RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


360 Governance innovations for the urban nexus (2)
Affiliation Urban Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Chiara Farné Fratini (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Ralitsa Hiteva (University of Sussex, UK)
Chair(s) Chiara Farné Fratini (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Timetable Friday 02 September 2016, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Session abstract Cities are locations of intense social, environmental and technical trade-offs, synergies and innovation. The increasing interdependencies and complexities of how separate elements (sectors, natural and built environment) within them interact with each other brings to the fore the politics of urban interconnections (e.g. asymmetries of power). Governing the water-energy-food-environment nexus calls for innovative approaches, which empower governing capacities across sectors, scales, the public and private spheres. These approaches will facilitate interconnections, minimise destructive trade-offs and inequalities and foster constructive nexus synergies. Building on Bulkeley et al. (2015) and Stirling’s (2015) work, this session considers urban nexus governance in terms of innovative and flexible arrangements (governance innovations), where diverse and uncertain pathways are collaboratively explored by multiple actors, in ways that deliberately challenge the effects of incumbent power across sectors and scales within cities, and build interconnections between institutional, technological and social silos. The notion of navigational governance (Jensen et al., 2015) for example, captures boundary-crossing activities (between sectors, scales and different types of actors) free from a pre-conceived and commonly agreed strategic vision or pathway, which tends to perpetuate relatively well-established interests, objectives and power-relations among actors. Such notions recognise that no single actor is capable of identifying and implementing appropriate governance approaches from a privileged position. This suggests moving away from thinking about governance of the urban nexus in terms of ‘steering’ (by e.g. coordinating short-sighted activities through pathways derived from a shared longsighted systems imaginary) and ‘nudging’ (prioritising some practices, technologies and actors over others). But instead focusing on innovative and inclusive ‘governance structures’ which enable knowledge-sharing and the ownership of knowledge, and enhancing individuals, communities and collectives’ capacity to act; thus empowering citizens and users rather than imposing ‘top down’ and expert-led arrangements. This session welcomes both empirical case studies and conceptual contributions that consider innovations in governance of the urban nexus (water-energy-food-environment) that: Enable the creation of flexible arrangements; such that a choice of alternatives courses of action are left open in the medium and long-term, in contrast to patterns of early ‘lock-in’ to a particular policy trajectory, technology and set of interests; Facilitate structures, cultures and practices of connecting, relating, interlinking and intermediating across sectors, technologies, actors and scales of governance; Include the maximum possible variety and heterogeneity of actors (in terms of position, level and type of expertise and culture) and practices involved in governing the nexus across scales and sectors.
Linked Sessions Governance innovations for the urban nexus (1)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Nexus thinking for innovative energy governance in urban areas
Claudia Binder (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland)
Romano Wyss (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland)
The energy transition involves a decentralization of the energy infrastructure, posing governance problems at different levels. We present an approach to deal with this challenge by combining the concept of polycentric governance with the water-energy-food security nexus. Analytically, we first identify how past and future developments have and will influence the governance practices of energy, water and food provision in cities of the industrialized Global North, with a special focus on the role of public actors. In particular, we identify to which extent the connection between the governance structures of water, energy and food has changed. Second, we work out scenarios under the premise of continued decentralization, and analyse how the role of central public coordination actors is likely to change. Our underlying hypothesis is that various new actors will enter the arena and that new institutional players, such as user cooperatives or private market-based coordinating platforms will significantly gain in importance when it comes to planning and implementing the governance of energy, water and food provision in urban areas. This might lead to a de-connection or de-alignment of current governance systems. The study will be conducted in collaboration with public-sector partners from our case-study area in Switzerland.
Governing the water-energy-food nexus in cities: Deploying deliberative designs to achieve systemic intelligence
Joachim Monkelbaan (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
Alexandre Babak Hedjazi (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
Leanne Piggott (University of Sydney, Australia)
Lyn Carson (University of Sydney, Australia)
Solutions to the challenges of increasing water insecurity, the need for sustainable, safe and nutritious food production, and the transition to renewable energy, require innovative approaches that are inclusive of all relevant stakeholders. This paper proposes a new model for governing the complexity of the water-energy-food nexus in cities, namely, 'systems deliberation' (not to be confused with deliberative systems, also see Monkelbaan, 2015), which draws on collective systems thinking in genuine efforts to address the fragmentation of governance along scales and sectorial silos. We propose systems deliberation as a tool for inclusive and flexible navigation of alternative pathways, knowledge-sharing, and empowerment of stakeholder beyond vested public and private sector interests. The paper will first provide a rationale for taking a nexus approach to addressing the challenges of sustainable water, energy and food production before considering existing theories of urban governance, systems thinking, and deliberative processes. By identifying the gap in governance theories a framework for deliberative systems governance will then be constructed that is based on co-defining, co-designing, co-envisioning, and co-transitioning problems to solutions. Finally, the new model will be tested against a case study from the Western Australian town of Geraldton before concluding with possible avenues for further practice and research.
Integration of regulatory frameworks for water-energy nexus at multiple scales in Brazil
Priscila Carvalho (University College London, UK)
Catalina Spataru (University College London, UK)
Raimund Bleischwitz (University College London, UK)
Javier de Cendra (University College London, UK)
This paper examines the inter-linkages (or separate silos) in the unfolding of water and energy in Brazil to reveal what are the conflicts and gaps for considerations on how their regulatory frameworks can be better integrated in benefit of sustainability and security of supply. It starts from analysing the water and energy nexus and its role in the SDGs, two thirds of which refer specifically to energy and water. Water is needed to produce energy, while energy is needed to secure delivery of water (WE nexus). Despite such goals, the evident lack of integration between those sectors in terms of strategies, policies, and implementation is seen as a major obstacle to sustainability and as a risk in implementing the SDGs. The WE nexus literature provides insights as it treats water and energy as being interlinked. Our paper goes beyond the literature and addresses the fundamental policy and regulatory challenges stemming from their interdependency. We thus move discussions into the realm of resource governance, policy and regulatory framework adaptation. The paper aims to advance the notion that water and energy are coupled at multiple scales to support integration of policymaking and regulatory frameworks.
Stefan Bouzarovski (The University of Manchester, UK)