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Dr Arabella Fraser

Profile summary

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Professional biography

I joined the Open University as Senior Lecturer in Global Development in March 2022. Prior to this, I held positions as Assistant Professor in Geography at the University of Nottingham, Lecturer in International Development at the Open University and Research Associate in Geography at Kings College London. I hold a PhD in International Development (London School of Economics), MSc in the Politics of Development (London School of Economics) and BA Hons 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 (IIED).  

I am also an Associate Lecturer at the IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education, the Netherlands, and regular guest lecturer at the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice, Oxford Brookes University. 

I am an Associate Editor for the journal Climate and Development

Research interests

I am a social and political scientist broadly interested in the relationship between climate and development, in particular the institutionalities of this relationship in urban areas of the Global South. In urban sites of dynamic vulnerabilities, what forms of climate politics arise and how does the changing nature of environmental risk influence social and political organisation? What are the implications for vulnerabilities, and for development policy and practice? I currently draw on a broad range of theory from urban studies, development studies, science and technology studies and political ecology to explore this in the context of two under-studied issues: the implications of innovation in urban adaptation finance mechanisms and the relationship between urban violence and climate change.

My past research has investigated youth perspectives on recovery from COVID-19 in eight sub-Saharan African cities, the comparative politics of disaster recovery in the Caribbean, the development drivers of urban flood risk in Southern Europe and the Caribbean and the politics of landslide risk assessment in Bogota, Colombia. Out of this work, I retain strong interest in debates about retreat and resettlement in the face of climate risks, and about the relationship between urban development and risk creation, including the interaction of ‘systemic’ risks including health and climate risks, with development processes. 

Teaching interests

I am currently chairing and co-chairing the development of the OU’s new undergraduate teaching pathways in Global Development. Information about our current postgraduate courses can be found at: (323) Study Global Development at The Open University - YouTube

I co-supervise 3 PhD students: Luisa Andrade (University of Nottingham), The Social and Environmental Implications of Peri-Urban Land Grabbing in Small and Medium Sized Cities in Mexico; Rebecca Bicksler (University of Nottingham), Scenarios Approaches and Participation in Urban Climate Change Planning; and Duvan Lopez (UNESCO Sustainability Centre, Polytechnic University of Catalunya, Barcelona), The Historical Constitution of Risk in Bogota, Colombia.

Impact and engagement

I am currently working in close collaboration with non-profit organisations Kounkuey Design Initiative, Kenya, and Slum Dwellers International, and am interested in new ways to co-produce research with policy and practice partners. 

Recent public and practitioner engagement work includes:

Blog on the urban adaptation finance gap: Bridging the urban adaptation finance gap | International Institute for Environment and Development ( 

A series of short films based on my research collaborations brought together under the banner 'Building Reslilience in Fragile Urban Environments', which were shown at the COP26 Green Zone in November 2021, and accompanied by a blog and policy brief: 

(323) Building Resilience in Fragile Urban Environments - YouTube

(323) Arraigo: Redefining Relocation for Landslide-Affected Communities in Bogota, Colombia - YouTube

Realising resilience: How do we make COP26 deliver for adaptation in fragile urban environments? - The Geog Blog (

Policy-Brief-Arabella-Fraser.pdf (

Excerpts from my work were recently published as an essay in a new volume by the Inter-American Development Bank, entitled 'Informing the Informal': Informando lo informal: estrategias para generar información en asentamientos precarios | Publications (


External collaborations

Current Research Projects

Past Research Projects