Understanding transformative agency in the Australian electricity sector: Opportunities, strategies and mechanisms for affecting disruptive change
Australia's energy sector sits at a critical juncture in its evolution. Many dynamic forces including falling energy demand, lower technology costs and higher energy prices suggest conditions are ‘ripe’ for a rapid transformation of the electricity sector to a more networked, localised ‘distributed’ model of energy production and exchange. When and how the electricity sector changes has long-term implications for the resilience and carbon intensity of Australian society. ‘Distributed energy’ is generally considered a positive alternative to the centralised current fossil energy system; better able to survive climate disruption and more easily incorporate low-carbon technologies. However, because significant counter-forces protecting the dominance of centralised fossil-energy also exist there is an important role for strategic change agents to influence and drive systemic change. This study uses a comparative case study approach to explore strategies of intervention used by innovative organisations to support renewable distributed energy. It specifically seeks to identify the means, mechanisms and contextual opportunities that allow change agents to orchestrate and support transformation at the sector level.
Cooling cities with green space: policy perspectives
Green spaces – street trees, parks, green roofs and walls, waterways and botanic gardens – mitigate the urban heat island effect and cool cities during heatwaves. Green spaces are essential for sustaining urban liveability. This research analyses the role of policies in retaining and maximising urban green spaces. The research reviews inclusion of green space in strategies and policies, identifies policy mechanisms, and evaluates the ‘effectiveness’ of these policies in retaining and maximising urban greenery. The qualitative research brings together urban ecology, policy research and theories of sustainability transitions, which focus on processes to transform traditional approaches into newly emerging sustainable systems.
Ways of seeing/ways of looking away: spatial (in)justice in the compacting city
This research aims to contrast planning motivations informing compact city development with everyday experiences of the marginal body as a means of illuminating the often-overlooked corporeality of spatial justice. The research will narrate two versions of spatial justice in Melbourne’s intensifying metropolitan landscapes. It will historicise the emergence of the compact city ideal in Melbourne's metropolitan planning history since the 1990's; exploring the spatial justice ambitions which have motivated the city’s rapid intensification. In parallel to this, the research will document experiences of embodied justice, using visible homelessness as a case study, so as to contribute to a re-corporealised notion of spatial justice which moves beyond accessibility and redistribution. The knowledge gained in this study will both advance theories of spatial justice and inform urban policy.
Minimising the flood risk in Kathmandu: Factors affecting riverbank informal settlers’ physical adaptation
Riverbank informal settlers in Kathmandu are at high flood risk and they need to take initiatives by themselves to minimise their flood risk as the government assistance is absent. Moreover, the government considers the informal settlements unlawful as they are built on public land and can evict them any time. This thesis investigates how informal settlers perceive their flood risk and security of tenure and how these perceptions influence their physical adaptive improvements to reduce the flood risk. It also explores other influencing factors on their flood adaptation.
Urban renewable energy transition: local financial innovations for just and transformative development
Innovative financial mechanisms are increasingly driving renewable energy uptake in cities. This thesis will illuminate how these mechanisms are scaling up renewable energy transition within and across urban areas. At the same time, recognising pre-existing patterns of disadvantage in cities, the research will unpack whether and how innovative financial mechanisms facilitate a socially equitable transition towards renewable energy generation and consumption, and the potential enabling role of local government. Through a comparative analysis of four novel financial mechanisms in Melbourne and Sydney (AU) this work will provide crucial insight into the possibilities and implications of financing urban renewable energy transition.
Capable Planning? Well-being and Integrated Planning in Melbourne and Buenos Aires
Through applying the Capabilities Approach (Sen, 2009; Nussbaum, 2011) and the theory of ‘social logics’ in planning (Fincher & Iveson, 2008), the efficacy of recent approaches to integrated planning in enabling human well‐being will be appraised in Melbourne and Buenos Aires. A mixed-methods case study approach is adopted to explore constructive realisations of integration and advancements of well‐being in the north west regions of both cities. The aim is to improve the understanding of urban planning´s role in advancing well-being.
