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. She has an interdisciplinary background in natural resources engineering and environmental sociology, having completed postgraduate degrees in Spain (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid) and the Netherlands (Wageningen University), and an engineering doctorate in the UK (University of Surrey). Prior to joining the Urban Institute Vanes was a lecturer and then senior lecturer at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, in UCL (2011-2017) and a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Geography in Durham University (2009-2011). 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. Urban Energy Landscapes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Under contract; manuscript submission due 01/12/2017).

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. & H.S. Sudhira. The water-energy nexus and the infrastructure landscapes in Bengaluru, India (under review in Urban Studies).

Castán Broto, V. and H.S. Sudhira. Walk the pipeline: Urban infrastructure landscapes in Bengaluru’s long twentieth-century (under review in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research).

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, forthcoming.

Huang, P., Castán Broto, V., and Liu, Y. The governance of urban energy transitions in China: building-integrated solar thermal systems in Rizhao and Shenzhen. Journal of Cleaner Production, forthcoming.

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. In press.

Castán Broto, V. (2017) Energy sovereignty and development planning: the case of Maputo, Mozambique. International Development Planning Review. In press.

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. Pp.1-15.

Castán Broto, V. (2016). Natural Gas and Climate Finance. Climate Policy. Pp: 1-14.

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.

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, Pp. 1-16.

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 Production, 112, 3018-3027.

Castán Broto, V. (2016). Innovation Territories and Energy Transitions: Energy, Water and Modernity in Spain, 1939–1975. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 18(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 Planning, 22, 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? Futures, 67, 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.

Johnson, C. E., Milic, N., & Castán Broto, V. (2015). History, Memory and Everyday Environmentalism. The Case of New Belgrade. Southeast Europe. Journal of Politics and Society, 63(3), 467-490.

Castán Broto, V., Boyd, E., & Ensor, J. (2015). Participatory urban planning for climate change adaptation in coastal cities: Lessons from a pilot experience in Maputo, Mozambique. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 13, 11-18.

Castán Broto, V., Salazar, D., & Adams, K. (2014). Communities and urban energy landscapes in Maputo, Mozambique. People, Place, Policy, 8(3), 192-207.

Powell, M., Glendinning, S., Castán Broto, V., Dewberry, E., & Walsh, C. (2014). Shaped by shock: Staff on the emergency department ‘shop floor’. Anthropology in Action, 21(2), 14-22.

Boyd, E., Ensor, J., Castán Broto, V., & Juhola, S. (2014). Environmentalities of urban climate governance in Maputo, Mozambique. Global Environmental Change, 26(1), 140-151.

Castán Broto, V., Glendinning, S., Dewberry, E., Walsh, C., & Powell, M. (2014). What can we learn about transitions for sustainability from infrastructure shocks? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 84, 186-196.

Bulkeley, H., Castán Broto, V., & Maassen, AC. (2014). Low-carbon Transitions and the Reconfiguration of Urban Infrastructure. Urban Studies, 51(7), 1471-1486.

Castán Broto, V. (2014). Viewpoint: Planning for climate change in the African city. International Development Planning Review, 36(3), 257-264.

Castán Broto, V., & Bulkeley, H. (2013). Maintaining climate change experiments: Urban political ecology and the everyday reconfiguration of urban infrastructure. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37(6), 1934-1948.

Bulkeley, H., Carmin, J., Castán Broto, V., Edwards, G. A. S., & Fuller, S. (2013). Climate justice and global cities: Mapping the emerging discourses. Global Environmental Change, 23(5), 914-925.

Castán Broto, V., Oballa, B., & Junior, P. (2013). Governing climate change for a just city: Challenges and lessons from Maputo, Mozambique. Local Environment, 18(6), 678-704.

Castán Broto, V. (2013). Symbolic violence and the politics of environmental pollution science: The case of coal ash pollution in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Antipode, 45(3), 621-640.

Castán Broto, V., & Bulkeley, H. (2013). A survey of urban climate change experiments in 100 cities. Global Environmental Change, 23(1), 92-102.

