Fostering Social Acceptance of Energy Transitions: The Prospects and Limitations of Community Fund Provision

Please see this flyer for “Fostering Social Acceptance of Energy Transitions: The Prospects and Limitations of Community Fund Provision” by Dr. Patrick Devine-Wright – Friday 27th April 2018 in the Museum Building. Event will be streamed on the Planet-Geog Facebook Page in case you cant make it in person!

Patrick Devine-Wright 2018



Hoping for the Best: Urban Regeneration and the Atlanta BeltLine

By Veronica Nitkin

Atlanta, Georgia is infamous for its sprawling nature and limited transportation. In 1999, Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel proposed an idea: to use an abandoned rail line around the city to create a 22 mile ring of trails, parks, mass transit, and urban redevelopment (Kirkman, Noonan and Dunn, 2012). This ring is now known as the BeltLine, and the 6500 acre project (Immergluck, 2008) is one of the United State’s largest redevelopment projects underway (Roy, 2015). The BeltLine has lofty goals which it has been clear about since the project’s inception. It expects to generate $20 billion of new economic development, 30,000 new jobs, and over 5,000 units of affordable housing between 2005-2030 (Immergluck, 2008). The BeltLine has used public-private partnerships to make great strides towards achieving these goals. While 73% of Atlanta residents responded in a survey that they believe the BeltLine is a good idea, taking on such a large project still creates many challenges, even with public support (Kirkman, Noonan and Dunn, 2012).


A large scale redevelopment project, such as the BeltLine, can help a city move from an industrial to postindustrial stage. The BeltLine is an excellent example of the use of public-private partnerships to generate economic growth. Part of the development is funded by tax increment financing, while the rest of the development is privately funded (Immergluck, 2008). The project takes great pride in its ability to inspire $1 billion in private redevelopment (Roy, 2015). Driven by the economic priorities of encouraging private real estate development, improving tax-base, and creating more jobs, the BeltLine exemplifies neoliberal planning (Roy, 2015). The BeltLine is run financially and administratively by Atlanta BeltLine Inc., which works closely with City of Atlanta departments to define details of the plan, determine construction, secure public funding, and engage members of the community (, 2017). The BeltLine transformed from a student’s master’s thesis idea to reality through grassroots efforts, so it is no surprise that the public is still highly involved through the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (, 2017). This is a non-profit organization created in 2006 to engage the public and empower residents in the surrounding area to have a voice. Unfortunately, within a neoliberal political-economy, this public-private structure can actually limit citizen ability to disrupt, because community members were hypothetically involved in the planning process. In the case of the BeltLine, there have not been any significant protests from marginalized members. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that much of the development on the BeltLine is done in mixed income and mixed race neighborhoods, where many people don’t have internet access, thus limiting their ability to really become involved (Roy, 2015). The local district councilman in the Historic Fourth Ward Park area in east Atlanta commented that the development of a 35 acre park was mostly the wish of the relatively new, middle/higher-middle income, white residents (Roy, 2015). This discrepancy between the population able to voice its opinion and the entire population who is affected by the BeltLine development contributes to the gentrification of areas surrounding the BeltLine.


