Prof. Jessica Budds

MA (Hons) (Glasgow), MSc (London), DPhil (Oxford), SFHEA

Biography and Research

I have an interdisciplinary background in modern languages, Latin American studies, human geography, and environmental studies.  I have worked in academic and policy research on environment and development at several UK universities and international institutions, and I have spent over five years in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru).  I am a strong advocate of student and researcher mobility, and decolonial research practices with colleagues and stakeholders in the majority world.  One part of the latter mission is my co-editorship of the independent, non-profit, and trilingual periodical, the Journal of Latin American Geography.

My research focuses on the dynamic relationship between economic growth, environmental governance and social development in the Global South, with a focus on Latin America.  This entails examining how economic change shapes natural resources governance, and how this affects economically and politically marginalized groups, such as urban informal settlers, peasant farmers, and indigenous peoples.  I draw on political ecology to understand how these dynamics are influenced by power relations, manifest through both material interventions as well as discursive framings, and over time and space.  I contend that identifying power relations as underlying drivers of socio-ecological change can inform development policies in a way that avoids defaulting to technocratic interventions (e.g. technological solutions, market mechanisms, institutional restructuring) that may reproduce the same problems that they seek to address, as well as potentially sustain unequal power structures.  This highlights the importance of directing responses to address the structural drivers of unsustainable development, rather than only its outward effects, which is a core theme of my work. 

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Prof. Dr. Jessica Budds

Office hours: Tuesdays 4-6 pm


Geozentrum - Meckenheimer Allee 176

53115 Bonn

Research areas

My work comprises three main areas:

First, the application of economic and market mechanisms to natural resources management and their implications for low-income groups and local ecologies. Pursued mainly in relation to water resources, I have undertaken critical analyses of urban water privatization in the Global South, water rights markets in Chile, and payments for watershed services schemes in the Andes. I have argued that market-based approaches are promoted on the basis of more efficient resource management and benefits for low-income users, yet in practice it is the most marginalized water users who are disadvantaged through a combination of higher costs, exclusion from governance, and resource dispossession. 

My long-standing research on water extraction for avocado production in La Ligua, Chile, has informed reports by DanWatch, and British Vogue.

Second, the development of natural resources industries and the implications of increased demand for water.  Through the case of copper mining in southern Peru, I have examined how the changing relations of control over water for mineral extraction have influenced water (re)allocation and basin transfers, policy and governance arrangements, the construction of large infrastructure, and discourses about water use and management, but also the ways in which water has shaped debates and practices around mining in the country.  I used these insights to refine the concept of ‘waterscape’. I subsequently used this approach to analyse how the development of series of run-of-the-river dams in northern India has influenced water policy and governance in that country. In 2011, my research on water and mining in the Andes was featured in an edition of BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth.

Third, reframing environmental concepts to focus on nature-society relations rather than material resources.  Here, I co-developed the concept of the ‘hydrosocial cycle’ to consider how water embeds and reflects power relations, such that “water” can be understood as context-specific rather than universal.  I have since used the hydrosocial cycle to reorient the concepts of water security, urban water security, and water governance towards an analysis of water-society relations rather than a focus on material water.  I have also critiqued the society-nature dualism inherent within the dominant conceptualization of ecosystem services, and contributed to an approach that acknowledges the changing materiality of infrastructure and its influence on social relations.

I welcome enquiries from prospective doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows with interests in socio-ecological change, poverty alleviation, political ecology, water resources, extractive industries, urban infrastructure (especially water and sanitation), interdisciplinary social-natural science environmental studies, and adaptation to climate change. 

Mexico City in sunlight
© Andrushko


My principal areas of teaching cover development, environment, water security, urbanisation, Latin America, and qualitative methods.  I have experience with a wide range of formats, including distance learning, field courses, team projects, and workshops.  I am interested in internationalization.   

My teaching aims to develop students’ critical thinking, analytical skills, and experiential insights, through engagement with theoretical perspectives and debates, and the practice of field- based learning.  The principles that underpin my pedagogy are: research-led teaching (i.e. teaching drawing on my own research), innovative formats of delivery and assessment that encourage students to question and to evaluate different perspectives (e.g. debates, commentaries, film-making), and navigating the field as a means of connecting theory with practice (e.g. identify the nature of the processes that have configured spaces and social relations).

