Manu V Mathai

Areas of Interest & Expertise

  • Sustainability and the global South
  • Political economy of production-consumption systems
  • Energy policy, renewable energy and nuclear power
  • Decentralization and local governance
  • Human development and capability approach
  • Critiques of ecological modernization theory and green growth
  • Alternatives to development and development alternatives
  • Technology, environment and society studies
  • Critical development studies


Manu V Mathai is a visiting faculty at the School of Development. 

How to achieve well-being for all, on a planet that has finite ecological (energy and material) space? This is the overarching question that informs Manu’s research and teaching. He is particularly interested in the political economy of Development as expressed in energy policy and governance, energy technology or infrastructure choices and their implications for justice in human well-being outcomes on a finite planet. Building on this analytical endeavour, is work studying and advocating development alternatives as well as alternatives to Development.

Manu’s ongoing work has three broad strands: 1) developing and advancing a political economy knowledge and action agenda for sustainable production-consumption systems; 2) research on the notion of sufficiency” in response to questions of justice in the context of finitude; and 3) case studies of alternative” (vikalp) energy projects.

He is keen on collaborating with individuals and groups who value co-producing knowledge and action. He is part of the Future Earth Knowledge and Action Network (KAN) on Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production, serving on its steering committee, and a co-chair of this KAN’s Working Group on the Political Economy of Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production.He is also a founding member of the newly formed the Flourishing Bengaluru Collective, which is conceived as an intervention in urban governance.

Manu has been a Research Fellow (Assistant Professor) at the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Science, Technology and Society and Public Policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. 

While pursuing his PhD, he was a Research Associate at the University of Delaware Centre for Energy and Environmental Policy. Prior to that he was a Project Assistant on the World Bank and von Hügel Institute project Responding to the Values of the Poor” and a Research Assistant with Environment Support Group, Bangalore. 

Manu’s interdisciplinary training includes a BSc (Environmental Science, Chemistry and Zoology), from Bangalore University, MSc (Wildlife Science) from the Wildlife Institute of India, MPP (International Development and Environmental Policy) from the University of Maryland and PhD (Energy and Environmental Policy) from the University of Delaware.


Certificate Courses

Publications and Writings

Book Review


Edited Book

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

Working papers

Conference papers

  • Mathai, M. V. (2021). Knowing Sufficiency. Session Title: Will a Sustainability Transition Be Sufficient? Sustainability Research & Innovation 2021. Brisbane.
  • Mathai, M. V and Isenhour, C. (2020). The Political Economy of (Un)Sustainable Production-Consumption Systems. Sustainable Consumption & Social Justice in an Urbanizing World. Sustainable Consumption Research & Action Initiative Virtual Conference.
  • Mathai, M. V. (2018). Effecting Alternative Development: Imagination and Practice. The Third International Symposium on Development and Governance in the BRICS. Sao Paulo.
  • Mathai, M. V. (2018). Sustainable Structures of Living Together” for Imagining Degrowth in Energy Policy. First North-South Conference on Degrowth. Mexico City.
  • Mathai, M.V. & Parayil, G. (2014). Power, Nuclear Power and the Environment: Normative and Policy Dilemmas Confronting South Asia and Beyond. Center for South Asian Studies, University of Hawaii.
  • Mathai, M.V., Parayil, G., & Suwa, A. (2013). A Framework for Developing Governance Indicators for a Low Carbon Societies Context in Asia: Transition or Continuity? Semi-plenary II, Earth System Governance Tokyo Conference. United Nations University, Tokyo. 
  • Jani, O., Byrne, J., Mathai, M. V., Kumar, A., & Buch, V. (2009). A Sustainable Photovoltaic Roadmap and Policy Initiative for Gujarat, India. 18th International Photovoltaic Science and Engineering Conference and Exhibition, Kolkata, India.
  • Scoltes, F., & Mathai, M.V. (2005). The Capability Approach as a Response to the Environment-Development Crisis. Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA) Strategy Workshop, University of Maryland, College Park.
  • Mathai, M.V. (2004). Exploring Freedom in a Global Ecology: Sen’s Capability Approach as a Response to the Development-Environment Crisis. 4th International Conference on the Capability Approach: Enhancing Human Security, University of Pavia.
  • Mathai, M.V. (2003). Case Studies: Observations on Operationalizing Sen’s Capability Approach. 3rd Conference on the Capability Approach: From Sustainable Development to Sustainable Freedom, University of Pavia.


  • Future Earth, The Earth League, WCRP (2022). 10 New Insights in Climate Science 2022. Zenodo. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​5​2​8​1​/​z​e​n​o​d​o​.​7​2​28926
  • Chandran, R., Chong, N.S.T., Doll, C.N.H., Lee, L.Y., Mathai, M.V., Nguyen, K. and Parayil, G. (2013). Bytes Beyond Borders: Strengthening Transboundary Information Sharing on Wildlife Crime through the Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System (WEMS) Initiative. Policy Brief (pp. 8). United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies.
  • Gasparatos, A., Lee, Y. L., von Maltitz, G. P., Mathai, M. V., Puppim de Oliveira, J. A., & Willis, K. J. (2012). Biofuels in Africa: Impacts on Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity and Human Well-being. United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies.
  • Byrne, J., Kurdgelashvilli, K., Mathai, M.V., Kumar, K., Yu, J‑M, Zhang, X., Tian, J., Rickerson, W. (2010). World Solar Energy Review: Technology, Markets and Policies. Newark, DE: Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware.
  • Roe, A., Mathai, M.V., Boekhold, van B., Kasper, D., & Kuholski, K. (2008−2009). Knowledge of Power – Energy Education Series. Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, Newark, DE. [A set of four presentations, a workbook and a board game, covering energy basics, efficiency and conservation.] 
  • Roe, A., Mathai, M.V., Byrne, J., Lake, K., & Gunter, B. (2006). UHELP Responds to Community Health and Environmental Needs. Newark, DE: Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware.
  • Prepared by Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP). (2005). Cooperation in Sustainable Energy Technology Development: U.S. Activities in South and Southeast Asia. Country-by-Country Reports.

Other Articles:

Completed Projects

Training workshop and edited volume on Green growth: Political ideology, political economy and policy alternatives.” Funded by Asia Pacific Network — Global Change Research (APN-GCR) Scientific Capacity Development (CAPaBLE) Grant.