Connected by oil: a framework to analyze the connected sustainability histories of the Niger and Rhine Deltas, 1950-2015

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


This article presents a mixed-methods framework for researching how sustainability gains and costs developed in, and became distributed between, distant regions connected by transcontinental resource infrastructure. We apply this framework to the oil-connected Niger and Rhine deltas from the 1950s to 2015. To study the sustainability histories of these regions in a connected and comparable way, we draw on the sustainability monitoring tool recommended by the Conference of European Statisticians and insights from qualitative secondary literature. Our study reveals: (1) Oil has indeed connected the broader sustainability histories of both regions. Consequently, we have developed a future research agenda to incorporate other oil-connected regions in the analysis. (2) Material well-being (e.g. economic growth), personal indicators (e.g. longevity), and investments in human capital (e.g. schooling) improved significantly in both Nigeria and the Netherlands, unlike environmental sustainability indicators. Notwithstanding vast differences (notably inequalities and conflicts in Nigeria), these similarities indicate that transcontinental sustainability trade-offs were no zero-sum game; these cannot be assumed, and must be examined on a case-by-case basis. (3) The framework helps to bring the sustainability histories of distant connected regions into the conversation, but should critically reflect on potential projections of anachronisms and Euro-centricities in its concept of a novel global sustainability history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-67
Number of pages18
JournalThe Extractive Industries and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • resources
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainability transitions
  • telecoupling
  • Sustainability assessment
  • Sustainability transitions; Inclusive development; Inclusive innovation; Developing countries; Niche development; Socio-technical regimes; Geography of transitions
  • Nigeria
  • Netherlands
  • Global history
  • Oil
  • shell
  • The Netherlands
  • Sustainability monitoring
  • Sustainability history
  • Sustainability telecouplings
  • Shell
  • Resources and sustainability


Dive into the research topics of 'Connected by oil: a framework to analyze the connected sustainability histories of the Niger and Rhine Deltas, 1950-2015'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this