Turning livelihoods to rubbish? Assessing the impacts of formalization and technologization of waste management on the urban poor

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Environment, Education and Development

Abstract

Waste reuse and recycling has become increasingly important to livelihoods, particularly in the Global South. As environmental concerns and awareness of the financial benefits of waste rise, there is growing contestation over who will be allowed to benefit from waste. Formalisation, financialisation, the use of technology to replace labour and shared governance responsibilities are increasing, and this often removes opportunities from the poorest of the poor and typically excludes those who already depend on this resource for their livelihoods, particularly women, youth, and migrants.

The research will look at four interventions in South Africa: i) The technologization of waste and opposition from informal recyclers and environmentalists. We do this through an examination of opposition to an incinerator based on the claim that recycling is better for the environment and the poor. ii) The internationalisation of waste finance. We will study a group of actors trying to harness international climate finance to fund this development. iii) Inner city formalization and criminalization of waste collection. The vision of many policy makers and business interests of a 'proper city' often contrasts with the way that informal workers use the city. In trying to establish this vision, informal workers are often excluded from the city, however, many oppose such removals. iv) Cooperative governance for waste management. A government-funded waste awareness campaign seeks to develop partnerships with communities and businesses to improve waste management. However, community participation has challenged the framing of win-win solutions, pushing for greater consideration of social and political concerns.

In each case, we seek to understand competing claims over what waste is, who should benefit from its management, and how decisions are made to allocate costs and benefits. We will also examine how changing political and institutional conditions shape different actors' abilities to garner benefits from waste and achieve sustainable pathways out of poverty. This has direct policy implications, as the work will inform policy-makers regarding what types of waste interventions can improve conditions for the urban poor as well as build capacity with waste workers regarding effective strategies for asserting claims to the benefits of waste. Theoretically, we use an urban political ecology framework which draws attention to questions of social justice, inequality, and the connection between political economy and everyday material lives. We
situate our research in the context of Southern theory which seeks to understand Southern cities on their own terms, not through theories developed in the Global North.

We seek to learn from South Africa because many patterns here are indicative of future possibilities and challenges for other cities in the Global South. Consumption is growing as incomes rise for the middle and upper class, and inequality increases. While problematic in many ways, this polarisation creates opportunities for waste collection. Additionally, South Africa already has progressive regulation, but this results in competing mandates. It suggests that more is needed than simply passing more policies. Finally, South Africa is in many ways at the forefront of technological innovation, but there is a growing trend towards the use of high tech solutions throughout the Global South. For these reasons, there are many lessons which can be learned in South Africa which will have a wider impact.

We will will engage with a diverse range of stakeholders, including formal and informal waste practitioners, government officials, and NGOs. We will present our findings in a number of ways, including academic conferences, policy briefings, and workshops with local and regional stakeholders. We will also create a mobile story-telling exhibition to share our findings.

Planned Impact

Our impact strategy involves six key outputs, including workshops, policy briefings, case study descriptions for African planning schools and a story-telling exhibition and print media and a website. A Key Stakeholder Workshop (W1) will be held in Johannesburg within 3 months of starting the project, combined with an advisory board meeting including a DFID representative. W1 will include partners from whom we have received principled support (suggesting a readiness for engagement with waste interventions in South Africa) and form a critical step in grounding research questions, methods and outputs in the local context and planning to enhance impacts. Three organizations work closely with informal waste workers: groundWork, South African Waste Pickers Association, and WIEGO. Furthermore, we have established relationships with CSIR, the state-led scientific research organization; GCRO, with experience in quantitative statistics, maps and policy analysis in the Johannesburg city-region; and the Capital Cities Initiative at UP and a lead researcher, Dr Detlev Krige. We have experience working with local governments in Cape Town, Pretoria/Tshwane, and will ensure thatcontacts are established in Durban. These organisations will share experiences on increasing impact. Further, we will have participation from Drs Jon Silver and Shuiab Lwasa, who will be our primary contacts for considering the implications of theresearch for Ghana and Uganda respectively.

Early in the third year, after field work and preliminary analysis, a stakeholder workshop will be held in Pretoria, building on contacts during field work. Later that year we will organize a regional workshop (W3) with researchers from cities in Southern Africa to extend the impact of our work. We will draw on the literature as well as established networks through the Capital Cities Initiative, African Centre for Cities (Univ of Cape Town/Ernstson), the African Urban Research Initiative (AURI) and UoM to identify relevant scholars. The project includes an analogue/digital story-telling exhibition based on the research. The exhibition will be mobile and used by us and our partners in the different cities during the last year, including in Manchester and published on the project website.

