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LO-ACT project ouputs

LO-ACT is looking at the 'ordinary actions' taken by citizens to improve everyday life 

whilst tackling climate change.

We will use this page to showcase outputs linked to the project. 

1. Book

1. Urban Sustainability and Justice


Urban Sustainability

and Justice

'Urban Sustainability and Justice presents an innovative yet practical approach to incorporate equity and social justice into sustainable development in urban areas, in line with the commitments of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. This work proposes a feminist reading of just sustainabilities' principles to reclaim sustainability as a progressive discourse which informs action on the ground. This work will help the committed activist (whether they are on the ground, working in a community, in a non-governmental organization (NGO), in a business, at a university, in any sphere in government) to connect their work to international efforts to deliver environmental justice in cities around the world.

Drawing on a comparative, international analysis of sustainability initiatives in over 200 cities, Castán Broto and Westman find limited evidence of the implementation of just sustainabilities principles in practice, but they argue that there is considerable potential to develop a justice-oriented sustainability agenda. Highlighting current successes while also assessing prospects for the future, the authors show that just sustainabilities is not merely an aspirational discourse, but a frame of reference to support radical action on the ground.'

Visit zedbooks website and order the book

2. Two Waves of Research on

Urban Climate Governance

2. 2 Waves

Ten years after Copenhagen:

Reimagining climate change governance in urban areas

As part of the project work programme, LO-ACT team conducted a literature review of 383 articles that present social sciences analyses of climate change action in urban areas.

This highlighted two moments of acceleration.

10 years after copenhagen - 2 waves.png
Key debates within the two waves of rese


'In this review, we take stock of the last decade of research on climate change governance in urban areas since the 2009 conference in Copenhagen. Using a systematic evaluation of academic publications in the field, we argue that the current moment of research has been shaped by two recent waves of thought. The first, a wave of urban optimism, which started in 2011 and peaked in 2013, engaged with urban areas as alternative sites for governance in the face of the crumbling international climate regime. The second, a wave of urban pragmatism, which started in 2016, has sought to reimagine urban areas following the integration of the “sub‐national” as a meaningful category in the international climate regime after the 2015 Paris Agreement for Climate Action. Four themes dominate the debate on climate change governance in urban areas: why there is climate action, how climate action is delivered, how it is articulated in relation to internationally reaching networks, and what implications it has to understand environmental or climate justice within urban settings. Calls to understand the impacts of climate change policy have fostered research on climate change politics, issues of power and control, conflicts, and the inherently unjust nature of much climate policy. What is largely missing from the current scholarship is a sober assessment of the mundane aspects of climate change governance on the ground and a concern with what kind of cultural and socio‐economic change is taking place, beyond comparative analyses of the effectiveness of climate policies.'

Read the full article on Wiley Online Library

10 years after copenhagen - research met
3. Urban Energy Landscapes

Book description

The urban energy transition represents a transformation of such magnitude that it will require a re-examination of the fundamental relationship between societies and energy resources. The potential for cities to deliver sustainable energy for their citizens requires context-specific action. One-size-fits-all approaches - which assume homogeneity across cities and economies of scale in the extension of electricity networks - have largely failed to deliver sustainable energy for all. This challenge is existential, questioning the fundamental ways in which contemporary life is organized around energy. This innovative volume argues that the urban energy transition depends on specific urban trajectories and heterogeneous urban energy landscapes, reflecting both strategic projects of urbanization and people's dwelling practices. Looking at in-depth case studies of urban energy landscapes in four major cities, it calls for citizens' active engagement with experimentation in everyday life. The book will have wide interdisciplinary appeal to researchers in energy, urban and environmental studies.

View on publisher's website: Cambridge University Press

4. The Future of Climate Urbanism:
the second Sheffield Urbanism lecture series

4. Climate urbanism series

About the event

The Sheffield Urbanism Lecture series is an initiative of the Urban Institute to generate provocative and nonstandard propositions for understanding processes of urbanization and urban life. It is intended as a space to reimagine both the conceptualizations and narratives of urban studies.


The multiple lives of climate urbanism

Professor Vanesa Castán Broto opens the lecture series by exploring the emergence of climate urbanism and

its current manifestations across different geographies, with particular attention to the ways in which climate

urbanism is reinforcing urban inequalities and producing new ones. 


Technologies of climate urbanism

Professor Simon Marvin considers how climate urbanism has generated new arguments for the enhanced and accelerated technification of urban society and incorporating technology into urban environments. The talk considers the intertwining of climate turbulence and vital system security examining how this is accelerating.


