Dr Divya Narain

Research Associate, Oxford Sustainable Finance Group


Divya Narain is Research Associate in Nature Finance at the Oxford Sustainable Finance Group, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford. Her work involves designing a bankable, scalable and replicable financial architecture for resourcing nature recovery projects.

Divya is an interdisciplinary researcher interested in the impact of economic development on the natural world. Divya is trying to explore how the financial sector, which indirectly drives this impact, can be leveraged to minimize it. It was her fascination with ‘follow the money’ type research, that led Divya to pursue her PhD at the University of Queensland, Australia, which she completed in 2022.

Divya’s PhD thesis titled ‘Biodiversity Risks and Safeguards of Global Infrastructure Finance: The Case of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)’ scrutinized the scale and severity of biodiversity risks associated with global infrastructure financing, using the case study of BRI – the biggest infrastructure development and investment programme in history. She also examined how these risks translate into nature-related financial risks that can manifest not just at the firm level but also at the broader macro-economic scale. In addition, Divya assessed the adequacy of financier safeguard systems in place to mitigate these risks.

Divya’s work has been published in high-ranking journals including Nature Sustainability, Science, One Earth and Conservation Biology.  Her research has been featured in prominent media including The Guardian, ABC National radio, China Dialogue and The Conservation.

Prior to her PhD, Divya worked as Senior Associate with Mumbai-based Sustainability consultancy Environmental Management Centre (EMC). She holds a Master’s in Biodiversity Conservation and Management (BCM) from the School of Geography and the Environment (SoGE), University of Oxford and was also a Biodiversity fellow at Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS), Department of Biology, University of Oxford.


Peer-reviewed articles

Narain D. 2023. Animal agriculture’s potential financial risks. Science 379 (6630), 341-342.

Narain D, Teo HC, Lechner AM, Watson JEM, Maron M. 2022. Biodiversity risks and safeguards of China’s hydropower financing in BRI countries. One Earth, 5(9), pp.1019-1029.

Bull JW, Sonter LJ, Gordon A, Maron M, Narain D, Reside AE, Sánchez LE, Shumway N, von Hase A, Quétier F. 2022. Quantifying the “avoided” biodiversity impacts associated with economic development. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 20 (6), 370-378

Narain D, Maron M, Teo HC, Hussey K, Lechner AM. 2020. Best-practice biodiversity safeguards for Belt and Road Initiative’s financiers. Nature Sustainability:1-8.

Narain D & Maron M. 2017. Cost-shifting and Other Perverse Incentives in Biodiversity Offsetting: The Case of Compensatory Afforestation in India. Conservation Biology 32 (4): 782–788.

Narain D & Maron M. 2016. Protecting India’s Conservation Offsets. Science 353:758-758.

Narain D, Sonter LJ, Lechner AM, Watson JEM, Simmonds JS, Maron M. Development Finance for Infrastructure Falls Short on Biodiversity Safeguards. Conservation Biology (in press)



Narain D, Bull JW, Alikhanova S, Evans MC, Markham R, Maron M. 2022. A step change needed to secure a nature-positive future—Is it in reach? One Earth. 5(6):589-92

Watson JEM, Simmonds JS, Narain D, Ward M, Maron M, Maxwell SL. 2021. Talk is cheap: Nations must act now to achieve long-term ambitions for biodiversity. One Earth, 4 (7), 897-900

Narain D. 2020. The Financial Case for Biodiversity Safeguards for China's Belt and Road Initiative, Springer Nature Sustainability Community (Blog).

Narain D. 2020. The Belt and Road Initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals: BRI’s Biodiversity Opportunity. One Earth 3 (3), 263-267 (‘Voices’ at One Earth).

Narain D. 2011. A Case for Voluntary Biodiversity Offsets in India: From Business Risk to Competitive Advantage. Forest Trends, Washington, DC, USA.


Book/Report Chapter

Narain D. and Maron M. 2022. Environmental Safeguards for the Belt and Road Initiative: Current Status and Future Prospects. In: The Development Corridors Partnership (2021). Impact Assessment for Corridors: From Infrastructure to Development Corridor. Hobbs, J. and Juffe-Bignoli, D. (eds.). Cambridge: The Development Corridors Partnership (In press).