Introducing our research strength focus: Sustainability and Climate Change Resilience

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At UWE Bristol we are proud of our active and collaborative research community of bold and innovative thinkers that are breaking research boundaries.

Our four key research strengths are:  

  • Creative industries and technologies
  • Digital Futures
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Sustainability and Climate Change Resilience

We want to highlight some of our amazing research to you, so this year we will be focusing on one strength at a time.  For the next few months, we will be sharing with you lots of curated content around our research strength, Sustainability and Climate Change Resilience.

The challenges of global warming, finite resources and shrinking biodiversity could not be clearer – the future of the planet and our world is at stake, and we won’t get a second chance. Net-zero carbon buildings, sustainable mobility, green agriculture, emissions and air quality are just some of the critical issues we are tackling.

Our research focus in this area include:

  • transforming construction, infrastructure and design
  • food security, water management and air quality
  • future mobility, connectivity and place.

To introduce this research strength we are going to share with you two of our Sustainability and Climate Change Resilience research case studies:

Air Quality: Putting people at the heart of environmental changeProfessor Enda Hayes, Professor of Air Quality and Carbon Management

We can’t calculate our way out of environmental disaster. Numbers matter, but more than that, it’s the people who cause the figures to rise or fall that will lead the way. A Europe-wide initiative proves as much, with thousands of citizens having their say and acting on it.

“We’ve become too obsessed with the numbers and we’ve forgotten about the fact that it’s about protecting people,” says Professor Enda Hayes, Professor of Air Quality and Carbon Management and Director of UWE Bristol’s Air Quality Management Resource Centre (AQMRC), and Technical Director of ClairCity.

He refers to the predominant approach to tackling the world’s air pollution crisis, which is linked to seven million premature deaths each year. “We need to think differently about the way we manage pollution, how we monitor it and how we create interventions that can maximise the public health outcome.”

The answer, as evidenced by the Centre’s work, lies in bottom-up democracy – enabling citizens to be part of the conversation.

“People are realising that technology alone will not resolve the problem, we need societal change where we collectively do things differently. It will take time, but we will get there.”

One of the greatest challenges – and most pressing needs – is engaging with hard-to-reach communities, who are often the most adversely affected by poor air quality.

Read the full case study here .

Cycling infrastructure: Changing the way we moveProfessor John Parkin, Professor of Transport Engineering

We all know that cycling is good for us. It improves our physical and mental health, and it’s better for the environment than most other forms of transport. So why don’t more people do it and what might encourage them to take it up? This is where social behaviour meets science, and delivers on sustainable change.

“A key part of what we do is to develop evidence that influences policy, educates and informs the transport profession, and contributes to design practice,” says John Parkin, Professor of Transport Engineering and Deputy Director of UWE Bristol’s Centre for Transport and Society (CTS).

“Our core activity is gathering and interpreting empirical data to identify changes in transport provision that will encourage pro-social behaviour change,” says John, who along with his colleagues, is helping to bridge the gap between social priorities and transport infrastructure.

CTS has studied the motivations of travellers in 18 towns and cities in England, which revealed that they are more likely to take up cycling where there is greater investment in providing safe, comfortable and attractive routes.

Further studies into the travel choices of the over 50s, as part of the CycleBOOM study, echoed these findings, as does research that shows the need for cycle routes separated from both pedestrians and motor traffic.

Read the full case study here.

Find out more about our Sustainability and Climate Change Resilience research strength here.