Professor Fiona Nunan

Professor Fiona Nunan

International Development Department
Professor of Environment and Development

Contact details

International Development Department
School of Government
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham,
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Fiona's interests and experience focus on natural resource governance and management in developing country settings, particularly within inland fisheries and coastal locations in East and Southern Africa, and on exploring the links between poverty and the environment.


  • PhD (Birmingham)
  • MA (Sussex)
  • BSc (Kent)


Prof Nunan first joined IDD in 1994, working in the areas of urban waste management, peri-urban natural resource management and poverty-environment linkages. She rejoined IDD in September 2008, after spending five years in East Africa, working on two fisheries co-management projects, funded by the UK Department for International Development and the EU. Her research now centres on the arrangements for and practice of governing renewable natural resources in low- and middle-income countries.

Prof Nunan served as Head of Department between 2014 and 2020, and as School Head of Research between Jan 2020 and May 2021. Since January 2020, she has served as the Programme Lead of the University-led Forum for Global Challenges.

Her first book was published in 2015 by Routledge, Understanding Poverty and the Environment: Analytical Frameworks and Approaches. The book makes an innovative contribution to literature on environment and development by bringing together a diverse range of analytical approaches and frameworks that can be used to study human-nature interactions.

Two edited books followed: Making Climate Compatible Development Happen and Governing Renewable Natural Resources: Theories and frameworks.

She was made a Professor in 2018 and gave her inaugural lecture in January 2020.

Prof Nunan served on the Council of the UK Development Studies Association 2010-2016 and convenes the DSA Study Group on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change.


My specialist area of interest is environment and natural resource management and governance, and I convene the IDD module on 'Transforming Development for Sustainability'. I also co-convene Making Policy on campus and distance learning and contribute to other modules.

Postgraduate supervision

Prof Nunan welcomes PhD applications in the following areas:

Governance and livelihoods of renewable natural resources in low- and middle-income countries, particularly fisheries co-management.


Professor Nunan's research interests lie in the arrangements for and practice of governance of renewable natural resources in low- and middle-income countries. She particularly uses institutional analysis, but also has interests in how power and gender relations, and the wider political economy, affect the practice and outcomes of natural resource governance.

See Professor Nunan's ORCID for a full list of outputs:

Other activities

Member of the Council of the Development Studies Association (DSA) since November 2010

See my IDD blog entries


Highlight publications

Nunan, F (ed.) 2019, Governing renewable natural resources: theories and frameworks. Earthscan Studies in Natural Resource Management, Earthscan.

Nunan, F 2020, 'The political economy of fisheries co-management: challenging the potential for success on Lake Victoria', Global Environmental Change, vol. 63, 102101.

Recent publications


Nunan, F (ed.) 2017, Making climate compatible development happen. Routledge.


Namwira, D, Nunan, F & Beswick, D 2024, 'Responding to civil war: fisheries as a safety net and lootable resource on Lake Tanganyika, the Democratic Republic of Congo', MAST Maritime Studies, vol. 23, 18.

Nunan, F 2021, 'A gendered analysis of fisherfolk migration on Lake Victoria, East Africa', African Identities, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 342-358.

Nunan, F, Menton, M, McDermott, C, Huxham, M & Schreckenberg, K 2021, 'How does governance mediate links between ecosystem services and poverty alleviation? Results from a systematic mapping and thematic synthesis of literature', World Development, vol. 146, 105595.

Schaafsma, M, Eigenbrod, F, Gasparatos, A, Gross-Camp, N, Hutton, C, Nunan, F, Schreckenberg, K & Turner, K 2021, 'Trade-off decisions in ecosystem management for poverty alleviation', Ecological Economics, vol. 187, 107103.

Nunan, F, Cepic, D, Onyango, P, Salehe, M, Yongo, E, Mbilingi, B, Odongkara, K, Mlahagwa, E & Owili, M 2020, 'Big fish, small fries? The fluidity of power in patron-client relations of Lake Victoria fisheries', Journal of Rural Studies.

Nunan, F, Omondi, M, Nchimbi, A, Mangora, M, Kairo, J, Shalli, M & Jiddawi, N 2020, 'The silos of natural resource governance: implications of sector-led coastal management at the village level in Kenya and Zanzibar-Tanzania', Conservation and Society, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 148-160.

Nunan, F & Cepic, D 2019, 'Women and fisheries co-management: limits to participation on Lake Victoria', Fisheries Research, vol. 224, 105454.

Nunan, F, Cepić, D, Yongo, E, Saleh, M, Mbilingi, B, Odongkara, K, Onyango, P, Mlahagwa, E & Owili, M 2018, 'Compliance, corruption and co-management: how corruption fuels illegalities and undermines the legitimacy of fisheries co-management', International Journal of the Commons.

Nunan, F 2018, 'Navigating multi-level natural resource governance: an analytical guide', Natural Resources Forum.

Nunan, F, Cepic, D, Mbilingi, B, Odongkara, K, Yongo, E, Owili, M, Salehe, M, Mlahagwa, E & Onyango, P 2017, 'Community cohesion: social and economic ties in the personal networks of fisherfolk', Society and Natural Resources.

Cepic, D & Nunan, F 2017, 'Justifying non-compliance: the morality of illegalities in small scale fisheries of Lake Victoria, East Africa', Marine Policy, vol. 86, pp. 104-110. non-compliance: the morality of illegalities in small scale fisheries


Nunan, F 2017, Conceptualising climate compatible development. in Making climate compatible development happen., Chapter 1, Routledge, pp. 1-21.

Nunan, F & Wanjiru, C 2017, Enabling climate compatible development in the coastal region of Kenya. in Making Climate Compatible Development Happen., Chapter 10, Routledge, pp. 201-222.

Nunan, F 2017, Prospects and challenges for Climate Compatible Development. in Making Climate Compatible Development Happen., Chapter 12, Routledge, pp. 242-254.

View all publications in research portal


Governing natural resources for sustainability and wellbeing

Fiona’s expertise lies in how governance systems mediate linkages between the environment and people and how local people work with government in managing renewable natural resources, such as fisheries and forests, in developing countries.