Current research

Joined-up governance for low-carbon cities (2017-2021)
Focus: Amsterdam, Cape Town, Hong Kong, London, Mexico City, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, and Vancouver

Cities have the potential to substantially contribute to climate change mitigation. Seeking to realise this potential city governments are increasingly collaborating directly with firms and citizens in urban governance. This approach to governance has become known as joined-up governance. It is progressively recognised as a promising means of addressing complex urban challenges, including the necessary transition to low-carbon cities.

Joined-up governance has, however, been more theorized than empirically studied. Little is known about whether, to what extent, or in what ways joined-up governance ‘works’. This holds particularly in the area of low-carbon city development and transformation. This research project will address this major gap in our current understanding by evaluating and refining theorising on joined-up urban governance.

The project is theoretically innovative because it complements joined-up governance theorising with state-of-the-art insights from environmental governance and urban transformation studies. This adapts the lens provided by joined-up governance scholars to studying real-world city transformations. It is empirically innovative because of its systematic, critical analysis of joined-up urban governance practice in eight global cities in developed and rapidly developing economies. This will improve understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of this approach to governance for low-carbon city development and transformation around the globe.
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The research program is funded through a five year VIDI Fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (grant number 016165322).


Collaborative Governance for Low-Carbon and Resilient Cities (2015-2018)
Focus: Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo

There is a pressing need to improve the resource sustainability of cities and their resilience to hazards. Increasingly, governments seek to achieve such improvement by engaging directly with businesses and citizens. Whilst this collaborative city governance holds a promise for transforming resource use and resilience of cities, little is known about its performance benefits and effectiveness. The project addresses this knowledge gap through a systematic empirical analysis of a series of collaborations in four global cities. Results will help to refine theories of collaborative governance, and will provide policymakers and practitioners with lessons on how to improve sustainability and resilience of cities in Australia and elsewhere.

The research program is based within the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University. It is funded through a three year DECRA Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (grant number DE15100511).

Visit Collaborative Governance for Low-Carbon and Resilient Cities for more information on this research project.


Voluntary Programs for Low-Carbon Building and City Transformations (2012-2016)
Focus: Adelaide, Amsterdam, Berlin, Boston, Brisbane, Chicago, London, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, New Delhi, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Singapore, Stuttgart, and Sydney

The Voluntary Environmental Governance project investigates an emerging trend of governance arrangements that aim to improve their participants' environmental performance without the traditional force of law. It examines the conditions for the successful implementation of such arrangements and questions how they relate to and interact with existing environmental legislation.

Examples of Voluntary Environmental Governance are green building rating tools, forest management schemes, and packaging waste agreements. Such arrangements are considered promising alternatives or compliments to existing environmental legislation. However, current theorizing falls short to sufficiently explain what forms of Voluntary Environmental Governance may be successful in what contextual settings.

The research will generate empirical advances and theoretical innovation through the comparative study of various examples of Voluntary Environmental Governance in different countries and different policy areas. This will provide an improved knowledge base for the development of informed and effective forms of Voluntary Environmental Governance to supplement existing environmental legislation.

The research program is based within the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University, and the Amsterdam Law School at the University of Amsterdam. It is funded through a four year VENI Fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (grant number 45111015).

Visit Voluntary Programs for Low-Carbon Building and City Transformations for more information on this research project.