Recording: Post-pandemic transformations and the re-casting of development with Melissa Leach

November 20, 2023

Recording of SEI and SweDev Dialogue on development research with Melissa Leach.

The Development Policy and Finance Team at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the Swedish Development Research Network (SweDev) proudly present Melissa Leach, Director at IDS, as a keynote speaker in the dialogue series on development research held on 17 November 2023. Dr Arunabha Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, is the discussant, and Fredrik Söderbaum, SweDev Chair, gives welcoming remarks.


Melissa Leach is the Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex, with a background as a social anthropologist and geographer. Melissa Leach discusses the need for a re-casting of longstanding assumptions and approaches to mainstream development, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Melissa presents how the pandemic’s impacts have intersected with climate, economic, social and political challenges in an era that some now characterise and debate as a ‘polycrisis’. Building on evidence from the unfolding and intersecting impacts of Covid-19 and earlier epidemics, Melissa outlines four central elements to this re-casting: a turn to universality that moves beyond outdated distinctions between the so-called Global North and South; a central focus on inequalities, their structural underpinnings and diverse manifestations; a rethinking of how economies function, highlighting the limits of conventional models of economic growth, and a re-orientation around resilience in the face of major shocks and uncertainties. Where mainstream approaches to development have often been top down, rigid and orientated towards narrowly-defined goals, development, re-cast, must have a radically transformative, egalitarian, care-focused and inclusive politics, and politics of knowledge, at its core.

Watch the recording here.