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Nexuses of the Urban (Nexus Network workshop)
12th May 2016 @ 9:00 am - 13th May 2016 @ 5:00 pm
Nexuses of the Urban: Interactions between water, energy and food provision for sustainable cities
University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
Cities are dynamically connected with other urban and rural localities, both distant and proximate. Most critically perhaps, cities rely on an elsewhere to produce much of the food, water and energy they consume.
And as cities grow and extend their boundaries, this reliance on elsewhere generally expands, despite the emergence of activities such as peri-urban agriculture and community energy installations.
Thus we need to look beyond the boundaries of cities at processes of urbanisation to develop an understanding of social, cultural, environmental and economic dynamics of provisioning food, water and energy for and by urban inhabitants.
In recent years, interdependence between natural resources implicated in provisioning food, water and energy provision has been framed as the ‘nexus’. The nexuses of the urban, in addition, point to the interdependence between the practices/infrastructures for provisioning of water, food and energy with each other and with ecological processes.
Recognition of the ‘urban nexuses’ points also to the need of inter- and trans-disciplinary perspectives that combine diverse insights/tools from beyond the social sciences, humanities and the natural sciences. In part as a response to this need, we see the emergence of new cross-disciplinary interventions such as the RCUK/Innovate UK Urban Living Partnerships and the ESRC’s Urban Transformations Network.
Workshop participants will take stock of what kind of plural understandings of ‘urban nexuses’ are emerging, produced by (partnerships between) activists, communities, think tanks, corporations, and multilateral organizations, natural scientists, humanities scholars and social scientists.
We will particularly reflect on the contribution that different social science perspectives might make in understanding urban nexuses, and how social scientists might effectively participate in inter- and trans-disciplinary initiatives.
We will consider what kind of policy mechanisms and events might support the pursuit of the partnerships that may be required for developing new understandings.
40-50 people from academia, civil society and business have been invited to take part in this event. We encourage you to take part across both days.
Day one will involve presentations and discussions to stimulate the ‘urban nexus thinking’ debate, which will be followed by a dinner for all participants. Day two will be for more in-depth participatory activities to build platforms and alliances for future work on ‘urban nexuses’.
The workshop will be structured around the following questions:
1. What divergent framings and understandings of ‘urban nexuses’ are emerging and why are they important, in what ways and to whom?
2. What are the implications of these understandings and their foci for governance of nexus interactions by public, private and hybrid arrangements?
3. What implications do these understandings hold for political-economic action by, and for alliances between, civil society organizations, businesses and social movements striving for sustainability and justice?
4. What kind of relations (inter- and trans-disciplinary alliances, engagements with the material world) underpin the making of the emerging understandings of ‘urban nexuses’?
5. What new inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches (and concepts) do we need to further understand interactions at ‘urban nexuses’, including the interdependent vulnerabilities associated with access to food, water and energy in cities?