Posts Tagged ‘Research’

Urban food security, urban resilience and climate change: Australian report

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on August 2nd, 2013

Guerrilla Garden_fullyreclined_BY
Photo by fullyreclined via flickr CC

The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) report on urban food and climate change is now available for download.

Food security is increasingly recognised as a problem in developed countries like Australia as well as in developing countries of the global south, and as a problem facing cities and urban populations in these countries. Despite producing more food than is consumed in Australia, certain groups in particular, places are finding it increasingly difficult to access nutritious and healthy food at affordable prices. Moreover, whole urban populations have found their food supply lines severely compromised by major disasters such as floods and cyclones which are expected to have greater impacts as the climate changes.

This changing landscape of food production, distribution and consumption has drawn attention to the nature of contemporary urban food systems in general and to the security and resilience of urban food systems in particular. This has in turn highlighted the extent of urban agriculture and its potential to play a greater role in strengthening the food security of Australian cities and building urban resilience in a changing climate.

This report presents the results of a synthesis and integrative research project that explored these issues through a critical review of relevant literature and case study research in two cities. It had three main aims:

  • to increase our knowledge of the current extent of urban agriculture in Australian cities;
  • to review its capacity to play a more prominent role in enhancing urban food security and urban resilience and;
  • to assess the impacts of climate change on the capacity of urban agriculture to enhance food security and urban resilience.

The research provides much needed up-to-date information on the extent of current urban agricultural practices, a critical review of good practice in Australia and beyond and an analysis of the opportunities and barriers to the expansion of these practices, especially in the face of climate change.

Visit the website to download the full report.

Please cite this report as:
Burton, P, Lyons, K, Richards, C, Amati, M, Rose, N, Desfours, L, Pires, V, Barclay, R, 2013, Urban food security, urban resilience and climate change, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, pp.176.

Position Available: Visions and Pathways for Low Carbon Built Environment and Urban Living

Posted in Research, Seeking, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on May 15th, 2013

Post Doctoral Researcher: Visions and Pathways for Low Carbon Built Environment and Urban Living.

A flagship project of the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab and the CRC for Low Carbon Living.

(Melbourne University Position Number 0031360 – see:

Join a ground-breaking flagship project to explore and articulate visions, scenarios and pathways for a low-carbon resilient urban environment linked to a dynamic program of engagement with industry and government.

This project is lead from the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne in collaboration with researchers from the University of New South Wales and Swinburne University. It is supported by a grant from the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living, a major research initiative bringing together key property, planning, engineering and policy organisations with leading Australian researchers to develop new social, technological and policy tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment.

The challenge of the decarbonisation of the built environment involves no less than a transition from one set of technologies, infrastructures, practices, perceptions, values, policies and regulations to a (potentially very) different set. This research project will investigate the diversity and complex systems dynamics of technological and societal changes required to pursue a low-carbon resilient society.

The project will use scenario thinking within a twenty-five to thirty year horizon. Over its life, we will road-map potential transitions and disruptive change, articulate and refine scenarios for Australia’s future, guide designers in the production of visualisations of the future built environment, provide strategic input to the scoping of the CRC research program and publish for academic, professional and general media.

The successful candidate will focus on the investigation and elaboration of approaches to the design of ‘eco-cities’ and the technological, social and infrastructural innovations that could provide the basis for the transformation of both new and existing built environments. Reporting to the project leader, Professor Chris Ryan, the position will connect closely with researchers in the Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (VEIL) and will be located within the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.

>> Application deadline extended to May 22, 2013

>> Download the Position Description or apply online

Sustainable Melbourne and Sustainable Cities Net are projects of the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL).  Occasionally we cross-promote projects or events in order to reach as many of the right people as possible.

Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037

Posted in Research, Visions by Jessica Bird on October 23rd, 2012

Image by D. Armellin

A local resilience-building project about climate extremes.

Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037 is part of a larger research project Transforming Institutions for Climate Extremes. This project is led by Che Biggs at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) at the University of Melbourne. It aims to understand how communities and institutions can prepare and become more resilient to disruptive climate conditions. Anglesea was chosen as an ideal case-study site because it faces multiple climate hazards such as fire, drought and sea level rise but it also has a creative community and a strong local identity.

What is the Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037 blog about?

The images and articles you see on the Visions of Resilience: Anglesea 2037 blog are glimpses of possible futures. They depict strategies and ideas about how Anglesea could become more resilient to the more extreme possible impacts of climate change. The ideas represented have been developed from a workshop involving Anglesea community members. In the workshop people were asked to propose adaptation strategies in response to a series of challenging future scenarios that describe Anglesea in the year 2037. These scenarios were built from an assessment of climate model projections, historical records from along the Great Ocean Road and interviews with Anglesea residents. The small number of glimpses you see were combined and synthesised from more than 100 ideas developed in the workshop. Treat them as a window into a range of possible futures that might exist. We encourage you to comment on what is good or not good about the way they respond to challenges from climate change.

Why this project? When managing disaster risk, government and private sector organisations often rely heavily on ‘probability’ or ‘expert’ assessments of the likely type, extent and frequency of negative impacts. This can come unstuck when disasters occur outside what has been predicted and planned for. Transforming Institutions for Climate Extremes is a response to this problem. It responds to the call for new methods to improve community resilience and help communities improve disaster planning. It seeks to explore how prepared our communities, our decision-makers and decision-making processes are for the challenges of ‘new’ climate conditions. It will consider what institutional changes are needed to meet those challenges whilst ensuring community ownership.

Climate change in Anglesea? Anglesea lies in an area of southern Australia that will be affected by climate change in many ways. Climate models project that the most likely direct impacts will include changes to rainfall (drier but with more intense rainfall events), changes in temperature (warmer with more heatwaves), increasing acidity of oceans and rising sea levels. In-turn, these impacts are expected to affect a whole range of factors including increases in coastal erosion and days of extreme fire danger to increased risk of heat-stroke and changes to when plants flower and birds migrate. Climate Change is the effect of heat from the sun being trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by gases produced by human activity. While some of these gases (like carbon dioxide) are found naturally in the atmosphere, as we increase their concentration above natural levels, they trap more heat from the sun – a bit like an insulation blanket.

You can view the glimpses of a resilient Anglesea in 2037 and comment at You can also like the Facebook page to be kept up to date with the project.

Plug-in Hybrid Retrofit Kits for Any Car: Research project

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 27th, 2012

Source: The Age

Photos by Andy Heidt for MTSU

From “Do-it-yourself hybrid” by Barry Park:

A cheap bolt-on kit will one day be able to turn most ordinary cars into fuel-sipping plug-in hybrids, US researchers say.

Engineering technology students at the Middle Tennessee State University have fitted a 20-year-old Honda Accord wagon with a retrofit plug-in hybrid system that powers the front wheels using the conventional petrol engine, and a pair of electric hub motors hidden inside the rear wheels.

Users are then able to plug the hybrid car into an ordinary power point to charge up a set of lithium-ion batteries mounted in the wagon’s load space.

The batteries in turn feed electricity into the hub motors to provide low-speed power that is able to help the conventional petrol engine accelerate – the most fuel-hungry part of driving.

The bolt-on kit was developed in recognition of the fact that many drivers in the US only travelled about 70 kilometres a day at speeds below about 70km/h.


Read the full article by Barry Park on the Age or read more about the project on Middle Tennessee State University’s website.

Healthy Foods for Healthy Communities: Report

Posted in Policies, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 5th, 2012

The HealthWest Food Security Network is very pleased to present the Healthy Foods for Healthy Communities – Issues of food access and availability in the west, a report canvassing key food security issues in the HealthWest catchment.

The report findings point to a number of food access and food availability issues in the west based on the findings from three data sources: food outlet mapping, the Victorian Healthy Food Basket (VHFB) surveys, and community consultations.

