Mr Etienne Von Bertrab

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The Development Planning Unit conducts world-leading research and postgraduate teaching that helps to build the capacity of national governments, local authorities, NGOs, aid agencies and businesses working towards socially just and sustainable development in the global south. We are part of The Bartlett: UCL's global faculty of the built environment.



Étienne von Bertrab joined the Development Planning Unit (DPU) as a lecturer in 2011. He is tutor of two modules based in the MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD): Sustainable Infrastructure and Services in Development, and Urban Water and Sanitation, Planning and Politics. 

Currently a Teaching Fellow, he also contributes to the delivery of ESD's practice module and to the research carried out by staff and students, currently exploring the relationship between urban development and planning and the production and reproduction of risk and environmental injustice, as well as transformative pathways, in Lima, Peru.

His research is focused in the areas of urban mobility, water governance and energy transitions, having done most of his work in Latin America. He is particularly interested in social movements and in examining the potential of grassroots resistance, of solidarity networks and of alternative justice mechanisms towards enhancing environmental justice and sustainability.

Étienne has been an environmental and human rights activist in Mexico, where he continues to work with collectives and networks. In London he is a member of the organisation Justice Mexico Now. He more recently explores the use of video in research and advocacy:

He is also a consultant in the areas of citizenship and entrepreneurship for the empowerment of marginalised groups.

Étienne writes regularly in the magazines Desmesura and MAGIS, the latter from ITESO University in Guadalajara, on topics related to sustainability transitions and democracy.

Research Summary

Current 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.

Research outputs

The co-production of water justice in Latin American cities 2016 Allen AE,Walnicky A,Von Bertrab E
Energía eólica: la lucha por el viento en México 2016 Von Bertrab EM
Hacia un nuevo paradigma de gobernanza del agua 2015 von Bertrab E
Trajectories of Change: Land, Urbanisation and Urban Agriculture in Accra 2012 von Bertrab E,Allen A,Wood-Hill M,Lambert R,Frediani A
Movilidad urbana en el desarrollo de Guadalajara 2011 von Bertrab E
Grandes presas en México: entre la imposición y la resistencia: la lucha de Temacapulín 2011 von Bertrab E,Díaz Alba C,Fisher S
Gobernabilidad del agua en México: La crisis de agua en Guadalajara y el Destino del Lago de Chapala 2005 von Bertrab E,Wester P
Guadalajara's water crisis and the fate of Lake Chapala: A reflection of poor water management in Mexico 2003 von Bertrab E

Research activities

Cuba: an alternative transport model?
Disrupting Urban Risk Traps: Bridging finance and knowledge for climate resilient infrastructural planning in Lima