Benefits to non-academic users:
Formal and informal waste industry: These actors are influenced by the interventions and will likely gain benefits and/or suffer losses. Our aim is to empower workers through information and skill building regarding policy engagement. Policymakers: Our work informs multiple scales of policy processes and the negotiation of competing mandates. Researchwill help municipalities assess specific interventions and prioritize among options. The analysis will indicate what an enabling policy environment for job creation from waste might entail here and elsewhere. Beneficiaries will be engaged in W1-3.

Urban planning teachers and students: We will write up pedagogic case studies for African universities' planning schools to contribute to the need for new teaching materials in facing the rapid and novel dynamics of African urbanization, distributedthrough the Association of African Planning Schools.

Civil society: Environmental justice NGOs who have worked with informal wasteworkers will gain understanding of what makes for successful claims and strategies. These beneficiaries will be invited to participate in W2-3.

The general public: Wasteworkers frequently experience negative interactions with the public; improving this relationship will make it easier to extract value from waste. We will work with a professional facilitator, a photographer and a media designer to make information available in multiple forms, including a mobile story-telling exhibition. Regional stakeholders: We will expand the impact of our work through engagement with scholars throughout Southern Africa (W3).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Turning Livelihoods to Rubbish? 
Description This film, one of the primary outputs of the broader Turning Livelihoods to Rubbish? project, introduces a creative look at the politics of waste in Cape Town, South Africa. This film is designed to highlight the unequal, power-laden relations through which waste circulates, and to offer insight into an industry that is often out of sight. Drawing from interviews with a number of different role players within the waste economy, the film highlights different perspectives on waste in order to call attention to some of the central tensions of the industry. The film situates waste management within a city defined by intense inequality and unevenness, highlighting the perspectives of reclaimers who perform much of the necessary collection of recyclables. Current efforts to formalize waste management and recycling initiatives have implications for informal waste pickers or reclaimers, who do much of the primary work with waste in the global south. Our film subsequently highlights the often fraught relationships between waste reclaimers and the formal waste management sector. The title of the film - Turning Livelihoods to Waste? - is designed to raise a serious of questions about ongoing processes of formalization in the waste sector and the implications for those who currently work in the waste sector. Many who work with waste in South Africa work as waste pickers or reclaimers, and they are often subjected to extremely difficult work conditions. Ongoing attempts to formalize these systems threaten their livelihoods, creating new uncertainties and vulnerabilities. At the same time, there are serious questions about whether reclaimers should be expected to work in dangerous conditions, and what sorts of alternative arrangements may be more just and more ecologically sustainable. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact The film has recently been launched on the Situated UPE Collective website with accompanying resources. There are plans to screen it to different undergraduate and graduate classes, and possibly as several forthcoming conferences and events. 
URL http://www.situatedupe.net/tlr/turning-livelihoods-to-rubbish/
 
Description The relationship between waste and urban socio-ecological sustainability is well-noted in political and environmental realms. In line with wider discourses of ecological modernization, there has been a strong effort in recent decades to render waste economically productive. Doing so has become a major strategy for combining economic gain with ecological sensibility. Our central contention developed from our work runs counter to this prevailing discursive shift. Drawing on empirical work from various waste sectors in South Africa, we demonstrate that when viewed holistically, waste is first and foremost a problem. Although waste is also an industry that has provided economic benefits for many individuals and organizations, profits are only achievable when valuable components are separated from the wider waste process and/or environmental and social protections are inadequate. Efforts to make waste financially self-sufficient likely contribute to overall costs of waste management through the separation of valuable and valueless materials, enabling the capture of value by some and greater burdens for others, and leaving environmental protections underfunded. Interventions, then, must be designed to motivate waste minimization rather than grow a waste industry. We argue for a rejection of this discursive shift and a return to framing waste as a problem (not opportunity). This includes developing and supporting interventions that draw on such recognition.

This key finding is developed through our examinations of the economies of waste and an emphasis on labour within the waste sector. While our initial focus placed greater emphasis on shifts within the number and types of work, our data suggested the importance of placing these questions within a wider context and examining the relationship between discourse, political economy and the extraction of value at different points along the waste stream. We found that, in the prevailing mode of waste-as-industry, each node in the waste stream sought to turn a profit. They deployed many strategies through which to do so. Each strategy resulted in profits to individuals or organizations through breaking down the waste stream, capturing items with value and relegating less valuable items to other parties. Profit margins are typically small, placing great pressure both in the formal and informal sector to maximize the value of labour, displace costs, and garner subsidies.