Castán Broto, V. (2013). Employment, environmental pollution and working class life in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Journal of Political Ecology: case studies in history and society, 20, 1-13.

Bulkeley, H., & Castán Broto, V. (2013). Government by experiment? Global cities and the governing of climate change. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 38(3), 361-375.

Castán Broto, V. (2012). Exploring the lay/expert divide: the attribution of responsibilities for coal ash pollution in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Local Environment: the international journal of justice and sustainability. 17(8), 879-895.

Bulkeley, H., & Castán Broto, V. (2012). Urban experiments and climate change: securing zero carbon development in Bangalore. Contemporary Social Science. 9(4), 393-414.

Bulkeley, H., Castán Broto, V., & Edwards, G. (2012). Bringing climate change to the city: towards low carbon urbanism? Local Environment: the international journal of justice and sustainability, 17(5), 545-551.

Castán Broto, V. (2012). Environmental conflicts, research projects and the generation of collective expectations: A case study of a land regeneration project in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Public Understanding of Science, 21(4), 432-446.

Castán Broto, V., Allen, A., & Rapoport, E. (2012). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Urban Metabolism. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 16(6), 851-861.

Castán Broto, V. (2012). Social housing and low carbon transitions in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 2, 82-97.

Castán Broto, V. (2011). The Performance of Environmental Science in Research Teams. Science as Culture, 20(3), 329-348.

Janasik, N., Salmi, O., & Castán Broto, V. (2010). Levels of learning in environmental expertise: From generalism to personally indexed specialisation. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, 7(4), 297-313.

Castán Broto, V., Burningham, K., Carter, C., & Elghali, L. (2010). Stigma and attachment: Performance of identity in an environmentally degraded place. Society and Natural Resources, 23(10), 952-968.

Castán Broto, V., Gislason, M., & Ehlers, M. H. (2009). Practising interdisciplinarity in the interplay between disciplines: experiences of established researchers. Environmental Science and Policy, 12(7), 922-933.

Castán Broto, V., Carter, C., & Elghali, L. (2009). The governance of coal ash pollution in post-socialist times: Power and expectations. Environmental Politics, 18(2), 279-286.

Doick, K. J., Sellers, G., Castán Broto, V., & Silverthorne, T. (2009). Understanding success in the context of brownfield greening projects: The requirement for outcome evaluation in urban greenspace success assessment. Urban forestry and urban greening, 8(3), 163-178.

Scolobig, A., Castán Broto, V., & Zabala, A. (2008). Integrating multiple perspectives in social multicriteria evaluation of flood-mitigation alternatives: The case of Malborghetto-Valbruna. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 26(6), 1143-1161.

Castán Broto, V., Tabbush, P., Burningham, K., Elghali, L., & Edwards, D. (2007). Coal ash and risk: Four social interpretations of a pollution landscape. Landscape Research, 32(4), 481-497.

UN-Habitat (2016) World Cities Report. (Lead Chapter Author, Chapter 5).

Urban Climate Change Research Network (2016) Climate Change and Cities, Second Assessment Report (Case study contributor and reviewer)

WHO (2016) Report on Global Urban Health.

UNEP (2013) City-Level Decoupling: Urban Resource Flows and the Governance of Infrastructure Transitions.

DFID (2012). Future Proofing Cities. (Lead of the UCL team).

UN-Habitat (2011) Global Report on Human Settlements: Cities and Climate Change.

Castán Broto, V. (in press) The governance of climate change in urban areas. In Schwanen, T. and van Kempen, R. (Eds.) Handbook of Urban Geography.

Huang, P. and Castán Broto, V. (in press) Urban Energy Transitions. In Solomon, B. and Calvert, K. (Eds.) Handbook on the Geographies of Energy.

Guibrunet, L., & Castán Broto, V. (2016). Towards an urban metabolic analysis of the informal city. In K. Archer, & K. Bezdecny (Eds.), Handbook of Cities and the Environment (pp. 160-180). London: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Sanzana Calvet, M., & Castán Broto, V. (2016). Green enclaves, neoliberalism and the constitution of the experimental city in Santiago de Chile. In J. Evans, A. Karvonnen, & R. Raven (Eds.), The Experimental City. London: Routledge.

