- Richard Black, Professor of Human Geography, School of Global Studies
- Dominic Kniveton, Professor of Climate Science and Society, School of Global Studies
- Fiona Marshall, STEPS Centre Research Fellow, SPRU Senior Lecturer
- Lyla Mehta, STEPS Centre water and sanitation convenor, IDS Research Fellow
- Tom Tanner, IDS Research Fellow
Critical issue: Cities
Cities are centres of growth, dynamism and opportunity but are also vulnerable to pollution, health hazards and environmental disasters and their poorest and most marginalised people lack basic services. Work at Sussex includes insight into the implications of climate change impacts on migration within and from countries, particularly from rural to urban areas, vice versa and on the peri-urban fringes of big cities.
Recent research using agent based modelling and theories of social psychology to explain mobility, has shown the effects on migration flows when the impacts of climate change and population growth are combined. Meanwhile research funded by the UK Government’s ‘Foresight’ project and chaired by Richard Black has raised the issue that many cities in low-income countries are faced with a ‘double jeopardy’ future: with cities growing in size, partly because of rural–urban migration trends, whilst also being increasingly threatened by global environmental change. These future threats will add to existing fragilities, whilst new urban migrants are, and will continue to be, particularly vulnerable.
The STEPS Centre’s growing body of work on the peri-urban fringes of super cities explores the ‘glocal’ dynamic flows of people, commodities, capital, natural resources, waste and pollution, and conflicts over land tenure and water insecurity.
The speed of city growth – coupled with the fact that some spaces are transitional or temporary – has challenged the capacity of public institutions and society to respond to new and increased health and environmental risks. A new STEPS Centre project explores the environmental health issues faced by people living in these “transitional spaces”: for example, chronic diseases linked to industrial air and water pollution.
Highlighting the contrasts between “official” visions of the future and how local people imagine it; and how these futures are made possible or held back by conditions on the ground, through this work, is a crucial contribution to building sustainable city futures.
On The Edge, a peri-urban sustainability website run by the STEP Centre featuring research, media & ideas on sustainability issues in the rapidly changing areas where developing urban and rural worlds meet.
Water and Justice: Peri-urban pathways in Delhi, a STEPS Centre short film
- Black, R., Bennett, S., Thomas, S.M., Beddington, J.R. Migration as adaptation. Nature, 478(7370): 447-449, 2011.
- Kniveton, D.R., Smith, C. and Black, R., Emerging migration flows in a changing climate in dryland Africa. Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1447, 2012.
- Marshall, M., Waldman, L., MacGregor, H., Mehta, L. and Randhawa, P. On the Edge of Sustainability: Perspectives on Peri-Urban Dynamics, STEPS Working Paper 35 (2009), Brighton: STEPS Centre
- Lockwood, M. (2007) Cooler cities Prospect 141 (December 2007)
- Masika, R; de Haan, A. andBaden, S. (2011) ‘Urbanisation and urban poverty: a gender analysis’, BRIDGE Report 54, IDS: Brighton
- Tanner, T.M., Mitchell, T., Polack, E., and Guenther, B. (2009) Urban Governance for Adaptation: Assessing Climate Change Resilience in Ten Asian Cities. IDS Working Paper 315, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK.
- Thapa, S., Marshall, F. and Stagl, S. (2010) Understanding Peri-urban Sustainability: The Role of the Resilience Approach, STEPS Working Paper 38, Brighton: STEPS Centre