Just adaptation at resource frontiers: empowerment and climate in northern post-Soviet Russia
This research addresses the problem of linking climate change responses and development agendas, with a particular focus on regions hosting resource extraction operations. I draw from an in-depth and comparative case study analysis of Russian resource extraction regions to critically engage with advances in political ecology of climate change adaptation and resource governance literature. This is to explicate the effect of political economy on locally experienced multiple stressors and to determine the factors of cross-scale institutional change needed for climate-resilient development.
Informal climate resilience: urban transitions in Melanesia’s rapid-growth cities
Efforts to build climate resilience in urban systems lack effective mechanisms for engaging with the informal systems that are prevalent in the rapid-growth cities of least developed, climate-exposed countries. This research attempts to address this gap through analysis of transitional households in the rapidly-growing Melanesian cities of Port Vila and Honiara. It explores how these households are being engaged by or engaging with institutional resilience-building initiatives, drawing on recent climate-related shock events; the April 2014 floods in Honiara, and Tropical Cyclone Pam (which devastated much of Vanuatu in March 2015).
Jinlong (Jimmy) Liu
Urban Cultural Ecosystem Service Flow: Modelling Multiple Values and Benefits from Visiting Urban Green Spaces
The values and benefits people get from actually visiting urban green spaces, in the terminology of "Urban Cultural Ecosystem Service Flow", are important for a social-ecologically sustainable city. The concept is grounded in the actual human-nature interaction unfolding as multiple perceived values/benefits associated with real activities. Based on a field survey investigating these values/benefits, my research aims at applying structural equation modelling to explore significant factors influencing the flow of different types of cultural ecosystem service, and feasible indicators for measurement, with a case study in the City of Melbourne.
Assessing the Impact of Urban Form on the Energy Consumption and GHG Emissions in Metropolitan Melbourne
Urban form and structure – especially the characteristics and distribution of residential and non-residential buildings in an urban area (e.g. compact city vs. dispersed city) – have a strong impact on urban energy and GHG emissions. In order to support the environmental impact assessment of alternative urban forms based on these two indicators – from metropolitan policy level to local urban development proposals – this research aims to develop and validate an integrated bottom-up approach to modelling the energy consumption and GHG emissions related to building operations and household transport in metropolitan Melbourne.
Andrea Ortega Esquivel
Managing cultural heritage through the Historic Urban Landscape approach: the case study of Valparaíso, Chile
This research explores the applicability of managing cultural heritage through the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach in Valparaíso, Chile (declared World Heritage Site in 2003). Valparaíso is a critical case study where outstanding values coexist with poverty and marginalization. In 2014 the UNESCO suggested that the HUL approach should be implemented. The HUL considers integrating the historic layering of cultural and natural values and the changing urban context. This implies a holistic approach to heritage management and urban planning practices.
Comparing the political cultures of zero carbon urban transitions
Stephen’s project examines how transitions towards decarbonisation are taking shape within Australian and European cities. His research asks how decarbonisation fits with broader concepts of sustainability and equity, how political and cultural factors affect approaches to policy and governance, and what can we learn from each other across different contexts and cultures.
Understanding the role of urban form and third places with social interactions of older adults in Melbourne neighborhoods
Urban form and neighborhood characteristics have been linked to social interactions and individual wellbeing but there is currently no common agreement about the strength and nature of this relationship. This research aims to better understand this relationship and to develop a model that relates the quantitative measures of urban form – including third places – to social interactions of older adults in Melbourne neighborhoods.
Government Employment Decentralisation and Its Impacts on Commuting of the Early Movers: A Case Study of Chenggong New Town in Kunming, China
This research aims to explore the dynamics in household commuting patterns in response to the government employment decentralisation programs implemented in China’s new town development, and to triangulate explanations to such dynamics from two sources, i.e. the households of early movers among the job-resettled government workforce and key informants involved in the policy-making of the decentralisation programs. This research will be conducted in a case study new town, Chenggong New Town in Kunming, China.