Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Themes for future issues

October 2019: Getting food on the table in cities.

Deadline for submissions: passed.

Food security and nutrition policy debates have shifted in the past decade or so, with growing attention to food consumption and especially to food access, affordability and utilization. This recognizes the importance of two transitions: the urban transition, with the majority of the world’s population now living and working in urban centres; and the nutrition transition, with a growing proportion of overweight and obese adults, sometimes living in the same household as under-nourished children. There are clear links between malnutrition and food insecurity on the one hand, and urban poverty in both its income and non-income dimensions on the other. There are also links between urban expansion and urbanization and the changing extent and nature of food systems. Changing gender relations, changes in urban form, and the impacts of climate change also affect urban households’ food consumption. Understanding the factors that shape access and utilization of food in urban contexts is still patchy; so too is knowledge that supports policies that explicitly benefit the urban poor.

We are calling for papers that examine food and nutrition related issues in urban areas, including:

• How local environmental hazards in low-income settlements affect food safety – often as the result of inadequate provision of basic services and infrastructure and safe food storage.

• How low, irregular incomes, lack of time and lack of storage space within the home affect how low-income groups access, prepare and consume food. How is this changing? What are the impacts of increasing built-up areas and densities?

• The role of informal food vendors and formal and informal markets in food access and distribution; and the role of local governments and urban planning in supporting – or undermining – food security and healthy nutrition for the urban poor.

• Innovations in data collection methods on food and nutrition, and assessments of what data are needed and by whom.

• Examining how urbanization dynamics affect local food production and availability, including the role of small urban centres in processing and distributing food.

April and October 2020: Rethinking the role of the state and communities in urban housing and land-use management.

Deadline for submissions: passed.

Housing seems to be in crisis in most urban centres around the world. In prosperous cities, house prices rise faster than incomes – forcing low-income (and even a proportion of middle-income) households into more cramped, poor-quality housing in more peripheral locations. In much of the global South, high proportions of city populations live in informal settlements because they cannot afford to buy, rent or build formal good-quality housing. The proportion of individuals who live in informal settlements – often 30–60 per cent of city populations – is a measure of the failure of formal systems. The irony is that this is marginalizing the workforce on which city prosperity depends – and on which its wealthier households depend for goods and services. We welcome papers that offer original analyses of the causes of the housing crisis.

We also welcome papers that give us insights into how low-income urban dwellers buy, build or rent (or otherwise acquire) accommodation and their priorities with respect to shelter. And how this can be supported by national and local government policies and programmes that increase the supply and reduce the costs of housing. This includes:

• Expanding supplies of serviced plots for housing with good access to employment and integrated into high-quality public transport

• Reducing costly, slow and often corrupt procedures for land purchase

• Changing inappropriate regulations – for instance unnecessarily large minimum plot sizes

• Housing finance systems that are inclusive and that support land purchase and incremental housing

We encourage papers that go beyond descriptions of the problems to offer conceptual and analytical insights into inclusive and scalable solutions – including examples of good practice. This includes housing initiatives that draw on resources from individuals/households and community organizations (including their savings and their capacities to contribute to upgrading) and private sector enterprises (for instance for building materials, small loans and rental housing), as well as drawing resources and support from ward, municipal and higher levels of government. We also welcome papers on housing initiatives, which include building resilience to the changes that climate change will or may bring and that contribute to low-carbon cities.

April 2021: Education and learning for inclusive development

Deadline for submissions: 15 August 2020.

Education is fundamental to the achievement of equitable and transformative urban development, a means of both fostering the urban advantage and deriving optimal benefit from everything this advantage implies. It is also, of course, the avenue to personal development, contributing as it does to the potential to exercise agency in the world and to what Appadurai termed the capacity to aspire. And yet too often problems with both access and quality make education, or its absence, yet another dimension of the disadvantage of poor urban citizens, denying them opportunity and reinforcing exclusion. Migrants and refugees may find it especially difficult to gain access to schooling. In some cities, poor urban children are actually less likely to attend school than their rural counterparts.

This issue of the journal will focus on a wide range of related topics as they pertain to education in urban areas. We welcome both broad policy discussions and detailed case studies, and analyses of the barriers to education as well as papers on interesting models and solutions. We encourage submissions on both formal school systems and informal alternatives, on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and its implications for families, on adult literacy and training for livelihoods, on health education and on the self-education of organized groups, working to advance their options and to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.