Castán Broto, V., Boyd, E., Ensor, J., & Juhola, S. (2016). Partnerships for climate change in Maputo, Mozambique. In M. Hodson, & S. Marvin (Eds.), Retrofitting Cities: Priorities, Governance, and Experimentation (pp. 232-250). Abingdon, NY: Routledge.

Castán Broto, V. (2016). Dwelling in a Pollution Landscape. In I. Vaccaro, K. Harper, & S. Murray (Eds.), The Anthropology of Post Industrialism- Ethnographies of Disconnection (pp. 91-112). New York, Abingdon: Routledge.

Castán Broto, V., & Bulkeley, H. (2014). Maintaining experiments and the material agency of the urban. In S. Graham, & C. McFarlane (Eds.), Infrastructural lives: urban infrastructure in context (pp. 199-218). London: Routledge.

Bulkeley, H., Castán Broto, V., & Edwards, G. (2014). “Towards low carbon urbanism” from Local Environment (2012). In The Sustainable Urban Development Reader, Third Edition (pp. 101-106).

Ensor, J., Boyd, E., Juhola, S., & Castán Broto, V. (2013). Building adaptive capacity in the informal settlements of Maputo: lessons for development from a resilience perspective. In T. H. Inderberg, S. Eriksen, K. O’Brien, & L. Sygna (Eds.), Climate Change Adaptation and Development: Transforming Paradigms and Practices. London: Routledge.

Bulkeley, H., & Castán Broto, V. (2013). Urban Governance and Climate Change Experiments. In H. Mieg, & K. Topfer (Eds.), Institutional and Social Innovation for Sustainable Urban Development (pp. 72-87). London: Routledge.

Bulkeley, H., Castán Broto, V., & Maassen, A. C. (2011). Governing Urban Low Carbon Transitions. In H. Bulkeley, V. Castán Broto, & M. Hodson (Eds.), Cities and Low Carbon Transitions (pp. 29-42). Taylor & Francis.

Castán Broto, V., & Carter, C. (2010). Environmental Justice within Local Discourses about Coal-Ash Pollution in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In D. J. Pavlich (Ed.), Managing environmental justice (pp. 199-222). Rodopi Bv Editions.

Ehlers, M. -H., Castán Broto, V., & Gislason, M. (2009). Interdisciplinary Research Approaches to Sustainability- the Young Scientist Perspective. In F. W. Leal (Ed.), Sustainability at Universities (pp. 273-286). Peter Lang Pub Incorporated.

Castán Broto, V., Carter, C., & Elghali, L. (2008). Environmental Policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Post-socialism development and global governance. In R. Hillerbrand, & R. Karlson (Eds.), Beyond the global village (pp. 15-24). Inter-disciplinary net.

Castán Broto, V. (2016). Here’s what happened at Habitat III – the world’s biggest conference on cities. The Conversation. (This article has had +30,000 unique readers).

Castán Broto, V. (2016) Costa Rica’s Low Carbon Urban Futures. BBC World Service (

Castán Broto, V. (2016) Just Sustainabilities and the New Urban Agenda. ESRC Urban Transformations Blog.

Castán Broto, V. (2016) Urban energy transitions: spatial and temporal aspects. ESRC Urban Transformations Blog.

Castán Broto, V. (2015) From experiments to contradictions. Society and Space Blog.

Castán Broto, V., Stevens, L., & Salazar, D. (2015). Energy Access and Urban Poverty- Energy and Everyday Life in an Informal Settlement in Maputo, Mozambique: Poor People’s Energy Briefing 4. Rugby: Practical Action.

Castán Broto, V., Boyd, E., Ensor, J., Seventine, C., Macucule, D. A., & Allen, C. (2015). Participation and planning for climate change: Lessons from an experimental project in Maputo, Mozambique: CDKN/ICLEI Sub-national learning programme. Climate Development Knowledge Network.

Castán Broto, V. (2013). Who Has Moral Responsibility for Climate Change? e-International Relations.

Bulkeley, H., Castán Broto, V., Hodson, M., & Marvin, S. (2011). Cities and the low carbon transition. The European Financial Review, 24-27.

Castán Broto, V., Johnson, C. A., & Allen, A. (2011). Can compact planning help the urban poor? Urban Worlds Magazine, 4(3), 28-30.

Bulkeley, H., Castán Broto, V., & Edwards, G. (2011). Experimenting with climate governance? Assessing urban responses to climate change in global cities. Un-Habitat Urban Worlds Magazine, 4(3), 25-27.

Wenzel, W., Fitz, W., Dellantonio, A., Carter, C., & Castán Broto, V. (2008). Handbook on the treatment of coal ash disposal sites. Bilingual version English/Bosnian. Vienna: BOKU.

Castán Broto, V. (2013). Review Article: Adapting institutions: Governance, complexity and socio-ecological resilience. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 31(1).

Castán Broto, V. (2011). Review Essay: Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Perspectives in Construction and Planning. Urban Studies, 48(13), 2905-2910.

Castán Broto, V. (2009). Review essay: New Technologies, Hormones and Sunlight Sociological Critiques of Biomedical Innovation. Sociology, 43(3), 573-579.

Castán Broto, V. (2007). Review article: The ethics of waste: How we relate to rubbish. Sociology, 41(6), 1230-1231.

2017                Invited Speaker, Mind the Gap Workshop, Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, 20th March

2017                Invited Speaker, Sustainable Development Programme Conference, British Academy, London, 6th March

2017                Lecture to the Science, Society & Sustainability (3S) group, University of East Anglia, 15th February

2017                Geography departmental lecture, University of York, 7th February

2017                Keynote Speaker- Transforming India 2030: strategies for sustainable development goals, Pune, India, 16th February

2016                Seminar Speaker- REFURB Workshop (Urban Metabolism and the GCRF), University of Sheffield, 21-22 November.

2016                Keynote Speaker- Practical Engagements and the Social-Spatial Dimensions of the Post-Petroleum Future, LE STUDIUM Loire Valley Institute for Advanced Studies, France, 7-9 November.

2016                Keynote Speaker- Expert Panel Sessions, Chevening Orientation Day, London, 22 October.

2016                Keynote Speaker- National Architects Association from Ecuador, Lectures to celebrate Habitat III, Quito, 18 October.

2016                Panellist- Habitat III Side Event, National Institute of Renewable Energy, Ecuador, Quito, 17 October.

2016                Seminar Speaker- Green City Mandate, Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (FRIAS), Germany, 15th July.

2016                Seminar speaker- Energy Infrastructure: Security, Environment and Social Conflict, Bogazici University, Turkey, 27-30 June.

2016                Seminar Speaker- Urban Futures Workshop, King’s College London, 9th June.

2016                Seminar Speaker- Nexuses of the Urban, University of Sussex, 15th May.

2016                Seminar speaker- Sharecity methodological orientation day, Trinity College Dublin, 29th April.

2016                Keynote Speaker- Contradictions and Environmental Governance (Future Urban Sustainable Environments), Uppsala University, Sweden, 9th May.

2015                Keynote Speaker- Dealing with environmental crisis, Manchester Policy Week, University of Manchester.

2015                DFID Lunchtime Seminar- Urban Energy Landscapes, Whitehall, London, September.

2015                Keynote lecture: ICLEI Resilient Cities Seminar Series ( ), Online, 23 January.

2015                Keynote lecture to participants in the Master Studio ‘The metabolic city’ Masterclass in the Urban Metabolism Studio, Free University Amsterdam, 17th January.

2014                Keynote speaker- Preparatory Meeting Social PreCOP. Isla Margarita, 16 July.

2014                Keynote Speaker- Participatory planning for climate change- ADP Forum on cities and subnationals. Bonn Conference for Climate Change Action, 11 June.

2013                Keynote Speaker- Momentum for Change Urban Poor Side Event, COP19, Warsaw, Poland, 24 November.

2013                Plenary Speaker- The Geography of Transitions, 4th International Sustainable Transitions Conference, Zurich, June.

2013                Keynote Speaker- Klimagune, BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change, 22nd December.