Personal profile

Research interests

Mukhtarov is Assistant Professor of Governance and Public Policy at the International Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University Singapore. Mukhtarov studied and worked at universities in England, the Netherlands, Hungary, Azerbaijan and Singapore. Mukhtarov’s research can be summarised in three broad themes: water governance, politics of knowledge, and theories of policy-making. Geographically, Farhad’s work has covered Western Europe, the larger Mediterranean, and Central and South-Eastern Asia. He currently develops research in the South Caucasus.

Mukhtarov served on various expert panels, such as convened by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2019), the United Nations Environmental Programme (2017-2019), and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2007-2009). Mukhtarov was a lead author of the UN-Environment's flagship publication – the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook published in 2018. He received the Prose Award for Environmental Sciences for this contribution. He is a recipient of various grants, scholarships and fellowships, including those by the European Commission, Open Society Institute, Foreign Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom (Chevening), the European Science Foundation and the Netherlands Research Council (NWO). Mukhtarov delivered keynote addresses at international conferences at the National University of Singapore (2020) and the Higher School of Economics of Russia (2021). Mukhtarov has also served as a Chairman of the Academic Council at the ADA University in 2014-2016 in Azerbaijan and a coordinator of a Major at ISS-EUR in 2020-2023. He currently serves on the committee of four doctoral students.

Mukhtarov published over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles in international academic journals and a few dozen of book chapters, review essays, public interviews, policy reports, and professional magazine contributions. Since 2020, Mukhtarov is an Associate Editor of Environmental Science & Policy, an Elsevier published academic journal with an impact factor of 6,424 in 2022. His work was cited by UN agencies and IPCC.

Research Interests in Detail

Mukhtarov studies the intersection of public policy and the environment in the context of international development. Broadly speaking, dr. Mukhtarov is interested in understanding the role of knowledge in politics, especially in a transnational context where global policy ideas influence national and local policy practices and vice versa. Over the years, he developed several lines in his research as follows. dr. Mukhtarov would be interested to supervise Ph.D. students working on one of the themes below.

Policy Translation, Policy Mobility and Narratives

dr. Mukhtarov remains interested in studying how, and to what effect, environmental and water policy innovations/models travel across various borders (often from Global North to Global South, but also from South to South and from South to North). This research line concerns itself with the three categories of policy translation during such cross-jurisdictional travel: the politics of meaning, the politics of scale and the politics of contingency (see page on Policy Translation on his blog for more details, or read Mukhtarov, 2014).

Knowledge Pluralism (or Social Inclusivity) in Water Governance

dr. Mukhtarov is also interested in how policy-makers and public managers can make use of multiple ways of knowing in public policy and governance. Scientific knowledge is only one type of knowledge, there is also knowledge based on rituals, practices and values. They all are valuable and need to be included in the policy-making process for normative/legitimacy and effectiveness reasons.

At the moment, supported by a UNIC seed fund and together with colleagues at the University of Liege and University College Dublin, Farhad is developing a research project on how civil service in the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland may be strengthened to be receptive to multiple ways of knowing water, especially in preparing for and responding to floods in such contexts.

Commodification and Mobilisation (Making Mobile) of Water Governance Expertise through Hydro-Hubs (e.g. the Netherlands, Singapore, Turkey)

This is the most recent research interest that sprung out of the empirical observation of various ethical and political dilemmas around the use of global water governance and international water cooperation by the Northern countries/cities to pursue the twin goals of a) development in aid/investment recipient countries (often Global South) and b) profits for cities/countries in the Global North. The rise of neo-liberalism and financialisation in international aid, aid and trade and, arguably, global water governance, raises serious issues around effectiveness, equity, fairness and power that need to be researched.

Within this line of inquiry, dr. Mukhtarov is interested in understanding the role of branding, networking and soft-power in the global field of water governance, with the focus on the Netherlands as a case in point. For more information, you can read this blog post. As part of the research on commodification of water governance expertise, Farhad is also busy with the study of the OECD discourses on water governance and the emphasis that OECD places on "good governance" and "partnerships" between public and private sectors.

Water Management in the South Caucasus and Azerbaijan

In line with the earlier themes, dr. Mukhtarov is currently developing cooperation with Khazar University, Azerbaijan, within the framework of an Eramus+ mobility grant (2023-2026). The theme of collaboration is water security in Azerbaijan. In addition, a UNIC seed grant from the European Commission that Farhad leads together with colleagues from Koc University and University of Oulu, as well as Deltares Research Institute, is meant to set-up a collaborative platform for a dialogue on transboundary water management in the South Caucasus. dr. Muktharov also received a starter grant from the Erasmus University Rotterdam to explore water security, border imaginaries and lived experience of water users in Azerbaijan's border regions (2023 to 2027) as part of a team science project to examine water, securitisation and border imaginaries. 

You can read an interview with dr. Muktharov on his research here.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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