Urban Coastal Transformations: Promoting transnational policy development in the governance of environmental quality and crime reduction

Lead Research Organisation: Oxford Brookes University
Department Name: Faculty of Business

Abstract

Urban settlements on the coast present a complex and dynamic set of physical, social and economic issues for policy makers concerned with environmental quality and crime reduction. During 2015, the research partnership members will conduct a comparative scoping study of best practice in the governance of environmental quality and crime reduction in urban coastal communities located in the North Coast region of São Paulo State and in South Wales, UK. This will enable the Brazilian and UK partners to study specific issues, policy contexts and policy communities of both countries in respect of environmental quality and crime reduction and identify priority research topics. In both case study areas there has been rapid and significant change in economic activity leading to a convergence of urban transformation problems that are similar in nature, but are different in magnitude. From the mid-20th century, both locales have seen a rapid decline of previously thriving maritime ports serving traditional, local, production in agriculture and fishing (North Coast) and coal and steel (South Wales). Consequently, the economic base of both locations has shifted towards a combination of developments in the energy industry alongside a transition from a production to a consumption and service industries-based economy. Central to the service economy, in both UK and Brazilian locales, is an increasing dependency on tourism and leisure, and a consequent growth in the creation of new tourism spaces.
Admittedly, the pace of socio-economic change is much more marked on the coast of São Paulo State than in South Wales, but the economic and social dynamics are similar in both locales. Legislation to protect the environment is enforced by the activities of a range of state agencies, private sector security agents, and voluntary groups that support the state and federal police. The complexities of such "plural policing" in both the built and rural environments, in and around urban communits, require a sophisticated and robust governance response.
The governance model in respect of environmental quality in Wales offers Brazil a distinctive UK comparator. Natural Resources Wales is unique in the UK as it offers a single agency approach that seeks to manage air, land and water sustainably. In respect of crime reduction, the risk-based 'preventative turn' in criminal justice and policing has been a policy influence in attempts to reduce crime and to create safe communities in both locales. In South Wales there are mature structures of governance concerned with crime prevention and reduction. In Brazil comparator agencies include the Brazilian Institute of Environment and renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), which formulates, coordinates, supervises, manages, promotes and enforces the preservation and conservation of natural resources.

Planned Impact

The research will be of special interest to policy communities in Sao Paulo State and Wales, as well as to their counterparts in central government in the UK and Brazil. The topics with which it deals are of acute current interest to policy-makers. Moreover wider contextual questions such as the public understanding of and confidence in governance institutions and processes are matters of concern across the research sites. All members of the research team have extended and ongoing track-records of involvement with governmental, third sector and commercial organisations in their respective locations. The research centres where they are based have been conceived with these civic commitments in view. The research team members are thus working within established research structures that will provide intellectual impetus, institutional support and material infrastructure for a research enterprise of this kind. For example, in terms of dissemination and user-engagement, the research will draw intensively on the well-developed links with government at various levels at each of the UK HEIs active in this project. User engagement and support is integral to the design of this project and will be critical to its successful execution. We have already discussed the proposal with contacts in Natural Resources Wales and within Welsh government (add other contacts), and are confident of building a coalition of support for it. In order to enhance the impact of the work, as well as to provide the opportunity to test and refine its emergent findings, we plan to run a number of knowledge exchange events involving participants and potential users of the research in both the UK and Brazil. We hope that these will function as genuine exchanges on several fronts: a venue in which the research team can check and assess the progress of the study, a forum in which new ideas of relevance to the research themes can be raised and incorporated into the development of the larger future research bid, and an opportunity for members of the policy communities to meet and swap perspectives and experiences.

The proposal directly addresses solutions to poverty and development issues by its focus upon safeguarding communities through best practice of governance of environmental quality and crime reduction. Protecting environmental quality through periods of rapid population growth in urban coastal communities of Brazil is extremely challenging. Our studies of Caraguatatuba and other North Coast communities in São Paulo State demonstrate their vulnerability to a broad range of social problems including unplanned urban development, violent crime and deteriorating environmental quality. The governance model in respect of environmental quality and crime reduction in Wales offers Brazil a distinctive UK comparator for promoting transnational policy development between Brazil and the UK and strengthening governance mechanisms.