Queering climate urbanism

Professor Vanesa Castán Broto concludes the series by investigating alternative perspectives on climate urbanism that are looking to disrupt existing understandings about how to take action and with what purpose. The lecture will consider what kinds of orientations are deployed within climate urbanism, and the extent to which reparative alternatives are even possible. 

cover article blog Compound urban crises.png

5. Reparative innovation
for urban climate adaptation

5. Reparatie Innovation


Scholars of climate urbanism have raised the conundrum that action to address the ongoing challenges of climate change in cities have distributional impacts, deepening existing inequalities. This challenge is related in part to the ideas of urban innovation that dominate climate responses. Disruptive innovations are directed towards the rupture of existing systems of knowledge, seeking to create new ways of looking at the problem. The emerging scholarship on climate urbanism suggests that measures to adapt to climate change in urban environments heeding a disruptive narrative have uneven impacts and too often disadvantage the most vulnerable communities. In this article, we ask what it means to look for reparative innovation for climate change adaptation instead. Reparative thought has influenced different debates on climate change adaptation and other issues related to social justice, from dealing with the aftermath of conflicts to engaging in reparative experiences to deal with trauma. Critical theory has also looked into reparation as a means to engage with reparative understandings of cultural objects and heritage. We argue for a focus on reparative innovation to open up alternative innovation frameworks that acknowledge existing material urban histories and engage with the multiple forms of knowledge within the urban experience that support climate adaptation.

Read the full essay on the British Academy website

6. Urban transformations
to keep it all the same

6. Urban transformations to keep it all the same


The concept of urban transformations has gathered interest among scholars and policymakers calling for radical change towards sustainability. The discourse represents an entry point to address systemic causes of ecological degradation and social injustice, thereby providing solutions to intractable global challenges. Yet, so far, urban transformations projects have fallen short of delivering significant action in cities. The limited ability of this discourse to enable change is, in our view, linked with a broader dynamic that threatens progressive commitments to knowledge pluralism. There are discourses that, cloaked in emancipatory terminology, prevent the flourishing of radical ideas. The ivy is a metaphor to understand how such discourses operate. Ivy discourses grow from a radical foundation, but they do so while reproducing assumptions and values of mainstream discourses. We are concerned that urban transformations functions as an ivy discourse, which reproduces rather than challenges knowledge systems and relations that sustain hegemony.

Read the full article on ANTIPODE

7. Urban Inhabitation
in the Anthropocene

7. Urban Inhabitation in the Anthropocene

Urban Inhabitation in the Anthropocene conference

25—27 April 2023


Between the 25th and 27th April 2023, we held the Urban Inhabitation in the Anthropocene conference in Sheffield, UK. The programme of the conference was in line with the Urban Insitute’s signature programme and centered on the LO-ACT themes of everyday climate action and social justice. Each day of the conference presented a step towards a sustainable future, from assessing our current state of crisis, to looking at the other side and challenging the status quo, to finding hope.

We would like to thank again all the brilliant researchers who took part in this conference.


Session 1: Inhabiting a broken world


  • Vanesa Castán Broto - Living With Crisis

Opening Keynote

  • Matthew Gandy – Urban ecological imaginaries in the Anthropocene


  • Simon Marvin – Inhabitation and the pervasiveness of the urban technical

Session 2: Confronting capitalist ruins, living with precarity

  • Timothy Luke – From Surviving in the Ruins of Nature to Thriving in the Rift Metabolites of Urbanatura

  • Adam Abdullah – Marginal Anthropocenes: violent disruptions, meek defiance, and precarious autonomies

  • Saska Petrova – Unassuming energy activism

Session 3: The construction of climate apartheid

  • Andrew Baldwin – The mind of climate apartheid

  • Tanzil Shafique – How not to plan a necropolis: Moving beyond the Discursive partition against climate-impacted dwellers in Dhaka

  • Miranda Iossifidis – Exploring speculative urban ecofascist present(s) and futures through creative methods

  • Erwin Nugraha – Inhabiting the climate: The origins and development of climate enclaves in Indonesia

Public Lecture

  • Tim Morton: The Silence of the Lawn


Session 4: Living in a more-than-human world

  • Hilda Lloréns, Carlos García-Quijano – Living with Land Crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) in Puerto Rico’s Urbanized Mangrove Coasts

  • Ihnji Jon And Prince K. Guma – Rethinking “humanistic” ethics in the more-than-human worlds: people, infrastructure, and spatial milieu

  • Aya Nassar - The city as an object of desire: Reflections from Cairo

  • Luna Khirfan – Transformative Nature-based Solutions: the daylighting (de-culverting) of urban streams for just and equitable climate adaptation

Session 5: Challenging coloniality

  • Ankit Kumar – Anthropocene justice: towards an anticolonial politics of climate change

  • Guillermo Delgado, Phillip Lühl – Haunted infrastructures: the delayed question of decoloniality in urban modes of inhabitation in Namibia, a visual display

  • Nobukhosi Ngwenya – Precarious assemblages, selective inclusion: Enduring colonial and apartheid legacies in Cape Town’s spatial form

Session 6: The plural meanings of climate justice, roundtable

Part I: Energy and carbon

  • Julie Sze – Reimaging a Just Urban Transition in an Unjust World

  • Valerie Olson – Designing Multidimensional Research for the Urban Anthropocene

  • Lorraine Dongo – Climate action beyond the ‘global city’: place-based account of climate change responses in Quelimane, Mozambique

