Sustainable communities

Sustainable communities are needed to ensure responsible futures. Whether they are focused on delivering on social, economic or environmental goals – we need people to come together in order to effect change. We are interested in collaborating with our partners throughout the globe, capacity-building both locally and internationally on issues of crucial importance – including biodiversity, education and sharing digital tools to enhance decision-making.

A sustainable community is one that is economically, environmentally, and socially balanced and resilient. By embracing a long-term perspective, a sustainable community is well planned, built and run, safe, inclusive, and offers equality of opportunity and good services for all.It meets challenges and needs of residents through:

  • solutions co-constructed with community members
  • active citizenship
  • responsive, inspiring and efficient leadership
  • responsible consumption and production patterns.

We are interested in research and enterprise seeking to stimulate:

  • quality of life for communities locally, nationally and internationally
  • healthy ecosystems, where people and biodiversity coexist in a sustainable manner
  • effective leadership and governance supported by broad-based citizen participation.

To achieve these goals, we need to consider improving our understanding and making a tangible difference in the following areas:

Climate and environment
We have experts working to protect and enhance local, regional and global ecosystems and biodiversity. Along with our work around water sanitation, renewable resources and working towards cleaner, greener engines, we are playing our part in the development of a healthy climate and environment. We want to build on these firm foundations and work with external partners to explore technologies and interventions to tackle threats to the world we inhabit.

Social wellbeing
Social wellbeing starts with satisfying basic human needs for clean air and water, along with locally-sourced, uncontaminated food. We have expertise through our work on air-quality monitoring, water purification and research into and practical interventions in disaster situations. Our researchers are actively working on how to improve access to affordable quality healthcare, education and housing, in addition to defending people from injustices and protecting communities and their heritage.

Economic security
With a community-centred economy, the hope is that community members benefit equitably, taking advantage of employment opportunities. Our researchers work on co-created projects and, where possible, these lead to a reinvestment of resources in the local economy. Our research explores inequities and tackles some of the barriers to economic security, while examining what can be done to build resilient, sustainable communities.

Examples of active engagement with sustainable communities

Arts and Community Development in Africa
The emerging African contemporary arts sector is increasingly contributing to business innovation and SME entrepreneurship at grassroots level across the continent and also an apparent, but under researched, increase in socially responsible enterprises contributing to community development. The project is centered on generating better understandings of the linkages between artists’ work, the creative industry, the tourist economy and the ‘value of arts’ beyond the commercial meaning of the term. Working with our Champion Serge Attukwei Clottey from Accra (Ghana), we are engaged in a series of cross-cultural knowledge exchanges between art practitioners, galleries, fairs, museums, studios, arts’ foundations and the wider public, with the aim of identifying innovative, socially responsible, sustainable and ethical pathways to contemporary arts and community-based development opportunties in Africa. We work with artists, communities, public, private and third sector institutions across Africa; a contribution to policy and practice in the region may also emerge, potentially providing valuable south versus north lessons for the future.

Find out more about:

Centre of Resilience for Social Justice (CRSJ)
Find out more about the work of the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice (CRSJ), engaging locally, nationally and internationally to support the sustainability of communities. We work with communities who benefit from shared insight into healthier, more resilient approaches to the lives within them. Members have evolved systems, methods and communities of practice that develop resilience against problems and injustices and lead to cooperative support. These projects inform other communities and are all part of an informative network through which we gain and share knowledge of how resilience is brought about, fostered and perpetuated.

We are working, for example, to support Blackpool in embedding and researching a ‘Resilience Revolution‘ based on our Centre’s resilience approaches. If you are interested in radical ways of researching and practising resilience that put social justice, systems and community members’ leadership and priorities right at the heart of solutions – find out more about and book your place on the forthcoming Resilience Revolution Conference.

Headstart Resilience Revolution

Internationally, we are supporting other countries to develop sustainable communities, including South Africa, in relation to drought:

Developing resilience to drought

Community 21
Find out more about our role in the development of local sustainable communities through Community21, facilitating engagement and collaboration on issues including solutions for community sustainability, energy and water schemes, utilising waste for social development, emergency planning, neighbourhood planning, inter-generational and inclusive youth engagement, citizenship and resilience and engagement with urban biodiversity:

Productive Urban Landscape Research
Find out more about how we grow food for an expanding urban populace. We investigate the coherent integration of urban agriculture into urban space planning. Our longstanding research bridges the gaps between environmental design thinking, urban space production and sustainable lifestyles. Visit our Productive Urban Landscape Research blog to discover how we contribute to debate and engage locally and internationally with artists, designers, architects, policymakers and communities:

Productive Urban Landscape Research map image

Community University Partnership Programme
Find out more about our flagship Community University Partnership Programme, creating sustainable partnerships that benefit the local community and helping to develop networks and communities of practice:

CUPP - working together

Peer2Peer Capacity Building
Find out more about our international Peer2Peer Capacity Building, co-creating knowledge between ‘visitor’ and ‘host’ learners enabling the development of transformative travel and tourism that impacts positively the wider destination by providing additional ways that benefit local businesses and communities at large:

Peer to peer group

Football4Peace programme
Find out more about the inspiring Football4Peace programme, promoting peaceful co-existence in conflict-torn communities, creating social transformation through the promotion of intercultural understanding, changing the policies of sporting organisations, inspiring peace ambassadors and shaping political discourse:

Football4Peace participants

Centre for Transforming Sexuality and Gender (CTSG)
Find out more about the work of the Centre for Transforming Sexuality and Gender (CTSG) relating to sexuality, gender and social change with a core focus on producing research with community partners that impacts on policy and practice:

CTSG flag image

Find out more about our Responsible Futures initiatives.

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