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Our work on environmental change in Africa

Hosted by the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the mutually reinforcing link between the environment and health.


Environmental change across Africa is happening at an alarming rate. In response to climate and associated environmental crises, the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa is expanding its research focus and engagement to apply our expertise on climate change and the environment. Research collaborations, workshops, public events and blog series are among the initiatives connecting LSE with partners, building interdisciplinary expertise on how African countries can confront the development challenges brought by environmental change. 

Learn more about our work below. 

Environmental Change, Equitable Transitions and Sustainability in Africa Collaboration

In 2021, the LSE Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa and the Global Development Hub at Imperial College London launched a new collaboration to encourage the vital multi-disciplinary work needed to address global challenges relating to environmental change, sustainability and inclusive and equitable transitions. The collaboration aims to develop novel research proposals to create a hub accessible to academics, policymakers and the public. 

LSE and Imperial are co-hosting a series of roundtable discussions on different themes relating to upcoming funding calls. Participants will mainly include LSE, Imperial and Africa-based researchers and, where appropriate, NGO or industry partners.

Collaboration objectives

  • To develop collaborative funding proposals with the aim of making significant research contributions to climate change and the environment across Africa.
  • To create a multi-disciplinary platform between the social and natural sciences which closely investigates how environmental degradation exacerbates existing inequalities and how to move towards more equitable, inclusive transitions.
  • To facilitate engagement with researchers and practitioners through community-centred approaches to tackle environmental challenges.
  • To create a network promoting knowledge exchange on environmental and climate change in Africa to build long-term cross-institutional partnerships between LSE, Imperial and African research institutions.

African food cities

In February 2022, the collaboration submitted a Horizon Europe proposal exploring how governments, research institutions and civil society can work towards better food systems, sustainable agriculture, healthy dietary shifts, and food poverty reduction across African cities.  

Rapid population growth, increasing income levels and fast-changing dietary trends in African urban areas are significant challenges for the supply of nutritious, sustainable and healthy food. Contributions to greenhouse gas emissions are also rising through intensive land use, food production and supply chains. COVID-19 and other shocks have further strained the domestic movement of food, transborder trade and global imports. These aspects present fundamental challenges and require substantial research interventions to improve food systems and how they can better support livelihoods. 

This round of seminar series aimed to understand patterns in food demand and diets, the resilience of supply chains in response to external shocks, potential entry points for nutritional transitions, as well as changing land use. This bid submission includes researchers from LSE, Imperial and the following institutions: 

  • University of the Western Cape
  • University of Namibia
  • Université Internationale de Rabat
  • Addis Ababa University
  • Ecole nationale supérieure de statistiques et d’économie appliquée d’Abidjan
  • University of Nairobi
  • Groupe d'Etudes sur les Conflits - Sécurité Humanitaire (GEC-SH)
  • Gulu University
  • Strathmore University
  • Regenerative Society Foundation
  • Ghent University
  • Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC)
  • University of Bordeaux

Extreme heat and health

In April 2022, the collaboration commenced a new seminar series focusing on the impacts of extreme heat on health. African countries are already bearing disastrous consequences from the climate crisis, and rising temperatures have been central to devastating ecosystems as well as increasing health vulnerability and risk among communities facing accelerating climate variability.

Together with the LSE and Imperial, the following partners have submitted the preliminary Wellcome Trust bid:

  • University of Lagos (lead partner)
  • University of Botswana
  • University of Cape Coast
  • National Public Health Institute of Liberia
  • Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change (CMCC)


  • Natalie Carter - Research Assistant, FLIA
  • Jonathan Terrefe - Research Assistant, FLIA
  • Hamish Beath - Research Assistant, Global Development Hub-Imperial 
  • Martha Geiger Mwenitete - Institute Manager, FLIA
  • Clare Turner - Senior International Relations Officer, Global Development Hub-Imperial

Please reach out to NatalieJonathan or Hamish for more information or expressions of interest.

Rethinking zoonoses, the environment and epidemics in Africa: blog series

A new blog series examines the threat posed by changing relationships between humans and animals in rural and urban Africa. Drawing on the latest research, world-leading experts assess the continent’s current approaches to addressing zoological spillovers and imagine how local, government and multinational interventions can improve ecosystems alongside human and animal health and relationships holistically.

