GCRF: Building capacity for the future city in developing countries (PEAK)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Social & Cultural Anthropology

Abstract

We propose to generate a step change in the capacity of a network of cities in developing countries to address development dilemmas and advance the new 'urban' Sustainable Development Goal (11), linking cutting edge research to governance challenges of the emerging metropolis.

The contemporary city presents a major development challenge. The majority of the world now lives in cities and the proportion is set to increase rapidly. All SDGs will need to be achieved in emergent cities and through understanding the combination of different development challenges, simultaneously realized. To recognize this and address the development challenges we need to combine the insights of traditionally discrete disciplinary expertise and link the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences in a new interdisciplinary configuration. We propose to 'grow' a new generation of urban researchers comfortable taking forward this new interdisciplinary field, working across an international partnership of research intensive universities renowned for their expertise in analyzing contemporary urbanisms.

A global team of partners from China (Peking University), India (India Institute of Human Settlements), South Africa (UCT African Centre for Cities) and Colombia (EAFIT, Medellin) will work together with the University of Oxford. Researchers work across natural sciences (including mathematics, medicine, transport and engineering), the social sciences (including anthropology, development, migration) and humanities (including law, history). We leverage expertise across the University of Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute, building capacity internationally through a partnership networking strategic sites of urban interventions globally, working with a cohort of postdoctoral fellowships to develop a programme of excellent research. The focus is international and interdisciplinary. International networks build on existing collaborations, strong links to cities themselves and on track records of research excellence.

Research proposed uses complex systems framing to synthesise our understanding of the development of future cities. Research addresses urban challenges that focus on data science opportunities of the city and socio-material systems that link built form, technology and behavioural pattern in complex interventions in public health, the nexus of water food and energy, informality, the city commons, mobility, land and the imperative to accommodate new populations. Research embedded in cities themselves will build new forms of learning, co-production and capacity building to promote sustainable urban development.

To maximize the impact of our work the five centres of research will create a platform that will link regionally to linked research centres, urban labs and city observatories in Latin America, Africa, India and China. The opportunity to link the challenges of the global south to the city futures of the global north will be addressed through formal links to impact pathways in London government and European Urban Labs and centres, liaising with three of the Innovate UK funded Catapults (Satellite, Transport, Future of Cities).

In order to meet the global goals of sustainable development cities will have to fundamentally shift developmental trajectories, implying a significant realignment in urban management practice. The knowledge base on which policy makers are expected to make such momentous decisions is fragmented but we will work with cities across the partnership to develop new models of co-production and knowledge exchange. All of the research partners have outstanding records of engagement and coproduction of knowledge with cities themselves, city regions, national bodies and emergent transnational organisations, including UN Habitat, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the World Bank/UN agency Cities Alliance.

Planned Impact

The PEAK programme leverages an existing network of research partnerships based in globally excellent universities to generate a multidisciplinary research response to the challenges of the emergent city. The architecture of the programme is structured by the first priority of the RCUK GROW call, "to grow research capacity and capability to meet the challenges faced by developing countries". PEAK uses complex systems theory to synthesise the particular contributions of humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to address major 21st century urban dilemmas.

Consequently three pathways will structure the impact of the programme, highlighting
1. A new generation of urban scholars, globally networked, working across disciplinary boundaries, competent in the most prestigious academic research fields and comfortable explaining the use of their research outside the academy in shaping the future city.
2. Research excellence demonstrated by a stream of publications, knowledge exchange and research impact both within conventional disciplinary fields and in a growing arena of new transdisciplinary scholarship.
3. Our commitment to grow the capacities of cities to address 21st century urban challenges, their comprehension of the power of new urban sciences and the generation of new data analytics and an understanding of the implications of urban path dependencies and trade offs in structuring urban futures.

1. A new generation of urban scholars
1a A cohort of researchers: The programme is designed and resourced to leverage this investment to 'grow' a new generation of urban scholars with a senior co-I - Parnell - in Cape Town, acting as a mentor to the fellows. Fellows are supported by annual summer schools, an internship programme and fieldwork exchanges.
1b Massive Online Open Course: We will develop at least one MOOC from the PEAK programme, making our work available globally at no cost. We will build on the design and delivery of the SDG academy, pioneered by our partners, an online MOOC resource, generated in partnership with and for the United Nations Sustainable Solutions Network and directed by Revi, the Bangalore Co-I.
1c Global Exchange and global regional contribution: a series of regional international events drawing in colleagues across Latin America, Africa and the whole of Asia, linking research findings and approaches to the new generation of urban researchers.

2. Research excellence
Research excellence and publication in a range of fields including:
2a. Public health and wellbeing
2b.Planning, finance and governance
2c. Technology, infrastructure and innovation

3. Building city capacities
We will develop capacity for cities and city publics to deploy new urban sciences to solve particular problems, to understand and analyse where path dependencies demand bespoke resolutions and where cutting edge knowledge production generates options, choices and trade offs for cities in making decisions.
3a Innovate UK Catapults: The PEAK proposals have won support from three Innovate UK funded Catapults (Satellite, Transport and Future Cities). In each case the PEAK timeline design will optimize the overlaps of interest in developing the international network of city partnerships that will be developed in China, Colombia, India and South Africa which are of particular relevance to the Catapult work.
3b Global learning and Networks of City Observatories and Urban Living Labs: We will link with urban labs and city observatories globally, developing models of city knowledge, research and innovation co-production and innovation.
3c PEAK web based platform: we will develop a web based platform for the PEAK programme through a programme of blogs, video, debates, social media and information in a multi media platform.
3d London and city governane structures We will hold events in London at the start and end of the program linking PEAK to city networks in the global north
3e International links

Publications

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Schwanen T (2018) Towards decolonised knowledge about transport in Palgrave Communications

 
Description Skill-based network modelling of industrial diversification paths for UK cities
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Funding ID TEDSA2\100012 
Organisation Alan Turing Institute 
Sector Academic/University
Country Unknown
Start 10/2018 
End 04/2020
 
Description Expert panel on AI and the sustainable development goals 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact EAFIT team member chaired an expert panel on AI and the sustainable development goals at EAFIT Applied Science Days
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) meet at UN headquarters in New York to conduct a review of progress towards the achievement of the SDGs. This review included a review of Goal 11 - Sustainable cities and communities - which took place on Wednesday July 11.

