Mendel Giezen (PhD University of Amsterdam (UvA), MSc Urban Studies, UvA/University College London, MSc Political Science, UvA) is an associate professor in Environmental Planning and Governance at the University of Amsterdam. He is co-director of the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies Programme, and PI on the associated Research Priority Area. He is also director of the BSc and MSc programs in Human Geography and Planning, and coordinator of the minor Rethinking Sustainable Societies. He has been a visiting professor at the Chinese University in Hong Kong and the Universidad Catolica in Chile. He has a national and international presence within the field of sustainability and urban studies, shown in many academic publications and media appearances. His expertise on the upscaling of low carbon urban initiatives and circular infrastructures is of particular relevance here.
Funded Projects: He has and is participating in several national research projects on the topics of Upscaling low carbon urban initiatives (2016-2020), Climate KIC; NEWCOMERS project on energy communities (2018-2022) H2020, and JUSTPREPARE: supporting the energy transition in low-income communities (2022-2026) NWO. Other funded projects include The relation between Housing, Environment and Health Inequality (2022-2023) Inequality Center Amsterdam; Collective Ownership in Community Land Trusts (2022-2023) University of Amsterdam; NEW GOV on new governance arrangements for decentralised infrastructures (2018-2020) AGV; Exotic plant species in the Dutch Caribbean (2017-2021) NWO.
Projects about to start include: PREFIGURE (Horizon Europe 2024-2027) on the housing/energy nexus and poverty, CONFLICTED_STREETS (JPI-DUT 2024-2027) in conflicts in the 15m city and GREEN-INC (JPI-DUT 2024-2027) on socially inclusive climate adaptation
Horizon PREFIGURE: Prototypes for addressing the housing-energy-nexus (Maria Kaika and Mendel Giezen) (KARLSRUHER INSTITUT FUER TECHNOLOGIE, MALMO UNIVERSITET, UNIVERSITAT AUTONOMA DE BARCELONA, EESTI KORTERIUHISTUTE LIIT MTU and others)
European societies are confronted with an interlinked housing and energy crisis that is challenging social cohesion. As access to affordable housing becomes limited, inflation and accelerating energy prices pinpoint that energy poverty and housing inequalities mutually reinforce. Within this context, the deep renovation of the existing housing stock is promoted as key policy action. However, despite policy efforts from the EU to the local state, there are growing concerns that the transformation of housing markets may further aggravate the existing housing inequalities and energy poverty. To offer more equitable pathways to the green transition, PREFIGURE puts the spotlight on existing and emerging individual and collective efforts of policy, market, and social innovation. The project aims at identifying, tracing, analysing and networking emerging and active ‘prototypes of change’ with regard to the housing-energy efficiency/energy poverty nexus. Research objectives are to: (i) offer understanding of how practices of innovation contribute to affordable housing renovation schemes that disrupt existing housing inequalities and energy poverty; (ii) identify how housing policies trigger sustainable housing and energy transitions, how financial incentives for energy-efficient buildings are accessed by different types of owners and tenants, and how different user groups perceive sustainable housing and energy transitions, with a particular focus on income and wealth polarisation consequences on vulnerable groups; and (iii) mobilise knowledge about innovative practices for sustainable housing and energy transitions and co-create evidence-based policy solutions. Method innovation relies on fusing transformative qualitative and quantitative with technological and real-laboratory research to co-create and up-scale knowledge and practices that signal the green transition.
DUT: Green INC (Jannes Willems, Mendel Giezen, Maria Kaika) (Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), University of Bucharest (CCMESI), Luleå University of Technology (LTU), Politecnico di Torino (POLITO), Informart Association Les Etats Généraux de l’eau à Bruxelles (EGEB), Waternet Amsterdam, City of Turin, Skellefteå kommun)
Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are hailed for their multiple benefits, but they often reinforce or amplify urban inequalities and injustices in cities. To better account for NbS dilemmas and trade-offs, both theory and practice have embraced Inclusive Climate Actions (ICAs) that tackle climate change and social equity simultaneously. A systematic evaluation of ICAs in European cities, however, has not yet been executed. The GREEN-INC project will assess the performance of ICAs in five European cities (Amsterdam, Bucharest, Brussels, Skellefteå, and Turin) that face different climate change impacts and are rooted in different urban planning systems. Through a systematic evaluation we identify the institutional conditions and design principles under which ICAs help the uptake of NbS in different European contexts. Our research strategy consists of a comparative case study approach integrating four academic disciplines that each provide valuable perspectives on the effectiveness and equitability of ICAs. The design principles derived from these interdisciplinary assessments will be validated in five living labs with local partners in the five cities. Altogether, GREEN-INC will help European cities to implement ICAs and achieve NbS that incorporate fairness in its delivery and design, and distribute impacts as equitably as possible from neighbourhood to urban level.
DUT: Conflicted Streets (Mendel Giezen) (Lund University, Molde University College, Krakow technical university, VISION5 OG)
While of critical importance to facilitate a transition to climate neutral cities, the 15mC concept is vague and complex. To realize the potential of the 15mC concept to bring about change, there are many potential conflicts between stakeholders representing different interests and perspectives. Essentially, the 15mC concept highlight conflicts between spaces of mobility (enabling local and regional mobility, but also including space currently used for parked vehicles), and spaces of place (emphasising urban qualities that make people want to live in such places). Therefore, conflict over the use of space is a key issue that has to be addressed in planning for the 15mC. In many cases, such conflicts cannot be solved in consensus oriented approaches to planning and decision making. A key goal for this project is to learn and build knowledge on planning practices and processes acknowledging the political and contested nature of such processes of change. This proposal is an important step in building knowledge about what generates conflicts in plans for the 15mC, and developing guidance on how to deal with such conflicts.
is working on his PhD project on the upscaling of energy communities. The aim is to find out how energy communities develop and grow in size and number. Energy communities are widely considered as a promising avenue for accelerating the transition towards renewable energy systems.
Didi van Doren on Upscaling Low Carbon Urban Initiatives (Funded by Climate KIC)
In pursuance of mitigating climate change and the transition to low carbon cities, innovative sustainable low carbon initiatives are implemented in many European cities that aim to fulfill societal and development demands, with no or limited GHG emissions. While different strategies can contribute to the mitigation climate change (energy conservation, renewable energy, enhanced natural sinks, nuclear energy, fossil carbon management), this research will focus on mitigating climate change through energy conservation in the building sector at the urban scale, one of the key sectors contributing to GHG emissions in cities. In order to achieve local, national and international objectives pertaining to energy conservation, initiatives need to ‘go to scale’ and become accepted common practice. The central research problem of this four-year PhD research project is on how the scaling-up of low carbon urban initiatives can be promoted.
Jetske Vaas on Invasive Plant Species in the Dutch Caribean (Funded by NWO)
Successful establishment of exotic plant species on the BES islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba) has profound negative and positive ecological and social consequences. Through a Social Ecological Systems approach the knowledge will be generated that is needed to assess the feasibility, as well as ecological and socio-economic costs and benefits of future nature conservation and management scenarios. Inference of invasive species’ spread from single image in time will be linked to potential responses of stakeholders and governance institutes to hypothetical management scenarios. Integration of the two sub-projects will lead to the development of a Decision Support System that enables optimisation of social and ecological benefits through appropriate management of invasive plants.