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Dr. Joanes Atela - Senior Research Fellow, Climate Resilient Economies


Dr Joanes Atela is an interdisciplinary scholar with more than five years research experience in the area of environment, climate change, agriculture and development. Joanes obtained a PhD in Environment and Development from the University of Leeds, UK, MSc in Agriculture and Resource Management from the University of Bonn Germany (First Class) and BSc in Environmental Sciences from Maseno University, Kenya (First Class Honours). His PhD research provided one of the first multilevel analysis of climate change policies from the global design process down to national and local level implementation in an African setting.

Joanes’ career passion lies in innovative research and policy analysis that link multilevel policies to local resource and development realities in a manner that creates sustainable development opportunities for the poor. This passion builds on hands-on experience he gained through working with local communities to implement conservation and development projects at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. After the practical experience, Joanes proceeded to passionately engage with diverse international research and development issues. Prior to joining ACTS, he worked at the World Agroforestry Centre as a Research Fellow and a Consultant investigating climate change policies and local livelihoods and supporting fundraising on the same. Joanes was also an Early Career Fellow at the Future Agricultures Consortium in affiliation with NEPAD-Kenya Secretariat. During the fellowship, he pursued fascinating evidence-driven research on political economy of climate change policies in Kenya. He also conceptualised the NEPAD-Kenya Fellowship Programme and interventions for the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). In 2010, Joanes was a research intern at United Nations Environmental Programme and later joined the United Nations University in Bonn as a Visiting Scientist.

Joanes has won a number of competitive academic/policy awards including the Honourable Delegate Award for exceptional achievements in the model UN Conference and Young Scientist Travel award by the European Meteorological Society among others.  Joanes has also pursued several short courses including intercultural competence, environmental impact assessments, project planning and management, pathways to sustainability approach to research and policy analysis among others. He is skilled in specific analytical tools such as SPSS, R statistics, Social Network Analysis and GIS. He has published in international peer reviewed journals, book series and is a reviewer for several international journals. Joanes enjoys playing football and is a diehard fun of Manchester United.  

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Atela JO., Quinn CH. &  Minang PA. (2014). Are REDD+ projects pro-poor in their spatial targeting? Evidence from Kenya. Applied Geography 52: 14–24.
  • Atela JO, Quinn CH and Arhin A. (under review): Where is Africa in climate change debates? Actor typology and representation of Africa in the global REDD+ architecture. International Environmental Agreements, Politics, Law and Economics, INEA-D-15-00013.
  • Atela JO., Quinn CH., Minang, PA. & Duguma, LA (2015). Implementing REDD+ at the local level: assessing the key enablers for credible mitigation and sustainable livelihood outcomes. Journal of Environmental Management 157, 238–249.
  • Atela, JO., Quinn, CH., Minang, PA. & Duguma, LA (2015). Implementing REDD+ in view of Integrated Conservation and Development Projects: Leveraging empirical lessons. Land Use Policy, 48, 329-340.
  • Atela J, Denich M, Kaguamba R, Kibwage J. (2012). Agricultural land allocation in small farms around Masaai Mau forest, Kenya and the implications on carbon stocks. Journal of Ecology and the Natural Environment 4, 98-108
  • Atela JO, Quinn CH  and Minang PA. Implementing REDD+ at the national level:  stakeholder engagement and policy coherences between REDD+ rules and Kenya's sectoral policies. Forest Policy and Economics,  FORPOL2049.

Book Chapters

  • Atela JO. (2014). Implementing REDD+; In carbon conflicts and forest landscapes in Africa. Ian Scoones and Melissa Leach (Eds), Routledge, pg 108-123 [Online link].
  • Atela, JO. (2014). Carbon in Africa’s agricultural landscapes: A Kenyan case;  In carbon conflicts and forest landscapes in Africa. Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones (Eds), Routledge, pg 79-93 [Online link].
  • Arhin A. and Atela JO. (2014). Carbon Policies in Africa. In Carbon conflicts and forest landscapes in Africa. Ian Scoones and Melissa Leach (Eds), Routledge, pg 43-57 [Online link]. *                                        
  • Wambugu S., Chomba S. and Atela J. (2014). Institutional arrangements for climate smart landscapes. In climate-smart landscapes: multifunctionality in practice, Minang, P van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), pg  257-273, [Online link].

Working/conference papers

  • Duguma, LA., Atela, JO. Minang PA., Mbow, C. (2015) ‘We love to have the forest but we have no alternative': Unpacking the realities behind deforestation and forest degradation. Conference Paper: XIV WORLD FORESTRY CONGRESS, at Durban, South Africa, September 2015 [Online link]
  • Atela JO., Odame H., and Duguma LA (2014). Implementing climate smart agriculture at the local level: what factors influencing adoption? Working Paper, Future Agricultures Consortium.
  • Atela JO (2013). Opportunity space for youth in the Kenya’s agricultural policies. Discussion Paper, Future Agricultures Consortium.    
  • Atela JO, Quinn CH., Minang, PA. & Duguma, L., (2014). Assessing the key enablers for REDD+ to achieve credible mitigation and sustainable livelihood outcomes at the local level: evidence from Kenya. Sustainability Research Institute Working Paper No 72, [Online link].
  • Atela JO and Quinn CH.  (2014). Exploring the agency of Africa in designing REDD+ and the associated implications for national level institutions.  Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy Working Paper No 198,  [Online link].
  • Atela JO., Quinn CH., Minang, P. & Duguma L. (2014). Nesting REDD+ into Integrated Conservation and Development Projects: what empirical lessons can be drawn? Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy Working Paper No. 182,  [Online link].
  • Atela, JO. (2013). Governing REDD+: global framings versus practical evidence from the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, Kenya, STEPS Working Paper 55,Brighton: STEPS Centre, [Online link].
  • Atela, JO. (2012). The Politics of Agricultural Carbon Finance: The Case of the Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project, STEPS Working Paper 49, Brighton: STEPS Centre, [Online link].


  • Missionary discourses: can the green economy bring climate justice to the South? International Conference on Green Economy in the South at the University of Dodoma, Tanzania 8 – 10 July 2011:[Online link]
  • Green agriculture: interests, politics and narratives at Rio+20 . Rio+20 Earth Summit through the Future Agricultures Consortium [Online link]
  • REDD+ can achieve global mitigation and local livelihoods! Evidence from dryland Kenya (2013). United Bank of Carbon [Online link]
  • African agriculture is under pressure from the global politics of climate change (2013). UNFCCC, COP 19 in Warsaw [Online link]
  • Major boost for climate change resilience in Africa (2014). Comments provided to ScieDev.Net concerning the launch of adaptation fund for Africa during UNFCCC, COP 19 in Warsaw [Online link].