The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Dr Susannah Fisher

Lecturer: MSc in Social Development Practice (SDP)

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2018

Research summary

Susannah’s research explores the politics and governance of responding to climate change in different contexts. Her research interests are currently around three broad areas:

a)    The politics of planning for climate change and systemic transitions: the role of discourses, actors and institutions in shaping planning processes and outcomes around climate change and pathways to decarbonisation. She is also interested in participation in climate politics across scales and how ideas of justice and inclusion move and become reformulated, and the implications for climate policymaking.

b)   Defining and measuring adaptation ‘success’: critically exploring the discourses and knowledge politics around what constitutes success in adapting to climate change, what is embedded in different metrics and ideas of measurement, and how these discourses shape how adaptation is financed and implemented at different scales.

c)    Innovation for systems change: exploring what factors support emerging innovations in decarbonisation and adaptation leading to systemic change within socio-technical regimes.

Teaching summary

Susannah teaches a Masters module on measuring poverty and inequality in the MSc in Social Development Practice. 

The course covers the main poverty metrics as well as critical work from Anthropology and Geography exploring how we create the world we seek to measure through processes of quantification.


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2012
University College London
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 2007
University of Oxford
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 2005


Susannah Fisher is a Lecturer in the DPU and a Policy Fellow at SOAS. She also works with philanthropic foundations, multilateral climate funds, bilateral donors and research institutes to provide technical inputs into practical climate change projects and programmes.

Previously, she was the Head of Research at Climate-KIC where she developed a cross-cutting research and thought leadership portfolio on the role of innovation and policy experimentation in the systems change needed to address the urgent climate challenge. Prior to this she was a Team Leader and Senior Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development, whereshe led action research projects supporting national and sub-national governments to adapt to climate change in different contexts.  

In 2015-16, she was seconded to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa where she worked with the African Climate Policy Centre on supporting national planning for climate change. Previously, she worked with the adaptation and development research stream at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics (LSE) on water governance under future climate change in South Asia and Africa, the use of insurance for adaptation and the National Adaptation Programme for England. She has also worked as a policy advisor in the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and in public sector consultancy.

She holds a PhD from the Geography Department at the University of Cambridge on the politics and governance of climate change in cities and has published a range of policy-relevant publications as well as peer-reviewed articles and research papers on a range of topics around climate justice, planning and policy. Susannah has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Cambridge, UCL and the LSE and led courses and training for professionals.