Professor of Natural Resource Governance

Irmeli Mustalahti, Professor of Natural Resource Governance has a PhD in participatory forest practices and impacts (University of Copenhagen, Denmark). She is a chair of Responsive Natural Resources Governance-Research Group (RNRG). Her main research and teaching interests are long-term empirical research on natural resources governance, environmental conflict resolution, and collaborative management of natural resources. Since 2003, she has engaged with the Academy of Finland funded research projects and being in close collaboration with various international research networks. Since 2015, she has been developing jointly, with an international researchers and PhD supervisors, a course series called ‘Environmental collaboration and conflict resolution’. For example, in 2012-2016, she led the Academy of Finland funded projects ‘Towards Responsive Governance in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation? Comparative case study in Tanzania and Nepal’ and ‘REDD+: The new regime to enhance or reduce equity in global environmental governance? A comparative study in Tanzania, Mexico and Laos’. Currently, she is among of the leadership of the multidisciplinary research project, ‘All youth want to rule their world, ALL-YOUTH, 2018-2023’, a consortium funded by the Strategical Research Council of Finland. She is also a leader of MAKUTANO research project in Tanzania which aims to develop methodological and theoretical approaches for environmental collaboration and conflict resolution.

Contact info


Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, Environmental Policy



+358 50 563 2071


Teaching Activities

Natural resources governance-course based on reflective essays; Theories and methods in social scientific environmental studies-course; Environmental collaboration and conflict resolution-international course series

Research groups and research projects

The main aim of our research group is to analyse the local, bilateral and multilateral environmental governance interventions and agreements. We also study policy changes and strategical processes, such as the transition towards circular and bio based economy. The conceptual understanding of responsive collaborative governance of the natural resources is an example of our current research challenge. Globally, there are efforts to support the transition towards the circular and bio-based economy and to reform natural resources governance in an attempt to respond to local circumstances while mitigating global climate change. We approach these interventions, agreements and processes not only as mechanisms for policy implementation, climate change mitigation and greater environmental legality, but also as mechanisms for environmental governance that can lead to major changes in natural resources governance and responsiveness among actors. Our research group directs its focus on relevant issues, including distribution of benefits, costs, risks and opportunities for land use, forest management and natural resources utilisation as well as on roles and resources among policy actors, private sector, user groups and the local communities and citizens, such as youth involved. The Responsive Natural Resources Governance Research Group focuses on a number of case study countries, including Finland, Russia, Mexico, Laos, Indonesia, Mozambique and Tanzania.

Research groups - UEF