Mapping the Urban Knowledge Arena 

There are many different perspectives on sustainability and views on what needs to be done. From policy-makers, to businesses, schools to communities, Greater Manchester is home to a wealth of initiatives that seek to improve the economic, social and environmental futures of the city-region.

What are these initiatives? Can they be more effectively joined up - how? What are the lessons that can be shared? Generally activities have been disconnected resulting in fragmentation and duplication of efforts. At a time when economic resources are scarce and ecological resources are finite, it is important that new projects, programmes – or platforms – do not reinvent the wheel and learn from what is already happening.

In 2012 Mistra Urban Futures Greater Manchester undertook a pilot project entitled ‘Mapping the Urban Knowledge Arena’. The project brought different communities together in small-scale activities to share knowledge and understanding of what is happening to the sustainable development agenda in the city-region and how the knowledge and skills of stakeholders could best be shared to contribute to more sustainable futures. Importantly the Mapping the Urban Knowledge Arena project contributed to framing the projects which are continuing on the platform – Platform, SIRCUS, Urban food and Realising the Potential of Community Assets.

Results: Mapping the Urban Knowledge Arena report

We need the integration of existing knowledge as much as new knowledge and need to reclaim the right to the city for those that work and live within it. This was made clear in the Mapping the Urban Knowledge Arena: Report. The report was based on a series of collaborative, cross-sectoral activities in 2012 which chart the many different perspectives, practices and capacities for urban sustainability amongst different stakeholders.

The report includes summaries of activities including:

  • An action-research project with the Environment Commission of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities to examine the governance, policy and knowledge base of city-regional urban policy;
  • Perspectives written by policy-makers, practitioners and citizens in relation to sustainable urban development;
  • Exploring the role of creative production and play in engaging school children in debates over sustainability;
  • Working with community researchers to examine ‘sustainable stories from the grassroots’;
  • Developing Platform;
  • Hosting an exhibition, ‘Sustainable Stories’, as part of the UK’s national Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science;
  • Understanding how Greater Manchester’s responses to the challenges of sustainability compare with those in other UK cities.

If you’d like to discuss any of the issues raised in this report, please get in touch with Beth Perry.


Perry, B., May, T., Karvonen, A., Baldwinson, T. & Abbott, C. (2012). Universities and Sustainable Cities (Greater Manchester Working Paper No. 5). Manchester: SURF, Salford University.
Type: Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
Greater Manchester Working Paper No. 6. Manchester: Creative Concern and SURF, Salford University, 2012
Type: Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
Cunio, S., Lucas, S., Mmbololo, E., Nkurunziza, W., Whitehead, S., Winton, A., Perry, B. & Wharton, A. (2012). Sustainable Stories (Greater Manchester Working Paper No. 4). Manchester: SURF, Salford University.
Type: Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
Halton, M., Perry, B. & Wharton, A. (2012). Sustainable Communities (Greater Manchester Working Paper No. 3). Manchester: SURF, Salford University.
Type: Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
Wharton, A., Baldwinson, T. & Perry, B. (2012). Integrated Actions (Greater Manchester Working Paper No. 9). Manchester: SURF, Salford University.
Type: Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief