Lyuba Zarsky

Associate Professor

Professor Zarsky has a PhD in Economics and has a distinguished record of professional experience and publication in the fields of sustainable development and business and sustainability.

She was Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability (1992-2001) and staff economist on the Commission for the Future for the Government of Australia (1989-1991). Since 1991, she has consulted to numerous international and national organizations, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Program, and the Government of Australia and Environment Institute at Tufts University in Boston (2002-present).

Professor Zarsky has a joint appointment with the International Master of Business Administration (MBA) and the International Environmental Policy (IEP) programs in the Graduate School of International Policy and Management. She leads the Business, Sustainability and Development track in the IEP program and coordinates the Joint MBA-International Environmental Policy program which trains students to be leaders in business sustainability initiatives. Her courses on Business, Sustainability and Society and Business Models for Sustainable Development provide cutting edge knowledge and skills for students seeking to harness market forces to address critical global problems such as climate change, poverty, and sustainable livelihoods.

Professor Zarsky is an affiliated faculty member with the Center for the Blue Economy and is  spearheading research on innovative approaches to private sector finance for climate resilient coastal infrastructure. She is also researching the costs and benefits of coal mining and port expansion near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage site.  

Recent Accomplishments

Professor Zarsky was a catalyst in the creation of the Institute’s Joint MBA / International Environmental Policy program, launched in fall 2013.

Professor Zarsky’s paper, “Can extractive industries promote sustainable development? A net benefits framework and a case study of Guatemala’s Marlin mine,” was published in the Journal of Environment and Development, in April, 2013. Co-authored with Leonardo Stanley of the Center for State and Society in Buenos Aires, the paper was based on a report produced for the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tuft University, where Professor Zarsky is a Senior Research Fellow.

In July, 2013, The World Policy Review published a feature article written by Professor Zarsky entitled “Extractive industries and local communities: the elusive search for sustainable development.”

Professor Zarsky and Whitney Anderson (MIIS graduate, May 2013),  presented a paper “Shooting in the dark? Assessing costs and benefits of proposed coal development and port expansion on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef,” at the Fourth National Forum on Socioeconomic Research on Coastal Systems. Sponsored by the Center for Natural Resource Economics and Policy at Louisiana State University, the Forum was held in New Orleans in March, 2013.

In October, 2013, Professor Zarsky was awarded a faculty development grant to undertake research in Queensland, Australia during her sabbatical in the Spring semester, 2014. 

Expertise

Sustainable development, business and sustainability, foreign direct investment and the environment, collaborative governance, development economics, global environmental governance. 

Video interview of Dr. Zarsky

Education

Ph.D. Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2006; M.A. Economics, Department of Economics and Political Economy, New School for Social Research, New York 1986.

Publications

Can extractive industries promote sustainable development? A net benefits framework and a case study of the Marlin Mine in Guatemala, (co-author), Journal of Environment and Development, 20(2), 131-154, April, 2013.

Extractive industries and local communities: the elusive search for sustainable development, World Policy Review, July, 2013, available at http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com.

Searching for Gold in the Highlands of Guatemala: Economic Benefits and Environmental Risks of the Marlin Mine, (co-author), Global Development and Environment Institute, September, 2011.

"Climate Resilient Industrial Development: Design Principles and Alternative Models", in S.R. Khan and J. Christiansen, ed., Towards New Developmentalism: Market as Means Rather than Master, Routledge Economics, 2010.

Enclave Economy: Foreign Investment and Sustainable Development in Mexico’s Silicon Valley (co-author), Boston: MIT Press, 2007.

“No Miracle Drug: Foreign Direct Investment and Sustainable Development” (co-author), in L. Zarsky (ed.), International Investment for Sustainable Development: Balancing Rights and Rewards, London: Earthscan Press, 2005.

International Investment for Sustainable Development: Balancing Rights and Rewards (contributing editor), London: Earthscan Press, 2005.

