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Dr Zareen Bharucha

Senior Research Fellow

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Areas of Expertise:
Global Risk and Resilience
Research Supervision:

Zareen is an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist. Her core research focus is on environmental change in rural India, with a particular focus on water scarcity and dryland agriculture.

[email protected]


Zareen's additional research interests are in the sustainable intensification of agriculture, the links between sustainability and well-being, and transitions to sustainability. She joined the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) in October 2016, leading the Global Risk and Resilience theme, as well as developing new cross-theme initiatives.

Zareen completed a PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Essex, looking at the long-term outcomes of rural development projects in the Indian drylands. Later, as Research Officer at Essex, she coordinated the Ecocultures research consortium, and worked on a major ESRC research project on the political economy of land-use change comparing Europe, Brazil, China and India.

At the GSI, Zareen’s research develops her interests in rural development, water scarcity, sustainable intensification, climate change policy (mitigation and adaptation), well-being and sustainability transitions. She is also working to develop new projects on urban change in India.

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Spoken Languages

Hindi, Marathi

Research interests

Zareen’s interests fall chiefly within the following main themes: 
1. Rural change and resource use: This theme involves projects examining the impacts and effectiveness of rural development, the impacts of climate change, the social construction of water scarcity and the sustainable intensification of agriculture.   
2. Resource governance: This theme involves research on the political economy and ecology of resource use, particularly focussing on water, agricultural land, renewables and food crops. 
3. Sustainability and well-being: This theme involves work begun during the Ecocultures project, looking at the co-benefits of sustainability and access to nature for psychological well-being (e.g. through local food projects) and the impacts of changing environments on emotional experience.  
4. Urban change: This theme is an evolving interest, with emerging research projects on the impacts of urban change in India, and the potential for inclusive urban sustainability transitions.   

Areas of research supervision

Zareen is interested in postgraduate and doctoral research supervision in the themes described above, and welcomes applications from researchers wishing to explore issues of rural change, rural development and water scarcity.  Researchers looking to develop projects using resilience theory and political ecology are also particularly welcome.


Zareen is interested in postgraduate and doctoral research supervision in the themes described above, and welcomes applications from researchers wishing to explore issues of rural change, rural development and water scarcity.  Researchers looking to develop projects using resilience theory and political ecology are also particularly welcome.


  • PhD, Biological Sciences, University of Essex
  • Master’s in Environmental Studies, University of Essex
  • Bachelor of the Arts, Psychology, University of Pune, India
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy 

Memberships, editorial boards

Zareen is Deputy Editor of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Essex.

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Zareen was PI on a NERC-IUKWC pump-priming project on stakeholder engagement in climate services in India.

She is a partner on an NERC project led by the British Antarctic Survey on climate change and water in India, leading on the development of stakeholder engagement activities for the project.

She co-leads a project on community resilience in the Fens with Dr Lakshmi Rajendran (Engineering and the Built Environment, Anglia Ruskin University) and Dr Davide Natalini (GSI).

She is also a Co-I on the NERC project Connect4 water resilience: connecting water resources, communities, drought and flood hazards, and governance across 4 countries in the Limpopo basin (NE/S005943/1), led by Dr Jean-Christophe Comte (University of Aberdeen).

Selected recent publications

Peer-reviewed papers

Bharucha Z.P. 2018. This is what Nature has become: Tracing climate and water narratives in India’s rainfed drylands. Geoforum. In press, corrected proof: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.09.032

Pretty, J., Benton, T.G., Bharucha, Z.P., Dicks, L.V., Flora, C.B., Godfray, H.C.J., Goulson, D., Hartley, S., Lampkin, N., Morris, C. and Pierzynski, G., 2018. Global assessment of agricultural system redesign for sustainable intensification. Nature Sustainability, 1(8), p.441.

Dudley N., Simon A., Goulson D., Jarvis D., Bharucha Z.P. and Pretty J. 2017. ‘How should conservationists respond to pesticides as a driver of biodiversity loss in agroecosystems?’ Biological Conservation. 209: 449-453.

Fontoura Y., Böhm S. and Bharucha Z.P. 2016. ‘Food security for whom? Struggles for hegemony at Rio +20.’ Revista de Administração de Empresas.

Hongwen L., Jin H., Bharucha Z.P., Lal R. and Pretty J. 2016.   ‘Improving China’s Food and Environmental Security with Conservation Agriculture.’ International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. doi: 10.1080/14735903.2016.1170330

Pretty J., Barton J., Bharucha Z.P., Bragg R., Pencheon D., Wood C. and Depledge M. 2015 ‘Improving health and well-being independently of GDP: dividends of greener and prosocial economies.’ International Journal of Environmental Health Research 26(1): 11-36.

Pretty J. and Bharucha Z.P. 2015. ‘Integrated Pest Management for Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture in Asia and Africa.’ Insects 6(1): 152-182.

Bharucha Z.P., Smith D. and Pretty J. 2014. ‘All paths lead to rain: Explaining why watershed development in India does not alleviate the experience of water scarcity.’ Journal of Development Studies 50(9).

Pretty J. and Bharucha Z.P. 2014. ‘Sustainable intensification in agricultural systems.’ Annals of Botany 114(8): 1571-1596.

Nasir Z., Colbeck I., Bharucha Z.P., Cintra Campos L and Ali Z. 2014. ‘Ethno-environmental knowledge as a tool to combat indoor air pollution in low income countries: A case study from rural communities in Pakistan.’ Journal of the Environment and Human 1(2): 165-175.

Bharucha Z.P. and Pretty J. 2010. ‘The roles and values of wild foods in agricultural systems.’ Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Biology) 365(1554): 2913-26.

Edited volumes and Book chapters:

Current Approaches to Sustainable Food and Agriculture. J Pretty, ZP Bharucha 2019. Sustainable Food and Agriculture: An Integrated Approach, 169-293. In Campanhola C. and Pandey S. (eds). Sustainable Food and Agriculture: An Integrated Approach. FAO: Rome and Elsevier. ISBN: 9780128121351

Pretty J. and Bharucha Z.P. 2018. Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture: Greening the World's Food Economy. London: Earthscan 

Harvey M. and Bharucha Z.P. 2016. Political orientations, state regulation and biofuels in the climate change trilemma. In Salles-Filho S. (ed.) Global Bioethanol: Evolution, Risks and Uncertainties. Elsevier.

Bharucha Z.P. 2016. On the climate of scarcity and crisis in the rainfed drylands of India. In Ioris A. (ed.) Agriculture, Environment and Development. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN: 978-3-319-32255-1.

Bohm S., Bharucha Z.P. and Pretty J. 2015. Ecocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities. Abingdon and New York: Routledge

Bharucha Z.P. and Pretty J. 2014. The role of wild foods in agricultural systems. In Herring R. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook on Food, Politics and Society New York: Oxford University Press.