Vanesa Castan Broto

Vanesa Castan Broto
University College London | UCL · Development Planning Unit

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118
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Publications

Publications (118)
Article
If urban life emerges within a multiplex space, what forms of change are afforded by urban environments? The urban entails a series of relations and detachments that contain popular economies and urban commons. Rather than a system, the urban becomes an amalgamation of multiple forms. Thus, urban change does not follow one-off dramatic intervention...
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Indigenous knowledge refers to the understandings, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings (UNESCO, 2018; IPCC, 2019a). Local knowledge refers to the understandings and skills developed by individuals and populations, specific to the places where they live (UNESCO, 2018; IPCC...
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The involvement of citizens and communities in processes that affect their lives and livelihoods through co-production methods has gained currency in recent years as a method to deliver place-based action capable of advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. Co-production represents a promising approach that addresses criticisms leveraged against...
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Background Off-grid and decentralized energy systems have emerged as an alternative to facilitate energy access and resilience in a flexible, adaptable way, particularly for communities that do not have reliable access to centralized energy networks both in rural and urban areas. Much research to date on community energy systems has focused on thei...
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Rapid urbanisation and global environmental transformations require rethinking the material and social configurations of cities. The concept of ‘transitions’ has gained traction to guide such processes of infrastructure change towards net-zero, resilient societies both in academic and policy conversations. In this paper, we examine what notions of...
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The concept of urban transformations has gathered interest among scholars and policymakers calling for radical change towards sustainability. The discourse represents an entry point to address systemic causes of ecological degradation and social injustice, thereby providing solutions to intractable global challenges. Yet, so far, urban transformati...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a re-examination of our societies and in particular urban health. We argue that urban health needs to address three inter-related challenge areas – the unequal impacts of climate change, changing patterns of urbanization, and the changing role of the local government – across multiple spatial scales: from individual...
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The crises that cities face—such as climate change, pandemics, economic downturn, and racism—are tightly interlinked and cannot be addressed in isolation. This paper addresses compound urban crises as a unique type of problem, in which discrete solutions that tackle each crisis independently are insufficient. Few scholarly debates address compound...
Chapter
Local governments play an increasingly important role in international climate policy. Climate action follows existing trajectories of sustainable development action at the local level. The history of climate action in cities suggests a lot of potential for learning from previous sustainability experiences. Three aspects of climate change governanc...
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Understanding China is critical to understanding global sustainability transitions. Transitions theories within the Anglophone academic tradition are limited in uncovering the deep mechanisms of China's transition dynamics. Building upon Chinese epistemologies, this viewpoint calls for a ‘correlative’ turn for transition studies on China for the ne...
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Evidence shows that current adaptation planning approaches are not always successful in generating actionable knowledge to guide implementation on the ground. There remains a persistent disconnect between the production of (physical) climate science and the implementation of practical, local, and context-specific adaptation actions. We argue for a...
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Justice dimensions are integral to research on climate change planning in cities. In this comment piece, we engage with a recently published paper by Hess and McKane [2021. “Making Sustainability Plans More Equitable: An Analysis of 50 US Cities.” Local Environment, 1–16], which examines the integration of equity considerations into sustainability...
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Near 1,500 governments worldwide, including over 1,000 local governments, have declared a climate emergency. Such declarations constitute a response to the growing visibility of social movements in international politics as well as the growing role of cities in climate governance. Framing climate change as an emergency, however, can bring difficult...
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Addressing climate change globally requires significant transformations of production and consumption systems. The language around climate action has shifted tangibly over the last five years to reflect this. Indeed, thousands of local governments, national governments, universities and scientists have declared a climate emergency. Some commentator...
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Transformations of the energy system are unfolding in China at an unprecedented scale and pace. The dynamics of China's energy transitions impact global trends of energy decarbonization. Transition theories within the Anglophone academic tradition have been used to examine this process, but they tend to misrepresent the social, cultural and politic...
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This briefing reviews the financial aspects of micro- and pico- grid community energy systems. Most guidance has been developed for micro-grids, particularly those that operate commercially. However, micro- and pico- systems, given their smaller size (1 to 50kW), may depend on different funding mechanisms than larger projects. Apart from size, the...
