and face multiple stressors including upstream development and sea-level rise. Adapting to these challenges requires difficult choices between hard and soft responses set within a strongly political context. read more »


Announcement  13 August, 2014

Global Environmental Change

LSE adminsinistered journal ranked as the highest impact journal in the environmental sciences. read more »

In the news  16 June, 2014

A nexus approach to global challenges

Resource challenges are highly interconnected. Can the idea of a food-energy-water ‘nexus’ become more than another buzzword, and help us to identify solutions? The Guardian

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Grantham Workshop 18 Jan 2017

Grantham Workshop | Declan Conway 'Climate change and water security'

Declan Conway, a Professorial Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, will be the speaker for this seminar. This seminar … read more »


Conferences 26 Mar 2015

Green Growth and the New Industrial Revolution

Keynote Speakers Professor Cameron Hepburn, University of Oxford and Grantham Research Institute Simon Upton, Environment Director, OECD Chairs Professor Dame Judith Rees, Grantham Research Institute Professor Sam Fankhauser, Grantham Research … read more »

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