“Stuck in the Mud? Nation-States, Globalisation and the Environment," in OECD, Globalisation and the Environment, Paris: OECD, 1997. Reprinted in K. Gallagher and J. Werksman (eds.), Earthscan Reader on International Trade and Sustainable Development, London:  Earthscan Press, 2002, pp. 19-44; and in  K. Conca and G. Dabelko, Green Planet Blues, Environmental Politics from Stockholm to Johannesberg, Westview Press, 2004.

Human Rights and the Environment: Conflicts and Norms in a Globalizing World (contributing editor) London: Earthscan Press, 2002.

Beyond Good Deeds: Case Studies and A New Policy Agenda for Corporate Accountability (co-author), Berkeley: Natural Heritage Institute, July 2002.

“APEC and the ‘Sustainable Development’ Agenda,’ in R. Steinberg (ed.), The Greening of Trade Law, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002.

“Global Reach: Human Rights and Environment in the Framework of Corporate Accountability,” in L. Zarsky (ed.), Human Rights and Environment: Conflicts and Norms in a Globalizing World, London: Earthscan Press, 2002, pp. 31-56.

“Civil Society and the Future of Environmental Governance in Asia,” (co-author), in D. Angel and M. Rock, (eds.), Asia's Clean Revolution: Industry, Growth and the Environment, Greenleaf Publishing, 2001, pp.128-154.

“From Bystanders to Collaborators, New Roles for Civil Society in Urban-Industrial Environmental Governance,” in Asian Development Bank, Asian Environment Outlook, Manila:  ADB, 2001.

“Environmental Norms in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum,” in D. Shelton (ed.), Commitment and Compliance, The Role of Non-Binding Norms in the International Legal System, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 303-329.

“Havens, Halos, and Spaghetti: Untangling the Evidence About FDI and the Environment,” in OECD, Foreign Direct Investment and the Environment, Paris: OECD,  1999, pp. 47-74.

"Energy and the Environment in Asia-Pacific,” in P. Chasek, (ed.), The Global Environment in the 21st Century, Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 1999.

"Lessons of Liberalization in Asia: From Structural Adjustment to Sustainable Development," in Financing for Environmentally Sustainable Development,  Asian Development Bank: Manila, 1994.

“Towards an International Eco-Labeling Framework,” in OECD, Life Cycle Management and Trade, Paris: OECD, 1994, pp. 194-204.

“Sustainable Development: Challenges for Australia,” in Our Common Future, Australian Edition, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1990. Also published as a monograph by the Commission for the Future, Melbourne, February, 1990.

Course List

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

IEPG 8507 - Governing the Global Commons      

Earth’s life-supporting eco-systems are in crisis due to unsustainable human practices, especially economic production and consumption. At the same time, deep global economic inequities leave more than half of the world’s people living in poverty. The overarching aim of international environmental cooperation is to point human societies towards patterns of ecologically sustainable and equitable development.

This course provides an introduction to the political dynamics, legal structure, and institutions of international cooperation aimed at sustainable governance of the earth’s eco-systems. The course is in three parts.

Part One first examines global environmental problems and politics. After a brief look at the current state of global eco-system services, we examine the logic of global collective action via classical and cosmopolitan concepts of “the commons”. We then explore North-South conflicts based on perceived trade-offs between “environment” and “development” and evaluate current paradigms of economic and population growth.

Part Two examines the key principles, institutions, and treaties of international environmental law. We first examine the foundations of international environmental law, including legal principles, customary norms, and the treaty making process. We then explore treaties covering the atmosphere, viz, the Montreal Protocol and the climate regime, as well as the ocean and bio-diversity. We also consider the role of climate-geo-engineering in mitigating climate change and evaluate the technological, governance and ethical dilemmas it poses. Part Two concludes by examining the effectiveness of international environmental law to date in increasing the resilience of global eco-systems.

