Dr. Vanesa Castan Broto presents a keynote on “Urbanization, Energy Access and Justice: A Comparative Perspective” at the Conference on “Governance for Sustainable Energy Transitions: The perspectives of the Asian Region” at Hong Kong Baptist University on 17 July 2017.
The Sustainable Development Goal 7, achieving affordable and clean energy, follows the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative and the declaration of the decade 2014 2024 as the decade of Sustainable Energy for All. The challenge, however, is massive. Figures published alongside the Sustainable Development Goals suggest that one in five people still lack access to modern electricity and three billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. The challenges of energy access are paired with those of decarbonisation, because of the tradeoffs between providing energy access and reducing global carbon emissions. Carbon footprints of people who lack energy access are so small that considering reducing them, rather than providing affordable access, is immoral. Yet, the debate draws attention to the dangers of using energy access arguments to justify the exploitation of fossil fuel resources even in contexts where they do not provide direct energy access to those who need it. In this talk, I will argue for increased attention to energy access in urban areas, opening up the opportunities for experimentation and radical transformations that emerge from the confluence of people, resources, ideas, and from the spaces created by urban planning. This argument challenges misconceptions about how energy access happens and the notions commonly associated with energy access provision, such as energy needs, stakeholder engagement and energy planning, exposing their complex and multi-dimensional nature.
Dr. Castán Broto has been Senior Lecturer at the Development Planning Unit since 2011 and is one of the course directors on the Masters Course on Environment and Sustainable Development. Her current research focuses on possibilities to enhance the wellbeing of urban citizens through planning interventions and environmental management. She is the principal investigator of the project ‘Mapping Urban Energy Landscapes’ (MUEL), which seeks to understand the relationship between energy use, access to services and spatial transformations. She was also the principal investigator of the project ‘Partnerships for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique’ (4PCCD) which developed participatory planning methods through which communities can establish their priorities to develop resilient neighbourhoods. Vanesa has a doctorate from the University of Surrey (Environmental Strategy) and MSc degrees from Wageningen University (Environmental Sociology) and Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (Engineering).