Researcher biography

Daniel Franks is Professor and Deputy Director (Research) at The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute. One of the world's top 2% of scientists by citation impact, he is known internationally for his work on the interconnections between minerals, materials and sustainable development, with a particular focus on the role of minerals in poverty reduction.  He has introduced a number of key concepts in development studies including ‘mineral poverty’, ‘mineral security,’ and ‘development minerals,’ and has worked with a wide range of partners to introduce sustainability innovations in the private and public sectors, including breakthrough solutions to drastically reduce mine waste, and the introduction and widespread international adoption of ‘social impact management plans,’ a regulatory tool for the governance of private sector development.

He was Chief Technical Advisor at the United Nations Development Programme; is a member of the scientific board of UNESCO’s International Geosciences Programme; is an advisor to UN Secretary General’s Working Group on Transforming the Extractive Industries for Sustainable Development; supported the United Nations Environment Programme to implement the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) Resolution on Mineral Resource Governance; and was a working group member of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network that provided technical advice on the formulation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The grandson of an artisanal miner, in 2018 he Chaired the First International Conference on Artisanal and Small-scale Mining and Quarrying, which was opened by the President of Zambia, and he spearheaded the ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya Declaration on Artisanal and Small-scale Mining, Quarrying and Development,’ ensuring it reflected the voices of informal miners. He subsequently established the Delve Exchange knowledge network of artisanal and small-scale miners with the World Bank, which was awarded a Global Good Award for Educational Excellence in 2023.  His research was publicly cited by the Chief Operating Officer of the International Council on Mining and Metals as “academic research that has changed the mineral industry.”

He is the author of more than 160 publications, including 37 publications for the United Nations. His research has appeared in journals such as Nature Sustainability and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and is available in 11 languages. He is an Editorial Board Member of the International Journal of Minerals Policy & Economics, as well as Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal and has field experience at more than 100 mining and energy sites and 40 countries.