Sharing Futures: Sustainable urban transformations in water and energy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography, Earth & Env Sciences

Abstract

This proposed partnership addresses key challenges in planning for sustainable urban environments. The themes of water and energy are of strategic relevance to development goals in Brazil. The proposed partnership activities will build on an established collaborative knowledge base, bringing together social scientists and engineers with substantial track records in relation to sustainable urban development. In Brazil, the water/energy nexus is a research theme of major importance, due to water scarcity, and since >70% of Brazilian electricity comes from hydroelectricity. Evidence suggests that interventions at different spatio-temporal scales are required to reduce significant impacts-for-development resulting from mismanagement of water/energy resources. The inter-disciplinary project team and proposed activities shall afford innovative forms of dissemination and knowledge exchange between diverse academics, professionals and publics. Planned activities will include publicly-available research summaries, an online research network, the development of an existing app for the Brazilian context, a summer school and theory/practice workshops, and collaborative skills development/sharing. These activities will ensure that the project has extensive impact in Brazil, with potential to deliver long-term benefits in areas of strategic relevance to this call (water/energy), for the welfare of society in diverse developing contexts. Specifically, building upon the project team's existing links, the project will produce impacts in collaboration with NGOs focused upon sustainable development in Latin America and national/regional partners directly involved in the Brazilian water/energy nexus. Finally, the project will support the research team as it develops larger, related collaborative research projects on the crucial theme of water/energy in sustainable urban development.

Planned Impact

1) ODA compliance

Sharing Futures directly addresses Brazilian development/welfare issues via its focus upon the water/energy nexus. In Brazil, major Governmental, NGO and private-sector initiatives have highlighted the centrality of water/energy innovation for long-term sustainable growth, economic development and population welfare.The collaborative project addresses ODA goals via: (i) skills-development and internationalisation of research within the Brazilian water/energy engineering sector; (ii) fostering innovative, interdisciplinary research and knowledge-exchange between leading engineering and social scientists; (iii) participatory, citizen/community-engagement work to enhance efficacy of large-scale water/energy management projects in contexts of urban/economic development.
Clear routes to national/regional impacts are in place via the project team's partners in the water/energy sector (e.g. Paraiba do Sul River Basin State/National Committees, Committee of Mantiqueira Range Watersheds, Committee of São Paulo State North Shore Watersheds). Outputs/benefits from the project shall be transferred to other OECD priority areas via existing links with Fundación Avina (NGO for sustainable development in Latin America).

2) Beneficiaries

Principally, these will include our project partners (listed in point 1). More broadly, these include policy-makers at local, regional and national levels in Brazil, urban & landscape planners, architects and water and energy engineers in public and private sectors. The project will have indirect and longer-term impacts upon local communities, via its development of participatory approaches (fed through academic research and informing future collaborative work by the project team).

3) How will beneficiaries benefit?

The innovative nature of the tools and analytical methods used and produced by the Sharing Futures partners and their differentiated view on Brazilian sustainability, in terms of water and domestic energy resourc, will complement the approaches used in the Planning for Sustainable Cities research. Policy-makers, invited to the Impact symposium will be asked to recommend future research themes based on their professional experience in the field. Online materials (e.g. best practice guides) will provide tools for critical reflection by public- and voluntary-sector organisations wishing to access cutting-edge research evidence about water/energy for sustainable urban development, which will inform their work. They will also be able to access best-practice guides to support work with local communities, thereby encouraging greater partnership working and the appropriateness of water/energy solutions to local contexts. A database of on-going Sharing Futures impacts will be collated, documenting economic, societal and developmental impacts, tracked against ODA requirements.
 
Description The Sharing Futures: Sustainable urban transformations in water and energy research partnership project was a unique collaboration between UK-based social scientists and Brazilian engineers, each with substantial track records of research on sustainable urban developments. The key objectives for the project were met, including: i) exploring the intersections between water and energy supply in planning for sustainable urban development in Brazil; ii) extending links between Brazilian and UK academics; iii) sharing of methodological tools, building capacity amongst both UK and Brazilian researchers; and iv) identifying priorities and strategies for future impactful research.

The research partnership has seen international and cross-disciplinary exchange of knowledge through multiple channels. First, knowledge on water and energy transformations were shared and debated between the partnership team, via a regular series of meetings and workshops. Second, externally-focused events facilitated the bringing together of diverse scholars (especially earlier-career researchers), from urban design, engineering, social science, history and architecture to share knowledge and insight on sustainable urban transformations. This capacity-building exercise resulted in new partnerships and networks across geographic contexts and academic communities. Third, we have developed an online, visual mapping tool, which provides a bank of examples that could support urban planners and policy-makers in addressing water and energy problems in urban development. This tool will outlive the partnership project and is intended to constitute a continually-developing resource. Fourth, a series of research summaries were produced by the partnership team, focusing on core areas of strategic relevance to sustainable urban transformations in water and energy. These and key publications written by the project team were translated into Brazilian-Portuguese for dissemination in Brazil.