The main issues that affect food access in the west are:

  • high cost of healthy food;
  • low income; and
  • lack of public or private transport.

The main issues that affect food availability in the west are:

  • fruit and vegetable deserts;
  • disproportion between the number of fresh fruit and vegetable outlets in comparison with take away outlets; and
  • lack of culturally appropriate food.

Access to healthy and culturally appropriate food is an important social determinant of health and the Report includes key recommendations to improve access and availability of fresh food in our community.

The report will be particularly useful for local council planners, health promotion workers, managers, program developers, quality improvement officers and other workers who will be able to use the data to inform food security advocacy, policy, planning and program development.

>>Download Healthy Foods for Healthy Communities – Issues of food access and availability in the west, June 2012

From the Executive Summary:

Based on the key food security issues identified in the west that have been presented in this report, the following recommendations are proposed to improve access and availability of fresh food in the west:

  1. Support community initiatives promoting access to affordable healthy food (e.g. farmers markets, food swap).
  2. Establish partnerships with local stakeholders including community and health services, council, community groups and local business interest groups, to ensure equitable distribution of resources to vulnerable community groups.
  3. Advocate to local council and relevant decision makers to improve the access to nutritious foods by improving transport links to food outlets (e.g. new or altered bus routes, cycle paths, community buses).
  4. Advocate to local council and relevant decision makers to improve the access to nutritious foods by regulating the number and type of food outlets licensed in the west.
  5. Support development of urban food production in the fruit and vegetables deserts (e.g. public space food production, community gardens, and private gardens).
  6. Develop a means of evaluating the access to culturally appropriate foods (e.g. develop a cultural healthy food basket).
  7. Integrate determinants of food security (i.e. transport, employment and housing) across organisational policies and programs.
  8. Develop evidence based strategies addressing the determinants of food security.

In addition, a number of recommendations for the HealthWest Food Security Network were made to guide future work, as outlined in Chapter 5.

Social justice and adaptation to sea-level rise in Gippsland East: Seminar

Posted in Events, Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 10th, 2012

24 May , 2012
12:00 pmto1:00 pm

Photo by F.d.W. via flickr CC

The Brotherhood of St Laurence, Research & Policy Centre invites you to attend these free lunchtime seminars:

Professor Jon Barnett, Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne

As knowledge and modeling of the risks of sea-level rise builds momentum so too does the need to begin processes to adapt to avoid these risks. This seminar will be an informal discussion of an ongoing ARC Linkage Project in Gippsland East which aims to understand the equity dimensions of climate change for small coastal communities. Amongst the research locales are Lakes Entrance, Port Albert, Seaspray, Manns Beach and McLoughlins Beach. We will present findings about policy-makers’ views of the ‘problem’ in this area, and emerging insights about the nature of social justice with respect to adaptation to sea-level rise.

Jon Barnett is a Professor in the Department of Resource Management and Geography at Melbourne University. He is a political geographer whose research investigates the impacts of and responses to climate change on social systems, with a focus on risks to human insecurity, hunger, violent conflict, and water stress. He has done extensive field-work in the South Pacific, China, and East Timor. Jon is convenor of the national research network on the social, economic and institutional dimensions of climate change, which is part of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, and is a Lead Author for the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC. Jon is co-lead investigator on this project, along with Professor Ruth Fincher from the Geography program at the University of Melbourne, and Dr Anna Hurlimann, who is a Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning at Melbourne University.

12noon-1pm, Thursday 24 May

Brotherhood of St Laurence, 67 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy in Father Tucker’s Room

>>RSVP to attend this event here

Do pro-environmental behaviours spill over? BehaviourWorks Seminar

Posted in Events, Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 13th, 2012

23 April , 2012
5:30 pmto6:30 pm

Environmental organisations, governments and businesses often rely on “positive spillover strategies” to drive pro-environmental behaviour change.