This large scale project has resulted a significant increase in property value, especially in areas within a quarter mile of the BeltLine (Immergluck, 2008). Because the BeltLine has been such a public and highly documented initiative, property values actually began to increase with initial media coverage of the BeltLine planning process (Immergluck, 2008). From 2000-2006, the City of Atlanta has seen the median price of single-family property values increase by 12.4% annually, and prices within one-eighth mile of the BeltLine increase by more than 15% annually over this same period, and construction did not actually start until 2005 (Immergluck, 2008). This preemptive increase was due to press about the BeltLine and expectations that property value would increase. Tax rates have also increased substantially. A typical homeowner with a house worth $100,000 and within an eighth mile of the BeltLine would have seen a change in property taxes from $540 in 2001 to over $1400 in 2006 (Immergluck, 2008). These changes in property taxes have pushed out some lower-income homeowners near the BeltLine. Since the BeltLine encompasses the whole city, it also encompasses a wide range of socio-economic levels. The southern tracts of the BeltLine touch predominantly on lower-income residential neighborhoods, where 20-30% of residents are below the poverty level (Immergluck, 2008), however price premiums on the southside within a quarter mile of the BeltLine increased 15-30% between 2002 and 2005 (Immergluck, 2008). The significant increase in property values and low income level of the area led to gentrification in many areas of the beltline, but especially the south side (Immergluck, 2008). It is often assumed that high property values are desired, but that perspective leaves little regard for the adverse consequences in the form of displacement (Immergluck, 2008). To maintain affordable housing in these areas, substantial planning is required early in the process to mitigate potential gentrification and displacement.


The Atlanta BeltLine is an exciting example of a flagship redevelopment project in the United States. The promises are lofty: to improve public transportation, create urban green spaces, create affordable housing, spur economic redevelopment, and generate job opportunities, all within a 25 year period. So far, support for the BeltLine has remained overwhelmingly positive, in part thanks to public-private partnerships and advanced planning. Atlanta BeltLine Inc., working closely with the City of Atlanta, has been very receptive to the voices of non-profit organizations, the public, and private interests. Despite these efforts, some voices, especially low-income minorities, remain unheard. This has caused increasing gentrification of the areas around the BeltLine. If the expected completion year remains, the BeltLine is now almost halfway complete, and Atlanta residents are eager to see if the BeltLine will live up to its initial hype.

Bibliography (2017). Atlanta BeltLine Overview. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Nov. 2017].

Kirkman, R., Noonan, S. and Dunn, S. (2012). Urban transformation and the individual responsibility: The Atlanta BeltLine. Planning Theory, 11(4), pp. 418-434.

Immergluck, D. (2008). Large Redevelopment Initiatives, Housing Values and Gentrification: The Case of the Atlanta Beltline. Urban Studies, 43(8), pp. 1723-1745.

Roy, P. (2015). Collaborative planning — A neoliberal strategy? A study of the Atlanta BeltLine. Cities, 43, pp. 59-68.

Urban Nomads: The Olympic Curse.

By Wolfe Purcell

The Urban Nomad

A slum is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as, “A squalid and overcrowded urban street or district inhabited by very poor people.” This definition however, is too simple as our modern day slums begin to take new forms and unprecedented sizes.

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai. Pauline C

The first global assessment of slums took place in 2003. “The challenge of slums report,” was carried out by the UN in response to growing urban populations and increasing rural exodus we see today. Cities like Mumbai where 60% of the population live on 6% of the land.[1] Now aptly named, “Slumbai”.

A staggering one in eight people live in slums.[2] That’s over one billion people living in, “squalid or overcrowded conditions”.

These people’s lives are not secure by any means and while researching the topic I discovered the term, “Urban Nomads”.[3] These are people that face the threat of eviction and forced relocation. They are constantly living on the brink.

The Olympics is one of the many mechanisms and institutions that create these, “Nomads”.

The question of who has the right to the city rages while these poorly represented people are being pushed around on a rich mans monopoly board.

Mike Davis

Davis is a person who has never shied away from criticising the modern city. He writes in his book The Planet of Slums that, “rather than being made out of glass and steel as envisioned by earlier generations of urbanists, are instead largely constructed out of crude brick, straw, recycled plastic, cement blocks and scrap wood.”

He refers to Cairo’s City of the Dead, “where one million people use Mameluke tombs as prefabricated housing components”. This example is possibly the most shocking he uses as people are literally living side by side graves as overcrowding becomes such an issue.

Asmaa Waguih, City of the Dead, Cairo

Davis takes no step in his criticism of cities as the debates of urban utopia vs dystopia ensue. This has led to him being labelled, “a city-hating socialist”, in the New Times Los Angeles. His work provides few solutions to the the issues he writes on but what is always evident is his Marxist views and brutal honesty.