I hold Senior Fellowship status of the Higher Education Academy.

External service

Puddle of water in a desert



Budds, J., Roa García, M.C. (Eds), 2018. Agua, Equidad y Justicia: El Papel de las Relaciones de Poder en la Asignación, Uso y Gobernanza de Recursos Hídricos en los Andes, Lima: Fondo Editorial PUCP.

Brown, W., Aradau, C., Budds, J. (Eds), 2009. Environmental Issues and Responses, Milton Keynes: The Open University Press.

Between Decay and Repair: Embodied Experiences of Infrastructure and Processes of Urban Transformation (2021), Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space.
The Hydrosocial Cycle (2014), Geoforum.

Political Ecologies of Water and Development (2013), Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

O’Reilly, K., Budds, J., 2023. Sanitation citizenship: state expectations and community practices of shared toilet use and maintenance in urban India. Environment and Urbanization 35(1): 238-254.

Abera, W., Assen, M., Budds, J., 2023. Factors Influencing Smallholder Farmers’ Attitudes Towards Integrated Soil Fertility Management: Case Study of the Wanka Watershed, Northwestern Highlands of Ethiopia. Ekológia (Bratislava) 42(2): 193-200. 

Deche, A., Assen, M., Damene, S., Budds, J., Kumsa, A., 2023. Dynamics and Drivers of Land Use and Land Cover Change in the Upper Awash Basin, Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Environmental Management 72(1): 160-178. 

Leul, Y., Assen, M., Legass, A., Damene, S., Budds, J., 2023. Drivers and implications of land use/cover dynamics in land leased areas, western Ethiopia. Regional Environmental Change 23(4): 123.

Empinotti, V.L., Budds, J., Jepson, W., Millington, N., Ferrara, L.N, Geere, J., Grandisoli, E., da Paz, M.G.A., Puga, B.P., Alves, E.M., Cawood, S., Jacobi, P.R., Kinjo, V.U., Lampis, A., Moretti, R., Octavianti, T., Periotto, N. Quinn, R., Quintslr, S., Sulaiman, S., Vicente, P.A., Wahby, N., 2021. Advancing urban water security: the urbanization of water-society relations and entry-points for political engagement. Water International. 

Ramakrishnan, K., O’Reilly, K., Budds, J., 2021.  The temporal fragility of infrastructure: Theorizing decay, maintenance and repair. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 4(3): 674-695.

Budds, J., Zwarteveen, M., 2020. Retheorizing ecosystem services as cultural landscapes: Co-constitution, power relations, and knowledges, International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability 16(1): 41-59.

Budds, J., 2020. Gobernanza del agua y desarrollo bajo el mercado: Las relaciones sociales de control del agua en el marco del Código de Aguas de Chile. Investigaciones Geográficas 59(1): 16-27. 

Abera, W., Assen, M., Budds, J., 2020. Determinants of agricultural land management practices among smallholder farmers in the Wanka watershed, northwestern highlands of Ethiopia. Land Use Policy 99: 104841.

Fragkou, M., Budds, J., 2020. Desalination and the disarticulation of the hydrosocial cycle: Stabilising the neoliberal model in Chile. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 45(2): 448-463.

Budds, J., 2020. Securing the market: Water security and the internal contradictions of Chile’s Water Code. Geoforum 113: 165-175.

Degefu, M.A., Assen, M., Satyal, P., Budds, J. 2020. Villagization and access to water resources in the Middle Awash Valley of Ethiopia: Implications for climate change adaptation. Climate and Development 12(10): 899-910.

Empinotti, V., Budds, J., Aversa, M., 2019. Governance and water security: The role of the water institutional framework in the 2013-15 water crisis in São Paulo, Brazil. Geoforum 98: 46-54. 

Brewis, A., Rosinger, A., Wutich, A., Adams, E., Cronk, L., Pearson, A., Workman, C., Young, S., Balogun, M., Boivin, M., Budds, J., Collins, S., Freeman, M.C., Gershim, A., Harris, L., Jepson, W., Maes, K., Mbullo, P., Miller, J., Staddon, C., Stoler, J., Tesfaye, Y., Trowell, A., Tshala-Katumbay, D., Tutu, R., 2019. Water sharing, reciprocity, and need: A comparative study of interhousehold water transfers in sub-Saharan Africa. Economic Anthropology 6(2): 208-221.