Urban transition issues associated with environmental quality and crime reduction can be tackled on a local scale through the development of robust and effective governance. However, many local issues are expressions of global mechanisms that require transnational co-operation. The proposed project will highlight best practice of governments and NGOs to inform policy development that addresses the transnational dimensions of environmental quality and crime reduction. The project will lay the ground for research of high impact by engaging the relevant policy communities in both locales with the potential benefits of transnational policy development.

Publications


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Description Project aimed to:
1. Enable the Brazilian and UK partners to study specific issues, policy contexts and policy communities of both countries in respect of environmental quality and crime reduction and identify priority research topics.
2. To jointly conduct a comparative scoping study of best practice in the governance of environmental quality and crime reduction in urban coastal communities located in the North Coast region of São Paulo State and in South Wales, UK.
3. Lay the ground for research of high impact by engaging the relevant policy communities in both locales with the potential benefits of transnational policy development.

Project outcomes
4. Policy-makers in both Brazil and the UK face a number of challenges in seeking to promote economic growth whilst protecting the earth's natural resources from degradation and taking action against climate change. Whilst Brazil has seen substantial economic growth over the past decade, significant proportions of the population remain in poverty. Commitment to protecting the environment appears strong on a number of measures (political expression, formal legislation, corporate rhetoric and public opinion) but, as this Newton Research Partnership project on urban transformation demonstrated in 2015, questions remain on how far these ideals are reflected in actual policy and practice.
5. Whilst the political and economic context is very different, the 2015 Newton Partnership project also confirmed that the UK also faces major challenges in balancing wealth creation with environmental protection. Austerity and public expenditure cuts since 2010 have led to growing inequality, at the same time as restricting significantly the resources of government agencies tasked with managing and protecting natural resources. These developments raise significant 'governance' challenges, defined broadly as the range of instruments and mechanisms that are available to collectively steer society.
6. Organized responses to environmental threats have been a particular focus of studies of 'new' forms of governance, which posit a shift away from 'state-centric' modes of hierarchical control and towards a range of collaborative, participatory and market-oriented approaches. Environmental issues provide particular problems for 'traditional' modes of governance, in that problems are often complex and transnational in nature, with a high degree of scientific uncertainty.
Exploitation Route The project team is now engaged in disseminating the outcomes of the Newton project through the preparation of 3 journal articles in the fields of sustainability, tourism studies and urban planning by collaborative UK/Brazil authorship teams for submission in 2016. A bid to expand the research network has been made under the British Council Researcher Links programme by Cardiff University and University of Brasilia that could see an intensive workshop for 30 early career researches from both Brazil and the UK organised in Brasilia in July 2016.
Sectors Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice
 
Description The project has opened engagement between members of the research groups in both Brazil and the UK and professionals and businesses. It is too soon to detail specific impacts but engagement work will continue in 2016 and beyond.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services
 
Description Extension of research network to include 2 research centres at the University of Brasilia 
Organisation University of Brasilia
Country Brazil, Federative Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I was invited to visit UnB and speak at a seminar organised by Centre for Excellence in Tourism. Further meetings were held with staff of this Centre, and with staff of Centre for Sustainable Development. This resulted in a December 2015 submission to the British Council for a Newton Researcher Links Workshop Grant ID 228780405 led by research team member. Co-authorsip of an invited research article submission to a special issue of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism (in review).
Collaborator Contribution Hosting a seminar and meetings to progress Uk/Brazil research collaboration and agreeing to jointly Co PI a bid for a British Council Newton Researcher Links Workshop. Co-authorsip of an invited research article submission to a special issue of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism (in review).
Impact 1) A December 2015 submission to the British Council for a Newton Researcher Links Workshop Grant ID 228780405 led by research team member. 2) Co-authorsip of an invited research article submission to a special issue of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism (in review). Multi-disciplinary: Sustainability Studies, Tourism Studies, Criminology
Start Year 2015
 
Description South Wales Fieldwork with Brazilian researchers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact During fieldwork phases of project, UK and Brazilian PIs and COIs met with representatives of Natural Resources Wales, Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water, and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cardiff. Fieldwork in Sao Paulo State involved informal meetings with professional staff in state agencies and SME business owners. These meetings invoked considerable interest in future UK/Brazil research collaboration within the area of the governance of environmental quality and environmental crime reduction.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015