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Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures

Environment and Energy

How can cities and regions innovate to develop the capacity for systemic change in relation to the critical challenges associated with climate change?

SURF is committed to working across different academic, policy and industry communities to understand, analyse and facilitate responses to these issues.

Through our continued participation in European Framework programmes and policy commissions for sub-national agencies in the UK, we have developed a wide portfolio of case studies which explore how cities and regions are responding to the need for energy transitions in the context of global climate change.

Climate change is a global problem, but designing innovative solutions and approaches to addressing key challenges requires joined-up thinking on the ground. Following our ethos, our work has both shaped international academic agendas and re-shaped policy priorities at multiple scales.

Cities are being positioned as not only contributors to and victims of climate change, but as crucibles for new ways of tackling the problems of resource constraint, new energy systems and infrastructural transitions. Regions have ageing infrastructures, across domains from transport to electricity and sewerage, making the systematic reconfiguration of networks problematic.

Central questions in our research include:

  • How is the challenge of sustainable development changing in an era of reduced resource constraint and demands for economic competitiveness?
  • What strategies are cities and regions pursuing to address these challenges in different national contexts?
  • What are the consequences of infrastructural and regulatory frameworks for bringing together different interests in multi-stakeholder partnerships?
  • How can more sustainable patterns of consumption and production be fostered in the transition to low carbon economies?
  • What is the role of intermediaries in city-regional contexts in bringing different interests together to meet the challenges of climate change?
  • What are the implications for researching urban transitions in sustainable development?