Wutich, A., Budds, J., Jepson, W., Harris, L., Adams, E., Brewis, A., Cronk, L., DeMyers, C., Maes, K., Marley, T., Miller, J., Pearson, A., Rosinger, A., Schuster, R., Stoler, J., Staddon, C., Wiessner, P., Workman, C., Young, S., 2018. Household water sharing: A review of water gifts, exchanges, and other transfers across cultures. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews – Water (WIREs Water) 5(6): e1309.

Wutich, A., Budds, J., Eichelberger, L., Geere, J., Harris, L., Horney, J., Jepson, W., Norman, E., O'Reilly, K., Pearson, A., Shah, S., Shinn, J., Simpson, K., Staddon, C., Stoler, J., Teodoro, M., Young, S., 2017. Advancing methods for research on household water insecurity: Studying entitlements and capabilities, socio-cultural dynamics, and political processes, institutions and governance. Water Security 1(2): 1-10.

Jepson, W., Budds, J., Eichelberger, L., Harris, L., Norman, E., O'Reilly, K., Pearson, A., Shah, S., Shinn, J., Staddon, C., Stoler, J., Wutich, A. & Young, S., 2017. Advancing human capabilities for water security: A relational approach. Water Security 1(1): 46-52.

McGinlay J., Gowing, D., Budds, J., 2017. The threat of abandonment in socio-ecological landscapes: Farmers' motivations and perspectives on high nature value grassland conservation. Environmental Science and Policy 69: 39-49.

McGinlay, J., Gowing, D., Budds, J., 2016. Conserving socio-ecological landscapes: An analysis of traditional and responsive management practices for floodplain meadows in England. Environmental Science and Policy 66: 234-241.

Ahlers, R., Budds, J., Joshi, D., Merme, V., Zwarteveen, M., 2015. Framing hydropower as green energy: Assessing drivers, risk and tensions in the Eastern Himalayas. Earth System Dynamics 6(1): 195-204.

Rodríguez de Francisco, J.C., Budds, J., 2015. Payments for environmental services and control over natural resources: The role of public and private sectors in the conservation of the Nima watershed, Colombia. Ecological Economics 117: 295-302.

Linton, J., Budds, J., 2014. The hydrosocial cycle: Defining and mobilizing a relational-dialectical approach to water. Geoforum 57: 170-180.

Rodríguez de Francisco, J.C., Budds, J., Boelens, R., 2013. Payment for environmental services and unequal resource control in Pimampiro, Ecuador. Society and Natural Resources 26(10): 1217-1233.

Budds, J., 2013. Water, power and the production of neoliberalism in Chile, 1973-2005. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31(2): 301-318.

Budds, J., Hinojosa, L., 2012. Restructuring and rescaling water governance in mining contexts: The co-production of waterscapes in Peru. Water Alternatives 5(1): 119-137.

Budds, J., 2012. La demanda, evaluación y asignación del agua en el contexto de escasez: Un análisis del ciclo hydrosocial del valle del río Ligua, Chile. Revista de Geografía Norte Grande 52(1): 167-184.

Budds, J., 2009. Contested H2O: Science, policy and politics in water resources management in Chile. Geoforum 40(3): 418-430.

Budds, J., Teixeira, P., SEHAB, 2005. Ensuring the right to the city: Pro-poor housing, urban development and tenure legalization in São Paulo, Brazil. Environment and Urbanization 17(1): 89-113.

Budds, J., 2004. Power, nature and neoliberalism: The political ecology of water in Chile. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 25(3): 322-42.

Budds, J., McGranahan, G., 2003. Are the debates on water privatization missing the point? Experiences from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Environment and Urbanization 15(2): 87-113.

Budds, J., 2003. El acceso a los recursos de agua de los agricultores en el valle de La Ligua, Chile. Revista de Derecho Administrativo Económico 2: 371-79.

Budds, J., Bell, M.G., Finn, J.C., Seemann, J., Arima, E., Valdivia, G., 2023. Language, Translation, and the Practice of Decolonizing Academic Publishing. Journal of Latin American Geography 22(2): 6-23. 

Bell, M.G., Budds, J., 2023. Letter from the Co-Editors. Journal of Latin American Geography 22(1): 6-10.

Budds, J., Finn, J., Arima, E., Bell, M., Seemann, J., Valdivia, G., Marcus, A., Tung, D., 2021. Institutional implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for Geographers in/of Latin America. Journal of Latin American Geography 20(2): 6-8.

Budds, J., Bell, M., Valdivia, G., Finn, J., Arima, E., Seemann, J., Tung, D., Marcus, A., 2021. New distances and proximities in teaching geography of and in Latin America. Journal of Latin American Geography 20(1): 7-10.

Finn, J., Arima, E., Bell, M., Budds, J., Seemann, J., Valdivia, G., Tung, D., Carter, E., Marcus, A., 2020. Mobility, connectivity, and the implications of Covid-19 for Latin American geography. Journal of Latin American Geography 19(4): 6-8.

Finn, J., Arima, E., Bell, M., Budds, J., Seemann, J., Valdivia, G., Tung, D., Carter, E., Marcus, A., 2020. JLAG’s expanded editorial team. Journal of Latin American Geography 19(3): 8-9.

Ramakrishnan, K., O’Reilly, K., Budds, J., 2021.  Between decay and repair: Embodied experiences of infrastructure and processes of urban transformation. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 4(3): 669-673.

Harris, L., Staddon, C., Wutich, A., Budds, J., Jepson, W., Pearson, A., Adams, E., 2020. Water sharing and the right to water: Refusal, rebellion and everyday resistance. Political Geography 82: 102245.

Staddon, C., Everard, M., Mytton, J., Octavianti, T., Powell, W., Quinn, N., Uddin, S., Young, S., Miller, J., Budds, J., Geere, J., Meehan, K., Charles, K., Stevenson, E., Vonk, J., Mizniak, J., 2020. Water insecurity compounds the global coronavirus crisis. Water International 45(5): 416-422.

Budds, J., Linton, J., McDonnell, R., 2014. The hydrosocial cycle. Geoforum 57: 167-169.

Boelens, R., Budds, J., Bury, J., Butler, C., Crow, B., Dill, B., French, A., Harris, L., Hoag, C., Kulkarni, S., Langridge, R., Lu, F., Norris, T., Ocampo-Raeder, C., Perrault, T., Romano, S., Spronk, S., Srinivasan, V., Tucker, C., Zwarteveen, M., 2014. Santa Cruz declaration on the Global Water Crisis. Water International, 39(2): 246-61.
Budds, J., Sultana, F., 2013. Exploring political ecologies of water and development. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31 (2): 275-279.

Budds, J., 2007. Tribal Water Rights: Essays in Contemporary Law, Policy, and Economics [by Thorson, J.E., Britton, S., Colby, B.G., Eds, 2006, Tucson, University of Arizona Press]. Journal of Peasant Studies, 34(2): 339-41.

Budds, J., McGranahan, G., 2003. Revisiting the privatization debates on water and sanitation in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Water for Cities 15: 6-8.

Budds, J., 2002. Marketing Democracy: Power and Social Movements in Post-dictatorship Chile [by Paley, J., 2001, Berkeley/Los Angeles, University of California Press]. Progress in Development Studies 2(3): 258-259.

Budds, J., Loftus, A., 2023. Water, Neoliberalism, and Commodification. In: Hellberg, S., Söderbaum, F., Swain, A., Öjendal, J. (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Water and Development, pp. 144-152.

Fazeli, S., Budds, J., Berrens, R., 2021.  Water markets.  In Bozorg-Haddad, O. (Ed), Economical, Political and Social Issues in Water Resources Resources. Elsevier.

Humphreys, D., Singer, B., McGinley, K., Smith, R., Budds, J., Bhagwat, S., de Jong, W., Newing, H., Gabay, M., Satyal, P., Cross, C., 2020. SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals – focus on forest finance and partnerships. In Katila, P., Colfer, C.J.P., de Jong, W., Galloway, G., Pacheco, P., Winkel, G., Sustainable Development Goals: Their Impacts on Forests and People, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Budds, J., 2018. Introducción: El papel de las relaciones de poder en la asignación, uso y gobernanza de recursos hídricos en los países Andinos. In Budds, J., Roa García, M.C. (Eds) Agua, Equidad y Justicia: El Papel de las Relaciones de Poder en la Asignación, Uso y Gobernanza de Recursos Hídricos en los Andes, Lima: Fondo Editorial PUCP.