These strategies rest on the assumption that targeting simple and painless actions can spillover into motivating other related and more ambitious environmental behaviours. But such endeavours might also lead to “negative spillover effects”, where the adoption of one particular pro-environmental behaviour decreases the prospects of other related actions being performed.

In this seminar, one of the world’s leading experts on this topic—Professor John Thøgersen—will give an introduction to spillover, discuss evidence supporting and challenging spillover effects, and offer a number of tips to optimise the chances of achieving positive spillover effects in behaviour change programs.

About the speaker: John Thøgersen is a professor of economic psychology at Aarhus University, Denmark. In addition to spillover, his research interests include social and environmental marketing, social and moral norms in the environmental field, media influences on consumer behaviour and sustainability, and the inter-generational transfer of pro-environmental values, attitudes and behaviour.

John Thøgersen is being hosted by BehaviourWorks Australia—a joint venture between the Monash Sustainability Institute, EPA Victoria, The Shannon Company and Sustainability Victoria that brings together interdisciplinary researchers with leading practitioners who share an interest in behaviour change research and environmental sustainability.

Monday, 23 April 2012 5.30 – 6.30 pm

Village Roadshow Theatrette State Library of Victoria
Entry 3, 179 La Trobe Street Melbourne

This is a free public event. All welcome

RSVP by 18 April 2012

Australia’s transition to a post carbon future: Post Carbon Pathways report

Posted in Movements, Research by Jessica Bird on April 11th, 2012

Image source: AAP 

From What Australia can learn from the world’s best de-carbonisation policies by John Wiseman and Taegen Edwards

Around the world an increasing number of detailed policy road maps are demonstrating the possibility, necessity and urgency of a rapid transition to a just and sustainable post carbon future. The key barriers to this transition are social and political, not technological and financial.

The Post Carbon Pathways report, published by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne and the Centre for Policy Development has reviewed 18 of the most comprehensive and rigorous post carbon economy transition strategies. As Australia enters the next phase of the climate change policy debate, this report will provide vital information on how other jurisdictions are designing and implementing large-scale plans to remove carbon from their economies. The review focuses on transition road maps produced by governments with the strongest emissions reduction targets, such as Germany, Denmark and the UK. It also looks at the most comprehensive and influential non-government authored strategies such as Zero Carbon Britain, Zero Carbon Australia and World in Transition (German Advisory Council on Global Change). Our analysis of these diverse ways of reaching a post-carbon future highlights several key lessons.

The window is closing fast
A wide range of detailed national and global level strategies demonstrate the technological and economic feasibility of rapidly moving to a post carbon economy. This goal can still be achieved at the scale and speed required to significantly reduce the risk of runaway climate change. But the gateway for effective action is rapidly closing. Decisive action in the next five to ten years will be critical. There is a crucial difference between transition strategies that advocate a pragmatic and evolutionary approach and those that advocate more rapid and transformational change. […]

Technology is not the most significant barrier
Analysis of these strategies shows that technological barriers are not the most significant obstacles to a fair and swift transition to a post carbon economy. The integrated suite of technological and systemic changes needed to reach a just and sustainable post carbon future will clearly need to include:

  • rapid reductions in energy consumption and improvements in energy efficiency
  • rapid replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy
  • significant investment in forests and sustainable agriculture to draw down and sequester carbon into sustainable carbon sinks.

We already have the technologies to achieve emission reductions at the required speed and scale. Soaring investment in technological innovation, particularly in the United States, China and Germany, is driving down the price of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at a remarkable speed.

Financial and economic barriers: significant but not insurmountable
The economic and social costs of failing to take action to reduce emissions are becoming increasingly clear – as are the multiple employment, health and environmental co-benefits of a swift transition to a post carbon economy. Most strategies advocate a mix of market based and regulatory mechanisms, underpinned by clear long-term emissions reduction targets. Some authors however remain cautious of relying too much on carbon pricing. They recommend additional, more direct interventions such as:

  • binding renewable energy targets
  • feed-in tariffs
  • eliminating fossil fuel subsidies
  • allocating the funds to close fossil fuel power stations.

