Nicola Favretto

Research Impact Fellow, University of Leeds

Nicola Favretto

Dr Favretto is an interdisciplinary social scientist based at the Sustainability Research Institute. He has a PhD in Environmental Sustainability and experience in mixed-method, multi-level research addressing environmental, economic and policy dimensions of sustainable development across dryland sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. His core competencies include participatory livelihood impact assessments focused on agro-ecosystems, policy and stakeholder analysis and advice, and research project design, coordination and implementation. Throughout his work focused on addressing complex international development challenges and bridging major science-policy gaps, Dr Favretto has undertaken research and managerial roles across a range of international organisations (i.e. United Nations University, United Nations Development Programme, European Commission).

In his work as Environmental Economist and Project Coordinator at the United Nations University, Dr Favretto led the development, coordination and implementation of a range of capacity-building activities, including Massive Open Online Courses on environmental sustainability (listed below) with thousands of registered participants. He also organised and moderated various high-level science-policy events and published a number of policy-focused reports and briefs.

Nicola’s key research / capacity building projects include:

  • 2021-[2022]. Social innovations for equitable and climate resilient landscapes in Africa, funded by the ESRC (UKRI-GCRF Collective Programme Climate Resilience Network Development).
  • 2020. Advancing the impacts of socio-ecological restoration through multi-stakeholder partnerships in South Africa, funded by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Fund.
  • 2019-2020. African Climate Resilient Landscapes project, funded by World Universities Network (WUN)
  • 2018-2020. Building economic development and social welfare of small farming communities in Paraná, Brazil, through climate compatible development, funded by Newton Institutional Links
  • 2016-2020. Exploring co-benefits in climate mitigation, adaptation and development in South Africa and Madagascar. Funded by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy
  • 2018. Reversing land degradation in Africa through scaling-up EverGreen agriculture, funded by GIZ
  • 2018. Integrating soil degradation concerns and solutions into policy processes, funded by GIZ
  • 2016-2019. Interuniversity learning in higher education on advanced land management Egypt, funded by Erasmus+
  • 2016-2018. European network for the advancement of business & landscape education, funded by Erasmus+
  • 2014-2015. Sustainable liquid biofuels from biomass biorefining, funded by the EU FP7
  • 2014-2015. Economics of Land Degradation initiative, Botswana case study, funded by the ELD initiative
  • 2009-2014. Assessing livelihood opportunities and policy challenges of bioenergy in Mali, PhD research


  • PhD in Environmental Sustainability and Development, University of Leeds
  • MSc International Economic Integration (First-Class Honours), University of Pavia
  • BSc Economics and Social Sciences (First-Class Honours), University of Milano-Bicocca

Thematic expertise

Addressing environmental, socio-economic and policy dimensions of sustainable development to advance understanding of the relationships between poverty, environment and development in Africa and Latin America. Focus areas of research:

  • Climate-compatible development
  • Sustainable land management and ecosystem service-based approaches to address climate change and poverty
  • Sustainable energy for poverty reduction

Research articles


Working papers

Policy publications