Budds, J., Linton, J., 2018. El ciclo hidrosocial: Hacia un abordaje relacional y dialéctico al agua. In Budds, J., Roa García, M.C. (Eds) Agua, Equidad y Justicia: El Papel de las Relaciones de Poder en la Asignación, Uso y Gobernanza de Recursos Hídricos en los Andes, Lima: Fondo Editorial PUCP.

Budds, J., 2017. What water market? Responses to drought in La Ligua, Chile. In Jacobi, P., Fracalanza, A.P., Empinotti, V. (Eds) Governança da Água no Contexto da Escassez Hídrica. São Paulo: IEE/USP.

Loftus, A., Budds, J., 2016. Neoliberalizing water. In Springer, S., Birch, K., MacLeavy, J. (Eds) The Handbook of Neoliberalism. London: Routledge.

Budds, J. 2015. The Expansion of Mining and Changing Waterscapes in the Southern Peruvian Andes. In Norman, E.S., Cook, C., Cohen, A. (Eds) Negotiating Water Governance: Why the Politics of Scale Matter. London: Routledge.

Budds, J., Loftus, A., 2014. Water and hydropolitics. In Desai, V., Potter, R. (Eds) The Companion to Development Studies. London: Routledge.

Budds, J., 2014. Acceso al agua y justicia hídrica: Un análisis de las relaciones de poder entre Southern Copper Corporation y comunidades rurales en Moquegua y Tacna, Perú. In Perreault, T. (Ed) Minería, Agua y Justicia Ambiental en los Andes: Experiencias Comparativas de Bolivia y Perú. Lima and La Paz: IEP and Plural.

Budds, J., 2013. Chilean water markets: history, politics and empirical outcomes. In Prakash, A., Singh, S., Goodrich, G.C., Janakarajan, S. (Eds) Water Resources Policies in South Asia. New Delhi and Oxford: Routledge.

Hinojosa, L., Budds, J., 2013. Mecanismos de acceso y control del agua en el contexto minero del sur peruano. In Arroyo, A., Boelens, R. (Eds) Aguas Robadas: Despojo Hídrico y Movilización Social. Quito: Fondo Editorial.

Budds, J., 2013. Servicios ambientales y justicia hídrica. In Arroyo, A., Boelens, R. (Eds) Aguas Robadas: Despojo Hídrico y Movilización Social. Quito: Fondo Editorial.

Budds, J., Hinojosa, L., 2012. Las industrias extractivas y los paisajes hídricos en transición en los países andinos: Análisis de la gobernanza de recursos y formación de territorios en Perú. In Isch, E., Boelens, R., Peña, F. (Eds) Agua, Injusticia y Conflictos. Lima: Fondo Editorial.

Budds, J., 2011. Hydrologic modelling. In Dym, J., Offen, K. (Eds) Mapping Latin America: Space and Society, 1492-2000, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Budds, J., 2011. Las relaciones sociales de poder y la producción de paisajes hídricos. In Boelens, R., Cremers, L., Zwarteveen, M. (Eds) Justicia Hídrica: Acumulación, Conflicto y Acción Social. Lima: Fondo Editorial.

Budds, J., 2010. Water rights, mining and indigenous groups in Chile’s Atacama. In Boelens, R., Guevara, A., Getches, D. (Eds) Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Politics and Identity, London: Earthscan.

Budds, J., 2009. The 1981 Water Code: the impacts of private tradable water rights on peasant and indigenous communities in Northern Chile. In Alexander, W. (Ed) Lost in the Long Transition: Struggles for Social Justice in Neoliberal Chile, Lanham: Lexington.

Budds, J., 2009. Urbanisation: Social and environmental inequalities in cities. In Brown, W., Aradau, C., Budds, J. (Eds) Environmental Issues and Responses, Milton Keynes: The Open University Press.

Budds, J., 2009. Water: Natural, social and contested flows. In Brown, W., Aradau, C., Budds, J. (Eds) Environmental Issues and Responses, Milton Keynes: The Open University Press.

Budds, J. 2008. Whose scarcity? The hydrosocial cycle and the changing waterscape of La Ligua river basin, Chile. In Goodman, M., Boykoff, M., Evered, K. (Eds) Contentious Geographies: Environment, Meaning Scale, Aldershot: Ashgate.

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