Strategies with emissions reduction targets that are more strongly informed by climate science also commonly advocate a significant shift towards economic priorities which focus on improving social and ecological wellbeing rather than unconstrained growth in material consumption.  […]

There is no solution to climate change without climate justice
Intergenerational justice – the need to respect and protect the livelihoods and opportunities of future generations – remains the most powerful ethical justification for taking prudent and decisive climate change action now. There is also widespread recognition that political support for a rapid transition to a post carbon economy depends on implementing policies to overcome key social equity challenges – within and beyond national borders.

The key barriers are social and political
The biggest barriers preventing a rapid transition to a post carbon future are social and political – not technological and financial. The difficulty of securing and sustaining broad social and political support is widely recognised as the greatest barrier to a swift transition to a post carbon economy. The most significant gap in post carbon economy transition strategies is a lack of detailed game plans for mobilising political leadership and public support. Worryingly, even the most optimistic of the social change theories underpinning these strategies, tend to rely on a variety of ‘Pearl Harbor’ scenarios in which one or more catastrophic ecological events would provide the necessary wake up call. […] The development and communication of inspiring stories and compelling images of a just and sustainable post carbon future will be particularly crucial.

Australia’s post carbon pathway leadership challenge
The Australian Government’s 2020 emissions reduction target (a 5% decrease on 2000 levels) is clearly still far from the level required for Australia to make a responsible and fair contribution to global emissions reductions. Australia’s 2050 target (an 80% decrease on 2000 levels) is more robust. But there is no detail as yet as to how this target will be achieved. Evidence from the most promising transition strategies elsewhere suggests we need a more informed and thoughtful debate about the kind of economic growth and industry mix that Australia should aim for. We need to talk about the fairest approaches to mobilising the required levels of financial, human and social capital. Most importantly, a far more visionary level of political leadership will be required in order to drive an Australian climate change debate informed primarily by climate science rather than short-term calculations of political and economic feasibility. […]

Read the article in full on The Conversation.
Read the Post Carbon Pathways briefing paper, summary report or full report.

Turtles on the Move: Join a one-day research team

Posted in Research, Seeking by earthwatch on March 5th, 2012

Are Melbourne’s freshwater turtles at risk?
Join a one day research team and help answer this vital question!

Why are you needed? Very little is known about Melbourne’s fresh water turtles, and particularly the impact that this growing city is having on their health. As one of the top predators in the food chain, a healthy turtle population points to a healthy ecosystem, and globally, freshwater turtles are in decline.
What you will be dong With special waterproof clothing, you’ll wade through the city’s freshwater lakes and creeks to capture turtles, assess their health and review the condition of their habitat. Help scientists and governments answer this pivotal question: ‘how is urbanisation impacting the survival of Melbourne’s native turtles?
Details: This expedition is open to over 18’s only with total cost being $69 which covers lunch and transport from Melbourne University. All funds will also go back into this vital research.
How to Book: Call Earthwatch on 03 9682 6828 or email

Dates: Monday 19th, 21st or 23rd March 2012

Time: 7am-6pm

Web Links

Turtles on the Move

Open Survey: Melbourne Bike Share Impact on Individual Travel Behavior

Posted in Research, Seeking by Kate Archdeacon on December 14th, 2011

Photo by Daniel Bowen via flickr CC


Xin Yang is a postgraduate student studying in Master of Urban Planning from the University of Melbourne, currently conducting a research project on Melbourne Bike Share (MBS) program, “Evaluating the Impact of Melbourne Bike Share (MBS) Program on Individual Travel Behavior”. If you have ever used the (blue) MBS bikes before, please take just a little time (10-15 minutes) to participate in a brief online survey to have your say on your experiences with those blue bikes, and how you think things could be improved. Your time and assistance is greatly appreciated!