Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Themes for future issues

Environment and Urbanization does not take unsolicited proposals for special issues.

April 2024: Decarbonization and urban justice

Deadline for submissions: 15 August 2023.


Much of the debate on climate justice in cities focuses on adaptation and calls on wealthy countries and  donors to increase and decentralize investments and aid for climate adaptation projects. This reflects how the increasingly severe effects of climate breakdown – for example more frequent intense storms, heat and flooding – disproportionately hurt the urban poor across the global North and South. There is less focus on cities as accelerators of decarbonization or how mitigation finance can also respond to pervasive dimensions of urban poverty such as poor access to housing and basic services. Decarbonization has the potential to transform life in cities. However, to be equitable in effectiveness, interventions must benefit all urban residents, especially the urban poor. Informal settlements and other low-income neighbourhoods have relatively low carbon footprints, and any infrastructural investments in these neighbourhoods that include a focus on decarbonization will enable these communities to bypass the carbon-intensive trajectories underway in other parts of the city.

We invite contributions that expand documentation and deepen our knowledge of how climate change mitigation policies and practices can align with the agendas of new and established urban social movements and the imperative to decrease socioeconomic inequalities in cities. This special issue of Environment and Urbanization will build on the growing literature examining climate justice in cities (Bulkeley, Edwards and Fuller 2014; Granberg and Glover 2021) and urban just transitions (McCauley 2021; Hughes and Hoffmann 2020), particularly concerning emissions mitigation and resilience in informal and low-income neighbourhoods (Almansi, Motta and Hardoy 2020; Satterthwaite et al. 2020; Dodman, Archer and Mayr 2018), aligning climate finance with infrastructure inequalities and urban justice (Mulligan et al. 2020; Colenbrander, Dodman and Mitlin 2018), the injustice of urban climate policy and action (Blok 2020; Bouzarovski, Frankowski and Herrero 2018; Sovacool et al. 2019), and how urban social movements are contesting inequalities in the context of a warming planet (Routledge, Cumbers and Derickson 2018; Pickerill 2020).

We invite submissions in the form of academic articles or Field Notes based on original research or innovative practices. We will also consider interviews or dialogue exchanges(1) with social movement leaders or artists. Potential themes to explore include:

  • Policy and governance innovations driving decarbonization and reduction of poverty in cities
  • Analysis of co-produced and pro-poor mitigation interventions from informal settlements and low-income neighbourhoods
  • Analysis of new urban social movements in relation to environmental and climate justice
  • Creative approaches of community mobilization connecting the arts, activism and climate action
  • Critical analysis of urban climate policy and governance in relation to social, economic and spatial inequalities
  • Planning for more equitable and compact cities, with potential (re)development on brownfield and greenfield sites
  • Potential clashes between urban justice and climate action, such as “green gentrification”, forced relocation of informal settlements, “green washing” etc.
  • The concept, measurement and application of “climate justice” in cities
  • Regional or international comparative analysis of climate action and inequalities
  • Tracking and analysis of climate finance flows to cities and effects on segregation and socioeconomic and spatial inequalities
  • Integration of renewable energy and/or green-blue infrastructure in informal and low-income neighbourhoods

 [1] In contrast to an interview, a dialogue exchange might be an edited conversation between two or three thought- and movement leaders speaking to relevant research questions and debate.


Almansi, Florencia, Jorge Martín Motta and Jorgelina Hardoy (2020), “Incorporating a resilience lens into the social and urban transformation of informal settlements: The participatory upgrading process in Villa 20, Buenos Aires (2016–2020)”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 32, No 2, pages 407–28, available at https://doi.org/10.1177/0956247820935717.

Blok, Anders (2020), “Urban green gentrification in an unequal world of climate change”, Urban Studies Vol 57, No 14, pages 2803–16, available at https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098019891050.

Bouzarovski, Stefan, Jan Frankowski and Sergio Tirado Herrero (2018), “Low-carbon gentrification: When climate change encounters residential displacement”, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Vol 42, No 5, pages 845–63, available at https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.12634.

Bulkeley, Harriet, Gareth A S Edwards and Sara Fuller (2014), “Contesting climate justice in the city: Examining politics and practice in urban climate change experiments”, Global Environmental Change Vol 25 (March), pages 31–40, available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.01.009.

Colenbrander, Sarah, David Dodman and Diana Mitlin (2018), “Using climate finance to advance climate justice: The politics and practice of channelling resources to the local level”, Climate Policy Vol 18, No 7, pages 902–15, available at https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2017.1388212.

Dodman, David, Diane Archer and Marcus Mayr (2018), “Addressing the most vulnerable first – pro-poor climate action in informal settlements”, UN-Habitat, Nairobi, 60 pages, available at https://apo.org.au/node/219601.

Granberg, Mikael and Leigh Glover (2021), “The climate just city”, Sustainability Vol 13, No 3, pages 1201, available at https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031201.

Hughes, Sara and Matthew Hoffmann (2020), “Just urban transitions: Toward a research agenda”, WIREs Climate Change Vol 11, No 3: e640, available at https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.640.

McCauley, Darren (2021), “Managing a just transition in urban Ccntexts”, Urban Planning, Management and Governance in Emerging Economies, June, pages 40–56.

Mulligan, Joe, Vera Bukachi, Jack Campbell Clause, Rosie Jewell, Franklin Kirimi and Chelina Odbert (2020), “Hybrid infrastructures, hybrid governance: New evidence from Nairobi (Kenya) on green-blue-grey infrastructure in informal settlements”, Anthropocene Vol 29 (March): 100227, available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ancene.2019.100227.

