Honorary Research Associate
Tel: 011 726 5734, 083 325 7792
Email: davidfig@iafrica.com

Ph.D. (LSE) BSc Econ (Hons) (LSE) BA (UCT) NC Water Pollution Control (UNISA)

Academic Profile

Dr David Fig trained as a political economist and has also practiced as an environmental sociologist. His area of research includes Southern Africa and Latin America, specifically looking at energy, biodiversity, food and agriculture, corporate behaviour, environmental policy and South-South relations. He is currently a Fellow of the Transnational Institute, a global think-tank linking scholarship and activism, based in Amsterdam. He also has research links with the Society, Work and Development Institute's Nature and Society Cluster and the Department of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has consulted for the Department of Environmental Affairs, Greenpeace, Wits School of Environment, Southern Africa Resource Watch, International Social Science Council, African Biodiversity Network, Southern Africa Catholic Bishops' Conference Justice and Peace Programme, and many others.

He is chair of the board of Biowatch South Africa, an NGO concerned with agro-ecology, food sovereignty and biosafety. He is a past office bearer of LEAD Southern Africa, the International Sociology Association Research Committee on Environment and Society, and the African Uranium Alliance. His publications include books, monographs, book chapters and journal articles, some of which have appeared in French, Portuguese, Spanish and German. He has taught at UCT and Wits Universities, and engaged in training programmes in a number of Southern African countries.

Research Interests

Energy politics in South Africa, including unconventional gas Uranium and the nuclear fuel chain in Africa Corporate accountability in and legacy of the extractive industries in Africa The social and environmental impacts of the food and agriculture complex in Southern Africa The monocrop frontiers in Latin American and African agriculture South-South politics


  • Fig, D. and T. Boersma 2014 (in press) 'Fracking the Karoo: An Exploration of Economic, Environmental, and Institutional Issues Related to Shale Gas Extraction in South Africa', in Scholvin, S. and G. Struever (eds), A New Scramble for Africa? The Rush for Energy Resources Southwards of the Sahara Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate.
  • Fig, D. 2014 (in press) 'Reluctant Embrace: Renewable Energy in South Africa' in Shome, P. and P. Sharma (eds), Emerging Economies in the New World Order: Food Security, Energy Security and the Role of Technology and Innovation, New Delhi: Springer.
  • Wynberg, R.P. and D. Fig. 2014 'Realising Environmental Rights: Civic Action, Leverage and Litigation', pp. 310-340 in Langford, M., B. Cousins, J. Dugard and T. Madlingozi (eds), Socio-Economic Rights in South Africa : Symbols or Substance?, New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Fig, D. 2013 'South Africa and the BRICS', Pp. 50-58 in F. Mello (ed.), The BRICS and Social Participation from the Perspective of Civil Society Organizations. Brasilia: Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (INESC) with Rede Brasileira pela Integração dos Povos (REBRIP)(also in Portuguese).
  • Fig, D. 2013 'Hydraulic Fracturing in South Africa: Correcting the Democratic Deficits' Pp. 173-194 in J. Daniel, P Naidoo, D Pillay and R Southall (eds), New South African Review 3. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.
  • Wynberg, R.P. and D. Fig. 2013. A Landmark Victory for Justice: Biowatch's Battle with the South African State and Monsanto: The Inside Story Durban: Biowatch South Africa.
  • Fig, D. 2012 'Scientific, Agricultural and Environmental Collaboration in the IBSA Dialogue Forum, 2003-2010', Pp. in S Patel and T Uys (eds.), Contemporary India and South Africa: Legacies, Identities and Dilemmas. New Delhi: Routledge.
  • Fig, D. 2011. 'Corrosion and Externalities: The Socio-Economic Impacts of Acid Mine Drainage on the Witwatersrand', Pp. 300-320 in J Daniel, P Naidoo, D Pillay and R Southall (eds), New South African Review 2: New Paths, Old Compromises. Johannesburg: Wits University Press
  • Fig, D. 2010 'Darkness and Light: Assessing the South African Energy Crisis', Pp. 116-136 in W Freund and H Witt (eds.) Development Dilemmas in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Pietermaritzburg: UKZN Press.
  • Fig, D. 2010 Governance and Radioactivity: Managing Namibia's Uranium Resources.. Johannesburg: Southern Africa Resource Watch.
  • Fig, D. 2010 Nuclear Energy Rethink? The Rise and Demise of South Africa's Pebble Bed Modular Reactor. Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies.
  • Fig, D. (ed.) 2007 Staking Their Claim: Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility in South Africa Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.
  • Fig, D. 2005 Uranium Road: Questioning South Africa's Nuclear Direction. Johannesburg: Jacana.