Our sub-project on waste pickers in Gauteng Province showed that, as has been demonstrated in the literature more widely, pickers select only items for reuse or recycling. Some of these workers are able to earn an income above the going rates for 'unskilled' labour in the formal market. They do so through strategies of negotiation and exclusion, laying claim to valuable objects while leaving less valuable objects for the state or formal sector private actors. Doing so is not without conflict: many other parties are equally interested in separating waste flows and laying claim to the same valued components.

Our sub-project on waste dumps and climate change examines ways in which external global finance is used to extract value from waste. We considered in particular waste-to-value projects within the context of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Our findings demonstrated that most of the waste-to-value projects were enabled and promoted on the basis of the potential income generation offered through the CDM mechanism. Nonetheless, the cost of registration and validation and the heavy administrative procedures, combined with an adverse evolution of the price of carbon offsets, rendered the projects economically unviable or difficult. Although the CDM mechanism did not deliver the expected results, the original plans were implemented and major investments were undertaken at some landfill sites, often as private-public-partnerships, to turn waste into energy. This created a quite large international and national "over structure" of consultants, technology firms and international policymakers that despite developing quite little results on the ground still functioned to promote and exemplify landfill gas-to-energy sites as successful. At some landfill sites, this has been paralleled with significant social stress as the enclosure of landfill sites have undermined the livelihood of groups of waste pickers whose marginal survival depends crucially on easy access to the commons of waste. This analysis points at the urgent need to reconsider the institutional and regulatory processes through which the waste-climate nexus is organised and managed. Together with the socio-technical transformations that the urban waste cycle is undergoing, these processes point to major socio-economic transformations that may impact negatively on pre-existing social forms of recycling and re-organizing waste, primarily through waste picking.

Finally, our sub-project on community waste management and the state examined state discourses and practices around community responsibility for waste. We examined state-led initiatives in greater Cape Town and Gauteng province which promoted greater community involvement and participation in different aspects of waste management. This sub-project noted the contradictory framing of community involvement in waste management as both a civic duty and economic opportunity, weaving together discourses of responsibilisation, active citizenship and local entrepreneurialism as social development. While these programmes are generally well received by the public, participants do recognise their efforts as contributing towards the state's constitutional obligations and, in turn, question how and where state actors support community participation as a sustainable livelihood strategy. Thus, while programmes may encourage certain (often devalued or responsibilised) forms of waste labour, they also open questions about state/society relations surrounding infrastructural labour.

Together, these three sub-projects demonstrate that profits can be derived from waste flows. But these profits come from either subsidization or through only partially addressing waste flows, extracting higher value items and leaving what remains for others to address.

We build on these findings to argue that scholars and policy-makers need to attend more to the implications of the discursive shift of waste to value. We argue that instead of viewing waste as value, waste management (including the management of recyclables) ought to be conceptualized, narrated and regulated first and foremost a municipal service. If waste management is a service, then funding must be provided to enable this service. This is a notable shift from efforts to make waste management pay for itself, a largely impossible task if adequate social and environmental protections are in place. Critically, financial subsidies ought to come first and foremost from producers, not from government. There are many different models of producer responsibility, but each requires state intervention and oversight: the key here is that government is responsible for governance and oversight, while producers are financially responsible and thus motivated to reduce their waste. An interesting question arises how this is handled across international borders when products are often produced in one country but then shipped and consumed and recycled locally (often within urban areas, and possibly shipped again outside the country).

We argue that this shift to viewing waste management as a municipal service is necessary to enable dignified working conditions and wages, which lay at the core of our initial research project. Funds must be fairly allocated across different nodes of the waste stream. Collaboration with existing waste reclaimers is critical: policymakers ought to support and listen to what is wanted by existing waste workers (formal as well as informal, municipal front-line workers and waste pickers) before developing programmes, and recognize that this is a diverse group without a singular platform or perspective.

Waste reduction should be encouraged by the development and subsidization of markets for recycled materials and financial incentives to design for recycling. Designing for recycling improves existing supply chains, which creates jobs and increases profits. Designs must be motivated by waste reduction and efficient, sustainable processing; the best long-term global strategy for people and our material well-being is to create low-waste, reusable products. Producers are critical here, especially as they largely drive design changes.

