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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge
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    Dr Anna Barford

    Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
    1 Trumpington Street
    CB2 1QA

    Bye Fellow in Geography; Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership



    Degrees & Awards

    • Ph.D in Geography, University of Sheffield
    • MA in Sociology and Social Research, University of Nottingham
    • BA in Geography, University of Cambridge

    Dr Anna Barford is the Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellow in Pathways to a Circular Economy, supported by Unilever.


    Anna’s research considers how the impacts of, and solutions to, the environmental challenges of climate change and plastic pollution intersect with the global scarcity of work and the dominance of the informal sector in lower-income countries. In seeking to understand this work-environment nexus amongst vulnerable and hard-to-reach demographic groups, Anna leads on several complementary themes: (1) The quality and quantity of work in the circular economy, with a focus on informal work within the recycling sector in Africa and Asia; (2) How businesses transition towards more circular modes of operating; (3) Youth livelihoods in lower income settings in the context of a structural deficit of work; and (4) the role of living wages in promoting decent work.  

    While the circular economy is principally concerned with flows of materials, intending to capture and reuse value within material flows, Anna examines how a more circular use of materials intersects with key social outcomes, paying attention to Sustainable Development Goal 8, which demands decent work for all. The dearth of decent work worldwide is especially acute in lower income countries where low unemployment rates reflect the vital need to make a living in a context of minimal state welfare. While the work done to get by is often considered to be economically unproductive, informal waste-pickers underpin the recycling loop of the circular economy in many settings. The economic vulnerability of waste pickers has been highlighted, as COVID19 containment measures left many without work, income or food. The mismatch between the essential labour performed by informal waste collectors and their poor working conditions leads Anna to argue for the inclusion of labour as a pillar of circular economy thinking.

    Anna leads a research project in Uganda which investigates how environmental crises impact upon work and livelihoods. This work is in collaboration with Makerere University and Restless Development Uganda, and is supported by British Academy funding. With a median age of 15.8, Uganda is demographically the third youngest country in the world. Yet the youth labour under-utilisation rate of 67.9% makes it unlikely that these young people will find decent jobs. Climate change exacerbates livelihood precarity with increased flooding and droughts and disrupted seasonality leading to less reliable agriculture and intensified rural-urban migration. Starting from youth experience and agency, this research project investigates how climate change in Uganda is affecting young lives and youth livelihoods in the regions of Karamoja and Jinja. The research will document the diverse lives and livelihood strategies of young people in rural and urban settings; investigate how climate change impacts upon young people's lives and livelihoods; and identify youth solutions to the challenges they face.

    More detail on Anna’s work can be found at:;;


    Barford, A. and Ahmad, S.R., 2022. Levers for a corporate transition to a plastics circular economy. Business Strategy and the Environment, doi:10.1002/bse.3182.

    Barford, A., Gilbert, R., Beales, A., Zorila, M., & Nelson, J. 2022. The case for living wages: How paying living wages improves business performance and tackles poverty. Business Fights Poverty, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership & Shift.  

    Shankland, S., Hyson, K., & Barford, A.. 2022. Lifting youth participation through financial inclusion. Business Fights Poverty and Murray Edwards College.

    Barford, A and Nelson, J. 2022. A living wage increases economic productivity while reducing poverty – new report. The Conversation. 16 May 2022.

    Barford, A. and Ahmad, S.R., 2021. A Call for a Socially Restorative Circular Economy: Waste Pickers in the Recycled Plastics Supply Chain. Circular Economy and Sustainability, v. 1, p.761-782. doi:10.1007/s43615-021-00056-7.

    Barford, A., Coombe, R. and Proefke, R., 2021. Against the odds: Young people’s high aspirations and societal contributions amid a decent work shortage. Geoforum, v. 121, p.162-172. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.02.011.

    Barford, A., Proefke, R., Mugeere, A. and Stocking, B., 2021. Young people and climate change. COP 26 Briefing Series of The British Academy, p.1-17. doi:10.5871/bacop26/9780856726606.001.

    Cieslik, K., Barford, A. and Vira, B., 2021. Young people not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) in Sub-Saharan Africa: Sustainable Development Target 8.6 missed and reset. Journal of Youth Studies, p.1-22. doi:10.1080/13676261.2021.1939287.

    Mugeere, A., Barford, A. and Magimbi, P., 2021. Climate Change and Young People in Uganda: A Literature Review. The Journal of Environment & Development, v. 30, p.344-368. doi:10.1177/10704965211047159.

    Barford, A., Coutts, A. and Sahai, G., 2021. Youth employment in times of COVID: A global review of COVID-19 policy responses to tackle (un)employment and disadvantage among young people. art. ISBN 978-92-2-035542-8.

    Barford, A., Olwell, R.H., Mugeere, A., Nyiraneza, M., Magimbi, P., Mankhwazi, C. and Isiko, B., 2021. Living in the climate crisis: young people in Uganda. doi:10.17863/CAM.75235.

    Barford, A., Coombe, R. and Proefke, R., 2020. Youth experiences of the decent work deficit. Geography, v. 105, p.60-68. doi:10.1080/00167487.2020.12094090.

