ADEPT: developing the ecosystem approach to drive positive urban transformations in the context of intersecting vulnerabilities

Lead Research Organisation: Middlesex University
Department Name: School of Law

Abstract

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity promotes using an ecosystems approach (EA) to support the delivery of ecosystem services and benefits (ESB) as a dynamic conceptualisation of environmental quality. It is promoted as enabling an easier integration of environmental goods and services into economic processes and policies. However, many researchers suggest that an EA is 'science in the making' and emerging policy initiatives overlook complexities that stem from both uncertain scientific underpinnings and socio-economic divisions. These include gender divisions and inequalities, yet these topics are largely absent from ESB discussions. While feminist writers (and others) suggest caution with adopting an EA, ADEPT seeks to explore if and how the approach could be useful for promoting wellbeing for women and men. While environmental justice scholars have long suggested that socio-economic hardship and the distribution of environmental goods and bads are correlated, recent applications of intersectional theory suggest that practical experiences of exclusion from opportunity always intermesh with other divisions such as those based on race, social class, disability status, sexuality, age and geographical location. There is then a need to address environmental and socio-economic vulnerability in an integrated manner. To do so an EA needs to first address a binary exclusion; firstly, there is a need to highlight ways in which ESB frame environmental quality, often affording stronger representation to expert interpretation of how environmental quality is experienced. Secondly, there is need to understand how intersecting vulnerabilities influence access to a range of ESB (with a focus on those linked to urban blue-green space e.g. clean water, flood mitigation and recreational opportunities).

The focus of the current research will be a major urban zoning project in Belo Horizonte (BH), which covers a range of land-use types from dense low-income urban districts to rich gated neighbourhoods, protected areas, commercial and industrial districts. This provides an ideal case study area in which to trial and extend understandings of gendered vulnerability to environmental change within local urban contexts. Research to be undertaken will involve identifying socio-economic and environmental vulnerabilities and zones of interaction, exploration of differential experiences of urban ESB and scoping the potential of these as a means to support poverty alleviation in urban transformations. Results from BH will also be discussed within a Sao Paulo (SP) context, through the involvement of field researchers from SP currently involved in a local community engagement project involving the redevelopment of urban water management policies.

The research collaboration is organised around a series of four international research workshops. An online research community will support the combination and interrogation of both new and existing data sets and development of new evidence of the processes which underpin urban vulnerability, forming the context within which any resilience solutions would need to be derived.

Planned Impact

ADEPT is a collaboration and research project exploring and developing the potential of the Ecosystems Approach (EsA) for deriving sustainable outcomes in the context of the current complex and accelerating urban transformations. The innovative and internationally-relevant research partnership collaboratively developed by all partners contributes to the economic development and welfare of Brazil at both a:
* sector level - enabling a more nuanced understanding of the interactions between socio-economic and environmental vulnerabilities to be developed and understanding of how this may be integrated within planning and policy processes
* country level - supporting the development of a long-term Brazil-UK partnership with the necessary multiple skill sets to participate in the global urban transformation arena

It uses emerging UK research to support key poverty and development issues already being explored by Brazilian partners to be viewed through alternative lenses generating novel understandings of a global relevance. The main impact of ADEPT is therefore in the provision of a platform of communication for the involved academics, enabling interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge and understanding and for development of a closer network between the involved UK and Brazilian partners for the purpose of further research bids. The resulting academic outputs will consist of a minimum of two co-authored peer reviewed papers that will also be presented in conference fora. ADEPT will trial and validate a mobile phone app for data collection on ecosystem services, goods and benefits (ESBs) and produce guidance on avoiding a gender bias in the application of the EsA approach to the management of urban transformations. Users of these outputs are planning and policy officials from local and national administrations in Brazil and the UK. In addition to academic conferences and papers, findings will be disseminated at a local to international scale through an on-line community, which includes direct involvement of policy developers, planners, community representatives and academics. ADEPT field work funded by CONFAP will involve community members directly, providing the disadvantage community in Belo Horizonte an opportunity to contribute and learn from the research process.
 
Description The grant, while a partnership grant, generated interesting new insights in the fields of gender, environment and wellbeing and the interconnections between them. It focused on ecosystem services (ES) - the services derived from the natural environment (street trees, for example) which may produce goods and benefits (such as shade, enhanced air quality, drainage and aesthetic pleasure) for individuals and communities. To date the majority of ES studies have focused on rural areas, with comparatively little research focusing on the delivery of ES in urban environments. Even less well understood is how access to such services can vary -who can or cannot access ES, and why, including lack of consideration of gendered experiences of ES.

