Neil Powell’s research, training and development action is geared towards addressing intractable problems and resource dilemmas in the context of natural resource governance and management.

The approach focuses on the inefficiencies and ambiguities of policy implementation in contexts characterised by abrupt environmental change and controversy. His work promotes understanding of how structures and stakeholder agency can be best deployed to reconcile contemporary intractable issues such as climate change adaptation and integrated agro-environmental actions.

Key conceptual themes in his research are: social learning, action research, multi-stakeholder processes, intractability, dilemmas, governance, agency, livelihoods and adaptation.

Neil Powell has developed numerous high level programmes. Recent examples include: the Swedish International Agricultural Network; a multi stakeholder platform for government, civil society, private, research and education sectors); the governance and policy adaptation component within a large inter-regional EU project entitled Baltic Compass; and an international Masters Programme in Integrated Water Resource Management.

Prior to joining SEI in 2006, Neil Powell taught, supervised and undertook research as a Senior Lecturer at the Swedish Agricultural University, Uppsala. He was also responsible for Swedish water resource development cooperation in Southern Africa at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Neil Powell has actively worked in a number of country contexts including: Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, Ethiopia, Brazil, India, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Baltic Countries, Russia, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Italy and France.


  • Ph.D. 1998, Department of Rural Development Studies, Swedish Agricultural University
  • Licentiate Phil. (Geog) 1996, School of Geography, Stockholm University
  • M.A. (Env.Stud.) 1988, University of Tasmania