Associate Professor & Associate Dean, Graduate Studies

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies

Simron Singh
519-888-4567 x33111
EV3 4227


My research lies at the interface of industrial ecology, ecological economics and social ecology, with a focus on small islands.  I am founding member of the Waterloo Industrial Ecology Group (WIEG). Drawing on the concepts of social metabolism, socioecological tipping points, and sustainability transitions, I study the systemic links between material and energy use, time-use and human wellbeing. I am particularly interested in the metabolism of small islands and the sustainability challenges they face in the context of climate change and extreme weather events. My current geographical focus is the Mediterranean and in the Caribbean. I have played lead roles in several EU projects related to environmental justice, resource distributional conflicts, and on the social and political dimensions of payment for ecosystem services. My work in the Nicobar Islands in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami has received considerable science and media attention, with profile in journals Science and NatureNew Scientist, and a documentary film, Aftermath. My two recent (edited) volumes are: Long-term Socioecological Research (Springer) and Sustainability of Local Food Systems (Springer). 

I welcome supervision on topics related to the above questions, preferably using islands as cases.


PhD in Human Ecology, Lund University, Sweden

Masters in Ecology and Environment, Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment, India

B.A. in English, University of Delhi, India

Current research projects and engagements

  • Sustainable Samothraki (Greece)
  • Hungry Cities Partnership: Informality, inclusive growth and food security in cities of the Global South
  • Peak Population and Future Canadian Food Requirements: Implications for Human Nutrition and Earth’s Carrying Capacity (SSHRC Insight Grant)
  • Governance, Institutions and Water Metabolism: Developing an Operational Framework for the Caribbean (Funded by the Water Institute)
  • CIW - Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) (Research Associate)
  • WISIR - The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (Board member)

Past projects

  • ROBIN - Role of Biodiversity in Climate Change Mitigation in Latin America
  • EJOLT – Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade (EU funded)
  • ALTER-Net: A Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network (EU funded)
  • RECOVER - Research on Coping with Vulnerability to Environmental Risk (Nicobar Islands, India) (Austrian Science Fund - FWF)
  • CEECEC – Civil Society Engagement with Ecological Economics (EU funded)
  • Jamaica’s socioeconomic metabolism and patterns of material use in the context of global and regional trade (Funded by UW-SSHRC Seed Grant)

Research communities

  • International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE)
  • International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE)
  • Society for Human Ecology (SHE)
  • International Small Islands Studies Association (ISISA)

Select recent publications

  • Grima, N. & Singh, S.J. (2019). How the end of armed conflicts influence forest cover and subsequently ecosystem services provision? An analysis of four case studies in biodiversity hotspots. Land Use Policy. Vol. 81, pg. 267-275. Elsevier.

  • Singh, S.J., Fischer-Kowalski, M., Haas, W. (2018). The Sustainability of Humanitarian Aid: The Nicobar Islands as a Case of ‘Complex Disaster. In: Reddy, S. (eds.): The Asian Tsunami and Post-Disaster Aid. Springer

  • Fraňková, E. Haas, W., Singh, S. (2018). Socio-Metabolic Perspectives on the Sustainability of Local Food Systems: Insights for Science, Policy and Practice. Dordrecht: Springer. (Book)

  • Fetzel, T., Petridis, P., Noll, D., Singh, S.J., Fischer-Kowalski, M. (2018). Reaching a socio-ecological tipping point: Overgrazing on the Greek island of Samothraki and the role of European agricultural policies. Land Use Policy, Elsevier. 

  • Grima, N., Singh, S., Smetschka, B. (2018). Improving Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) outcomes through the use of Multi-Criteria Evaluation (MCE) and the software OPTamos. Ecosystem Services. Vol. 29, pg. 47-55.

  • Grima, N., Singh, S.J., Smetschka, B. (2017). Decision making in a complex world: Using OPTamos in a multi-criteria process for land management in the Cuitzmala watershed in Mexico. Land Use Policy, Vol. 67, pg. 73 – 85.

    Grima, N., Ringhofer, L., Singh, S.J., Smetschka, B., Lauk, C. (2017). Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Development Practice: Can the Concept of PES Deliver? Progress in Development Studies.

  • Hules, M. & Singh, S.J. (2017). India’s land grab deals in Ethiopia: Food security or global politics? Land Use Policy 60. Pg. 343 – 351

  • Petridis, P., Fischer-Kowalski, M., Singh, S.J., Noll, D. (2017). The role of science in sustainability transitions: citizen science, transformative research, and experiences from Samothraki island, Greece. Island Studies Journal. Vol. 12 (1). Pg. 115-134

  • Hausknost, D., Grima, N., Singh, S.J. (2016). The Political Dimensions of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES): Cascade or Stairway? Ecological Economics

  • Singh, S.J. & Haas, W. (2016): Complex Disasters on the Nicobar Islands. In: Haberl et al. (eds.). Social Ecology. Society – Nature relations across time and space. Springer. 

  • Winiwarter, V., Schmid, M., Haberl, H. & Singh, S.J. (2016): Why Legacies Matter. Merits of a Long-Term Perspective. In: Haberl et al. (eds.). Social Ecology. Society – Nature relations across time and space. Springer. 

