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Dr Arabella Fraser

Profile summary

Web links

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 4 PhD students: Zohreh Moghfeli (Open University), The Impact of Social Networks on Farmers' Adaptation in Iran; 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


Reflections from PEARL for an era of systemic risks, uncertain futures and complex governance (2023-10-30)
Fraser, Arabella
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies, 15, Article a1485(1)

The politics of expertise in building back better: Contrasting the coproduction of reconstruction post-Irma in the Dutch and French Caribbean (2023-10-01)
Borie, Maud and Fraser, Arabella
Geoforum, 145, Article 103813

Understanding the functioning of urban climate finance through topologies of reach (2023)
Grafe, Fritz-Julius; Forino, Giuseppe; Fraser, Arabella; Hilbrandt, Hanna and Morris, John Hogan
City ((early access))

The role of forensic investigation in systemic risk enquiry: Reflections from case studies of disasters in Istanbul, Kathmandu, Nairobi, and Quito (2022)
McDermott, Ronan; Fraser, Arabella; Ensor, Jonathan and Seddighi, Hamed
Progress in Disaster Science, 16, Article 100262

Towards adaptive and transformative finance for urban areas? A framework to analyse the responsiveness of adaptation finance to urban challenges in the global South (2022)
Forino, Giuseppe; Fraser, Arabella and Tandarić, Neven
Environment and Urbanization, 35(1) (pp. 200-219)

A climate resilience research renewal agenda: learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for urban climate resilience (2021)
Pelling, Mark; Chow, Winston T. L.; Chu, Eric; Dawson, Richard; Dodman, David; Fraser, Arabella; Hayward, Bronwyn; Khirfan, Luna; McPhearson, Timon; Prakash, Anjal and Ziervogel, Gina
Climate and Development, 14(7) (pp. 617-624)

Equity in climate scholarship: a manifesto for action (2021)
Schipper, E. Lisa F.; Ensor, Jonathan; Mukherji, Aditi; Mirzabaev, Alisher; Fraser, Arabella; Harvey, Blane; Totin, Edmond; Garschagen, Matthias; Pathak, Minal; Antwi-Agyei, Philip; Tanner, Thomas and Shawoo, Zoha
Climate and Development, 13(10) (pp. 853-856)

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

An agenda for ethics and justice in adaptation to climate change (2021)
Byskov, Morten Fibieger; Hyams, Keith; Satyal, Poshendra; Anguelovski, Isabelle; Benjamin, Lisa; Blackburn, Sophie; Borie, Maud; Caney, Simon; Chu, Eric; Edwards, Gareth; Fourie, Kristel; Fraser, Arabella; Heyward, Clare; Jeans, Helen; McQuistan, Colin; Paavola, Jouni; Page, Ed; Pelling, Mark; Priest, Sally; Swiderska, Krystyna; Tarazona, Marcela; Thornton, Thomas; Twigg, John and Venn, Alice
Climate and Development, 13(1) (pp. 1-9)

How do you build back better so no one is left behind? Lessons from Sint Maarten, Dutch Caribbean, following Hurricane Irma (2021)
Collodi, Jason; Pelling, Mark; Fraser, Arabella; Borie, Maud and Vicenz, Simone
Disasters, 45(1) (pp. 202-223)

Relating root causes to local risk conditions: A comparative study of the institutional pathways to small-scale disasters in three urban flood contexts (2020)
Fraser, Arabella; Pelling, Mark; Scolobig, Anna and Mavrogenis, Stavros
Global Environmental Change, 63, Article 102102

Africa’s urban adaptation transition under a 1.5° climate (2018-04)
Pelling, Mark; Leck, Hayley; Pasquini, Lorena; Ajibade, Idowu; Osuteye, Emanuel; Parnell, Susan; Lwasa, Shuaib; Johnson, Cassidy; Fraser, Arabella; Barcena, Alejandro and Boubacar, Soumana
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 31 (pp. 10-15)

Informality in the New Urban Agenda: From the Aspirational Policies of Inclusion to the Politics of Constructive Engagement (2018-01-12)
Fraser, Arabella
Planning Theory and Practice, 19(1) (pp. 124-126)

The Missing Politics of Urban Vulnerability: The State and the Co-production of Climate Risk. (2017-12-01)
Fraser, Arabella
Environment and Planning A, 49(12) (pp. 2835-2852)