Waste education and awareness campaigns should help communities understand government responsibilities and the environmental/social impacts of waste, not try to make communities responsible for their waste. Community facilitators should be employed as long-term state employees who develop local relationships, ensure reliable services, and provide a point for complaints.
Exploitation Route The project has produced several outputs for a varied audience, ranging from academics through scholarly outputs, presentations at academic and professional meetings, engagements with civil society organizations, and meetings with policy-makers at a range of geographical scales. In addition, through the documentary film, the educational templates and policy briefs, the results are available to a wide and variegated audience.

There are significant avenues for further research on the transformation of urban waste metabolism and its socio-ecological consequences and implications. In particular, the transformation of local socio-ecological conditions and relations is rapidly unfolding and requires further attention. Furthermore, the articulation between local, national, and international policies and economic relations produces often conflicting conditions and leads to outcomes that are contrary to the stated objectives. This is of particular importance for the relationship between changing waste streams and the ecological condition.

There are significant implications for a range of policy scales and domains. Our policy briefs are publicly available and have been discussed with a range of policy-interlocutors.

Our engagements with civil society organizations through seminars provided a forum for disseminating our findings and for exploring new horizons in social, economic and environmental programs for urban waste management.

The educational briefs are available for fostering further education and training articulated around the findings of our project.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

 
Description The non-academic impacts of the project cover a range of terrains. First, several workshops were organised with local, regional and national civil society organisations, policymakers, and interested parties. Two stakeholder workshop took place at the University of Cape Town in February 2017 and August 2018, and a regional workshop was co-organised in Kampala, Uganda in November 2018. Members of the project team also participated in consultations for national waste policy guidance in South Africa and organised conference sessions several international research conferences. These events provided the opportunity for stakeholders to inform the research design, feedback on findings, and to consider ways of disseminating and building on the TLR research project, with a view to informing future policy and civic engagement in South Africa's waste economy. Second, a documentary film has been produced to capture key elements from the project, including the interface between 'waste as industry' and 'waste as livelihood.' The film features local experts and participants in South Africa's waste management sector who highlight the heterogeneous character of both waste as material and the many groups of people involved in the sector's value chain. Without offering any simple solutions, the film greatly enhances an appreciation of the complexity and stakes that are involved in any policy intervention in the waste management sector. While filmed and developed in South Africa, we believe the film is accessible to audiences from a range of contexts and sectors, acting as a point of reference for meaningful discussion. We are in discussion with stakeholders in South Africa, and through our wider network in Uganda, Ghana, Angola, and India, to distribute the film alongside policy briefs and pedagogical case studies. The wider network around our SituatedUPE Collective will also be interested in using the film, both as an educational resource and for public screenings. Third, two pedagogical case studies have been produced for integration in educational and teaching programs on waste and urban waste metabolism. One case study outlines the political ecology of the waste economy, and the other addresses job creation and responsibilizing households in South African waste management. Both are available on our website and will be circulated to university departments and teaching programmes. In particular, this resource has been anticipated by colleagues in several departments of South African universities, who intend to incorporate the case studies into their teaching. Fourth, a project policy brief is currently in production which outlines the project's key findings and resulting recommendations. This brief will be shortly disseminated via the website, our mailing lists, and through a press release to relevant media sources. We expect this output will find an audience amongst policy makers at multiple scales, opening discussions around prevailing logics and strategies within waste management policy. Finally, as our outputs demonstrate, team members have engaged in a wide range of non-academic encounters and meetings in a variety of settings where the findings of the project were discussed and implications assessed.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description (Millington N) Invited participant in the Design Workshop on Implementing the National Development Plan: Social Protection for Informal Workers in South Africa
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact The workshop reviewed an issue paper concerning policy options for extending social protection to informal workers in South Africa. At the workshop, it was agreed that a pilot project should be implemented to test options for extending social protection to one category of informal workers. Lessons learned from the pilot will build the evidence base for extending social protection to other informal workers. The main objective of this workshop was to brainstorm and agree on key design features of the proposed pilot project
 
Description MGS Postgraduate Conference Fund
Amount £300 (GBP)
Organisation Manchester Geographical Society 
Sector Learned Society
Country Unknown
Start 04/2017 
End 04/2017
 
