Realising Just Cities

An International Collaborative Framework 2016-2019

The international collaborative framework has different components, all leading towards Mistra Urban Futures’ Vision, “Sustainable urbanisation where cities are accessible, green and fair”. The framework is entitled “Realising Just Cities”, a statement which is intended to provoke reflection, engagement and action in different cities around the world. The provocation includes a contested set of ideas, reflected in two orienting questions:

• What do just cities look like in different urban contexts?
• How might just cities be realised in different urban contexts?

Mistra Urban Futures’ distinctive contribution to these questions is in interrogating whether, and if so how, organising knowledge in urban areas around Local Interaction Platforms in different continental regions and practising co-creation and comparative urban research can contribute towards the realisation of just cities.

 

Methodology

 

Core Processes

The Centre´s Mission, “To generate and use knowledge for transitions towards sustainable urban futures through reflective co-creation at local and global levels”, is translated into three Core Processes:

Urban change: understanding processes of urban transformation which facilitate or constrain cities in becoming more just - the dynamics, drivers, practices and barriers to urban change processes for accessible, green and fair cities.

Urban knowledge: innovating in the social organisation of different knowledges and practices within cities required to value and harness multiple forms of expertise to support transitions to more just cities.

Urban governance: improving relationships and processes amongst governance stakeholders in order to ensure decision-making and urban management practices that will help achieve just cities.

TRACKs – Transformative Research Activities

Key substantive areas for research and practice have been identified and are called TRACKs – Transformative Research Activities through Co-producing Knowledge.

The TRACKs contribute to, and are informed by, the Core Processes; each TRACK can be considered as including and intersecting with processes of change, knowledge production/management and governance. There is overlap between the TRACKs, hence they are to be seen as organisational principles rather than discrete or disconnected spheres.

TRACK 1: Socio-ecological Transformations

The socio-ecological transformations TRACK deals with bi-directional impacts between cities and their social and biophysical environments and with issues of urban ecological sustainability. The following topics are relevant for collaboration during 2016-2019:

Understanding urban metabolism and ecosystem services, and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and more effective environmental management (for example, the management of solid waste);

Promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation (including issues such as promoting the green economy, energy governance and increasing the use of renewable energy);

Understanding urban food systems (including the distribution/retail of food and urban/peri-urban agriculture), increasing urban food security and addressing food poverty;

Exploring the interface between economic, social and ecological sustainability, such as ecotourism, the greening of cities and the use of the natural environment for recreation; and

Understanding linkages between urban and rural areas.

TRACK 2: Socio-spatial Transformations

The socio-spatial transformations TRACK deals with the built environment and spatial form of cities. The following topics are relevant for collaboration during 2016-2019:

Access to land, infrastructure, housing and facilities;

Creating denser mixed-used urban environments through urban planning and the implementation of catalytic projects;

Increasing accessibility through improving urban transport systems and promoting transit-oriented development; and

Understanding existing patterns of socio-spatial segregation and finding ways of facilitating socio-spatial integration.

TRACK 3: Socio-cultural Transformations

The socio-cultural transformations TRACK deals with urban life and human development in cities. The following topics are relevant for collaboration during 2016-2019:

Promoting more diverse and inclusive urban societies (for example, through the design of public spaces and public art);

Preserving and enhancing tangible and intangible cultural heritage in urban environments;

Exploring the role of the humanities, arts and culture in sustainable urban development and as mechanisms for urban transformation

Improving urban health and wellbeing (including safety and mental health); and

Promoting social inclusion (including gender mainstreaming and strengthening local democracy and the role of civil society).