Integrated Development and Conservation projects through the lens of institutional telecoupling

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain)


Since the 1980s, a series of international meetings and processes have aimed at defining means and ends for the collective goal of participatory sustainable development. Alongside these negotiations, non-governmental (NGOs) and inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) have acquired a defining role as goes for the theory development and practical guidelines for how to approach this goal, for example by financing and running international development projects.

In the case of forests, a broad variety of stakeholders in international project schemes exert direct and indirect influence on local management and land-use change in the global South. The kind of ideas that define the outcome of this influence and the role of local project beneficiaries in the shaping of these ideas, is yet to be fully understood.

This research project will investigate the complexity empirically through a case study of a World Bank-led development project in Salta, Argentina, and conceptually by exploring telecoupling more broadly as a lens to understand international project schemes and distant causal relationships.

The main areas of investigation are:


  • how the idea of telecoupling and elements of institutional analysis can be integrated to shed new light on the nature of development projects,
  • how financial and discursive flows between institutions influence project development and management approaches, and
  • how this affects local forest use and conservation priorities.


The motivation behind the research is to shed new light on institutionalized power structures in international development and disentangle different actors’ understanding of project success and participation.


Louise Marie Busck Lumholt

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, ICTA – Institut de Ciènca i Tecnologia Ambientals
UAB Campus, 08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanoyla del Vallès), Spain

My research will provide a new way of understanding success and failure of international development and conservation projects. I will prioritize the practical applicability of the research results to guide current and future project development in the forest sector.

Louise Marie Busck Lumholt

Publications …

Busck-Lumholt, E. Corbera & Mertz (2022). How are institutions included in Integrated Conservation and Development Projects? Developing and testing a diagnostic approach on the World Bank’s Forest and Community project in Salta, Argentina. World Development 157: 155956.

Busck-Lumholt, L.M., J. Coenen, J. Persson, O. Mertz, A. Frohn Pedersen & E. Corbera. Telecoupling as a framework to support a more nuanced understanding of causality in Land System Science. Journal of Land Use Science 17:1, 386-406.

Busck-Lumholt L.M., T. Treue (2018): Institutional Challenges to the Conservation of Arabuko-Sokoke Coastal Forest in Kenya. International Forestry Review 20(4): 488-505.

Corbera E., B Rodríguez-Labajos, F. Mempel, L.M. Busck-Lumholt (2019): Environmental Justice in Telecoupling Research. In: C. Friis, J. Ø. Nielsen, Telecoupling: Exploring Land-Use Change in a Globalised World. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 213-232.