Description SEED Conference Support
Amount £800 (GBP)
Organisation University of Manchester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 04/2017
 
Description SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship
Amount $40,000 (CAD)
Organisation Government of Canada 
Department SSHRC - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Sector Public
Country Canada
Start 05/2017 
 
Description (Ernstson H) Keynote Lecturer at University of Trier. University of Trier Summer School in "Decolonizing Urbanism" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Several email threads among participants about the status of Western knowledge in relation to how to think cities and the urban environment, especially in relation to our own subjectivities and what we study and the disciplines we represent.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description (Swyngedouw E) African Centre for Cities Special Lecture, "The Return of the Political: Insurgent Architects and The City", African Centre for Cities/Cape Institute for Architecture (CIFA), Cape Town, 8March. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Special lecture attended by general public consisting mainly of planners, architects, geographers, and urban scholars. Focus of lecture is a general dissemination of key insights from research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description (Swyngedouw E) Interlocutor session with Erik Swyngedouw, "Il(liberal) Urbanism"? organized by Julian Brash. 116th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Society, Chicago, 29 November - 3 December. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Critical engagement with the work of Erik Swyngedouw and publication of debate in a key US anthropology journal
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description (Swyngedouw E) Invited Keynote address, "Interrupting the Anthropo-Ob(s)cene: The De-politicized Politics of the Anthropocene as Immuno-Biopolitical Fantasy", 4th Knowledge/Cultures International Conference on 'Knowledge/Cultures/Ecologies, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago de Chile, 15-18 November. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited keynote on the theme of the relationship between ecology, technology and culture. Several other presentations followed from this across Chile.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description (Swyngedouw E) Invited Presentation "What is the Purpose of Environmental Research", PLuS Alliance, 'Knowledge', Workshop 'Humanities for the Anthropocene: Developing new approaches to knowledge, engagement and impact', King's College, London, 17-18 May. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation focused on dissemination of specific knowledges around environmental questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description (Swyngedouw E) Invited Presentation, "More-than-Human Constellations as Immunological Bio-Political Fantasy in the Urbicene", Symposium Technology, Ecology + Urban Nature, Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, 1 April 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Objective was to explore further how the ecological dimension can and should enter urban practice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description (Swyngedouw E) Invited participant in Municipal Services Project Workshop on Remunicipalization Research. Montreal, 4-6 November. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Meeting of senior academics in urban political ecology to discuss our projects of municipal environmental governance, and subsequent preparation of special journal issue.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description (Swyngedouw, E) Invited Keynote, "The Unbearable Lightness of the Circle City or The Circular City as a Hysterical Fantasy", MasterStudio, THE CIRCLE CITY: PLANNING FOR RESOURCEFUL CITIES, University of Amsterdam, 8-13 January 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Session with consultant, artist, and academic (me) to present and critically discuss the concept and practice of the 'circular city'. The session was enthousiastically received and further collaboration with organizers envisioned.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description (Swyngedouw, E) Invited Presentation, "Why we need an urban critical political theory and practice today, or . Who is afraid of The Political", Workshop Urban Theory: A Rebel without a Cause? Un-Splintering Urbanism through Networked Infrastructures, University of Antwerp, 13 December. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Discussion and preparation of an edited book on urban theory.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Annual ACC PhD Course/Seminar on Democratic Practices of Unequal Geographies 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This seminar sought to problematize the relationship between the political and the aesthetic. Over the a one week, 20-30 participants reviewed and discussed key texts from political theory and philosophy in order to consider its application to studies of global southern urbanism. Participants were postgraduate students and early career researchers from South Africa and abroad - including Kenya, Sweden, and the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.situatedecologies.net/phd-course-urban-ecology-as-science-culture-and-power/democratic-pr...
 
Description Co-organises (K Stokes) for 'Rethinking responsibility and identity in urban governance and development' paper sessions at Canadian Association of Geographers annual meeting, Quebec City, Canada 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Amidst intensifying global environmental uncertainty and socio-economic inequality, government and transnational policy agendas are increasingly promoting devolved decision making, community participation, and active citizenship as strategies for urban development. In doing so, such efforts endeavour to reconfigure citizen/community responsibilities as a means of addressing collective risks while also developing individual and social livelihoods. This is occurring alongside the 'ethical turn' in geography scholarship, where researchers are examining space and place alongside moral and ethical questions (Proctor, 1998; McEwan & Goodman, 2010; Popke, 2006; Massey 2001, among others).

