RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2019: PERG sponsored sessions

The Planning and Environment Research Group (PERG) would like to invite expressions of interest and proposals for sponsored sessions for the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference to be held in London, Tuesday 27th – Friday 30th August.

PERG welcomes proposals that address the group’s remit of planning, environment and sustainability, as well as sessions that engage directly with the theme of this year’s conference.

The conference will be chaired by Professor Hester Parr (University of Glasgow). The Chair’s theme is Geographies of trouble / geographies of hope.

PERG are able to sponsor 12 sessions and also welcome co-sponsored sessions with other research groups. Each session length is 1 hour and 40mins and in addition to paper-based sessions we also encourage innovation formats to sessions:


Proposals (max 300 words) seeking PERG sponsorship should be sent directly to Rebecca Windemer (PERG Secretary) windmerr@cardiff.ac.uk by no later than Monday 7th January for consideration.

Session proposers will be informed about a decision by Friday 11th January, with finalised sessions needing to be submitted to the RGS by the 15th of February

Confirmed PERG Sponsered sessions

1: UK drought risk in the interdisciplinary research spotlight: linking evidence from new research to explorations of the impacts of UK summer 2018 drought

Lindsey McEwen (Centre for Water Communities and Resilience, UWE Bristol) and Rebecca Pearce (University of Exeter)

This session will explore how insights from researching UK droughts and future drought risk, might fuel research agendas on UK climate impacts in 2018. Drought and water scarcity (with or without heatwaves) are major risks for the UK Climate Resilience in relation to environment, agriculture, infrastructure, society and culture. Experiences from summer 2018 across sectors brought the seen and unforeseen impacts of drought with heat into sharp focus.  Previous national experience of severe drought is limited to 1976 – outwith the lived public and organisational memory in the UK.

Over the past four years the UKRI Drought and Water Scarcity programme (DWS), in collaboration with ESRC, EPSRC, BBSRC and AHRC, has funded four research projects (DRY- Drought Risk and You, Historic Droughts, Impetus and Marius), drawing innovatively across expertise in the natural and social sciences and the arts and humanities. These projects have explored different aspects of evidence bases (knowledges, systems, cascades of impacts etc.) for multi-stakeholder decision-making around drought and water scarcity involving statutory and wide-ranging non-statutory stakeholders, including the role of civil society.  The research draws together evidence from different science and narrative research paradigms.  However, the research programme did not take place in a time-period with recent experience of drought in the public psyche (except the agricultural drought of 2011/12).

This session starts with short 6-7 pecha kucha 20×20 (visual talks of 6m 40s; https://www.pechakucha.org/) as ‘provocations’ drawing on research outputs from this DWS programme, given different sectoral and methodological perspectives (ca. 50 mins).  This feeds directly into a panel discussion (ca. 50 mins), which will explore the research agendas and learnings from impacts of the summer 2018 drought in a very different social and technical context to the 1976 drought, the cascade of effects (e.g. to environment, business, civil society) and their implications for planning, sustainability and resilience.


2: Communities and the trouble with house-building: citizen engagement in planning for new homes

Session organisers: Quintin Bradley (Leeds Beckett University); Charles Goode (University of Birmingham)

The aim of this themed session is to draw together the latest international research on citizen engagement in planning for housing development with a particular focus on public objections to house-building.

Policy makers have become increasingly attentive to the motivations of citizens opposing housing development. In economies predicated on financialised housing markets, public objections to new house-building challenge policy makers to resolve conflict without disturbing the prevailing liberalised development model (Inch 2012). Their responses have included the introduction of third-party rights of appeal, and the devolution of statutory development planning to local communities (Brownill & Bradley, 2017; Ellis, 2000; Willey 2006).

Set against a crisis of housing affordability, and the widening gulf between housing as a public good and a private gain, this session asks how we should understand citizen objections to house-building (Gallent, Durrant & Stirling 2018). The planning objections of publics are still routinely delegitimised on the grounds that they act as self-interested NIMBYs who express their private interests and not societal concerns (Dear & Taylor, 1982; DeVerteuil, 2013). Studies of public opposition to new house building, however, show that objectors frame their challenge on environmental, ecological and heritage grounds in the context of democratic rights to be included in decisions over neighbourhood change (Cook, Taylor & Hurley, 2013; Matthews, Bramley, & Hastings 2015; Ruming, Houston & Amati, 2012; Wolsink, 2006).

