Prof Vanesa Castan Broto

Professorial Fellow

About Vanesa

Vanesa joined the Urban Institute in September 2017, following her appointment as a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Her research has been funded by the British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, ESRC, EPSRC and the Institution of Civil Engineers.

In 2016 she received the Philip Leverhulme Prize for contributions to Geography. In 2013 she received a United Nations Award for Lighthouse Activities that contribute to fight climate change with a focus on the urban poor.

Research interests

Vanesa’s research focuses on the governance of global environmental change in the urbanization age. She focuses on three interrelated themes: 1) the governance of climate change in urban areas; 2) urbanization and the dynamics of energy transitions; and 3) barriers to the implementation of climate change action.

The first strand of her research focuses on who governs climate change in urban areas and how. For example, she has mapped her contributions to the field in the 2017 article “Urban Governance and the Politics of Climate Change” (in World Development) in relation to both normative and critical strands of thinking about urban governance for climate change. Vanesa has also made direct contributions to international policy, for example, as a lead chapter author for UN-Habitat’s 2016 World Cities Report.

The second strand of her research focuses on the dynamics of energy transition. Following her engagement with urban infrastructure as a means to understand climate change policy, she is developing a feminist neo-materialist perspective on the governance of energy transitions. Vanesa has imagined the concept of urban energy landscapes as spatial arrangements of cultural practices and artefacts that reflect the coevolution of socio-economic, technological, and ecological systems. This conception challenges broadly accepted notions of energy landscapes as the product of public perceptions of energy developments. A recent paper on “Energy landscapes and urban trajectories towards sustainability” (in Energy Policy) provides an overview of her work in this area.

The third area of her research focuses on developing practical ways to activate urban transformations and deliver climate action in practice. An example of this work is her research on participatory planning for climate change. At the moment, Vanesa is engaged in a series of activities with local partners in Mozambique to rethink sustainable energy access in urban areas. An overview of her efforts to rethink sustainable energy access in an urbanization context is presented in a recent collective paper “Universal access to sustainable energy in urban areas” (in Nature Energy).


Castán Broto, V., Ensor, J., Boyd, E., Allen, C., Seventine, C., & Augusto Macucule, D. (2015). Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique / Planeamento participativo para o desenvolvimento compatível com o clima em Maputo, Moçambique. Bilingual edition. London: UCL Press. With a foreword by Christiana Figueres.

Bulkeley, H. A., Castán Broto, V., & Edwards, G. A. S. (2014). An Urban Politics of Climate Change: Experimentation and the governing of socio-technical transitions. London: Routledge.

Frantzeskaki, N., Castán Broto, V., Coenen, L., Loorbach, D. (2017) Urban sustainability transitions. Studies in Sustainability Transitions. New York, NY: Routledge.

Bouzarovski, S., Pasqualetti, M.J., Castán Broto, V. (2017) The Routledge Research Companion to Energy Geographies. London: Routledge.

Bulkeley, H., Castán Broto, V., Hodson, M., & Marvin, S. (Eds.) (2011). Cities and Low Carbon Transitions. London: Routledge.

Castán Broto, V., Stevens, L., Ackom, E., Tomei, J., Parikh, P., Bisaga, I., To, L.S., Muluguetta,, Y., Kirshner, J. Universal access to sustainable energy in urban areas. Nature Energy, 2(10).

Fuso Nerini F, Tomei J, To LS, Bisaga I, Parikh P, Black M, Borrion, A, Spataru, C, Castán Broto, V, Anandarajah, G, Milligan, B & Mulugetta, Y. (2018) Mapping synergies and trade-offs between energy and the Sustainable Development Goals. Nature Energy. 3:10-5.

Huang, P., Castán Broto, V., and Liu, Y. From “transitions in cities” to “transitions of cities”: The diffusion and adoption of solar hot water systems in urban China. Energy Research and Social Science, forthcoming.

Castán Broto, V. and Baker, L. Spatial Adventures in Energy: An Introduction to the Special Issue. Energy Research and Social Science, forthcoming.

Castán Broto, V. (2017). Energy landscapes and urban trajectories towards sustainability. Energy Policy. 108: 755-764.

Castán Broto, V. (2017) Energy sovereignty and development planning: the case of Maputo, Mozambique. International Development Planning Review. 39 (3), 229-248.

Castán Broto, V. (2017) Green Cities, Infrastructure Landscapes and History. Rachel Carson Center Perspectives.  Forthcoming.

Castán Broto, V. (2017). Urban Governance and the Politics of Climate Change. World Development. 93: 1-15.

Caprotti, F., Cowley, R., Datta, A., Castán Broto, V., Gao, E., Georgeson, L., Herrick, C., Odendaal, N. and Joss, S. (2017) The New Urban Agenda: key opportunities and challenges for policy and practice. Urban Research & Practice. 10(3): 367-378.

Castán Broto, V. (2016). Natural Gas and Climate Finance. Climate Policy. 18(2): 170-183.

Guibrunet, L., Sanzana Calvet, M., & Castán Broto, V. (2016). Flows, system boundaries and the politics of urban metabolism: waste management in Mexico City and Santiago de Chile. Geoforum 85: 353-367.

Castán Broto, V., & Westman, L. (2016). Just Sustainabilities and Local Action: Evidence from 400 Flagship Initiatives. Local Environment: the international journal of justice and sustainability, 22 (5), 635-650.

Trencher, G., Castán Broto, V., Takagi, T., Sprigings, Z., Nishida, Y., & Yarime, M. (2016). Innovative policy practices to advance building energy efficiency and retrofitting: Approaches, impacts and challenges in ten C40 cities. Environmental Science and Policy. 66, 353-365.

Castán Broto, V., & Dewberry, E. (2016). Economic crisis and social learning for the provision of public services in two Spanish municipalities. Journal of Cleaner Production112, 3018-3027.

Castán Broto, V. (2016). Innovation Territories and Energy Transitions: Energy, Water and Modernity in Spain, 1939–1975. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning18(5), 712-729.

Castán Broto, V. (2015). Contradiction, intervention and urban low carbon transitions. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 33, 430-476.

Sanzana Calvet, M., & Castán Broto, V. (2015). Neoliberal Shock, Infrastructure Disruption, and Restructuring in Chile. Critical Planning22, 11-34.

Walsh, C. L., Glendinning, S., Castán Broto, V., Dewberry, E., & Powell, M. (2015). Are wildcard events on infrastructure systems opportunities for transformational change? Futures67, 1-10.

Castán Broto, V., Macucule, D., Boyd, E., Ensor, J., & Allen, C. (2015). Building Collaborative Partnerships for Climate Change Action in Maputo, Mozambique. Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research. 47, 571-587.