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Walking reveals how urban infrastructure lends identity to the urban landscape. This article focuses on the oldest water pipeline in the city of Bengaluru, India. A series of vignettes trace the linear trajectory of the walk both in terms of the spatial orientation of the pipeline, and its trajectory through time. Through space, the pipeline connec...
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Non-technical summary: We summarize some of the past year's most important findings within climate change-related research. New research has improved our understanding of Earth's sensitivity to carbon dioxide, finds that permafrost thaw could release more carbon emissions than expected and that the uptake of carbon in tropical ecosystems is weakeni...
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The growing interest in urban areas as sites for climate action has led to new ways of conceiving and planning the urban. As climate actions reshape existing understandings of what cities are or ought to be, they constitute new modalities of what recent scholarship has referred to as ‘climate urbanism’. This research has framed climate urbanism as...
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This book has explored what climate urbanism looks like, how it manifests, and what its consequences might be. In this conclusion, we reflect on the main insights provided by the different contributions gathered in this edited volume. Three different modalities of climate urbanism emerge across different chapters: ‘reactive,’ ‘entrepreneurial,’ and...
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Urban climate imaginaries are narratives about cities of the present and future that define policy expectations in a political environment increasingly shaped by climate change. This chapter examines the urban climate imaginaries contained in the policy discourse of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The most prevalent is a sectoral im...
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As climate change dramatically reshapes how we understand, imagine, live in, and intervene in cities, a New Climate Urbanism is emerging as a way to rethink and reorient urban life. In this introduction we highlight this edited volume’s key contributions to climate urbanism research and to our collective understanding of the relationship between th...
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When Cindi Katz wrote her now mythical essay on minor theory in 1996, she stressed the struggle involved in making knowledge claims for those who are marginalized. In this chapter—written more than twenty years later—we share Katz’s frustration and take her essay as a point of departure to ask what a ‘minor’ perspective on climate urbanism might be...
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As urban actors engage in climate action, their projects – from urban greening to changes in urban energy systems – reshape not just the urban built environment but also the organization of social life. This new climate urbanism invites to reimagine what it means to be urban in a climate-changed world. We propose the articulation of climate urbanis...
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This paper develops an integrated framework to study the socio-spatial and temporal dimensions of urban energy transitions to investigate the development and spread of solar energy technologies in urban China. A comparative analysis of three case studies of solar energy transitions in the cities of Foshan (in Guangdong), Rizhao (in Shandong), and W...
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In this review, we take stock of the last decade of research on climate change governance in urban areas since the 2009 conference in Copenhagen. Using a systematic evaluation of academic publications in the field, we argue that the current moment of research has been shaped by two recent waves of thought. The first, a wave of urban optimism, which...
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This paper investigates the persistence of charcoal use among the urban elite in Mozambique. The paper presents the results of a survey of 1036 households in three of the largest cities in the country: Maputo, Matola, and Beira. The analysis of the survey provides insights about the factors influencing fuel switching in these cities and the need to...
Article
Energy plays a central role in responding to emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, from ensuring adequate healthcare services to supporting households during lockdowns. Protecting the renewable energy industry and its contribution to providing sustainable energy access for all must be an urgent priority in the current crisis.
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This article examines how national energy policies in Chile constitute urban energy landscapes characterized by environmental and spatial inequalities. The concept of urban energy landscapes is deployed to explain the spatial patterns resulting from energy governance and energy conflicts in the metropolitan area of Concepción, a metropolitan region...
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Climate governance scholars have recognized the role of public participation in improving the outcomes of climate action. Nevertheless, increasing advocacy of environmental authoritarianism in the narratives of climate governance questions the need for and legitimacy of public participation. This study uncovers the emerging dynamics of climate part...
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The delivery of projects for the coproduction of services raises multiple questions about how different structural barriers prevent and hinder the participation of various sectors of the population. Intersectionality theory provides a critical lens to examine the delivery of such coproduction projects to refine any strategies to include vulnerable...
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This paper uses the example of a lost urban lake – the Dharmambudhi within the south Indian city of Bengaluru to illustrate the profound and long-standing effects of historical socio-technical infrastructural change. We demonstrate processes by which capitalist urban development and notions of the sanitary city in the nineteenth century led to the...