Part Three examines global collective action from the perspective of “global environmental governance” (GEG). We explore the role of non-state actors, especially business, scientists, and NGOs, and the efficacy of “soft law” and voluntary standards in changing global business practice. We examine the theory of network analysis and consider how networked governance is evident in multi-level approaches to GEG, including city actions on climate change and regional approaches to trans-boundary resource management.

Spring 2013 - MIIS, Fall 2013 - MIIS, Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IEPG 8598 - Business,Sustainablity&Society      

This course provides a foundation in the core concepts and strategic management tools in the dynamic field of global business sustainability. The central aim of the course is to prepare students to design and lead sustainability innovations in or in partnership with global business organizations. Students will work in teams to produce a sustainability strategy for a global corporation.

The course covers six key topics:

• Global sustainability challenges and the role of business in responding to them;

• New social expectations of business and the promise and limitations of corporate social responsibility;

• Sustainability as global business strategy and opportunity;

• Business opportunity and challenges in promoting development in poor markets;

• Managing sustainability, including performance metrics, partnerships, and financing

• Public policy innovations that support business sustainability.

Fall 2013 - MIIS, Fall 2014 - MIIS

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IEPG 8611 - Sustainable Coastal Management      

The coast is the most dynamic landscape on earth. It changes every time a wave breaks, a tide changes, or streams flow. About seventy percent of the world’s population lives within 100 km of the coast. This course provides a foundation in the core scientific principles, governance frameworks, and economic challenges and opportunities related to the quest for sustainable coastal management and adaptation. A central theme of the course is the need to assess and respond to coastal climate vulnerability, including via adaptive policy and planning at diverse scales of coastal governance. The case studies in the course encompass both developed and less developed countries, and an emphasis on management of large coastal cities, coastal ecosystems, and other coastal land-uses.

Spring 2013 - MIIS, Fall 2014 - MIIS

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IEPG 8623 - Sem:Bus Models for Sustain Dev      

This seminar explores the growing role of the private sector in promoting sustainable development goals in low and middle income countries through core business activities. The overarching aim of such business models is to reduce poverty and promote sustainability by: 1) stimulating access to global markets and supply chains; 2) delivering affordable and sustainable goods and services; 3) responding to the demands of climate change mitigation and adaptation; and/or 4) promoting local capacities for sustainable production. The seminar will examine case studies of five business models, ranging from small-scale, for-profit and non-profit enterprises to partnerships between multinational corporations and NGOs and/or development agencies. Students will work in teams to undertake their own case studies. Together, we will seek to draw lessons for scalability.

Spring 2013 - MIIS, Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IEPG 9530 - Business and Global Issues      

Whether in business, government, or NGOs, leadership requires honing the ability to make strategic decisions in a complex, dynamic and high-risk global context -- and often in high-pressure, short-deadline work environments. This Workshop will provide students a rich and realistic opportunity to work in just such an environment.

The Workshop will provide participants with a wealth of complicated material in a variety of formats related to our case: Goldcorp’s highly conflicted Marlin gold mine in Guatemala. Students will be familiar with the case materials prior to the first meeting of the Workshop; the initial class will, through a series of group exercises, provide a platform for addressing issues of economic development, environmental risk, human rights, government policy, global business norms, chronic violence, and international trade and investment rules. How those dimensions are prioritized, conceptualized and understood will largely be student-driven, with the instructors playing a supportive role. Students will then be encouraged to explore, adapt and apply “solution” methodologies, which could include cost-benefit, risk assessment, and risk-performance analyses, scenario creation, deliberative stakeholder engagement, and supply chain reconfiguration.

Students will work in groups to combine issue knowledge and problem-solving methods to define and evaluate strategic options for different players—the company, the government, and the local communities and their NGO allies. This group work will largely be carried out in the lapse between the two class meetings; students will draw upon the expertise of GSIPM faculty (and possibly others) as needed. The second class meeting will end with a series of group presentations of their proposed solutions to the case problem, and a comparative assessment of the proposals by students and faculty.

