IOER Conference 2024

Space & Transformation: Living in Harmony with Nature

25 to 27 September 2024 at Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden, Germany


Keynotes

Prof. Nancy B. Grimm

Prof. James Evans

Prof. Harini Nagendra


Prof. Nancy B. Grimm
Regents Professor, Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Ecology, School of Life Sciences (SOLS), Arizona State University (ASU)


Title:
Envisioning positive futures and nature-based solutions for the Anthropocene

Abstract
The Anthropocene, an age where humans have become the main force shaping the environment, is characterized by rapid change, compounded problems, and increasing complexity and uncertainty. For cities, extreme events driven by climate change pose particular challenges, including threats to lives and livelihoods, compounded infrastructure failures, and unequal distribution of risk due to past unjust practices. Strengthening the capacity of these social-ecological-technological systems (SETS) to maintain their essential structure and function when faced with such events (i.e., resilience) is of paramount importance. Yet solutions have been based on prevailing views that the world is complicated, not complex; that events are predictable, not uncertain; and that people are apart from nature rather than part of nature. In this talk I will explore examples of nature-based solutions, asking if these strategies can build resilience to extreme events in cities. Co-produced visions for present and future urban configurations from neighborhood to regional scales will illustrate the potential for reducing risk from extreme heat and flooding in urbanized central Arizona.

Bio
NANCY B. GRIMM, Regents Professor at Arizona State University, is an ecosystem ecologist who studies the interactions of climate change, human activities, resilience, and biogeochemical processes in urban and stream ecosystems. Grimm was founding director of the Central Arizona–Phoenix LTER, co-directed the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network, and now co-directs the NATURA and ESSA networks, all focused on solving problems of the Anthropocene, especially in cities. Her research centers on nature-based, technological, and governance solutions that can build resilience to a future with increased frequency and magnitude of extreme events. In streams, Grimm studies how hydrologic and climatic variability, and more recently, wildfire, influence ecosystem processes such as stream metabolism and nutrient dynamics. Grimm was President of the Ecological Society of America and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the Ecological Society of America, the Society for Freshwater Science. She is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and has made >230 contributions to the scientific literature with colleagues and students.


Prof. James Evans
Head of the Manchester Urban Institute at the University of Manchester
 

Title:
Transformative governance: Experimenting, Learning, Changing

Abstract
How can we reduce inequalities and enable communities to flourish in a sustainable way? How do we scale innovations like active travel to improve population health and sustainability at regional and national levels? How can we mainstream cross-sectoral approaches that are able to address challenges like poor health, climate change and low productivity holistically?

This presentation presents a range of experiences with new forms of governance that have attempted to address these challenges over the past twenty years. It begins by considering the phenomenon of urban experimentation and the growing emphasis on demonstration and pilot projects to trial sustainable forms of development. Even when successful though, pilots often fail to scale up and drive the wider transformation of places.

The lecture argues that the wider transformation of places requires a wider transformation of organisations. Specifically, organisations need to be able to both learn from experiments and trials and change how they operate. Taking learning seriously sheds light on why place-based innovation requires different kinds of thinking and practices to mainstream economic and policy innovation. The presentation concludes by considering the implications for sustainable transformation more broadly.

Bio
Professor James Evans currently directs the Manchester Urban Institute at the University of Manchester, where previously he was Head of the Geography Department. He researches how cities learn to become smarter and more sustainable, and his work on urban living labs and mobile methods has been foundational across the social sciences. He is passionate about the role of universities in delivering urban sustainability, working with hundreds of organisations around the world. He has led numerous applied interdisciplinary projects on this topic, helping to generate more than £60 million of research and innovation funding and more than 100 publications. He is Field Chief Editor for the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Cities and CEO of a university spin out Urban 360 Ltd.


Prof. Harini Nagendra
Director of the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability at Azim Premji University


Title:
Building Ecologically Smart Cities: Mapping human-nature interactions in Bangalore over the centuries

Abstract
Cities are on a breakneck path to growth, especially in the global South. It has never been more clear why we must begin to think ecologically about our urban future. Drawing on the deep ecological history of Bangalore – one of India’s largest and fastest growing cities – I will discuss how some of the earliest residents of this semi-arid landscape relied on a three-dimensional spatial imagination of interconnected settlements. While many of these ideas were lost as the city grew and began to rely on water and food imported from increasing distances, in recent years the exposure of the city to heat and drought has made communities revisit many of these ideas. This presentation will also highlight the use of an interdisciplinary suite of approaches including GIS, remote sensing and the use of historical maps linked with oral histories, ecological analyses and social interviews to increase our spatial and temporal understanding, helping to visualize how we can re-design ecologically smart cities, to accommodate both nature and human wellbeing.

Bio
Harini Nagendra is the Director of the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability at Azim Premji University. She is known for her research spanning over 30 years on forest conservation and urban sustainability, with several seminal publications and awards including the 2009 Cozzarelli Prize from the US National Academy of Sciences and the 2013 Elinor Ostrom Senior Scholar award. She is an elected member of The World Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Science Academy. She has written a number of award winning non-fiction books including, most recently, Shades of Blue: Connecting the Drops in India’s Cities. She also writes the acclaimed Bangalore Detectives Club historical mystery series, set in 1920s colonial Bangalore. Prof. Nagendra serves on the Advisory Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Climate-KIC and the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities, and is co-editor-in-chief of the journal Global Environmental Change.