Olympic Nightmare

Just being granted the Olympics is an achievement in itself. It is seen as, “an opportunity for a massive physical and image make-over”.[4] However, especially in poorer countries the question of, “Whose Olympics?”, is asked. Who benefits from hosting the games, and is displacement of the urban poor a hallmark of modern Olympic Games.[5]



“One World, One Dream”. The slogan for the 2008 Beijing Olympics was released a year prior to the games. Directly after the announcement 40 well known scholars, lawyers and writers wrote an open letter to Chinese and world leaders. It expressed deep concerns over China’s human rights policies prompting their own slogan, “One World, One Dream, Universal Human rights”.[6] 

In preparing for the games, the government conducted many, “environmental improvement projects”. In reality all these projects aim was to demolish and displace. The areas targeted were what are known as chengzhongcun or ,“villages in the city”,(VIC’s). They are what Mike Davis would refer to as, “peri urban”, settlements. Areas inhabited by mainly migrants far from the centre of cities. These VIC’s were no different, with few Beijing residents living in the area. This meant there was little organised opposition to the Games locating in these districts.

Chengzhwongcun, Beijing

“Environmental improvement”, took place in 231 VIC’s across Beijing containing 33’935 households.[7] Accompanying this was a citywide social cleansing operation with an aim to clear the streets of people who would be an eye sore for visitors and competitors. Beggars, street vendors and unlicensed businesses were among those severely affected.[8] The government enforced ID checks for city-bound travellers to discourage migrants from the surrounding area. This discrimination was introduced by the Beijing Organzing Committee as, “management of floating populations”. Poorer migrants the clear targets.[9]

Jeff Jacoby, NYT

In cases where the government was challenged, lawyers and human rights campaigners were harassed and silenced. This prompted a response from US Congressmen Frank Wolf and Chris Smith. “Tragically, the Olympics has triggered a massive crackdown designed to silence and put beyond reach all those whose views differ from the official ‘harmonious’ government line.” Accompanying this they presented a list of 734 political prisoners to the Chinese authorities.[10] The New York times reported on the evictions and were detained by government officials.See below.

World: Evictions in Beijing

Dayuanfu hutong: Text reads “Welcome the Olympics, Leave early receive benefits, Wait around and lose out.”

In total a report by the Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction indicated that the number of Beijing residents displaced as a result of Olympics-related urban (re)development projects between 2000 and 2008 was estimated to be  1.5 million.[11] Even by Olympic standards this scale of displacement was unprecedented.



We are brought back to the unfortunate question of, “Whose Games?”. As Chief sports writer Keith Duggan of the Irish times aptly put, “How do you rationalise a $11.5 billion sports party”. For us in the west it is easy to hold the Olympics up high as this catalyst of urban regeneration. Barcelona is often used as an example. But unfortunately this is often not the case, we have seen examples of forced eviction at six summer Olympics dating back to Seoul 1988. [12] We are left pondering, do the poor have any right to the city at all? An event like the Olympics would suggest not.

Rio de Janeiro, Reuters.

[3] Megacity Slums: Social Exclusion, Space And Urban Policies In Brazil And India

[4] 2 Short, John R (2008), “Globalization, cities and the Summer Olympics”, City Vol 12, No 3, page 339. pages 321−340



[7] 9 Shin, Hyun Bang (2009), “Life in the shadow of mega-events: Beijing Summer Olympiad and its impact on housing”, Journal of Asian Public Policy Vol 2, No 2, page 134. pages 122−141


[8] Watts, Jonathan (2008), “Beijing announces pre-Olympic social clean up”, The Guardian, 23 January, accessed 19 May 2012 at


[9] See the BOCOG website, accessed 26 May 2012 at


[10] ‘Smith in China on Major Human Rights Appeal in Run-up to Olympics’, [press release], (1 July 2008) and Christopher Bodeen, ‘US Lawmakers: Bush Should Skip Olympics’, Associated Press (1 July 2008).