The Workshop pilots an innovative “raw” case-study pedagogical approach to understand urgent global issues and build competencies to frame and address them. Our hope is to incorporate the lessons of this workshop to scale this approach up to a regular 2-credit course in the Fall, 2014 semester.

Spring 2014 - MIIS

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IMGT 8614 - Business,Sustainablity&Society      

Fall 2012 - MIIS

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IPMG 8530 - Business and Global Issues      

Whether in business, government, or NGOs, leadership requires honing the ability to make strategic decisions in a complex, dynamic and high-risk global context -- and often in high-pressure, short-deadline work environments. This Workshop will provide students a rich and realistic opportunity to work in just such an environment.

The Workshop will provide participants with a wealth of complicated material in a variety of formats related to our case: Goldcorp’s highly conflicted Marlin gold mine in Guatemala. Students will be familiar with the case materials prior to the first meeting of the Workshop; the initial class will, through a series of group exercises, provide a platform for addressing issues of economic development, environmental risk, human rights, government policy, global business norms, chronic violence, and international trade and investment rules. How those dimensions are prioritized, conceptualized and understood will largely be student-driven, with the instructors playing a supportive role. Students will then be encouraged to explore, adapt and apply “solution” methodologies, which could include cost-benefit, risk assessment, and risk-performance analyses, scenario creation, deliberative stakeholder engagement, and supply chain reconfiguration.

Students will work in groups to combine issue knowledge and problem-solving methods to define and evaluate strategic options for different players—the company, the government, and the local communities and their NGO allies. This group work will largely be carried out in the lapse between the two class meetings; students will draw upon the expertise of GSIPM faculty (and possibly others) as needed. The second class meeting will end with a series of group presentations of their proposed solutions to the case problem, and a comparative assessment of the proposals by students and faculty.

The Workshop pilots an innovative “raw” case-study pedagogical approach to understand urgent global issues and build competencies to frame and address them. Our hope is to incorporate the lessons of this workshop to scale this approach up to a regular 2-credit course in the Fall, 2014 semester.

Spring 2014 - MIIS

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IPOL 8506 - Public Policy & the Environmnt      

This two-unit course provides a foundation in the paradigms, principles, and tools that shape public policy in the service of environmental protection and sustainable development. We will first explore the sources and dynamics of public policymaking and the fundamental principles of environmental policy, including sustainability, precaution and cost internalization. We will then examine three policy paradigms: 1) regulatory (command and control); 2) collaborative (stakeholder based); and 3) market-based. For each paradigm, we will consider case studies of global and national policy options for particular environmental problems, including forest degradation and carbon emissions. Examples of policy options include substantive and process standards; taxes; eco-system service payments; public investment; etc. Students will work in a team to produce a policy analysis of a major environmental problem.

Fall 2010 - MIIS, Fall 2011 - MIIS, Fall 2012 - MIIS

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IPOL 8507 - Intl Environmental Law&Politcs      

This course provides a foundation in the core concepts, actors, drivers and institutions of global environmental politics and governance. The first half of the class focuses on global environmental politics and the second on international environmental law and more broadly, global environmental governance (GEG). The first half of the class is divided into two parts. Part One explores the state of the global environment, the nature of global environmental problems and the key actors in global environmental politics. Part Two examines seven underlying drivers of global environmental degradation: 1) technology, especially energy; 2) consumption; 3) values/cultural norms; 4) globalization; 5) capitalism and the growth imperative; 6) poverty and inequality; and 7 population growth. For each driver, we will explore a core conceptual framework and then consider and critically evaluate how it relates to global environmental problems, especially climate change. The second half of the class will examine international environmental regimes, including legal treaties and “soft law”. It will evaluate the overall effectiveness of global environmental governance (GEG) in addressing the underlying drivers of global environmental degradation and solving global environmental problems, especially climate change and biodiversity loss. The course will analyze and debate proposals to improve GEG, including the creation of a World Environment Organization, an increased role for regional governance, and a “multi-level” approach centered on a greater role for cities.