  • Hausknost, D., Gaube, V., Haas, W., Smetschka, B., Lutz., Singh, S.J., & Schmid, M. (2016): "Society Can’t Move so much as a chair!” - Systems, Structures, and Actors in Social Ecology. In: Haberl et al. (eds.). Social Ecology. Society – Nature relations across time and space. Springer. 

  • Grima, N., Singh, S.J., Smetschka, B., Ringhofer, L. (2016). Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Latin America: Analyzing the Performance of 40 case studies. Ecosystem Services 17, p. 24 – 32.
  • Singh, S.J. Smetschka, B., Grima, N., Ringhofer, L., Petridis, P., Biely, K. (2016): Social Multi-Criteria Evaluation in Theory and Practice. Introducing OPTamos. Social Ecology Working Paper 160, Vienna.  
  • Ringhofer, L., Singh, S.J., Fischer-Kowalski, M. (2014). Beyond Boserup: The Role of Working Time in Agricultural Development. In: Fischer-Kowalski et al. (eds.). Ester Boserup’s Legacy on Sustainability. Springer. Pg. 117 – 138.
  • Ringhofer, L., Singh, S.J., Smetschka, B. (2013). Climate Change Mitigation in Latin America: A Mapping of Current Policies, Plans and Programs. Social Ecology Working Paper No. 143.
  • Singh, S.J., Haberl, H., Schmid, M., Mirtl, M., Chertow, M. (eds.) (2013). Long-term Socio-ecological Research: Studies in society-nature interactions across spatial and temporal scales. Springer Dordrecht. (Book)
  • Singh, S.J., Krausmann, F., Gingrich, S., Haberl, H. & Erb, K.H., Lanz, P., Martinez-Alier, J., Temper, L. (2012). India’s Biophysical Economy, 1961 – 2008. Sustainability in a national and global context. Ecological Economics 76, pp. 60-69
  • Ramanujam, R.V. and Singh, S.J., Vatn, A. (2012). From the ashes into the fire: Institutional change in the post-tsunami central Nicobar Islands. Society and Natural Resources. Vol. 25 (11). pp. 1152-1166. 
  • Singh, S.J. & Eisenmenger, N. (2011). How unequal is international trade? A biophysical perspective. Journal für Entwicklungspolitik (JEP) [Austrian Journal for Development Studies]. Special issue on Bridging the Social and the Natural in Development Studies. Guest editors: Singh, S.J. & Köhler, B. Vol. 26(4). Mattersburger Kreis: Vienna
  • Fischer-Kowalski, Marina, Singh, Simron J., Ringhofer, Lisa, Grünbühel, Clemens M., Lauk, Christian, and Remesch, Alexander (2011): Socio-metabolic transitions in subsistence communities. Boserup Revisted. In: Human Ecology Review. Vol. 18 (2).
  • Fischer-Kowalski, M., Xenidis, L., Singh, S.J., Pallua, I. (2011). Transforming the Greek Island of Samothraki into a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: An Experience in Transdisciplinarity. GAIA – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society. Vol. 20 (3). pp 181-190. Oekom Verlag.
  • Singh, S.J. & Haas, W. (2012): Aid, metabolism and social conflicts in the Nicobar Islands. In: Hali Healy, Martinez-Alier, J., Temper, L., Walter, M., Gerber, J-F (eds.). Ecological Economics from the Ground Up. Earthscan | Routledge
  • Singh, S. J. & Dudley, N. (2012): Ecosystem Services in Rural Areas and Natural Resource Management. In: Wittmer, H. & Gundimeda, H. (eds.). The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity for Local and Regional Policy and Management. Earthscan | Routledge
  • Wildenberg, Martin and Singh, Simron J. (2012): Integrated modelling and scenario building for the Nicobar Islands in the aftermath of the Tsunami. In: Glaser, B. et al. (Eds.):  Human/Nature Interaction in the Anthropocene. Potentials for Socio-Ecological Systems Analysis. Routledge.
  • Singh, S.J. (2011). Chupon’s Dilemma. A Dialogue. In: Venkateshwar, S. & Hughes, E. (eds.). The Politics of Indigeneity. Dialogues and Reflections on Indigenous Activism. ZED Books: London &New York. 
  • Singh, Simron J., Haberl, Helmut, Gaube, Veronika, Grünbühel, Clemens M., Lisievici, P., Lutz, Juliana, Matthews, Robin, Mirtl, Michael, Vadineanu, Angheluta, and Wildenberg, Martin (2010): Conceptualising long-term socio-ecological research (LTSER): Integrating socio-economic dimensions into long-term ecological research. In: Müller, F. et al. (Eds.):  Long-Term Ecological Research, Between Theory and Application. Berlin: Springer.
  • Singh, S.J. and Ramanujam, R. V. (2010): Exploring ecological 'unequal' exchange using land and labour appropriation: trade in the Nicobar Islands, 1880-2000. In: Hornborg, A. and Jorgensen, A.K. (Eds.):  International Trade and Environmental Justice: Toward a Global Political Ecology. Burleigh Heads: Nova Press.
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