[11] COHRE (2007), Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights, Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction, Geneva,



Cultural-led Urban Regeneration of Temple Bar

By Loren Leonard

Temple Bar: The Irish Icon  

Temple Bar; a place so iconic that its name alone has come to represent the cultural heart of Dublin’s fair city. A compact cultural hub nestled right along the south banks of the Liffey, Temple Bar almost exists as a separate unit with a distinctive energy not replicated in any other part of the city. With its world renowned crowded pubs and multicultural restaurants fronting the narrow, cobbled lanes, we owe a lot this 28-acre plot. As stated by Dermot McLaughlin of The Irish Times, Temple Bar “is many things to many people: a place and a brand, a cultural quarter, a workplace, a tourism destination and, importantly, somewhere called home”. It is difficult to imagine Temple Bar as anything else than what it is today; a thriving tourist district where every building and landmark inherently represents Irish culture. But it is true that Temple Bar did not always take this form. In fact, prior to Dublin claiming the title of the European Capital of Culture in 1991, there was little to distinguish Temple Bar as a cultural urban hub.

1.jpg Source; ICIS, (2016).

Dublin: 1991 European Capital of Culture

It was only upon Dublin becoming the seventh European Capital of Culture that Temple Bar was finally deemed an area worthy or urban regeneration. Over the past three decades there have been numerous attempts across European cities to regenerate urban areas by means of culture, with several cities using the ECOC award as a platform to generate a new cultural identity. What first started out as an idea to promote European cities, thirty years and fifty-six cities later, has become “Europe’s most ambitious collaborative cultural project both in scope and scale”, (European Communities, 2009). As explained by McCarthy, 1998, culture-led urban regeneration essentially involves the encouragement of economic diversification and employment creation, while also promoting “place marketing” in which areas “suffering from structural decline” are enhanced visually in order to boost their economic standing. Glasgow claimed the ECOC title in 1990 and was the first city to acquire extensive public and private support and funding in order to put the city’s aspiring three-year development plan into action, (Garcia, 2005). Upon the completion of the plan, the cultural-led regeneration of the city was largely deemed a success. However, the question on everyone’s lips back in 1991 was ‘would Dublin follow suit?

Was Dublin Ready?

For the most part, Dublin was criticised for not being prepared enough to cope with the expectations surrounding the status of being a named City of Culture. With Dublin already being compared to Glasgow by critics, there really was little hope that Dublin had the potential to follow in Glasgow’s footsteps. There was no question that Dublin have very big boots to fill after Glasgow’s success, but the city had already shot itself in the foot before it even had the chance to begin. With an extremely limited budget of £5 million, it was feared that many of the planned events could turn into “an underfinanced flop”, (New York Times, 1991). In comparison to the allocation of €45.75 million to Galway’s bid to become the European City of Culture 2020, this really puts Dublin’s financial budget for the events into perspective, (McGarry and Tipton, 2016). However, one success story did manage to emerge from such a limited budget; Temple Bar.


Source; RTE Archives, (1991).

The Original Temple Bar

The 28-acre plot of Temple Bar was originally owned by the Irish Transport company, Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE). It was only when CIE wished to develop a bus station in the area, which was met with great opposition, that Dublin City council constructed an Area Action plan to “revitalise the area for cultural, residential and retail use”, (International Intervision Institute, 2001). From this, Dublin City Council and the Temple Bar Development Council pursued the Temple Bar Area Renewal and Development Act, 1991, under which Temple Bar Properties Ltd. and Temple Bar Renewal were set up to oversee the urban regeneration of the area. The main objectives set out by these two companies included; the development of an enhanced pedestrian route, creation of new public spaces, provision of residential accommodation, the maintenance of streetscape and promotion of cultural heritage, (Reflecting City, 2008). The establishment of Temple Bar Properties Ltd. enabled a dedicated agency to drive the urban regeneration of an area that was viewed as being derelict and run down. TBP Ltd. set out a timescale under which the development would take place, while also acting as a gatekeeper between the public and private sectors, dealing with any upheaval between the different inhabitants of the area, (International Intervision Institute, 2001). Much of the success of the urban renewal can be attributed to the planning and dedication of TBP Ltd and TBR.