Citizens (particularly those in low income, precarious livelihood configurations) are deemed crucial to any development process. However, calls for participation and greater responsibility do not necessarily acknowledge residents' diverse experiences and challenges. Furthermore, the focus on individual and communal responsibility can obfuscate broader questions of redistribution and radical socio-economic transformation.

Building on recent scholarship on infrastructural and practiced citizenship, community participation and participatory governance, as well as responsibilisation and governmentality in the postcolonial city, we ask where such initiatives are taking place, how they frame their requests for increased public participation and ownership, and who benefits from such configurations. We invite papers which consider how institutional discourses of active citizenry, community responsibility, and resilience inform participation in local service provision, infrastructural functioning, and urban governance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference, Lexington, Kentucky, USA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I presented a paper at the Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference, Lexington, Kentucky, USA. I was a presenter on the panel titled the changing nature of waste and garbage. The paper discussed the role in which different actors perceive and construct the economic value of waste. The session had over 15 people in attendance.The discussion that followed drew interest from those who had undertaken similar work internationally.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Erik Swyngedouw invited keynote "Wasting CO2: The Remarkable Success of a Climate Failure", Workshop "Heterogeneous Infrastructure in African Cities", Kampala, Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Invited keynote at "Heterogeneous Infrastructure in African Cities" workshop in Kampala, Uganda. Engaged with an international community of scholars whose work investigates heterogeneous infrastructures in Africa. Participation led to further conversations about future engagement and collaborations with participants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Erik Swyngedouw invited keynote address, "Urbanization and Environmental Futures: Politicizing Urban Political Ecologies", Seminar Exploring Urbanization: Events, Resources, Risks, and Movements, Centre for Place, Space and Society, University of Wageningen 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited keynote lecture at seminar and masterclass event focused on 'Exploring Urbanization: Events, Resources, Risks, and Movements' at the University of Wageningen.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://centreforspaceplacesociety.com/2018/03/28/seminar-exploring-urbanization-events-resources-ri...
 
Description Erik Swyngedouw invited presentation, "The Climate Change Consensus as Post-Political Populism", Green Academy 2018, 'Moving Beyond Fragments', Institute for Political Ecology, Vis, Croatia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact "In its 6th edition, the Green Academy aims to identify our convergences and draw on positive experiences of social movements and political actors across Europe. We want to foster transnational European exchange on ways of moving beyond the fragments, with a particular focus on Eastern Europe and the European South, where obstacles to enact progressive politics seem most vivid. The emergence of far-right authoritarianism and the exposure to austerity should challenge us to formulate a sharp and coherent political strategy, homegrown to the European semi-periphery.

Since its establishment in 2010, the Green Academy was designed as an intensive knowledge-building and discussion program for left, green and other progressive political forces. So far, almost 1000 people from civil society, politics, academia, movements and media have participated in its work. The 6th edition of the Green Academy, grounded in intersectionality and transdisciplinary approach, encourages in-depth knowledge building, combining academic modules with political debate and activist exchanges." (http://ipe.hr/en/activities/green-academy-2018-moving-beyond-fragments/)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://ipe.hr/en/activities/green-academy-2018-moving-beyond-fragments/
 
Description Erik Swyngedouw invited roundtable presentation on "Environment and Technology", 2018 International Conference "The Good City: Urban Transformation, Comparison, and Value", ESRC Urban Transformations Network 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact "From 18-20 April, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Urban Transformations (UT) network hosted an international conference in Oxford offering a gathering space for researchers focusing on issues of comparative urbanism across Global, European and UK scales. The conference aimed to summarize UT's work, and then benefit from the range of experiences to outline new methodologies and vocabularies for conducting comparative and future-oriented urban research." (https://www.oxfordsmartcity.uk/oxblog/the-good-city-urban-transformation-comparison-and-value/)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.oxfordsmartcity.uk/oxblog/the-good-city-urban-transformation-comparison-and-value/
 
Description Invited Lecture, "Insurgent Cities: Post-Politicization and the Spectral Return of the Political" and Workshop "Urban Political Ecology: Reviewing the Linkages in the Debate for the Global South and North", University of Köln 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Workshop participants reviewed and discussed insights emerging from the theoretical and spatial broadening of (U)PE, and its possible contributions to the larger debates of linking research in the Global South and North.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://gssc.uni-koeln.de/node/943
 
