The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Mr Etienne Von Bertrab

Mr Etienne Von Bertrab

Lecturer (Teaching)

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
3rd May 2011

Research summary

Areas of research include:

Production and disruption of ‘risk traps’ in Lima, Peru, under the project cLIMA sin Riesgo

Civil society and paradigm change in water governance and defence of the territory in Mexico

Land, democracy and justice in the context of an energy transition: the case of Southern Mexico.

Currently studying the Tren Maya Project in Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico.

Teaching summary

DEVP0024 Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development

DEVP0037 Communication, Technologies and Social Power

DEVP0019 Urban Economic Development in Practice

He previously taught political ecology and environmental politics at ITESO University (Guadalajara) and has been guest lecturer at several universities in Mexico.


After years of teaching and activism in his home country, Mexico, Étienne von Bertrab joined the Development Planning Unit as Lecturer in 2011. In the MSc Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) he co-designed the specialist route on infrastructure and water and sanitation planning and politics and contributed to ESD’s work in Accra, Ghana and in Lima, Peru, exploring the relationship between urban development and planning, the production and reproduction of risk and environmental (in)justice. He continued working in Peru with the MSc Urban Economic Development (UED), exploring sustainable development pathways in Tarapoto.

Within the MSc Social Development Practice, he took over and further developed the module Communication, Technologies and Social Power, a hands-on module that builds on DPU’s experience with communication and media technologies in research and action projects.


He co-developed UED's Tren Maya research project in 2020 and has since studied the Tren Maya in the Yucatán Peninsula - one of the most ambitious regional development projects in Latin America.

Étienne founded and directs Albora, a research and advocacy project promoting hope as a social force. He has written for several media outlets and is the author of Lo Posible, a fortnightly opinion column in the independent outlet Pie de Página.