Goals for Temple Bar

The key goal of the cultural-led urban regeneration of Temple Bar was to create a well-known cultural identity and a recognised brand for the area. This branding process was achieved primarily though the urban design of the newly developed area. By both enhancing the spatial quality of Temple Bar, in that the infrastructure was improved with the introduction of new street lighting and pathways, and re-establishing a connective relationship with surrounding areas in Dublin, Temple Bar was provided with the amenities to integrate back into Dublin city and re-brand itself as an attractive tourist area, (International Intervision Institute, 2001). The creation of new public spaces in Temple Bar, including the two public squares Meeting House Square and Temple Bar Square, allowed for the promotion of a new cultural identity. With both of these public squares being used for cultural activities while also housing a cultural centre, multiple photographic galleries and hosting a book market at weekends, the optimisation of available space allowed for the creation of a functional cultural space


Meeting House Square. Source; Dublin Visitor Centre, (2017).


Temple Bar Square continues to host a weekly book market. Source; Visit Dublin, (2017).

Success or Failure?

It has been debated as to whether the urban regeneration of Temple Bar can be deemed successful or not. There had of course been great expectations for the redevelopment, especially after seeing the success in other ECOC’s like Glasgow. Certainly, the redevelopment brought about change for the better within the general Temple Bar area. With the construction of 133 apartments, 63 retail units and seven hotels by July 1996, it is difficult to dispute the fact that the renewal of Temple Bar was successful, (McCarthy, 1998). As outlined By John McCarthy, by the mid-1990s the pedestrian movement in Temple Bar had doubled, while the area had also become “the fourth most popular tourist destination in Dublin”. This transformation from a derelict, run down part of the city that was visually unattractive had become a thriving tourist hub which was deemed a must visit for anyone wishing to experience Irish culture at its finest.

As with any urban regeneration project, there have also been criticisms of the renewed Temple Bar. One of the main critiques of the development has been the gentrification in Temple Bar since the regeneration. With the rising of rents due the improvements made to the apartments, many artists who had previously been living in the vicinity were forced to leave, (Reidy, 1997). This unfortunate consequence was essentially the antithesis of the entire regeneration project which was supposed to encourage creativity and culture, not displace the original artists who called Temple Bar home. Although it is argued by Montgomery, 1995, that some degree of gentrification was unavoidable and in fact it was a requirement for the regeneration of Temple Bar, the level of gentrification witnessed in Temple Bar during the mid-1990s was far more significant than previously anticipated. It is proposed that Temple Bar has lost its authentic culture and the “original bohemian ambiance” associated with the area has been displaced and lost, (McCarthy). There have undoubtedly been mixed reviews of the Temple Bar regeneration, but despite the criticisms it still achieved many of its goals. It goes without saying that the Temple Bar we have all come to know and love would not exist without having undergone this major culture-fuelled transformation.


Dublin Visitor Centre, (2017). Meeting House Square Photograph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11th November 2017].

European Communities, (2009). European Capitals of Culture: The Road to Success From 1985 to 2010. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5th November 2017].

Garcia, B., (2005). Deconstructing the City of Culture: The Long-term Cultural legacies of Glasgow 1990. Urban Studies. 42(5/6), 841-868. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8th November 2017].

ICIS, (2016). Temple Bar Photograph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11th November 2017].

International Intervision Institute, (2001). Temple Bar Urban Regeneration. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5th November 2017].

McCarthy, J., (1998). Dublin’s Temple Bar – A Case Study of Culture-led Regeneration. European Planning Studies. 6(3). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 6th November 2017].