Part II: Adaptation

  • Cassidy Johnson – Reimagining questions of environmental justice and how uncertainty and turbulence redefine current and future responses

  • Anjal Prakash & Pranav Garimella – Gender, Disasters and Climate Change in Himalayan Towns: The Interrelations

  • Panagiota Kotsila – Embodied and everyday knowledges of immigrants over urban climate health vulnerability and adaptation in European cities



Session 7: Affective homespaces

  • Michele Lancione – Expulsion, Extraction, and the Impossible Possibilities of Home

  • Georgia Alexandri – Housing in climate change crisis

  • Tatiana Acevedo-Guerrero – Homescapes make the world we live in? Exploring urban inhabitation in Colombia

  • Willie J. Wright – Ante-Austerity Urbanism

Session 8: Care, love and social change in the Anthropocene

  • Stefan Bouzarovski – Love and labour in the electric city

  • Ethemcan Turhan – Tenants and terawatts: Exploring residents’ viewpoints on local energy transition in Hoogkerk, the Netherlands

  • Julia Spanier – Rural-urban care? Interrogating the transformation of city-countryside relations in community-supported agriculture

Session 9: Dreaming up spaces of hope

Closing Keynote

  • AbdouMaliq Simone – Strategic resignation in the urban Anthropocene


  • Linda Westman – Spaces of justice and uncertainty


  • Beth Perry – Anthropocene epistemics

Design Workshop

  • Erika Conchis – What is everyday soft data made of?



In parallel to sessions, we hosted the exhibition Everyday Life in Ekangala and Hawassa curated by Paula Meth (University of Sheffield). The exhibition draws us into the lives of young adults living in South Africa (Ekangala) and Ethiopia (Hawassa) in order to better understand their work/ housing nexuses in relation to wider structural realities and infrastructural changes.

Hawassa is the site of Africa’s largest industrial park, but the growing city is experiencing a crisis in housing provision following decades of underinvestment; Ekangala in contrast benefits from decent state housing for the urban poor but its collapsing Ekandustria industrial complex means secure employment is unachievable for most.

The exhibition explores how young people navigate these work/housing nexuses. The exhibition materials are a mix of those crafted by young adults engaged in a British Academy ‘Youth Futures’ research project (2020-2023) and materials produced by ‘professional photographers’ and project researchers. They include a song, ‘selfie portraits’, poetry, stories, and video recordings (produced by the youth), alongside photographs of them and their homes, and brief quotations from life history interviews. Through these, we gain insights into their domestic spaces, their relationships with their urban spaces, and we learn of their dreams and frustrations. Their stories provide insights into urban mobility and stuckness, poverty and the challenges of ‘entrepreneurialism’, how housing is shared and used, and the significance of family in shaping youth’s futures.

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8. Hope in something:
An earthly tragedy in five acts

8. Hope in something
Urban Movements and Climate Change.jpg

The book Urban Movements and Climate Change: Loss, Damage and Radical Adaptation, edited by Marco Armiero, Ethemcan Turhan and Salvatore Paolo de Rosa was released end of 2023 via Amsterdam University Press

The book explores diverse worlds and practices of urban social movements resisting the rising tides of climate crisis and social injustice.

Book description

From the social uprisings in Santiago de Chile to the radical municipalism experiments in Naples, this volume takes the reader on an intellectual journey at the frontlines across global South and global North where climate breakdown meets social innovations. While the effects of the climate crisis are becoming more extreme and tangible across the globe with every passing day, urban social movements and their radical strategies to resist climate injustice often remain concealed from sight. Contributors to this volume ask how would it be to look at the politics of urban loss-and-damage not from the highly securitized zones of climate summits, but from favelas in Rio de Janeiro, flood-prone communities in São Paulo, urban gardens in Naples, or neighborhoods resisting climate gentrification in New York City? This book explores diverse worlds and praxis of urban social movements resisting the rising tides of climate crisis and social injustice.

The second chapter Hope in something: An earthly tragedy in five acts (p35) is written by Vanesa Castán Broto and based on LO-ACT research


This chapter explores the generative potential of the unexpected and the experimental in bringing about transformational change. By reflecting on works of art, personal experiences and scientific literature on climate action and adaptation, Castán Broto brings to the fore the tensions between hope and the compulsion to act, between sense of responsibility and paralysis in the Anthropocene, between disruption and innovation. The demands for rapid changes at scale, while justified in their urgency, risk to lead to dilemmas concerning energy transitions and the issue of who will have to pay for such disruptions. Therefore, an alternative form of reading the crises should move away from a paranoid one toward building a reparative ethos. Castán Broto concludes by proposing reparative climate action.

View on publisher's website:

Amsterdam University Press (open access)

A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie.jpg

A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie, by Albert Bierstadt, 1866

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