Dr Linda Westman

Postdoctoral Research Associate

About Linda

Linda is a Postdoctoral Research Associate whose work engages with the governance of sustainability and climate change, urban sustainability transformations, private sector involvement in environmental change, and justice. She joined the Urban Institute in 2019.

During 2017-2018, Linda was based at the University of Waterloo in Canada, where she conducted research on the role of businesses in constructing sustainability pathways in cities. Linda’s doctoral research, conducted at University College London, examined urban climate change governance in China.

Prior to her academic work, Linda was employed as a senior analyst at the Science and Innovation Office of the Embassy of Sweden in Beijing. She spent nearly a decade studying and working in China after completing her master’s degree in political science at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Research interests

Linda’s research interests cluster around questions of governance of the urban environment. This includes, first, examination of forms of inclusion (and exclusion), constellations of collaboration, and lines of conflict that arise in decision-making processes and implementation of sustainability solutions in cities. A second theme is the involvement of the private sector in these processes, which relates both to their role in advancing innovation and in protecting the status quo. Third, her work centers around opportunities and challenges of realizing urban sustainability trajectories that are both transformative and just.

Linda has applied these lenses to climate change governance processes in Chinese cities. Her research engages with the particularities of the Chinese political system, especially with regards to the difficulties of realizing inclusive change in a policy landscape dominated by techno-economic rationalities. More recently, her work has dealt with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the possibility of understanding these firms as ‘social actors’ with capacity to advance transformative change.

Linda’s current research can be situated within the UIs climate urbanism theme. She manages Work Package 1 of the ERC-funded project LO-ACT, which examines climate imaginaries and policy mobilities in ordinary cities in the Global South. She is also working on a book manuscript that examines just sustainabilities in cities.


Westman, L. & Castán Broto, V., Huang, P. (2018). Revisiting multi-level governance theory: Politics and innovation in the urban climate transition in Rizhao, China. Political Geography 70: 14-23.

Westman, L., Luederitz, C., Kundurpi, A., Mercado, A.J., Weber, O., Burch, S.L. (2018). Conceptualizing businesses as social actors: A framework for understanding sustainability actions in small‐and medium‐sized enterprises. Business Strategy & Environment 1(5): 1-15.

Westman, L.  & Castán Broto, V. (2018). Techno-economic rationalities as a political practice in urban environmental politics in China. Environment and Planning C https://doi.org/10.1177/2399654418783750.

Westman, L. & Castán Broto, V. (2018). Climate governance through partnerships: A study of 150 urban initiatives in China. Global Environmental Change 50: 212-221.

Castán Broto, V., Trencher, G., Iwaszuk, E., Westman, L.  (2018). Transformative capacity and local action for urban sustainability AMBIO 1-14, https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1086-z

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

Westman, L. (2017). Top-Down, Bottom-Up and Beyond: Governance Perspectives on Urban Resilience and Environmental Justice in the People’s Republic of China. In (eds) Allen, A., Griffin, L., Cassidy, J. Environmental justice and resilience in the urban Global South: An emerging agenda. Palgrave Macmillan, New York: 17-35.

Levy, C., Allen, A., Castán Broto, V., Westman, L. (2017). Unlocking urban trajectories: Planning for environmentally just transitions in Asia. In (eds) Caprotti, F. & Yu, L. Sustainable Cities in Asia. Routledge, London. 7-22.

Westman, L. (2013). Can China break its carbon lock-ins? Chinadialogue, Nov 28. https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/6546-Can-China-break-its-carbon-lock-ins-

Westman, L., Luederitz, C., Kundurpi, A., Mercado, A.J. (2018). GATE Survey Report. University Waterloo SPROUT Lab. https://uwaterloo.ca/environment/sites/ca.environment/files/uploads/files/sme_study_final.pdf

Westman, L. (2017). Urban climate governance in China; Policy networks, partnerships, and trends in participation. University College London, http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1571877/.