McGarry, P. and Tipton, G., (2016). And Ireland’s European Capital of Culture 2020 is … Galway. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10th November 2017].

McLaughlin, D., (2011). Temple Bar as Place and Concept is Real Success Story. The Irish Times. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5th November 2017].

Montgomery, J., (1995). The story of Temple Bar: Creating Dublin’s Cultural Quarter, Planning Practice and Research. 10, 101-110.

Reflecting City, (2008). The Reconstruction of Dublin – Temple Bar. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5th November 2017].

Reidy, S. E., (1997). Cultural Policy in Urban Regeneration: The Examination of Temple Bar, Dublin, unpublished research project for the Degree in Town and Regional Planning, University of Dundee.

RTE Archives, (1991). Dublin is European City of Culture 1991. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11th November 2017].

The New York Times, (1991). Europe’s 1991 Capital of Culture. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 7th November 2017].


Are we making progress to conserve biodiversity or are we still destroying it? A round up of the IPBES regional assessments – Jane Feeney

Biodiversity refers to the complex web of genes, species, communities of creatures and entire ecosystems that make up our planet. Biodiversity is the Earth’s living fabric, vital for sustaining ecosystems and for human survival. Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are, according to the Chair of IPBES Sir Robert Watson, “the bedrock of our food, clean water and energy. They are at the heart not only of our survival, but of our cultures, identities and enjoyment of life”.

In order to strengthen knowledge about the state of biodiversity globally and to inform better decisions affecting nature, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was established in 2012. An independent intergovernmental body, it is currently made up of 129 member governments. The sixth plenary session of the IPBES was held in Medellín, Colombia from 17 to 24 March 2018. Scientists, policy makers and stakeholders from over 100 countries united during one week with an ambitious task: to approve and launch four regional biodiversity assessments, as well as an assessment on land degradation and restoration. These assessments were the result of three years’ work involving over 550 experts and is the first evaluation of its kind since the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

 Photo credit: IPBES


Each regional assessment (Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, and Europe and Central Asia) addresses the following questions:

  • Why is biodiversity important?
  • Are we making progress or are we still destroying biodiversity and undermining human wellbeing?
  • What are the threats to biodiversity?
  • What policies and governance structures can lead to a more sustainable future?
  • What are the priority gaps in knowledge?

Using the findings from these reports, a global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services is due to be released in 2019.

Biodiversity is declining at a dangerous rate globally

The bottom line arising from the assessments is that biodiversity continues to decline in every region of the world, with negative implications for human well-being. The main drivers include the intensification of agriculture and forestry, climate change, resource extraction, invasive alien species, and pollution.

The reports discuss underlying factors such as rapid economic growth, globalization and urbanization which are modifying consumption and production patterns, to the detriment of the planet and human well-being.

Some key findings from the assessments are highlighted below:

> Climate change threatens biodiversity

Climate change has been identified as a major threat to biodiversity in all regions, and poses a particular threat to coastal ecosystems, low-lying coastal areas and islands. Human-induced climate change affects temperature, precipitation, sea level rise and the occurrence of extreme weather events, impacting on species, habitats and ecosystem structure and function, as well as other knock-on effects such as increased pest and disease outbreaks.

> Biodiversity loss undermines action towards global sustainability targets

Continued loss of biodiversity and degradation of nature’s contributions to people undermines the ability of countries and regions to meet their global targets. The achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the Paris climate agreement, “depend on the health and vitality of our natural environment in all its diversity and complexity. Acting to protect and promote biodiversity is at least as important to achieving these commitments and to human wellbeing as is the fight against global climate change”, according to Dr. Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of IPBES.

