Category Archives: Uncategorized

Remembering Dr. Alexander Aylett

alex aylettIt is with great sadness that we share with you news that our colleague, Dr. Alexander Aylett, passed away last Saturday, July 23rd after a long battle with cancer.

Alex was Professor of Urban Sustainability Governance and Innovation at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) in Montreal, and co-founder of ecoHackMTL.  He was also a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT, where he worked under long-time UGEC associate JoAnn Carmin on the Urban Climate Change Governance Survey.  Alex participated in the UGEC Workshop, “Transitions to a Low Carbon Urban Future in an Era of Extreme Events” in July 2014, and wrote one of the most popular articles on the UGEC Viewpoints Blog: Green cities and smart cities: The potential and pitfalls of digitally-enabled green urbanism.

He was a kind, intelligent, generous man, and a pleasure to work with.  The UGEC International Project Office and Scientific Steering Committee wish to express our deepest condolences to all of his family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time.

Obituary: Dr. Alexander C.E. Aylett

PhD Fellowships Available at Gran Sasso Science Institute

Ten PhD positions in Urban Studies and Regional Science are now available at the Gran Sasso Science Institute in l’Aquila, Italy.

The methodological perspective in research and teaching is trans-disciplinary. Approaches, methods and issues from the diverse fields which constitute “urban studies”, such as human geography, spatial planning, urbanism, urban politics and policies, urban sociology and ethnography, are welcomed. Continue reading

Viewpoints: Car dependence and neighborhood affordability

shutterstock_298259972Deborah Salon
Arizona State University, USA

As humanity continues to urbanize, urban planners and city decision makers have an exciting opportunity to shape the environmental impact of new urbanites. There has been much research done on the potential of higher density, “smart growth”, “new urban”, and “transit-oriented” style development to reduce driving in cities (e.g., Cervero & Murakami, 2010Hankey & Marshall, 2010). There has also been considerable concern that the high cost of living in these neighborhoods could price out lower income households (e.g., Downs, 2005; Alexander & Tomalty, 2002).

The trade-off between urban housing and transportation costs is well-known (Alonso, 1964). In general, housing closer to the city center will be more expensive, but commuting and other transportation costs will be lower in those locations. In the simplest theoretical model of a monocentric city, these costs – including both money and time costs of transportation – exactly balance out.

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Postdoc Position in UREx SRN Working Group

URExSRNUnder the supervision of Mikhail Chester, the Postdoctoral Fellow will work with the UREx SRN SETS Integration Working Group to develop case studies of and strategies for integrated social-ecological-technological solutions for urban infrastructure design for extreme events. The Postdoctoral Fellow will analyze how infrastructure can be redesigned for extreme weather-related events. They will lead the assessment of infrastructure designs in a number of cities and how these designs perform under different perturbations. Technological considerations will be coupled with social and ecological data. Continue reading

Call for Submissions: Contested Terrains: Cities and the Possibilities for Transitions to Just Sustainabilities

This is a call for submissions to a co-edited volume currently titled: “Contested Terrains: Cities and the Possibilities for Transitions to Just Sustainabilities”. This volume is potentially slated to be part of a book series on Equity, Justice, and the Sustainable City published by Routledge and co-edited by Julian Agyeman and Stephen Zavestoski.

The central premise of “Contested Terrains” is that the uncertain environmental and social dynamics generated by anthropogenic climate change have disrupted and will continue to disrupt power relations along national, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines, and that the resultant contestations that emerge will be especially pronounced in urban areas. We posit that global climate change will heighten the conflicts that already exist in our highly stratified world and generate new contestations about how, and whether or not, transitions to sustainability will occur.

This volume seeks to present scholarly works by authors who engage with a complex, intersectional and integrated analysis of the various conflicts associated with attempts by urban agents around the world to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The volume will comprise four parts: Theory, Barriers, Opportunities and Visions. These parts will act as overlapping lenses through which contributors will address the volume’s key questions. Abstracts of 300 words maximum should be emailed to co-editors, Phoebe Godfrey and Carol Atkinson-Palombo at the following addresses: and no later than January 5th 2016. Please also contact them for more details on topics.

Viewpoints: Land transitions in peninsular Malaysia: From palmisation to urbanization

shutterstock_162506381Aliyu Barau
Bayero University, Nigeria

For those who live and work in emerging economies, the social and ecological effects of urban sprawl and landscape fragmentation on agricultural and ecological landscapes are readily apparent. Malaysia provides an example of this phenomenon. Like many countries in Asia, Malaysia has undergone rapid urbanization, increasing from 26.5% in 1957, the year it gained independence, to 62% in 2000. (Masron et al., 2012).  For some decades, agricultural landscapes, particularly oil palm plantations, have become well-known drivers of environmental change in countries in Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia.  However, the role of urbanization in changing the dominance of these plantations has not received adequate attention.