Pickerill, Jenny (2020), “Eco-communities as insurgent climate urbanism: Radical urban socio-material transformations”, Urban Geography Vol 42, No 6, pages 1–6, available at https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2020.1850618.

Routledge, Paul, Andrew Cumbers and Kate Driscoll Derickson (2018), “States of just transition: Realising climate justice through and against the State”, Geoforum Vol 88 (January), pages 78–86, available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2017.11.015.

Satterthwaite, David, Diane Archer, Sarah Colenbrander, David Dodman, Jorgelina Hardoy, Diana Mitlin and Sheela Patel (2020), “Building resilience to climate change in informal settlements”, One Earth Vol 2, No 2, pages 143–56, available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2020.02.002.

Sovacool, Benjamin K, Lucy Baker, Mari Martiskainen and Andrew Hook (2019), “Processes of elite power and low-carbon pathways: Experimentation, financialisation, and dispossession”, Global Environmental Change Vol 59 (November): 101985, available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.101985.


Please contact Jenny Peebles, E&U Managing Editor, to submit an expression of interest or with any queries: Jenny.Peebles@iied.org.

Guest editors

Dr Anna Walnycki, Principal researcher, Human Settlements research group, International Institute for Environment and Development

Dr Tucker Landesman, Senior researcher, Human Settlements research group, International Institute for Environment and Development

Environment and Urbanization does not take unsolicited proposals for special issues.

October 2024: Forced displacement and the city

Deadline for submissions: 15th February 2024. Short expressions of interest outlining potential articles are welcome any time before 15th January 2024.

This special issue has an explicit focus on towns and cities in low- and middle-income countries hosting refugees and IDPs in protracted displacement.

Although statistics are unreliable, it is generally accepted that the majority of forcibly displaced people – around 60 per cent of refugees and more than half of all internally displaced people (IDPs) –   now live in towns and cities around the world. Globally, 76 per cent of refugees are living in low- and middle-income countries, and urban areas of the global South are thus disproportionately affected by these trends. Many displaced people arrive with limited assets, and find that without humanitarian assistance or the legal right to work, these are quickly depleted. Locating to areas of the city with the cheapest rents, refugees and IDPs often live alongside low-income and marginalized households in informal settlements, where they may experience additional vulnerabilities linked to their migration status.

Statements on the urbanization of displacement now appear with regularity in international policy documents or on the websites of humanitarian organisations. However, programming and assistance for urban refugees and IDPs still lags behind the attention and funding focused on camps.  Recognition that displacement trends are mirroring broader urbanization trends are only slowly translating into in-depth research on the urban experiences of displaced people, and the impacts of displacement on the urban fabric, its economy and systems of service delivery.

In many countries, cities of refuge are intrinsically linked to camps. In some cases, displaced people will have transited through or lived in a camp, or move between the camp and an urban centre, often to nearby secondary cities. Aid agencies and hosting governments present the camp as an alternative for those who are unable to achieve ‘self-reliance’ in the city. In addition, there is a body of scholarship that posits that camps, over time, develop social and economic systems – as well as infrastructure – that are urban in nature. The idea that remote camps could become autonomous urban centres, functioning without the support of humanitarian assistance, has also caught the imagination of some international policymakers and donors.

Despite the co-existence of refugees in urban areas and in camps, and the flows of people, goods, capital and information between them, comparative research on the experiences of these populations is rare. An exception is IIED’s Protracted Displacement in an Urban World study, that has used mixed methods to compare the wellbeing and livelihoods of refugees and IDPs in camps and urban areas of Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Jordan and Kenya. Building on IIED’s research, this special issue of Environment and Urbanization will provide a platform for original research on the intersections of urbanization and displacement, experiences of displaced populations (including comparative work between camp and urban spaces), actual and potential roles for municipal authorities responding to the arrival of forcibly displaced people, and policy and programming innovations promoting inclusive environments for refugees and IDPs in towns and cities.

We invite submissions in the form of academic articles or Field Notes based on original research or innovative practices. Themes may include:

  • How displaced people navigate formal and informal city systems to find shelter, achieve livelihoods and access basic services;
  • Reflections on refugee/IDP self-reliance and/or wellbeing in towns and cities, their economic and social contributions, and the opportunities and barriers to a decent standing of living in exile;
  • Municipal responses to forced displacement that promote refugee and IDP inclusion, including innovations in participatory city planning and expanding service provision and protection;
  • Experiences of international, national and community or refugee-led organisations in supporting municipal authorities and local service providers to promote an inclusive, safe environment for displaced people in towns and cities;
  • Explorations of the relationships between camps and cities, and how displaced people navigate the humanitarian system to maximizse benefits to themselves and their families;
  • The role of secondary cities and small urban centres in providing opportunities for refugee livelihoods and protection.
  • Analysing the experiences of refugees and IDPs in the context of theories related to urban inequality and intersectional disadvantage including stigmatization and social exclusion.

Please visit https://www.iied.org/forced-displacement-city for details of an academic symposium related to this special issue.


Please contact Jenny Peebles, E&U Managing Editor, to submit an expression of interest or with any queries: Jenny.Peebles@iied.org.

Guest editors

Dr Lucy Earle, Principal researcher and Director of Human Settlements group, International Institute for Environment and Development

Dr Alison Brown, Professor of Urban Planning and International Development, School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University