The IPBES is sometimes referred to as the ‘IPCC for biodiversity’. Discussions arose during the IPBES-6 Stakeholder Day in Medellín around why biodiversity does not receive the same level of attention as climate change in policy agendas and among society. The complexity and diversity of biodiversity make the concept hard to grasp and defy its translation into simple universal goals that are appealing to policy makers, such as the 2°C limit. The IPCC has also been around twenty years longer than IPBES, so it will require more time and ground work. Although there are concerns that climate change may overshadow or deflect from other environmental issues like biodiversity loss in terms of both public awareness and funding, one panel member declared that it’s not “us or them”, referring to biodiversity vs. climate change. Given the interconnected nature of the two issues, a convergence of efforts through IPBES and IPCC can benefit overall environmental outcomes and conservationists can seek opportunities to link with climate action.

> Indigenous and local knowledge is an extremely valuable, but under-appreciated, resource for nature protection

  • The Americas assessment highlights the fact that indigenous people and local communities have created a diversity of polyculture and agroforestry systems, which have increased biodiversity and shaped landscapes, but also warns that local languages and cultures are dying out.
  • In the Asia-Pacific region, traditional agrobiodiversity is in decline, along with its associated indigenous and local knowledge (ILK), due to a shift towards intensification of agriculture. However, the region also highlights positive examples of community-conserved areas managed and guided by ILK and culture-based practices.
  • In Africa, the wealth of ILK, developed over a long history of human interactions with the environment, represents a key strategic asset for sustainable development in the region and requires greater attention from governments and society.
  • In Europe and Central Asia there has been a loss of ILK along with the abandonment of traditional land uses, and the report highlights a knowledge gap in how to integrate ILK into national and international policy frameworks and initiatives.

IPBES has an ILK task force and technical support unit to develop procedures and approaches for working with ILK systems and participatory mechanisms under the IPBES Platform. However, improvements need to be made, as was stressed during the IPBES-6 Stakeholder Day, for greater representation of indigenous people within the Platform, along with the recognition of multiple systems of values and the need to define, identify and include ‘local communities’. The importance of incorporating more ‘grey’ material including ILK materials into IPBES assessments was highlighted, in addition to peer-reviewed scientific articles, and improving access to IPBES outputs through multilingual versions of reports and communication materials.

> Protected areas are key for conservation, but need to be combined with human-dominated landscapes that support nature

  • In the Americas, protection of key biodiversity areas increased 17% between 1970 and 2010, although less than 20% of key biodiversity areas are protected and coverage varies significantly. The report highlights that aside from protected areas and restoration projects, strategies are needed to make human-dominated landscapes more supportive of biodiversity.
  • The Asia-Pacific region saw a growth of 0.3% in terrestrial protected areas and almost 14% in marine protected areas between 2004 and 2017. However, most of the important bird areas and key biodiversity areas remain unprotected, and an increase in forest and protected areas alone is not enough to withstand the biodiversity impacts of monocultures.
  • In Africa, 13.4% of the continent’s land mass and 2.6% of seas have been designated as protected areas, contributing to the recovery of threatened species. There is an urgent need to expand the protected area network and find strategic approaches to understand and address barriers to such expansion.
  • In Europe and Central Asia, protected areas now cover 10.2% of the region, 13.5% of its terrestrial area and 5.2% of its marine area. Yet, the assessment stresses that it is not only coverage of protected areas that matters, but also their efficacy, connectivity and representativeness, as well as a need to foster biodiversity outside protected areas.
Photo credit: Petr Baumann/

> Land degradation is now ‘critical’, threatening human wellbeing

The assessment on land degradation and restoration finds that more than 3.2 billion people are already affected and this is set to worsen without rapid action. Land degradation is driving species extinctions, intensifying climate change, and is a major contributor to mass human migration and increased conflict. According to the report, land degradation is being driven by high-consumption lifestyles in the most developed economies, combined with rising consumption in developing and emerging economies. The report also identifies opportunities to accelerate action, including improving monitoring, verification systems and baseline data; better policy coordination; eliminating ‘perverse incentives’ that promote land degradation and promoting positive incentives that reward sustainable land management.