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Future Earth Call for African Regional Offices

FEThe Future Earth Secretariat has today released a call for proposals to establish Regional Offices for Future Earth in Africa.  This call follows the establishment of Future Earth Global Hubs and Regional Centres in many other regions of the world.

In light of the urgency of establishing a Future Earth presence in Africa, Regional Offices are intended to provide a foundation for the later creation of a Regional Centre for Africa at one of the offices.

A Selection Committee consisting of representatives of the African Future Earth Committee (AFEC), Future Earth Science and Engagement Committees and Secretariat and an independent external representative of the African Science Community is being established. The Committee intends to complete the selection process by December 2015.

The deadline for submission of proposals is October 28th 2015.

Download background document and template for proposals:

In English
En français

Natural Infrastructure: A Clear Path towards Urban Resilience?


This week’s UGEC Viewpoints article was written by Robert McDonald of The Nature Conservency.

There has been an explosion of interest in the idea of “urban resilience”. The Rockefeller Foundation was excited enough about the idea to create the 100 Resilient Cities network, and the World Bank has developed its own methodology to assess urban resilience, to name just two efforts. My own organization has created a global Resilient Cities program, consolidating our various natural infrastructure and biodiversity projects under one conceptual umbrella. The word “resilience” is amazingly flexible, being used for resilience to everything from coastal flooding to terrorism to economic downturns. Like “sustainable development”, “urban resilience” is useful to policymakers because it is so broad as to be all things good to all people.

While I am skeptical as a scientist about a term like “resilience,” I do see one positive thing about the explosion of interest in urban resilience: it focuses society’s attention on solutions. Environmentalists have spent a lot of the last few decades painting maps red, outlining the risks facing humanity and the world’s biodiversity. Thinking about ways to improve resilience inevitably forces us to paint maps green, outlining what solutions work where. For organizations like mine, the main solution we put forward is natural infrastructure, itself an umbrella term for all the different ways natural habitat or semi-natural features can help improve people’s lives: forest cover to prevent erosion from fouling drinking water sources, constructed wetlands to mitigate urban stormwater problems, parks to improve people’s physical and mental well-being, and much more.

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Internships Available at UN-HABITAT Office for Asia and the Pacific


UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific announces several internships in the Regional Office (Fukuoka), the Liaison Office in Bangkok and numerous country offices throughout the region.

Students or recent graduates with a broad range of backgrounds such as urban planning, urban management, housing, water and sanitation, DRR and Climate Change, development studies are encouraged to apply.


Please note that Applicants must at the time of application meet one of the following requirements:

a. Be enrolled in a graduate school programme (second university degree or equivalent, or higher);
b. Be enrolled in the final academic year of a first university degree program (minimum Bachelor’s level or equivalent);
c. Have graduated with a university degree and, if selected, must commence the internship within a one-year period of graduation.

Unfortunately the United Nations Internship programme does not provide any funding.

For more information and to apply:

Position Available at International START Secretariat


The International START Secretariat located in Washington, DC USA, invites applications for a Program Specialist position. The Program Specialist will be primarily responsible for the management of two multi- year programs on global environmental change and capacity building in Africa. Specifically, this position will entail providing programmatic leadership in meeting START’s commitments to the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) and the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) initiative.

In carrying out these responsibilities, the Specialist will be expected to:

• Advise on the design and implementation of adaptation research in Western and Southern Africa;
• Co-organize and co-facilitate regional workshops and training events;
• Closely liaise with regional partners on project matters;
• Prepare project reports and peer-review publications; and
• Develop proposals for additional actions that increase START’s impact on these two initiatives.

The Program Specialist will be based at the International START Secretariat in Washington, DC USA and will report to Dr. Jon Padgham, Deputy Director of START. Annual salary will be commensurate with experience and will be supplemented by a comprehensive benefits and retirement package. International travel for representational and/or program development matters will be required.

Questions about this Position Announcement and responsibilities related to the Program Specialist position may be directed to Clark Seipt, Director of Programs at START (

To apply, please send a one-page statement of interest as well as a CV, two significant writing samples and contacts of at least three references to Applications must be received no later than 1 May 2015.

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