Meeting the challenge of risk-sensitive and resilient urban development in sub-Saharan Africa: Directions for future research and practice. (2017-12)
Fraser, Arabella; Leck, Hayley; Parnell, Susan; Pelling, Mark; Brown, Donald and Lwasa, Shuaib
International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 26 (pp. 106-109)

Africa’s Urban Risk and Resilience (2017-12)
Fraser, Arabella; Leck, Hayley; Parnell, Sue and Pelling, Mark
International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 26 (pp. 1-6)

Developing Frameworks to Understand Disaster Causation: From Forensic Disaster Investigation to Risk Root Cause Analysis (2016-06)
Fraser, Arabella; Paterson, Shona and Pelling, Mark
Journal of Extreme Events, 3, Article 1650008(2)

Voices of Arraigo: Redefining relocation for landslide-affected communities in the informal settlements of Bogota, Colombia (2022)
López Meneses, Duvan H.; Fraser, Arabella and Cañadas, Sonia Hita
In: Ajibade, Idowu Jola and Siders, A. R. eds. Global Views on Climate Relocation and Social Justice. Routledge Studies in Environmental Migration, Displacement and Resettlement (pp. 127-141)
ISBN : 9781003141457 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

La política del conocimiento y la producción de vulnerabilidad en los asentamientos urbanos informales (2021)
Fraser, Arabella
In: Acevedo, Paloma; Poskus, Mariana; Vera, Felipe and Zambrano-Barragán, Patricio eds. Informando lo informal: estrategias para generar información en asentamientos precarios (pp. 178-195)
Publisher : Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo | Inter American Development Bank

The politics of knowledge and the production of vulnerability in informal, urban settlements: learning from Bogota, Colombia (2016-05-16)
Fraser, Arabella
In: Roy, Manoj; Cawood, Sally; Hordijk, Michaela and Hulme, David eds. Urban Poverty and Climate Change: Life in the Slums of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Routledge Advances in Climate Change Research (pp. 221-237)
ISBN : 9781138860506 | Publisher : Routledge

Understanding Risk in the Context of Urban Development: Definitions, Concepts and Pathways (2016)
Fraser, Arabella; Pelling, Mark and Solecki, Bill
In: Bartlett, Sheridan and Satterthwaite, David eds. Cities on a Finite Planet: Towards transformative responses to climate change (pp. 17-40)
ISBN : 9781138184091 | Publisher : Routledge

Rethinking Urban Risk And Adaptation: The Politics Of Vulnerability In Informal Urban Settlements (2015-05)
Fraser, Arabella
PhD thesis London School of Economics and Political Science

A just recovery from COVID-19: young people from eight African cities speak out (2022-05-24)
Fraser, Arabella
International Institute for Environmental Development

Bridging the urban adaptation finance gap (2022-04-25)
Fraser, Arabella
International Institute for Environmental Development

Realising resilience: How do we make COP26 deliver for adaptation in fragile urban environments? (2021-11-11)
Fraser, Arabella
The Geog Blog, University of Nottingham

Addressing the 24 hour cycle of urban risk: Gendered perspectives on non-conflict violence and climate change impacts on cities (2021-11-10)
Fraser, Arabella
Building Resilience in Fragile Urban Environments, Global Challenges Research Fund

Arraigo: Redefining Relocation for Landslide-Affected Communities in Bogota, Colombia (2021-11-10)
Fraser, Arabella
Building Resilience in Fragile Urban Environments, Global Challenges Research Fund

Violence-climate change interactions in cities: A Resource Guide (2021-11)
Crowley, Frances and Fraser, Arabella
Climate Change and Urban Violence Network

COP26 Policy Brief: How do we make COP26 deliver for adaption in fragile urban environments? Investigating how non-conflict violence risks and climate change risks overlap in cities, and what this means for adaptation (2021-10)
Fraser, Arabella
Institute for Policy and Enagement, University of Nottingham

Urbanisation and Climate Security: Towards Integrated Approaches for Cities (2020-02)
Fraser, Arabella; Anjum, Gulnaz; Bukachi, Vera; Eltinay, Nuha and Kraudie, Amilcar
Planetary Security Initiative Policy Brief, Clingendael Institute

Supporting governance for climate resilience: working with political institutions (2017-08)
Fraser, Arabella and Kirbyshire, Amy
Overseas Development Institute, Working Paper 517