Alfred Gathorne-Hardy

Senior Research Fellow, Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development

Alfred Gathorne-Hardy is Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development.

His career has spanned academia, consultancy, parliament and government including a secondment to Defra to develop the Government’s Bioenergy Sustainability Criteria. His academic research examines the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems. He received his doctorate from Imperial College before coming to Oxford in 2011 to study the Indian food system.

Research Interests

What will you eat for supper tonight? Pasta due to fussy children, or raw vegetables for health? Perhaps you’ll avoid meat due to cultural/religious views, or maybe you don’t mind what you eat as long as there’s plenty of it at a good price. Then again maybe you’re not in a position to choose – maybe you’re one of the 2 billion who don’t have access to adequate food, let alone the ability to choose from the enormous variety we are familiar with in the west.

Whatever your do, you are part of the global food system, both driving impacts and vulnerable to what the system throws at you. Your decisions will influence not only local issues such as your health and wallet, but also global factors including the rate of agricultural expansion into biodiverse rich habitats; the employment and job qualities of those working in the world’s largest sector; the aesthetics of landscapes as well as climate change, and energy use and numerous other factors. Equally your ability to buy adequate food is impacted by your employment conditions, the global economy, resistance of pests to pesticides, national food policies and the ability of the food system to respond to biotic and abiotic shocks around the world.

It is the complexity of this push- and pull- relationship that I’m fascinated by. While most of us want to reduce our environmental impacts, which aspects of the environment are most important? Once we’ve made these decisions of what we value, how can we measure them? And if do measure them, what can we do about trade-offs: which is more important, our love of certain foods, the working conditions of those that produce them, climate change, biodiversity?


Pulling in the right direction – the carbon, economic and labour implications of tractors vs bullocks, and manure vs urea. Ambio
Gathorne-Hardy, A and Harriss-White, B.

The environmental, economic and social impacts of organic rice compared to conventional rice in South India: Ecological Economics
Gathorne-Hardy, A and Harriss-White, B.

System of Rice Intensification provides environmental and economic gains but at the expense of social sustainability—A multidisciplinary analysis in India. Agricultural Systems, 2016. 143: p. 159-168.
Gathorne-Hardy, A., et al.

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas emissions from SRI and flooded rice production in SE India. Taiwan Journal of Water Conservancy 2013. 61(4): p. 120-125
Gathorne-Hardy, A., D.N. Reddy, and B. Harriss-White

Embodied Emissions and Dis‐Embodied Jobs: The Environmental, Social and Economic Implications of the Rice Production‐Supply Chain in South East India. Technology, Jobs and a Low Carbon Future, New Delhi, India. June 2013.
Gathorne-Hardy, A. 2013.

Resources, greenhouse gases, technology and jobs in India’s informal economy – the case of rice. Towards greening the economy, Institute of Economic Growth. 22nd February, 2012. Conference proceedings
Hema, R, Gathorne-Hardy, A., Harriss-White, B,. 2012.

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