Book
“A critical and novel contribution from top climate social scientists examining the potential and contradictions of climate urbanism for an environmentally just and transformative development.” - Isabelle Anguelovski, ICREA Research Professor and Director, Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability, Universitat Autònoma de Bar...
Technical Report
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This working paper serves as the basis for a critical examination of the notion of knowledge co-production. First, the paper examines how the idea of knowledge co-production has emerged in relation to the parallel but distinct concept of service co-production and the participatory development planning tradition. Second, the paper examines the varie...
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The purpose of this paper is two-fold. The first part diagnoses three limitations of current thought on the urban governance of climate change. First, current action emerges within a wave of urban optimism with limited historical sensitivity to previous climate change action. Second, the mobile nature of climate change policies is overlooked in stu...
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Rather than an integrated project of modernity, the provision of energy in Mozambique is characterized by social and territorial fragmentation. Our concern in this article is with spatial-political projects that enlist energy-related infrastructure as a means of furthering national unity across the national territory. We argue that the Mozambican s...
Article
This working paper serves as the basis for a critical examination of the notion of knowledge co-production. The paper examines how the idea of knowledge co-production has emerged in relation to the parallel but distinct concept of service co-production and the participatory development planning tradition. It also examines the variety of processes o...
Book
Cambridge Core - Environmental Policy, Economics and Law - Urban Energy Landscapes - by Vanesa Castán Broto
Article
The concept of ‘nexus’ has gained popularity in urban studies to examine the interconnections between the management of resources and the provision of urban services. This article proposes a conceptualisation of the urban nexus as the contingent product of the operation of physical, ecological and social processes around urban technologies in a spe...
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Multi-level governance (MLG) theory has become the main explanation for how climate action is realized in poly-centric, multi-sector, multi-actor policy landscapes. In this paper, we examine processes of climate change governance in a given city in China, Rizhao, and evaluate how MLG arrangements operate. We do so by examining primary data collecte...
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There is a consensus about the strategic importance of cities and urban areas for achieving a global transformation towards sustainability. While there is mounting interest in the types of qualities that increase the capacity of urban systems to attain deep transformations, empirical evidence about the extent to which existing institutional and mat...
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The co-production of urban services, such as water, energy or sanitation, is a vital tool to advance service delivery and to challenge socioeconomic structures that reproduce urban inequalities. This article examines the crossovers between debates on intersectionality and the co-production of urban services. Intersectionality is a critical lens for...
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This paper advances the debate on energy justice by opening up a dialogue with postcolonial critiques of development. There is an imperative to develop energy justice theory fit to address the complex demands of a global energy transitions in poorer countries of the Global South. Delivering transformative change in contexts where energy systems are...
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This article argues that techno-economic rationalities dominate urban environmental policy interventions and sustainability discourses in China. This is so despite recent trends toward diversification of actors and participatory approaches in environmental governance. The paper is based on material collected through interviews with public officials...
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Partnerships emerge as part of an environmental governance paradigm shift towards less hierarchical, more collaborative, and non-regulative steering arrangements. This paper examines the prevalence of partnerships in environmental governance on an urban level in a semi-authoritarian setting, by exploring climate initiatives in cities in China. The...
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This paper examines how urban energy transitions are unfolding in China, in relation to the deployment of solar water heating (SWH) systems in two Chinese cities, Rizhao and Shenzhen. Cities play a significant role in the energy transition in China. Scholarly efforts have looked into the translation of top-down visions into locally actionable polic...
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This paper presents a framework to study the interdependence between urban processes and energy transitions – the Dimensions of Urban Energy Transitions (DUET) framework. The framework emerges from current debates about the need to incorporate systematically the spatial and political dimensions of urban energy transitions. We seek to develop a syst...
Chapter
This chapter argues for an understanding of energy access with reference to the users’ experiences, moving away from the characterization of energy access as a technical issue. This chapter focuses on the neighbourhood of Chamanculo C, in Maputo, Mozambique. Using quantitative and qualitative methodologies, the case shows that energy access is a co...
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This paper has two purposes: first, it makes a case for the development of energy studies perspectives that consider 'relational space' as a critical concept organising the provision and use of energy. Second, it presents an overview of this field of research with consideration of the papers included in this special issue. The argument has three pa...