The partnership has also been a forum for the sharing and development of methodological tools. A key tool, which built on previous ESRC-funded research (ES/K00932X/2) was adapted to become the Sharing Futures app. This methodological app can collect data on people's everyday interactions with water, energy and urban drainage. Importantly, this app is now being used by the team in a major research project (see below); this innovative mapping tool has afforded data collection in spaces and times which researchers often have limited access to. A further focus of the partnership was on sharing creative, cross disciplinary methodologies for collaborative, community research on sustainable urbanism. In particular, a Summer School focusing on core, social-science-based community methodologies built capacity and contributed to the professional development of (especially physical sciences-focused) early-career researchers, PhD students and professional practitioners in Brazil.

A final significant outcome of the collaboration has been a new, larger research project, funded by ESRC/FAPESP/Newton. This was a direct result of the Sharing Futures partnership, wherein knowledge-sharing and the development of research priorities and methodological tools led to our successful application. The project, '(Re)Connect the Nexus: Young Brazilians' Experiences of and Learning about Food, Water and Energy' (ESRC ES/N013190/1; FAPESP 2015/50226-0), draws on a wider community of scholars and is set to have extensive impact in Brazil, with the potential to deliver long-term benefits in areas of strategic relevance, notably, food-water-energy and education for sustainability.
Exploitation Route The partnership project has specifically addressed ODA goals, via (i) skills-development and internationalisation of research within the Brazilian water / energy engineering sector; (ii) fostering innovative, interdisciplinary research; and (iii) participatory, community-engagement work to enhance the effectiveness of large-scale water / energy management projects in contexts of urban development.

Beneficiaries of the partnership have principally included the project partners, in terms of skills-development and capacity-building. The collaboration emerged from a need, identified by Brazilian engineering specialists to engage with international experts to develop skills in qualitative, participatory and app based research. The project has substantially enhanced the research skills and knowledges amongst engineers, beyond a focus on technical problems and solutions. The partnership has extended and assured the research skills of Brazilian water / energy engineering experts.

More broadly, beneficiaries have included a range of stakeholders involved in planning for sustainable water and energy development, across the public and private sector. In the future, the project will have indirect and longer term impacts upon local communities, (via the development of participatory approaches) through ongoing collaborative work by the project team. The follow-on project '(Re)Connect the Nexus: Young Brazilians' Experiences of and learning about Food, Water and Energy', draws on a wider community of scholars and is set to have extensive impact in Brazil, with the potential to deliver long-term benefits in areas of strategic relevance (food-water-energy and education for sustainability) - it was the Sharing Futures partnership which started this research collaboration, leading to broader societal impacts.

The activities associated with the Sharing Futures collaboration have developed major empirical, conceptual and cross-cultural innovations within the field of water/energy management for sustainable urban development. Importantly, the activities and knowledge sharing have extended beyond the core partners via online engagement, summer schools and other collaborative events. The project team are working on two publications for peer-reviewed academic journals, building on the outcomes of the partnership.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Energy

URL http://www.sharing-futures.com/
 
Description The Sharing Futures research partnership was principally a project to strengthen academic ties and networks between UK-based social scientists and Brazilian engineers. The Sharing Futures project provided the resources and opportunities to explore the potential of inter-disciplinary collaborations on researching sustainable urban development. The non-academic impacts of this project are thus in-direct, a result of on-going research and collaborations between this group of researchers and the work they have been doing. The Sharing Futures grant actively developed a mobile application to research everyday uses and experiences of food, water and energy. This mobile app is now being used in the follow-on '(Re)Connect the Nexus' research grant, as a research data collection tool. Via a subsequent impact related project 'Urban Futures: Translating Research and Building Partnerships for Youth Housing', the data is informing the work of UN-Habitat in their focus on sustainable urban futures. This work is currently ongoing (2017/2018) and the team will collate examples of evidence as it emerges. A series of engagement activities with non-academic audiences were integrated into this project. Positive feedback was received from events and the activities resulted in enhanced non-academic / academic networking opportunities. The team have been invited to speak and engage with a diverse range of audiences as a result of the networking opportunities which emerged. The research project '(Re)Connect the Nexus' which emerged directly from this networking partnership is currently ongoing and is set to deliver benefits in areas of strategic relevance, notably, education for sustainability and policy interventions in planning for the food-water-energy nexus.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Other
 
Description Building resilience in the face of nexus threats: local knowledge and social practices of Brazilian youth
Amount £240,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 833401 - NEXUS-DRR 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2019 
End 05/2022
 
Description Nexus in Brazil (Newton)
Amount £374,523 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/N013190/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2017
 
Title Sharing Futures mobile app 
Description The Sharing Futures app has been developed to use in a future research project - this was a trial adaptation of 'Map my Community' developed as part of another ESRC project. The Sharing Futures app has been designed to focus on water and energy use in urban environments. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This app will now be used in a forthcoming research project '(Re)Connect the Nexus' - a focus on young people's everyday experiences of food, water and energy. The fieldwork begins in October 2016. 
 