The study began from the premise that access to, and control over, environmental assets will not be equal for all and the urban poor may have limited access to ES, with women having less access still.

The study centred on a peripheral neighbourhood of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, which is close to open countryside and a large reservoir.

It found that far from being free for all, both urban green spaces and the adjoining countryside should be understood as a site of intersecting inequalities - with the poor, the less educated, and women having less access to this important environmental asset.

Women in the study had less access to a range of other private and public environmental assets including trees in backyards, access to urban green spaces such as parks, and to the reservoir. They were also less likely to report 'green' attitudes, such as seeing local green spaces as an important asset to the community. As the gender and environment literature often presents women as 'closer to nature' this is perhaps a surprising finding, that deserves further study.

The differential gendered access is important as the study also found that environmental assets interact with other assets to affect wellbeing, and highlights the inter-related nature of different types of assets or capitals - including human, social, physical and financial.

The frame for the study was a combination of assets frameworks (as favoured by UK Department for International Development) and the ecosystem services approach (as promoted by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment) using the categories of ecosystem services to elaborate the 'natural capital' element of the assets frameworks. This presents a significant conceptual advancement in both fields.

The study combined traditional social science research tools, such as questionnaires and interviews, with scientific tools - a scientific assessment of potential ES for the area. It also utilised an innovative walking narrative methodology, utilising mobile phone technology to record verbally and visually the opinions of residents on the environment, uploading geo-referenced captioned pictures to a web based data set. The latter allowed for a comparison of what is often presented as an 'objective' scientific analysis of ES in the area, with how the people themselves utilised and understood the natural environment as an 'asset' and provided new insights into how the environment is experienced subjectively.

The combination of methods and collective analysis of findings, provided a joint learning opportunity for the multi-disciplinary team that included engineers and town planners, as well as those working within the natural sciences, social sciences and gender.
Exploitation Route The findings are to be discussed with local actors including governmental and non-governmental in Belo Horizonte.
Since 2011 UFMG, and the Brazilian PI, has been contributing to the process of metropolitan development planning for the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte (RMBH) (34 municipalities, 5.5 million inhabitants, about 10 thousand km2 of area). One of the key concepts guiding this planning process is the notion of blue green networks. The concepts and methods adopted in the ADEPT project (e.g. peoples' perception of ecosystem services goods and bads, interview and walk methods, assessment of SPU through satellite image, ground truthing) will play a direct and important role in the blue green network conceptualisation to be used in the forthcoming planning process.
In May 2017 the findings are to be shared with a urban 'think tank' based in the Maré favela in Rio de Janeiro with a view to undertaking some work with/in the favela in the future.
Since completion of the study the methodology has been adapted for a study in Nicaragua and the findings will be shared with women's groups and movements there.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

URL https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzsYq-aDZJuZZlZxZVBKYm1td1U/view
 
Description Series of dissemination events: Meeting in Cotagem City Hall, with around 30 participants from the various departments of the local authority including the head of the Environmental unit, and local NGOs. Participatory workshop in Nova Contagem with people from the local communities (over 30 attended) interviewed for the study. Using posters of the frameworks and key findings designed by 'Meios' (the team of Undergraduates from UFMG that undertook the questionnaires) who were also on hand to explain them to the local residents. Three Roundtables hosted by UFMG with 20 participants each, and presentations from: Profa. Denise Pirani (Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais PUC-MG); Profa.Margarete Leta (School of Architecture, UFMG); Profa.Heloisa Costa (Institute of Geography, UFMG); Prof.NiloNascimento (School of Engineering, UFMG); Profa.SonalyRezende, Profa. Uende Gomes e Profa. Talita Silva (School of Engineering, UFMG). Workshop in Maré - one of the largest favelas in the North Zone of Rio - at the Observatório de Favelas with 25 registered participants made up of researchers and local leaders. Hosted by Eliana Sousa Silva - Director of the Community Department at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Coordinator of 'Redes de Desenvovimento da Maré' (Mare's Development Network). Event was filmed in its entirety and edited later to be disseminated on their website /via their networks.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description HEFCE Newton Fund ODA
Amount £4,100 (GBP)
Organisation Newton Fund 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 03/2017
 