The new International Science Council, together with UK Research and Innovation, Cities Alliance, UN-Habitat, OECD, and UNSDSN invited city officials and other interested parties to a discussion on Tuesday 10 July entitled "Realising the SDGs in Cities - Aligning Knowledge, Tools and Monitoring Frameworks."

By its nature, global urban development lends itself to varied entry points and encourages action by multiple actors who, while they may share a general commitment to the values and principles of the SDGs, may not agree on priorities or emphasis.

Strengthening synergies in follow-up and review across all global agendas that speak to sustainable urbanisation is important to ensure that interconnections are adequately considered, so too is aligning our knowledge and implementation methods. The goal of this workshop is to equip member states and local actors with the appropriate tools and guidelines to successfully implement urban frameworks at the local and national level.

This workshop has diverse aims: showcasing policy relevant research, providing examples of cross-sectorial collaboration, encouraging networking, and setting the direction for possible future lines of collaboration beyond the 2018 High-Level Political Forum.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with Gauteng City-Region Observatory 
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 In September 2018, Oxford team members met with researchers at the policy-supporting Gauteng City-Region Observatory to discuss potential collaborations and access to data.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with Secretary of Planning of Envigado, Colombia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In March 2018, EAFIT and Oxford team members met with the Secretary of Planning of Envigado, Colombia to find out about the main problems in the municipality related to Sustainable Development Goals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with UN Habit for preliminary talks on planning a UN Expert Group Meeting on the socioeconomic stratification system in Colombia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Meeting with UN Habit for preliminary talks on planning a UN Expert Group Meeting on how the socioeconomic stratification system in Colombia is becoming an obstacle to social mobility and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with the Colombian National Department of Planning (DNP) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In September 2018, EAFIT team members met with the Colombian National Department of Planning (DNP) to present the RiSE Group research projects, looking for collaboration opportunities, pertinent research needs for DNP, and access to data on Colombian cities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with the Mobility Secretary (Medellin, Colombia) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In September 2018, EAFIT team members met with the Mobility Secretary (Medellin, Colombia) to present research initiatives for nowcasting using vehicular traffic data and to explore opportunities for data gathering (video records) via collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with the Secretary of Education of Itagüí, Colombia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In March 2018, EAFIT and Oxford team members met with the Secretary of Education of Itagüí, Colombia to find out about the main problems in the municipality related to Sustainable Development Goals
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with the Subsecretary of Public Health (Medellin, Colombia) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In August 2018, EAFIT and Oxford team members met with the Subsecretary of Public Health (Medellin, Colombia) to explore local needs, collaboration opportunities and administrative processes required for data sharing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description PEAK Urban Interim website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact We want to set up consistent branding and a professional looking website in order to attract high calibre postdoctoral candidates to apply for vacancies. We succeeded in this and have already begun attracting interest to the research programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL http://www.peak-urban.org/
 
Description Presentation at stakeholders workshop on Xiongan city development - 'Sino-UK Future Cities Forum 2018', 25th March 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Event was organised by Hebei University New Campus on 25th March on 'Sino-UK Future Cities Forum 2018'. It brought together significant development stakeholders: senior academics, senior policy makers and politicians, senior private sector representatives (Mayor of London, Chief Executive of the board of Canary Wharf etc.) Professor Keith spoke in the session on Future Cities Dialogue - building green, smart and resiliant cities. He was also scoping the potential for collaboration of PEAK Urban in the development of the new city Xiongan.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation on data science at DFID 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Neave O'Clery gave a presentation at the UK's Department for International Development in March 2018 for a variety of policy makers interested in data science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description UK-China Future Cities Forum (Baoding, China) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In collaboration with the British Embassy Beijing, Oxford team members and a Oxfordshire County Council delegation participated in a UK-China Future Cities Forum held at Baoding, China on Sunday 23 March. Other participants included the Lord Mayor of London and the Canary Group.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://news.oxfordshire.gov.uk/chinese-city-looks-to-oxfordshire-for-green-transport-know-how-to-fig...
 
Description UK-China Workshop, City Futures and Contemporary Urban Research 
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 This workshop brought together senior researchers from the UK and China whose work focuses on thinking about city futures. This workshop invited currently funded ESRC projects to consider contemporary discussions of Chinese cities and their interaction with other Chinese metropolises using a multi-disciplinary perspective that combines environmental, social, economic and political research. It provided an opportunity for projects that are linked to a single ESRC research stream both to air early findings and network with other projects in the ESRC Urban Transformations programme. Papers combined research challenges and outcomes when discussing contemporary urban problems. The workshop offered the opportunity to consider these futures and how a dialogue between research in China and urban studies globally might open up new ways of thinking about the future city.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.urbantransformations.ox.ac.uk/event/city-futures-and-contemporary-urban-research/