David O'byrne

David O'byrne

Researcher, Sustainability Science

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My current Post-doctoral work is divided between two projects, both international collaborations focusing on different aspects of sustainable development in a total of 9 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. The first project is concerned with human migration induced by socially mediated environmental changes. My focus within this project is on the role that contentious political action plays both as a driver and as a result of migration. The second project is an evaluation of investments in agroforestry and other sustainable land managment practices as part of the Great Green Wall project in the Sahel region. I focus, in particular, on the social impacts of these interventions. 

My PhD work focused on sustainable development in the Mississippi river delta. River deltas area often densely populated, ecologically diverse and economically productive regions. Many are sinking faster than the sea level is rising, while losing further land to canals and pipelines, sediment starvation and sand theft. This increases the risk of flooding with sometimes tragic consequences for people who inhabit and work in these regions. My research looked at the social response to this problem, in government adaptation plans and civil society action, in the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana, U.S.A. In the interest of producing use-inspired basic research, a central tenet of Sustainability Science, my aim was to contribute scientific analysis to action towards improved delta sustainability.



I have coordinated and taught in a number of courses, mostly at the Master's level in the LUMES program, and have supervised 13 students' Master's theses. Between 2014 and 2021 I taught in the course MESS32 Social Theory and Sustainability, and I started to coordinate this course in 2017. I coordinated and taught the applied sustainability course MESS37 Knowledge to Action between 2017 and 2019. Otherwise, I have given a number of seminars and lectures in a range of Bachelor's and Master's courses covering Social Movements, General Social Theory, Economy and Sustainability, Development Theory, amongst others. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

UKÄ subject classification

  • Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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