Fall 2010 - MIIS, Spring 2011 - MIIS, Fall 2011 - MIIS, Spring 2012 - MIIS

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IPOL 8598 - Business,Sustainablity&Society      

Fall 2012 - MIIS

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IPOL 8617 - Sem:Partner w/Bus.for Sust.Dev      

Business is increasingly partnering with governments and NGOs to deliver a wide variety of global sustainable development goals, including poverty reduction, carbon mitigation, clean energy, access to clean water, and eco-resilience and climate adaptation. While there have some high-profile success stories, business partnerships have also suffered from "culture clashes", lack of clarity about goals, poor performance measurement, and lack of accountability mechanisms.

This course examines and critically evaluates four types of emerging global business partnerships: 1) business-government “private-public” partnerships in the provision of public infrastructure, especially water; 2) multi-stakeholder “collaborative governance” of global markets (e.g. forests, sea food, bio-fuels); 3) capacity-building business-NGO partnerships involving business philanthropy; and 4) “investment” partnerships aimed at increasing finance for sustainable development.

We will first explore the context for the emergence of business partnerships, examine the meaning and measurement of "sustainable development", and consider obstacles in both business and NGO culture to effective partnering. We will then examine case studies of the four types of partnerships in developing countries and conclude by considering what innovations in business, NGO and government practice would make partnerships more effective, scale-able and accountable. Students will work in teams to produce and orally present a collaborative case study.

Spring 2012 - MIIS

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IPOL 8623 - Sem:Bus Models for Sustain Dev      

This seminar explores the growing role of the private sector in promoting sustainable development goals in low and middle income countries through core business activities. The overarching aim of such business models is to reduce poverty and promote sustainability by: 1) stimulating access to global markets and supply chains; 2) delivering affordable and sustainable goods and services; 3) responding to the demands of climate change mitigation and adaptation; and/or 4) promoting local capacities for sustainable production. The seminar will examine case studies of five business models, ranging from small-scale, for-profit and non-profit enterprises to partnerships between multinational corporations and NGOs and/or development agencies. Students will work in teams to undertake their own case studies. Together, we will seek to draw lessons for scalability.

Fall 2010 - MIIS, Fall 2011 - MIIS

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IPOL 8665 - Sem: Climate & Development      

This seminar explores emerging thinking and practice about climate resilient, low carbon development paths. The course is in three parts. After examining the economic challenges posed by climate change, Part I defines “climate resilient development” and probes design principles and alternative models. Part II examines the challenge of financing transitions to climate resilient, low-carbon development and considers public, private, and public-private initiatives at multiple scales (from global adaptation funds to micro-asset investors). Part III explores methodologies for selecting climate resilience among alternative investment options and examines case studies of climate resilient development at the project, city, sector, and national levels. The case studies highlight the roles of public policy and multi-stakeholder collaborative governance. The course consists of one third professor lecture, one third guest speakers, and one third student-led discussions and exercises. Students will produce a case study of climate resilient development and participate in a class debate.

Spring 2011 - MIIS

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IPSG 9530 - Business and Global Issues      

Whether in business, government, or NGOs, leadership requires honing the ability to make strategic decisions in a complex, dynamic and high-risk global context -- and often in high-pressure, short-deadline work environments. This Workshop will provide students a rich and realistic opportunity to work in just such an environment.

The Workshop will provide participants with a wealth of complicated material in a variety of formats related to our case: Goldcorp’s highly conflicted Marlin gold mine in Guatemala. Students will be familiar with the case materials prior to the first meeting of the Workshop; the initial class will, through a series of group exercises, provide a platform for addressing issues of economic development, environmental risk, human rights, government policy, global business norms, chronic violence, and international trade and investment rules. How those dimensions are prioritized, conceptualized and understood will largely be student-driven, with the instructors playing a supportive role. Students will then be encouraged to explore, adapt and apply “solution” methodologies, which could include cost-benefit, risk assessment, and risk-performance analyses, scenario creation, deliberative stakeholder engagement, and supply chain reconfiguration.