Description Invited guest lecture at School of Geography, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Lecture around human geography and political ecology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited speaker at ESRC Mundane Methods Event (University of Manchester) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presented at a postgraduate research lightning talk session to approximately 35 participants. This event shared innovative methods for understanding the mundane and everyday. The session helped to inform our research method and established connections with other researchers in the region who are undertaking complementary research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://mundanemethods.wordpress.com/
 
Description K Stokes and N Millington - Organisers for 'Working Infrastructures in cities of the Global South' paper sessions at the African Centre for Cities International Urban Conference, Cape Town, South Africa 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Organised three paper sessions addressing 'Working Infrastructures in cities of the Global South' as part of the ACC International Urban Conference. Over 15 paper presentations from all over the world. The session contributed towards the development of individual partnerships and broader networks, including subsequent sessions, and workshops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.situatedupe.net/reflections-on-situating-urban-political-ecology-at-the-african-centre-fo...
 
Description Nate Millington invited panel discussant on 'The Politics of Urban Inequality in Brazil and South Africa' panel, LSE Festival of Ideas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This comparative urban panel on Brazil and South Africa examines class, race, power and politics in the burgeoning cities of the two countries that have become influential yet unstable middle forces in the international order emergent over the last generation.

Through major domestic policy experiments - some spectacularly effective, some dismal failures - Brazilian & South African societies transformed dramatically over 25 years, most noticeably in their urban social structures and politics. This has had effects for the distribution of power, the environment, the state of the economy, and for how their cities are produced, regulated, and experienced. These places are defined by histories of racialised inequality and its intersections with class-based inequalities, presenting a fascinating set of comparative lessons for elsewhere in the world, but also for each other at this pivotal moment in their political, economic, and environmental trajectories following manifestations of deep instability evidenced in severe water crises, corruption scandals, economic disruption, and racialised violence.

Dr Nate Millington is Presidential Fellow in Urban Studies in the Department of Geography, University of Manchester. His research is focused on the politics of the urban environment in an era of climate crisis, with particular interests in the governance of water and waste. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow with the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, and he has conducted extensive research in São Paulo, Brazil and in South Africa. His current research is dedicated to understanding the relationships between climate crisis, financial capital, and infrastructure in cities marked by intense inequality.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/Events/LSE-Festival/NewWorldDisorders/Events/20190301/politics-of-urban-inequal...
 
Description Nate Millington invited presentation 'Crisis Articulations: Day Zero, Waste Politics, and Uncertainty in Cape Town, South Africa,' Unsettled Spaces workshop, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Climate change makes enormous demands on critical social science. This domain of inquiry must change deeply to confront an epochal shift that is rapidly remaking (and could even destroy) human life. Critical social science's potential to contribute to urgent political projects to confront climate change remains in question. A new generation of scholars is investigating the social and spatial dynamics of climate change and associated ecological changes. At the Unsettled Spaces workshop, some members of this nascent network of scholars will present work and think through the tasks of researching and communicating the entwinement of climate change with other long-standing socio-environmental processes, from colonial and racialized violence to capitalist patterns of economic development. One key question is how to reconcile a tradition of critical scholarship that has often shied away from numbers, and the increasing sophistication of quantitative approaches to measuring environmental phenomena.

We will be guided by questions like the following:

How do prevailing projects of adaptation and decarbonization intersect with long-standing patterns of colonial and racial violence, capitalist economic development, inequality, and infrastructure politics?
How is climate change consolidating or unsettling landscapes of human life, and their attendant colonial, racialized, and capitalist dynamics? How are projects to transform these landscapes reinforcing or unsettling inherited structures of social power and the built environment?
How does quantifying relationships between carbon and other environmental phenomena, from air pollution to flood risk, unsettle or clarify existing accounts of social and spatial inequalities?
What kinds of political economies are currently shaping climate politics, and what are the prospects for transforming those? How much does "green capitalism" differ from capitalism?
How can such research agendas contribute to emerging political efforts to confront climate change, in terms of decarbonization, adaptation, and connected agendas?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://aldanacohen.com/sc2/
 
Description Organisers (K Stokes, H Ernstson, E Swyngedouw) of 'Geographies of Multi-scalar waste economies' paper sessions at RGS-IBG conference, Cardiff, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Geographies of wastescapes, flows, and politics have demonstrated that waste is a particularly useful entry point into studies of infrastructure, urban metabolisms, global and local supply chains, as well as the production and consequences of inequality. Recent geographic scholarship has considered waste in relation to commodity frontiers and urban metabolisms, labour and surplus, as well as materialities and mobilities (for example, Demaria & Schindler, 2016; Davies, 2012; Moore, 2012; Gidwani & Reddy, 2011, Gregson, & Crang, 2010; Gille, 2010). Building on these intellectual contributions, we are interested in studies that consider how waste speaks to broader socio-economic configurations, including consideration of material and financial flows, technological advances and transfers, and/or multi-scalar governance imperatives.