    Shuckburgh, E., Zenghelis, D., Agarwala, M., Diaz Anadon, L., Howard-Grenville, J., Penasco, C., Seega, N., Whittington, E., Barford, A., Brayne, C., Sirringhaus, H., Friend, R., Fitzgerald, S., Cebon, D., Ainalis, D., Barlow, C., Mackie, E., Schooling, J., Guthrie, P., Ramage, M., Plummer Braeckman, J., Reiner, D., Epple, C., Reynolds, F., Coomes, D., Griffiths, H., Cordonier Segger, M., Phillips, F., Rands, M., Neilsen, A. and Hayes, J., 2020. A Blueprint for a Green Future - Multidisciplinary report on a green recovery from COVID-19 by the Cambridge Zero Policy Forum.Barford, A., 2020. Challenging inequality in Kenya, Mexico and the UK. Third World Quarterly, v. 42, p.1-20. doi:10.1080/01436597.2020.1826299.

    Barford, A. and Cieslik, K., 2019. Making a life: a youth employment agenda.

    Barford, A. and Coombe, R., 2019. Getting by: young people’s working lives.

    Gray, M. and Barford, A., 2018. The Depths of the Cuts: the Uneven Geography of Local Government Austerity. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society.

    Barford, A., 2017. Emotional responses to world inequality. Emotion, Space and Society, v. 22, p.25-35. doi:10.1016/j.emospa.2016.10.006.

    Barford, A., 2016. Discourses supporting socio-economic inequality in Kenya, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Portuguese Journal of Social Science, v. 15, p.331-347. doi:10.1386/pjss.15.3.331_1.

    Barford, A. and Dorling, D. 2016. Mapping Disease Patterns. Wiley StatsRef: Statistics Reference Online. Published Online : 17 MAY 2016, DOI: 10.1002/9781118445112.stat06102.pub2

    Barford, A. and Pickett, K. 2015. How to Build a More Equal American Society: Lessons from Successful Experiences. Solutions, 4(5), 60-71

    Smallman-Raynor, M., Cliff, A. and Barford, A. 2015. Geographical Perspectives on Epidemic Transmission of Cholera in Haiti, October 2010 Through March 2013. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 105(4), 665-683

    Barford, A. 2014. Representation. in Castree, N., Kitchin, R., Lawson, V., Lee, R., Paasi, A., Radcliffe, S., and Withers, C. (eds.) Sage Handbook of Human Geography. London: Sage.

    Barford, A. 2014. 'Challenging Assumptions: The causes of international inequality', Geography, 99(2), 103-6.

    Barford, A. and Dorling, D. 2011. Inequality. In Southerton, D. et al. (Eds.) Encyclopaedia of Consumer Culture. SAGE Publications, London

    Dorling, D., Newman, M. and Barford, A. 2010. Atlas of the real world (2nd edition). Thames and Hudson, London. Also published in Germany and Austria.

    Barford, A., Dorling, D. and Pickett, K., 2010. Re-evaluating self-evaluation. A commentary on Jen, Jones, and Johnston (68:4, 2009). Soc Sci Med, v. 70, p.496-497. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.10.059

    Barford, A., 2009. World poverty - what can we do about it? Geography, 94, p.215-218.

    Dorling, D. and Barford, A., 2009. The inequality hypothesis: thesis, antithesis, and a synthesis? Health Place, 15, 1166-1169. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2009.06.005.

    Moraru, M., Barford, A. and Dorling, D. 2009. Cartografiando la extensión de la globalización. Geofocus, 9, 1-18

    Two further foreign language editions of Dorling, D., Newman, M. and Barford, A. 2009. The atlas of the real world. Published in South Korea and Japan.

    Dorling, D., Newman, M. and Barford, A. 2008. The atlas of the real world. London, Thames & Hudson.  Also published in the United States, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.  

    Barford, A. 2008. Worldmapper, des centaines de cartes du monde sur Internet. M@ppemonde, 89(1), 1-15

    Barford, A. and Dorling, D. 2008. Telling an old story with new maps. In: Dodge, M., McDerby, M. and Turner, M. (eds.) Geographic Vizualization: Concepts, Tools and Applications. Wiley, Chichester

    Barford, A. and Dorling, D., 2007. Re-ordering the world. Geography Review, v. 20, p.8-11.

    Barford, A. and Dorling, D., 2007. The shape of the global causes of death. Int J Health Geogr, v. 6, p.48-48. doi:10.1186/1476-072X-6-48.

    Dorling, D. and Barford, A., 2007. Shaping the world to illustrate inequalities in health. Bull World Health Organ, v. 85, p.890-893. doi:10.2471/BLT.07.044131.

    Dorling, D., Barford, A. and Wheeler, B., 2007. Health impacts of an environmental disaster: a polemic. Environ Res Lett, v. 2, p.045007-045007. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/2/4/045007.

    Barford, A. and Dorling, D., 2006. A new approach to mapping the world: visualizing facets of international health. Natl Med J India, v. 19, p.234-235.

    Barford, A., Dorling, D., Davey Smith, G. and Shaw, M., 2006. The cause for quiet celebration.. BMJ, v. 332, p.1095-1096. doi:10.1136/bmj.332.7549.1095-c.

    Barford, A., Dorling, D., Davey Smith, G. and Shaw, M., 2006. Life expectancy: women now on top everywhere. British Medical Journal, v. 332, p.808-808. doi:10.1136/bmj.332.7545.808.

    Dorling, D. and Barford, A. (2006). Humanising Geography. Geography, Autumn 2006, 187-197

    Dorling, D., Barford, A. and Newman, M., 2006. WORLDMAPPER: the world as you've never seen it before. IEEE Trans Vis Comput Graph, v. 12, p.757-764. doi:10.1109/TVCG.2006.202.

    Moraru, M., Barford, A. and Dorling, D. 2006. The long war. Student BMJ, 14, 445