Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Themes for future issues

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

October 2022 and April 2023: Urban inequalities

Deadline for submissions: passed.

With three-quarters of cities now more unequal than in 1996, urban inequality has increasingly been recognised as a key global challenge (UN-Habitat). More recently, Inequalities have been heightened by phenomena such as the climate emergency, forced migrations, and COVID-19. Growing concern for national and global inequalities has been accompanied by an acknowledgement of the multi-dimensional aspects of inequality that are particularly severe in urban areas. Spatial, political, economic and social disadvantage combines to deny individuals and groups their right to safe and meaningful life. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN-Habitat New Urban Agenda recognize that addressing growing inequality has to be a priority for local and national governments, and these global agendas are working alongside local efforts to support urban transformation.

While reducing inequalities has been increasingly acknowledged as a global challenge shaped by structural conditions, local action is indispensable to tackle the territorial manifestations and many of the underlying causes of inequities. Global phenomena such as the climate emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic, increased housing insecurity, and the precarization of working conditions have deepened existing inequalities and created new ones, which bring challenges that are locally experienced. Drawing on the work of the KNOW programme, this special issue of Environment and Urbanization will include papers that advance our understanding of inequality and how it can be addressed at different scales.

We are looking for academic articles and “field notes” that present original research, practices, experiences, or theoretical reflections about the construction of pathways towards urban equality, discussing the multi-scalar challenges of addressing urban inequalities. In doing so, we encourage an approach to urban equality that is a multidimensional experience for urban dwellers, which requires a combination of equitable distribution, reciprocal recognition, parity political participation, and solidarity and care. This definition builds upon seminal works on social justice by Nancy Fraser (1995) and Iris Marion Young (1990), as well as research that has mobilised the concept of social justice to explore issues of urban equality (Allen & Frediani, 2013; Levy, 2015; Levy & Davila, 2018).

We encourage paper submissions that address one or more of the following key themes:

  • The concept, measurement and framing of urban (in)equalities from a multidimensional perspective.
  • The role of different knowledge claims and knowledge co-production in addressing urban inequalities.
  • Comparative and collaborative perspectives on urban inequalities and the notion of “pathways” to urban equality.
  • The challenges of addressing inequality from a situated and intersectional perspective, considering issues of class, gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, ability, migration status, or sexuality, as well as local trajectories that have shaped disparities.
  • Discussions on urban and territorial governance, democracy and participation in addressing urban inequality.
  • Experiences of community participation and social movements’ involvement in tackling urban inequalities.
  • Interconnections between urban inequality challenges and contemporary phenomena such as climate emergency, forced migrations and COVID-19.
  • The role of sectorial policies (land, housing, transport, health, education, energy, infrastructure, etc.), financial mechanisms, and planning in tackling urban inequalities at different scales.
  • Urbanization processes and the (re)production of inequalities, segregation, and fragmented infrastructure and cities.
  • The interconnection between urban inequalities and wider development challenges and human rights.

October 2023: Urbanization and economic development

Deadline for submissions: 15 February 2023. (Short expressions of interest outlining potential articles are welcome any time before 15 January 2023.)

There is growing recognition among policymakers and researchers around the world that cities perform a leading role in economic growth and human development. This contribution is doubly important as countries seek to bounce back from the dual health and economic crises of COVID-19. Although the pandemic threatens core aspects of urban life, such as density and connectivity, cities are best placed to lead the economic recovery, renewal and transformation. This is because they have inherent advantages for growth and inclusion arising from the concentration of assets, institutions and diverse skill sets, along with strong information and trading connections to other cities and regions. These attributes have the potential to foster dynamic human and business interactions that promote learning, stimulate enterprise, raise productivity, create jobs and livelihoods, and increase the returns on public and private investment. However, the positive feedback and synergies are not automatic because urban growth is also accompanied by congestion, pollution, overloaded infrastructure, social tensions and higher property prices, which can deter productive investment, entrepreneurial talent and highly skilled workers. Successful outcomes seem to require capable city-level institutions to guide the process and provide essential public goods and services, because market mechanisms cannot organize urban development effectively to ensure that it creates functional, liveable and sustainable environments.

The purpose of this special issue is to explore the contemporary opportunities and challenges facing cities in seeking to boost economic growth and ensure widely shared prosperity. What are the foundations of urban economic success in the 21st century and how are these changing? What obstacles need to be tackled to harness the potential of urbanization to lift people out of poverty and improve their wellbeing? Environment and Urbanization encourages submissions that address one or more of the following key themes:

  • The relationship between urbanization and economic growth/development.
  • The challenge of low productivity, low investment and low-income urban growth, and the success of efforts to transform these conditions.
  • The effectiveness of efforts to promote small, medium and/or large enterprises, to create jobs and to secure livelihoods.
  • The changing relationship among the locations of firms, households and transport systems in the post-pandemic city.
  • The planning and financing of urban infrastructure to improve productivity and liveability.
  • The role of city-level governance and institutions in planning and managing urban economic development.
  • The role of cities in macroeconomic policies, national industrial policies and/or national infrastructure plans.
  • Ways of understanding and enhancing links between city economies and economic activity in small towns and villages in the surrounding area.
  • The concept and measurement of urban density and its economic upsides and downsides.
  • The existence and strength of agglomeration economies in the global South.
  • The relationship between urban economies and the climate emergency.
  • The contribution of digital technology and/or innovation to urban economic development.

April 2024: Connecting decarbonization and social justice in cities

Deadline for submissions: 15 August 2023. (Short expressions of interest outlining potential articles are welcome any time before 15 July 2023.)

Details are forthcoming.