This session seeks to critically examine contradictions, divergences, and commonalities of diverse waste economies. In particular, we encourage contributions that engage with:
Infrastructure, technology, and/or STS
Urban metabolism, and/or political ecology
Finance, labour, and/or economics
Governance, policy, and/or politics
Supply chains, circular economies, and/or waste flows
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Poster presentation at University of Manchester Methods Fair 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Poster outlining forthcoming research displayed to an audience over approximately 80-100. Engaged in informal presentations with interested attendees (approximately 20) which helped to inform our research and build connections with colleagues at the University of Manchester.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.methods.manchester.ac.uk/events/methods-fair-2016/programme/
 
Description Project members co-organised and participated in Heterogeneous Infrastructure in African Cities Workshop, in Kampala, Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact As part of broader efforts to develop regional learning across the continent, the Situated Urban Political Ecology collective and Urban Action Lab at Makerere University will be hosting a workshop on urban infrastructures in Africa from November 12-15, 2018 in Kampala, Uganda.

Scholars and practitioners are increasingly grappling with alternative modes of infrastructural provision. This is motivated by scholarly interest in everyday infrastructural practices and politics as well as concerns about the economic, environmental, social and political viability of universal, uniform infrastructure networks. In theory and practice, this is resulting in challenges to existing urban theorization, political agendas and infrastructure provision.

The multiplicity of infrastructures undoubtedly creates challenges for both our scholarly generalization and normative practices. While there has been a growth of scholarship, much of this is case-based and performative, usefully focused on what is there and how it works.

At this workshop, we will seek to develop new research questions, outputs and networks with the aim of thinking through the heterogeneity of infrastructure provisioning in cities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.situatedupe.net/invitation-to-apply-heterogeneous-infrastructures-in-african-cities/
 
Description Project team participated in Urban Transitions workshop, UCT, Cape Town, South Africa 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The TLR research team was invited to participate in the ESRC Urban Transitions workshop, in Cape Town. South Africa-based projects affiliated with the ESRC programme presented their research, discussed common themes and considered possible collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Stakeholder Workshop: Turning Livelihoods to Rubbish? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact On 17 February 2017, researchers from the 'Turning Livelihoods to Rubbish?' research team hosted a workshop which brought practitioners, local researchers, and representatives of NGOs to an introductory project workshop. The purpose of this meeting was to create connections between researchers and learn from local activists and experts. During a wide-ranging conversation that moved from the specific dynamics of research to broader questions about contemporary South African politics, TLR researchers explained their interests and were given suggestions about how best to conduct their projects.

Participants in the workshop included Dr. Derick Blaauw (North-Western University), Musa Chamane (GroundWork), Rico Euripidou (GroundWork), Dr. Linda Godfrey (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research), Dr. Melanie Samson (University of the Witwatersrand), Dr. Andreas Scheba (Human Sciences Research Council), Dr. Catherina Schenck (University of the Western Cape), Caitlin Tonkin (Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation), Dr. Kotie Viljoen (University of Johnnesburg), Dr. Harro von Blottnitz (University of Cape Town), and Quinton Williams (Green Cape), alongside the TLR research team. The TLR research team consists of Dr. Henrik Ernstson (University of Cape Town / KTH Royal Insitutute of Technology), Dr. Mary Lawhon (Florida State University), Anesu Makina (Florida State University), Dr. Nate Millington (University of Cape Town), Kathleen Stokes (University of Manchester), and Dr. Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester).

The event took place at the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.situatedupe.net/wp/report-from-turning-livelihoods-to-rubbish-project-workshop-with-stake...
 
Description TLR Final Stakeholder Meeting (Cape Town, South Africa) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A final stakeholder meeting was held for participants and advisory members of the TLR project in Cape Town, South Africa, on the 3rd August 2018. Provisional findings were shared with attendees, and feedback gathered. Discussions concerning next steps and possible routes to impact also to place.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018