Description Community participation and engagement in research on sustainable urbanism (Sharing Futures Summer School, University of Birmingham) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Dr. Sophie Hadfield-Hill (University of Birmingham); Professor Peter Kraftl (University of Birmingham); Dr. John Horton (University of Northampton) Community participation and engagement in research on sustainable urbanism

Presentation on community based participation in research on sustainable urbanism, followed by a workshop session to discuss methodologies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Engagement meeting (UNESP, Brazil) 
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 A meeting between members of the Brazilian research group and potential partners from the private sector and public officials took place on May 15, 2015 in the auditorium of INOVEE (Innovation Center for Energy Efficiency) of Univ Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Guaratingueta, SP, Brazil. The project "Sharing Futures" enabled a space for debate with the community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Event: Interdisciplinary methodologies - Across scales and cultures 
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 Event: 'Interdisciplinary methodologies - Across scales and cultures' organised by the research team and held at the University of Birmingham (Tuesday 7th June).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Hadfield, Hill., Kraftl, P. and Horton, J. (2016) Community engagement in research on sustainable urbanism. (Sharing Futures Summer School, Brazil) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This presentation was delivered at the Sharing Futures summer school, to an audience of academics and key stakeholders working in sustainable urbanism - the talk prompted discussion about community engagement practices, sharing knowledge between the different cultural contexts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description International conference: Young people and the New Urban Agenda: addressing key themes of Habitat III 
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 International conference: Young people and the New Urban Agenda: addressing key themes of Habitat III (14th and 15th September, 2016)
(Part funded by Sharing Futures - given the link to young people's engagement in sustainable urban transformations)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Kraftl, P. and Hadfield-Hill, S. 2016. Using mobile technologies to explore the food-water-energy nexus 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Kraftl, P. and Hadfield-Hill, S. (2016) Using mobile technologies to explore the food-water-energy nexus. Presentation at the event: Interdisciplinary methodologies: Across scales and cultures. Tuesday 7th June, 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Methodology workshop: Using participatory methodologies with children and young people 
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 Methodology workshop: Using participatory methodologies with children and young people at the Young People and New Urban Agenda international conference (workshop on 15th September, 2016) University of Birmingham
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.children-new-urban-agenda.com/
 
Description Online visual mapping tool 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact An online Visual Mapping tool has been created to bring together resources - sharing water and energy solutions to sustainable urban development. Anyone, anywhere can upload links to information, photographs and videos.

There are currently 49 entries to the visual mapping tool and it has been viewed more than 500 times. At the end of the project these inputs will be collated into a report.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.sharing-futures.com/Visual-Mapping.php
 
Description Sharing Futures Brazil Summer School (2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Sharing Futures Brazil summer school took place in January 2016. The event enabled a critical reflection on cross-disciplinary, participatory, community based research on sustainable urban development. Links were made with non-academic partners and pathways to impact were explored in Brazil and the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Sharing Futures Summer School (University of Birmingham, UK) 
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 On 24th - 26th August, 2015 the University of Birmingham hosted the 'Sharing Futures Summer School' with a focus on interdisciplinarity and intergenerationality in planning sustainable urban environments. Aimed at postgraduate students and early-career researchers, this three day event included keynote talks from academics and practitioners, a fieldtrip exploring sustainable urban environments in the Midlands and lots of opportunity for discussing the water/energy nexus from a diversity of approaches.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.sharing-futures.com/Summer-school.php
 
Description Sharing Futures website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Sharing Futures project website - engaging with key stakeholders, other academics and the general public
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.sharing-futures.com/
 
Description Sharing Futures: Sustainable urban transformations in water and energy (Cemaden, Brazil) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The research team delivered a presentation to CEMADEN (Brazil) - the National Centre for Disaster Management. This prompted discussion about the role of the research and future impact. This engagement resulted in increased interest and collaboration between the academics and CEMADEN.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Sharing futures: Online network 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact An online network has been created within the 'Sharing Futures' website - a group of international academics interested in sustainable urban transformation. There are currently 17 people who have requested to be part of the online network - for research dissemination, events and future collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.sharing-futures.com/Online-network.php
 
Description The engineering approach for water and energy questions (Sharing Futures Summer School, University of Birmingham, UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Professors Jose Perrella Balastieri, Rubens Alves Dias and Mateus Vilanova, Departments of Energy and Electrical Engineering, Universidade Estadual Paulista - UNESP, Brazil 'The engineering approach for water and energy questions'

The presentation stimulated discussion regarding the collaboration of engineers and social scientists in the field of sustianable urbanisms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Workshop: Methodological problems and questions 
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 Hadfield-Hill, S. and Kraftl. P. (2016) Organisation of a workshop on 'Methodological problems and questions' at the event 'Interdisciplinary methodologies: Across scales and cultures' event at the University of Birmingham (7th June, 2016)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016