Description Visiting professorship 
Organisation Federal University of Minas Gerais
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Meri Juntti (co-I on ADEPT) delivered a 15 hour course 'Environmental governance for sustainable development: reconciling urban and rural planning agendas' and co-authoring an academic publication on the same topic with Brazilian colleagues.
Collaborator Contribution Co-authoring an academic publication
Impact 5 hour course 'Environmental governance for sustainable development: reconciling urban and rural planning agendas'
Start Year 2018
 
Description Book Launch - Naturally Challenged 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On-line book launch with a panellist discussion.
Sarah Bradshaw - one of the author's of a chapter in the book based on this project gave a brief 'provocation' based on the study's findings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Centre for Water Systems, University of Exeter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Lian Lundy presented work to people from an engineering background who were interested in multiple benefits of urban green space. Presentation entitled: Managing water in the City of the Future.
Aim: to share knowledge on urban ecosystem services and the need to integrate a social aspect within the current approach.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Conference presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Urban environmental quality and wellbeing in the context of incomplete urbanization in Brazil: integrating directly experienced ecosystem services into planning
Authors: Meri Juntti, Heloisa Costa and Nilo Nascimento
Paper to be presented at European Society for Ecological Economics conference, June 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Conference presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Small lake big conflicts: sharing land and water uses in a highly populated area
Nilo O. Nascimento, Heloisa Costa, Sarah Bradshaw, Meri Juntti, Lian Lundy, Rebecca Wade, Brian Linneker, Yumi Oki, Indira Nahomi Caballero
Paper presented by Nilo Nascimento at: Big Lakes, Small World Conference Sept 23 - 28th 2018, Evian, France
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Conference presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 'Gendered differences in understandings of, and interactions with, urban green spaces in two informal low-income communities of the Global South'
Bradshaw, Sarah, Linneker, Brian and Lundy, Lian
Paper presented by Bradshaw, S at the Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society, Cardiff University 28 - 31August 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description DAUW (Dundee Association of University Women Graduates), in Dundee 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Rebecca Wade (Abertay) was invited talk to a charitable organisation composed of women graduates who support women and girls agendas locally and globally. The group is based in the Dundee area, but is part of a global network and the group have influence on international committees. They were interested to hear about examples of local and international research and how gender issues were being incorporated into environmentally focussed projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Department of the Environment, York University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Lian Lundy presented on "Urban green space: necessity or luxury?".
Aim: to share approaches to undertaking multidisciplinary research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Early career academics networking 
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 During the third full team project meeting hosted by Middlesex University two of the Brazilian female post-docs attended. The UK PI, Sarah Bradshaw, organised a meeting for them with 10 UK based early career female academics working on gender and /or environmental issues to network, share ideas and learn from each other.
It included PhD candidates and post-docs from Kings College London, UCL, Queen Mary University London, LSE and Oxford University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Engendering Habitat III 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference presentation by PI Sarah Bradshaw
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Erasmus Chile 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact As part of an Erasmus+ mobility award the PI Sarah Bradshaw gave a presentation on the frameworks and preliminary findings of ADEPT to a group of Undergraduate and Postgraduate students plus representatives from local and international NGOs. Afterwards two members of the faculty of the Catholic University of Santiago de Chile opened a debate and led questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description International Conference water, megacities and global change, Paris: UNESCO 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact NASCIMENTO, N.O.; and COSTA, H.S.M.;with others presented on 'Conciliating urban development with water resources protection in Brazil through the conception of a 'Trama Verde e Azul', green-blue network, as an urban planning framework, 2015.'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Journées Franco-brésiliennes d' Hydrologie urbaines. Paris: Paristech 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Profs. Nilo Nascimento and Heloisa Costa were Key Note Speakers at the Brazilian-French Meeting on Urban Hydrology, in Paris, sharing the ADEPT approach with a largely French audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Landscape Institute Scotland SuDS event, Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Rebecca Wade (Abertay) presented at this symposium aimed to stimulate debate on the standard of placemaking for SuDS in Scotland, and to achieve better quality and value from this vital green infrastructure. Speakers reviewed the latest thinking, Afterwards, the group discussed key aspects of SuDS in practice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Networking meeting University of São Paulo LabHab 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Networking meeting at the University of São Paulo , Laboratório de Habitação e Assentamentos Humanos da FAUUSP (LabHab), with the Director Prof. Dra. Maria Lucia Refinetti Martins, research team and post-graduate students, 11th February 2015.
The UK team introduced the conceptual framework of the ADEPT project which was met with much interest.
Led to discussion of plans for future joint projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Networking with other RC-UK Brazil grant holders UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Full project team meeting held at Abertay University included participants who are holders of grants focused on Brazil and staff from other faculties and the University of Dundee. There was an interactive workshop to work on the Guidance Note - one output of the project.
Participants included:
Dr Heather Price (University of Stirling)SAGES+ Brazil mission (Sept 2015)
Prof Cathy Mcilwaine (Queen Mary University of London) -Transnational perspectives on violence against women& girls
Dr Fernando Fernandes (University of Dundee) - Urban development and 'the right to the city'.
Guests unable to attend:
Charles Leleux (SmartGov Project, Stirling Uni)
Fiona Marshall (ESPA risks and responses to urban futures Project and RESNEXUS project, Sussex University)
Also:
Prof William Webster- University of Stirling- SmartGov project.
Prof John Rowan (University of Dundee)
Dr Brian Linneker (Independent Scholar)

