School of Geography

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Arabella Fraser

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences



My research focuses on the implications of the impacts and governance of climate change for development processes and policies in urban contexts. Using theories from environmental governance, development studies, STS and urban studies, I re-interrogate the politics of development through the examination of how environmental change is re-shaping social and political institutions in cities and the consequences this has for vulnerability. I am currently investigating this in the context of two under-studied issues, the relationship between climate change and urban violence, and the new institutionality of brokering climate finance for cities.

My past research has investigated the comparative politics of disaster recovery in the Dutch and French Caribbean; the multi-scalar, structural processes shaping local risk management responses to urban coastal flood events in Southern Europe and the Caribbean; and the politics of landslide risk assessment in informal settlements in Bogota, Colombia. Out of this work, I retain a strong interest in decision-making processes for managing retreat and resettlement in response to climate change, understanding the relationship between risk management and development and methods for integrating causal analysis into risk assessment.

Prior to joining Nottingham in 2018 I was a Lecturer in International Development at the Open University and a Research Associate in the Geography Department at King's College London. I hold a PhD in International Development (London School of Economics), MSc Politics of Development (London School of Economics) and BA (Hons) in Social and Political Sciences (University of Cambridge). Before joining academia, I worked as a Research Advisor for Oxfam Great Britain, Advisor for UNDP (Rwanda) and Researcher at the Centre for Family and Social Research, Universidad Metropolitana, Caracas, Venezuela. I have continued to work across academic, policy and practice research through projects for the Overseas Development Institute, World Bank, UN-Habitat, and International Institute for Environment and Development. I am an Associate Editor for the journal Climate and Development, and also an Associate Lecturer at the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.

I currently work across these research projects related to urban resilience:

1. Transforming Urban Adaptation Finance (TRANSFIGURE). (Funded by the University of Nottingham Nottingham Research Fellowship Scheme 2018-2022, £75,000).

2. Principal Investigator, 'Addressing the 24 hour cycle of urban risk: Gendered perspectives on non-conflict violence and climate change impacts in cities' (GCRF £60,000 2021)

3. Co-Director GCRF Global Engagement Network Climate Change and Urban Violence (2019-2022, led by Prof Nausheen Anwar, Karachi Urban Lab, Institute of Business Administration, Pakistan).

3. GCRF Inter-disciplinary Research Hub 'Tomorrow's Cities'. (Co-I, 2019-2021, led by University of Edinburgh).

4. AHRC-GCRF Urgency Grant 'Supporting Just Response and Recovery to COVID-19 in Informal Urban Settlements: Perspectives from Youth Groups in Sub-Saharan Africa' (Co-I, 2020-2021, led by University of Warwick and Slum Dwellers International).

Recent publications:

Pelling, M., W. T. L. Chow, E. Chu, R. Dawson, D. Dodman, A. Fraser, B. Hayward, L. Khirfan, T. McPhearson, A. Prakash & G. Ziervogel (2021) A climate resilience research renewal agenda: learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for urban climate resilience, Climate and Development. DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2021.1956411

Schipper, E., J. Ensor, A. Mukherji, A. Mirzabaev, A. Fraser, B. Harvey, E. Totin, M. Garschagen, M. Pathak, P. Antwi-Agyei, T. Tanner & Z. Shawoo (2021) Equity in climate scholarship: a manifesto for action, Climate and Development. DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2021.1923308

Lopez, D., A. Fraser and S. Hita (2021) 'Voices of Arraigo: Redefining relocation for landslide-affected communities in the informal settlements of Bogota, Colombia' in Global views on Climate Relocation and Social Justice, A.R. Siders & J. Ajibade (Eds.), Routledge.

Anjum, G. and A. Fraser (2021) Vulnerabilities associated with slow-onset events (SoEs) of climate change: multi-level analysis in the context of Pakistan. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 50:54-63

Fraser, A., M. Pelling, A.Scolobig and S. Mavrogenis (2020) Relating root causes to local risk conditions: A comparative study of the institutional pathways to small-scale disasters in three urban flood contexts. Global Environmental Change.