In this themed session, we welcome papers that broadly reflect these issues and that address the following themes:

  • The motives for citizen objections to house-building and case studies of conflict and/or resolution
  • Third party rights of appeal; neighbourhood planning and other institutional responses to citizen engagement in planning
  • Community-led models of housing development
  • Green Belt, heritage, conservation, and environmental concerns affected by housing development
  • Questions of spatial knowledge, and the role of place and place attachment in community responses to housing development.

Abstracts should be sent to Quintin Bradley, Leeds Beckett University q.bradley@leedsbeckett.ac.uk


3: Exploring the local context for nature-based solutions in conservation management

Nature based solutions aim to protect nature to deliver ecosystem services, the benefits that people derive from nature. In order to develop efficient nature-based solutions, it is important to evaluate social and economic priorities at a location. These priorities may arise from the characteristics of the local ecosystem itself, but also cultural and historical contexts in which the nature-based solutions are implemented.

The aim of this session is to explore how the characteristics of a location can assist (or obstruct) in developing nature-based solutions in conservation management. We are inviting papers which discuss the challenges and opportunities for meeting biodiversity conservation targets through nature-based solutions in a wide range of geographical settings. Papers which address these topics while proposing ways to increase resilience of communities at risk from ecosystem degradation or climate change impacts are most welcome. Both theoretical and empirical contributions that make direct links with the conference theme, ‘geographies of trouble/geographies of hope’, will be very suitable for this session.

The session will be led by Dr Nikoleta Jones (Reader in Human Geography, Anglia Ruskin University) and Dr Shonil Bhagwat (Head of Geography, Open University). We are planning to open the session by linking it with two recently funded European projects. Dr Nikoleta Jones is the PI of the project FIDELIO funded by the European Research Council (starting grant) exploring human perceptions for social impacts of protected areas in Europe. Dr Shonil Bhagwat is the PI of the H2020 (MSCA) project EARNEST exploring the agroforestry landscape resilience in India to inform social-ecological sustainability in the tropics.


4: Infrastructure//Space:  infrastructural troubles and struggles in the Global North and South

Session Conveners

Will Eadson (Sheffield Hallam University); Sӧren Becker (University of Bonn); Gerald Taylor Aiken (University of Luxembourg).


Infrastructure has become a new leitmotif for debates surrounding urban futures, sustainability and connection. Throughout the social sciences, work after the ‘infrastructural turn’ has focussed on a variety of issues: infrastructures as the hidden guarantor of global links and the current world order (Easterling 2014); infrastructure as reflecting and (re)producing social and spatial inequities (Graham and Marvin 2001); the transformation of infrastructures through political struggles and subjectivities (Luque-Ayala and Silver 2018); and infrastructures as made and remade through practice and everyday life. Across the various debates on different realms of energy, water, communication, waste, green space, education, and other technical ecological and social infrastructures, infrastructure research has served as an entry point for a critical theorisation of social relations from different epistemic and theoretical perspectives.

This session builds upon these debates while explicitly targeting the spatial features of infrastructures and struggles to maintain, defend and transform infrastructure in different socio-spatial contexts. As often debates are pursued in segregated fields such as urban, energy, or development geography, we seek to combine contributions across these debates to conceptually and empirically advance the understanding of spatial features in various kinds of infrastructure transitions. In particular we are interested in contributions that speak to the RGS-IBG 2019 themes of troubles and hope, with a focus on justice, democracy and equity. An overarching question therefore is: how are infrastructures being made, maintained and remade through struggle and what might a hopeful geography of infrastructure look like?

Following these aims, this section invites contributions that assess, among others:

  • Troubles and struggles over justice and democracy in ‘hidden’ infrastructures of trade, finance, and data
  • Infrastructure, power and political struggles around infrastructure transformation
  • Troubles and struggles maintaining and/or defending incumbent infrastructures
  • Issues of scale and spatial fit in infrastructure governance
  • Spatial and political implications of dematerialised infrastructures
  • Uneven access and development of infrastructures in the Global North and South
  • The making and appropriation of infrastructures through practice
  • Towards a politics of hope for just infrastructural transformation

Session format

The session will include 3-4 research papers followed by a panel discussion with discussant. If we receive a high volume of abstracts we might propose running two sessions (with PERG approval). Abstracts should be sent to: Dr Will Eadson (Sheffield Hallam University) w.eadson@shu.ac.uk