Abertay Guests:
Prof Carl Schaschke, Head of School of Science, Engineering and Technology (SET).
Prof David Blackwood, Head of Division Natural and Built Environment, School of SET.
Alison Duffy, School of SET,Urban Water Technology Centre
Neil Berwick,School of SET,Urban Water Technology Centre
Dr Ruth Falconer, School of Arts Media and Games
Leanne Gallagher, Admin, School of SET and UWTC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://uwtc.abertay.ac.uk/aboutus/news/name,29655,en.html
 
Description Panel Discussion, AAG 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The panel session: The Ecosystem Approach: A new tool for urban development? The annual Association of American Geographers conference, Chicago, April 21- 25th 2015. Included short presentations by members of the UK and Brazil project teams.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Roundtable at the IV WPSC - World Planning Schools Conference. Rio de Janeiro, 2016 
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 A round-table on Socio environmental justice and ecosystem services: discussing awareness and potential for transformation involving project members JUNTTI, Meri (chair).; COSTA, Heloisa; and OKI, Yumi. While this was an academic event it introduced the ideas of the project to a different audience as this was a 'planning' conference and Juntti and Oki are environmentalists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) Green Infrastructure Innovation Fund workshop, Edinburgh 
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 Rebecca Wade (Abertay) participated at the workshop designed to focus the efforts of groups applying for funding to undertake strategic intervention in Green Infrastructure. As part of the EU2020 strategy of Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, increasing economic activity and employment across the EU, with SNH as the Lead Partner in Scotland. The workshop aimed to support and inspire applicants for the strategic fund to create better places and enhance the quality of life for urban dwellers by improving the quality, accessibility and quantity of green infrastructure in our major towns and cities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description São Paulo site visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Site visit of ADEPT UK project team and team from University of São Paulo, Laboratório de Habitação e Assentamentos Humanos da FAUUSP (LabHab) to a marginal settlement in São Paulo hosted by a local NGO representative. Aim was to share methods of assessing ecosystem services.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Teaching intiatives 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The experience and findings of the ADEPT project have been very useful to broaden the views and case studies of all the research team in Brazil and in the UK, and all have included elements in lectures, seminars and workshops with postgraduate and undergraduate students. This is interesting as the cross-disciplinary nature of the team means that a whole range of students from engineering students to those studying international politics have engaged with the notion of ecosystem services and how they relate to their subject of study.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description Velhas and Paraopeba River Basin Agencies meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact ADEPT findings located within wider discussions of the issues facing the areas to help advance in practice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description XVI National Meeting of the Brazilian National Association of Research and Graduate Education on Urban and Regional Planning 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact In this meeting the Brazilian PI Nilo Nascimento, Co-I Heloisa Costa and one of her PhD students, Ana Mourão, presented on the broader topic of blue green strategies. The ADEPT project was part of the presentations generating many questions from the varied audience from across the country.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Young researchers - Meios Brazil 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Meios is 'student junior organisation'. A number of such organisations exist at the university in Belo Horizonte - UFMG. It is a not-for-profit initiative that helps undergraduate students develop there skills through undertaking contract work. In this case Meios undertook the surveys. They were involved in the collective design process, coding, digitising and early analysis, thus learning from the UK and Brazilian teams.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016