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Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance


Aiora is Lecturer in Economics at The Open University since 2022.
She's Senior Fellow at the Department of Land Economy, which she joined again in 2020 to coordinate and deliver lectures in Environmental Policy and Economics.
Between 2017 and 2021 she was full-time Senior Editor at Nature Sustainability (which she helped launch). In 2015 she created the C-EENRG Working Paper Series and edited them until 2017.

She has taught environmental policy, economics and methods since 2013. She has published research on a range of sustainability policies, such as environmental and conservation programs in rural areas in Mexico and South Africa, deforestation drivers at large scales, peatland fires in Indonesia, and public policy for sustainable transport to industrial estates.

Research focused on challenges for implementation and effectiveness of environmental and sustainability governance across scales, particularly on two areas: understanding the diversity of views on controversial or conflictual issues, and the spatial variability of impacts. This includes adoption and diffusion of sustainable land-use practices, social implications of biodiversity indicators and drivers and motivations of behavioural change.

Topics include, among others, the social and economic implications of a large wetland restoration program in South Africa, the political economy of rural livelihood change in Mexico, discourses about peatland fire solutions in Indonesia, the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices in the tropical forest frontier, and multi-criteria evaluation of sustainable transport policies.

Recent work includes analysing acceptability of waste-to-energy facilities (with Univ. of Basque Country), perceptions about sustainable seafood provision (with Univ. of Tokyo). More recently, she is focused on socio-economic drivers of adoption of innovative and more sustainable land-use practices, including agroforestry and tree-growing initiatives for restoration/regeneration.

She approaches these questions using a pluralistic methodological approach, e.g., Q methodology, econometrics, multi-criteria decision methods, Geographic Information Systems (GIS). She uses (and teaches) R statistical language and is a trained data visualisation designer. She regularly writes for the general media and collaborates in live radio in her native language, on environmental and sustainability matters.


  • PhD Environmental Policy & Economics (Cantab)
  • MSc Environmental Policy/ Governance (Oxon)
  • Postgraduate in Ecological Economics (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
  • BSc Environmental Sciences (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
  • Voc. Degree Graphic Design (Escola Massana, Barcelona)


Key publications: 
C-EENRG Fellow
Lecturer in Economics (permanent), The Open University
Senior Departmental Fellow, Department of Land Economy
Dr Aiora  Zabala

Contact Details


Person keywords: 
Forest governance
Behaviour Change
Human perspectives
Rural livelihoods
R statistical language and GIS
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Public Policy
Ecological economics