Collodi, J., M. Pelling, A. Fraser, M. Borie & S. Di Vicenz (2019) 'How do you Build Back Better so no one is left behind? Lessons from St Maarten, Dutch Caribbean, post-Hurricane Irma', Disasters.

Fraser, A., G. Anjum, V. Bukachi, N. Eltinay & A. Kraudie (February 2020) 'Urbanisation and Climate Security: Towards Integrated Approaches for Cities.' Planetary Security Initiative Policy Brief, Clingendael Institute.

Teaching Summary

I currently teach on our Global Climate Change course as well as our MSc course in Environmental Leadership and Management and the University of Nottingham's Liberal Arts course, 'Nottingham Futures'.

Current PhD Students

Luisa Aldrete, "Rethinking Urban Land Grabbing in Mexico: Environmental and Social Implications."

Duvan Lopez, "Risk Beyond Hazard: A Theory for Understanding the Historical Constitution of Climate Risks" UNESCO Sustainability Centre, Polytechnic University of Catalunya, Barcelona (External Co-supervisor)

Past Research

Journal articles

Byskov MF, Hyams K, Poshendra S, Benjamin L, Blackburn S, Borie M, Caney S, Chu E, Edwards G, Fourie K, Fraser A, Heyward C, Jeans H, McQuistan C, Paavola J, Page E, Pelling M, Priest S, Swiderska K, Tarazona M, Thornton T, Twigg J, Venn A., 'An Agenda for Ethics and Justice in Adaptation to Climate Change' (2019) Climate and Development.

Pelling, M., S. Parnell, L. Pasquini, I. Ajibade, H. Leck, C. Johnson, E. Osuteye, S. Boubaca, A. Fraser, A. Barcena & S. Lwasa (2018) 'Africa's Urban Adaptation Transition Under a 1.5 Degree Climate', Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 31: 10-15.

Fraser, A. (2018) 'Informality in the New Urban Agenda: From the Aspirational Policies of Inclusion to the Politics of Constructive Engagement', Planning Theory and Practice, 19 (1): 124-126.

Fraser, A. (2017) 'The Missing Politics of Urban Vulnerability: The State and the Co-production of Climate Risk.' Environment and Planning A, 49 (12): 2835-2852.

Fraser, A., H. Leck, S. Parnell, M. Pelling, D. Brown & S. Lwasa (2017) 'Meeting the challenge of risk-sensitive and resilient urban development in sub-Saharan Africa: Directions for future research and practice.' International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 26: 106-109.

Fraser, A., H. Leck, S. Parnell & M. Pelling (2017) 'Africa's Urban Risk and Resilience.' International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 26: 1-6.

Fraser, A., S. Paterson & M. Pelling (2016) 'Developing Frameworks to Understand Disaster Causation: From Forensic Disaster Investigation to Risk Root Cause Analysis.' Journal of Extreme Events: 3 (2).

Edited volumes

Fraser, A., H. Leck, S. Parnell & M. Pelling (Eds.) (2017) 'Africa's Urban Risk and Resilience' International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 26: 1-110.

Book chapters

Fraser, A. (2016) 'Redefining Risk from Below: Political Responses to Landslide Risk Assessments in the Informal Settlements of Bogota, Colombia' in Urban Poverty and Climate Change: Life in the Slums of Asia, Africa and Latin America, Eds. Roy, M., D. Hulme, M.Hordijk and S. Cawood. Abingdon: Routledge, p.221-237.

Fraser, A., M. Pelling & B. Solecki (2016) 'Understanding Risk in the Context of Urban Development: Definitions, Concepts and Pathways' in Cities on a Finite Planet: Towards transformative responses to climate change, Eds. Sheridan Bartlett and David Satterthwaite. Abingdon: Routledge, p.17-40.

Working papers

Fraser, A. & A. Kirbyshire (2017) 'Supporting Governance for Resilience: Working with Political Institutions.' ODI Working Paper 517: London. August 2017.

School of Geography

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