Students will work in groups to combine issue knowledge and problem-solving methods to define and evaluate strategic options for different players—the company, the government, and the local communities and their NGO allies. This group work will largely be carried out in the lapse between the two class meetings; students will draw upon the expertise of GSIPM faculty (and possibly others) as needed. The second class meeting will end with a series of group presentations of their proposed solutions to the case problem, and a comparative assessment of the proposals by students and faculty.

The Workshop pilots an innovative “raw” case-study pedagogical approach to understand urgent global issues and build competencies to frame and address them. Our hope is to incorporate the lessons of this workshop to scale this approach up to a regular 2-credit course in the Fall, 2014 semester.

Spring 2014 - MIIS

More Information »

MBAG 9530 - Business and Global Issues      

Whether in business, government, or NGOs, leadership requires honing the ability to make strategic decisions in a complex, dynamic and high-risk global context -- and often in high-pressure, short-deadline work environments. This Workshop will provide students a rich and realistic opportunity to work in just such an environment.

The Workshop will provide participants with a wealth of complicated material in a variety of formats related to our case: Goldcorp’s highly conflicted Marlin gold mine in Guatemala. Students will be familiar with the case materials prior to the first meeting of the Workshop; the initial class will, through a series of group exercises, provide a platform for addressing issues of economic development, environmental risk, human rights, government policy, global business norms, chronic violence, and international trade and investment rules. How those dimensions are prioritized, conceptualized and understood will largely be student-driven, with the instructors playing a supportive role. Students will then be encouraged to explore, adapt and apply “solution” methodologies, which could include cost-benefit, risk assessment, and risk-performance analyses, scenario creation, deliberative stakeholder engagement, and supply chain reconfiguration.

Students will work in groups to combine issue knowledge and problem-solving methods to define and evaluate strategic options for different players—the company, the government, and the local communities and their NGO allies. This group work will largely be carried out in the lapse between the two class meetings; students will draw upon the expertise of GSIPM faculty (and possibly others) as needed. The second class meeting will end with a series of group presentations of their proposed solutions to the case problem, and a comparative assessment of the proposals by students and faculty.

The Workshop pilots an innovative “raw” case-study pedagogical approach to understand urgent global issues and build competencies to frame and address them. Our hope is to incorporate the lessons of this workshop to scale this approach up to a regular 2-credit course in the Fall, 2014 semester.

Spring 2014 - MIIS

More Information »

MBAG 9614 - Business,Sustainablity&Society      

This course provides a foundation in the core concepts and strategic management tools in the dynamic field of global business sustainability. The central aim of the course is to prepare students to design and lead sustainability innovations in or in partnership with global business organizations. Students will work in teams to produce a sustainability strategy for a global corporation.

The course covers six key topics:

• Global sustainability challenges and the role of business in responding to them;

• New social expectations of business and the promise and limitations of corporate social responsibility;

• Sustainability as global business strategy and opportunity;

• Business opportunity and challenges in promoting development in poor markets;

• Managing sustainability, including performance metrics, partnerships, and financing

• Public policy innovations that support business sustainability.

Fall 2013 - MIIS, Fall 2014 - MIIS

More Information »

MBAG 9623 - Sem:Bus Models for Sustain Dev      

This seminar explores the growing role of the private sector in promoting sustainable development goals in low and middle income countries through core business activities. The overarching aim of such business models is to reduce poverty and promote sustainability by: 1) stimulating access to global markets and supply chains; 2) delivering affordable and sustainable goods and services; 3) responding to the demands of climate change mitigation and adaptation; and/or 4) promoting local capacities for sustainable production. The seminar will examine case studies of five business models, ranging from small-scale, for-profit and non-profit enterprises to partnerships between multinational corporations and NGOs and/or development agencies. Students will work in teams to undertake their own case studies. Together, we will seek to draw lessons for scalability.

Spring 2013 - MIIS, Spring 2015 - MIIS

More Information »

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