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Dr Aiora Zabala

Photo of Aiora Zabala at her desk

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the OU Economics Discipline as a Lecturer in January 2022. Prior to that, I was Senior Editor at the journal Nature Sustainability before launch and during its first years. I've taught environmental policy, economics and methods since 2013, mostly at the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, where I'm also Senior Fellow. I've published research on a range of sustainability policies from environmental and ecological economics perspectives, such as environmental and conservation programs in rural areas in Mexico and South Africa, deforestation drivers at large scales, peatland fires in Indonesia, and public policy for sustainable transport to industrial estates.

I use a range of methods and tools, including R statistical language, Q methodology, econometrics, multi-criteria decision methods, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and data visualisation.

Research interests

Research focused on challenges for implementation and effectiveness of environmental and sustainability governance across scales, particularly on two areas: understanding the diversity of views on controversial or conflictual issues, and the spatial variability of impacts. This includes adoption and diffusion of sustainable land-use practices, social implications of biodiversity indicators and drivers and motivations of behavioural change.

I approach these questions using a pluralistic methodological approach. Topics include, among others, the social and economic implications of a large wetland restoration program in South Africa, the political economy of rural livelihood change in Mexico, discourses about peatland fire solutions in Indonesia, the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices in the tropical forest frontier, and multi-criteria evaluation of sustainable transport policies.

Recent work includes analysing acceptability of waste-to-energy facilities (with Univ. of Basque Country), barriers for sustainable aquaculture certification (with Univ. of Tokyo), and the sustainability of post-pandemic recovery policies.

Supervising students

Open to supervise research theses on environmental policy and ecological economics, using different methods and also interdisciplinary.

To express your interest, send an email with a brief summary of your research ideas and background.

Teaching interests

Economics and the environment, sustainability policy

Methods, R language and data visualisation

Impact and engagement

I regularly write a newspaper column and collaborate in live radio in my native language, discussing sustainability and environmental policy matters for a broad audience.