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The UN-HABITAT III conference held in Quito in late 2016 enshrined the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) with an exclusively urban focus. SDG 11, as it became known, aims to make cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable through a range of metrics, indicators, and evaluation systems. It also became part of a post-Quito 'New Urba...
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An urban energy transition is needed to address the two global environmental challenges of urbanisation and increasing carbon emissions. Urban energy landscapes represent the spatial patterns of urban energy systems which are visible in the built environment. Spatial regularities in the way systems of energy provision and use are organised are mani...
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Just sustainabilities has emerged as a powerful discourse to guide local action towards sustainability. As an overarching discourse, it prescribes four policy principles: (1) addressing well-being and quality of life; (2) meeting the needs of present and future generations; (3) enabling justice and equity in terms of recognition, process, procedure...
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In this paper we examine two central concepts of urban metabolism (‘system boundaries’ and ‘flows’), and explore how to approach them as a means to politicise urban metabolism research. We present empirical findings from two case studies of waste management, in Mexico City and Santiago de Chile, looking at: the materiality of waste flows, the actor...
Book
Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique is a timely contribution to the growing literature on climate compatible development which argues for the centrality of participation in developing climate change strategies. Reporting on the experience of a pilot project in Maputo, Mozambique, the book documents the pr...
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Economic crises pose challenges for the provision of public services but may also open up opportunities for social learning about how to achieve a sustainable society. The main research question addressed in this paper is: can economic crises catalyse social learning for a sustainable society? The hypothesis of the paper is that social learning eme...
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This paper engages with debates about the need for a deeper theorization of the political and spatial aspects of socio-technical transitions by examining the relevance of the concept of political technology for this body of theory. Political technologies are systematic and applied frameworks deployed to advance specific strategies to transform gove...
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This paper presents an analysis of contradictions in urban low carbon transitions as engines of change. Following Kojève's reading of contradiction in Hegel's oeuvre, I argue that contradiction is a constitutive feature of low carbon interventions. This is an alternative to conventional readings of contradiction as a provisional encounter of opposi...
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This paper proposes a rights-based approach for participatory urban planning for climate change adaptation in urban areas. Participatory urban planning ties climate change adaptation to local development opportunities. Previous discussions suggest that participatory urban planning may help to understand structural inequalities, to gain, even if tem...
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The authors examine partnerships as a policy strategy for climate change governance in cities in the Global South. Partnerships offer the opportunity to link the actions of diverse actors operating at different scales and, thus, they may be flexible enough to deal with uncertain futures and changing development demands. However, simultaneously, par...
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Infrastructure systems face a number of pressing challenges relating to demographics, environment, finance and governance pressures. Furthermore, infrastructure mediates the way in which everyday lives are conducted; their form and function creating a persistence of unsustainable practice and behaviour that cannot be changed even if change is desir...
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What is the role of energy in building communities and to what extent are communities invested in particular energy practices? The hypothesis of this paper is that energy is embedded in the everyday life of urban communities in multiple ways. The assemblage of shared understandings within the community and the material elements that mediate the pro...
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In this article we consider the impact of shock in hospital emergency departments where people seek urgent medical care and access hospital services. We define shock as an unexpected event or set of circumstances, for although emergency departments plan for uncertainty, shock moments are when protocols and procedures fail to meet operational demand...
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This paper explores the potential for learning from infrastructure shocks to develop strategic visions of infrastructure. The paper departs from theories of systems innovation, which understand infrastructure transitions as socio-technical re-configurations over long periods of time. The paper presents a complementary hypothesis to those theories a...
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Interest in the role that cities can play in climate change as sites of transformation has increased but research has been limited in its practical applications and there has been limited consideration of how policies and technologies play out. These challenges necessitate a re-thinking of existing notions of urban governance in order to account fo...
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In this viewpoint I argue for a perspective on climate change in African cities that focuses on challenges and also opportunities for action. Delivering climate change adaptation in cities in the first instance requires addressing immediate infrastructure and service provision needs, because increasing climate change resilience in cities also requi...
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People's experiences of a polluted space are intimately linked with their relative concerns for quality of life and livelihoods. Thus quality of environment and security of employment are two closely related issues in social conflicts over environmental pollution. Rather than being implicated in a trade-off relationship, environmental quality and j...