Learn more about the series

Africa’s relationship with the environment is changing rapidly, with urbanisation, deforestation, habitat destruction, mass migration, rising populations and shifting climates affecting the ways humans interact with non-human animals (hereafter: animals). The risk of infectious diseases jumping from animals to humans is consequently rising, which the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, in an era of global connectivity, has far-reaching effects.

Yet African surveillance and research infrastructures to control or prevent zoonotic disease transmission are severely underfunded. More should be understood about how, where and when disease transmission from animals to humans occur, who is affected (including both humans and animals), and what form early responses should take in order to protect human and animal life. Our new blog series examines these issues with a focus on putting into conversation the social and natural sciences, pushing forward important debates accessibly for a public audience.



Public events

Through its Africa Talks and LSE Africa Summit series, the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa has launched a series of high-profile public debates addressing the need for urgent climate action across Africa. With many on the continent already experiencing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, the Institute is dedicated to providing public forums to investigate how a changing environment affects food security, health provision, urbanisation and decarbonisation.

Food Security and Agriculture in Africa Post COVID-19

Date: 1 June, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the mutually reinforcing link between environment and health. Importantly, food security is not only about the sufficient supply of food but also about the welfare of livelihoods dependent on food systems to operate despite lockdown mandates: from smallholder farmers to urban food vendors. In this panel discussion, speakers considered how the health sector can better support economic trade and agriculture, effective policy tools beyond the pandemic and multi-stakeholder cooperation in steering African countries towards more resilient food systems.   

Speakers: Prof Jane Ambuko (Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection, University of Nairobi), Dr Abebe-Haile Gabriel (FAO), Sara Mbago-Bhunu (International Fund for Agricultural Development) 

Chair: Dr Stephanie Levy (LSE Department of International Development)

How can Africa Adapt to Climate Change?

Date: 3 November, 2021 

This event explored how African countries can best adapt to climate change and invited experts to examine current climate responses. Though mitigation approaches dominate negotiation tables on the global stage, policies geared towards adaptation and loss and damage would do well to better support the most vulnerable. The panel made the case why more African representation globally and increasing adaptation budgets alone will not be sufficient. Rather, such measures should be coupled with a greater focus on community engagement, the need to target youth and for governments to better leverage the roles of customary institutions and civil society.   

Speakers: Prof Christopher Gordon (Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies, University of Ghana), Dr Richard Munang (UN Environment Programme), Dr Swenja Surminski (LSE Grantham Research Institute), Timo Leiter (LSE Grantham Research Institute) 

Chair: Prof Kathryn Hochstetler (LSE Department of International Development)

Small-Island Developing States in a Post-COP 26 World - LSE Africa Summit

Date: 26 March, 2022 

Small-island developing states (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Rising sea levels, flash floods, cyclones, food insecurity and the impact on livelihoods through the fisheries and tourism industry are some of the vital challenges SIDS are facing. This event highlighted the vulnerability and exposure to natural disasters within these contexts, emphasising the need for adaptation funding and access to markets in addition to mitigation measures such as energy and transport infrastructures.  

Speakers: Jean-Paul Adam (UN Economic Commission for Africa), Komal Hassamal (Green Growth Solutions) 

Chair: Prof Elizabeth Robinson (LSE Grantham Research Institute)

LSE SU Green Fortnight events

Tuesday 7 March 

LSE Research Showcase with Dr Liam Beiser-McGrath

When times are hard does support for environmental action decrease? Or do times of crisis lead to a renewed effort to tackle long-term challenges?

Wednesday 8 March

Student-led workshop: What can LSE do to further expand education for sustainability?

Students from the LSESU Sustainable Futures Society have been working for the last year on a project ‘Embedding Sustainability in the Curriculum’. It’s aims are to integrate relevant sustainability-related topics within the curricula so that students can develop the skills and intellectual ability to build a more sustainable future. 

Thursday 9 March 

World Café - Green Growth vs Degrowth: Which one will save our planet?

Participants will tackle important questions about the potential gains and risks of Green Growth and Degrowth through short presentations and informal roundtable conversations with scholars and other students.


 Photo: Photo by Seyiram Kweku from Pexels