Ways forward:

Although the results of the assessments paint a grim picture for biodiversity, they also identify some important success stories and review tools, methods and governance options to address the environmental crises we are facing. Chair of IPBES Sir Robert Watson said: “Although there are no ‘silver bullets’ or ‘one-size-fits all’ answers, the best options in all four regional assessments are found in better governance, integrating biodiversity concerns into sectoral policies and practices (e.g. agriculture and energy), the application of scientific knowledge and technology, increased awareness and behavioural changes.”

Jane Feeney is a PhD candidate at the Geography Department, Trinity College Dublin. She is currently in Colombia carrying out fieldwork on biodiversity offsetting and is a visiting researcher at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá.  

Gentrification in de Jordaan, Amsterdam

By Sanne Gort

The term gentrification refers to the process of upgrading an area within a city from a social, cultural or economic point of view. In fact, gentrification has two main components. The first one is functional upgrading. Together with this process of gentrification, the land prices increase. This means that the land use needs to be upgraded in order to stay profitable. Besides, there will be a displacement of the population. Initially, a working-class population is living in an area, but they won’t be able to afford living in that area anymore as the land price has risen. However, the middle-class population can afford living in the area so they will replace the working class population (O’Callaghan, 2017*).

1Fig. 1: de Jordaan in 1950 (Pinterest, 2017)

This blogpost will focus on gentrification in the city of Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. One of the areas in Amsterdam where gentrification occurs in the past few years, is de Jordaan. This is an area located to the West of the city centre (fig. 2). De Jordaan has a total surface of 0.84 square kilometers and almost 19 thousand inhabitants (Funda, 2017). It was built in the early 17th century, mainly to house immigrants and the working class (fig. 1). This was necessary as there was a huge stream of refugees from other European countries to find their freedom in Amsterdam. Therefore, de Jordaan was initially a poor neighbourhood. In the 1970s, they planned to demolish big parts of de Jordaan and build modern blocks of flats. However, there was a lot of resistance against those plans, so they changed their plans to small projects to fix up the neighbourhood. A few decennial later, at the end of the 20th century, a lot of artists, students and young professionals discovered de Jordaan and moved to there. This can be seen as the beginning of gentrification in this area because nowadays, de Jordaan is an expensive and prosperous area. As a result, the initial inhabitants couldn’t afford the higher prices, left the area and moved to other areas within or close to Amsterdam (, 2003).

2.jpgFig. 2: Location of de Jordaan (Jordaantour, 2015)

The question that arises it whether this gentrification in de Jordaan is still going on. To examine this, the development of house prices in de Jordaan over the period 2013 to 2016 will be compared to the development of house prices in Amsterdam over the same period. As gentrification goes along with a rise in house prices, this comparison will show whether gentrification is still going on in de Jordaan or not (O’Callaghan, 2017). In the case it is, the increase in average house prices will be higher in de Jordaan than the increase in average house prices in Amsterdam.

According to ‘allecijfers’, a website that shows facts about Amsterdam and the different areas within Amsterdam, the average house price in Amsterdam has risen from 240,000 euros in 2013, to 253,000 euros in 2016 (allecijfers, 2017a). This is a rise of 5.42 percent. The same website states that the average house price in de Jordaan in 2013 was 181,000 euros, which is way lower than the average house price in Amsterdam at that time. However, there was a huge increase in the period from 2013 to 2016 as the average house price in 2016 in de Jordaan was 308,000 euros (allecijfers, 2017b). This is a rise of 70.17 percent. An overview of the average house prices is given in table 1.

3Table 1: Average house prices in Amsterdam and de Jordaan 2013 – 2016

So, the average house prices in de Jordaan compared to the average house prices in Amsterdam, suggests that the gentrification in de Jordaan is still going on. Another factor that suggests the same, is the average income. In 2013, the average income of Amsterdam was slightly higher than the average income of de Jordaan (Hylkema, 2016). However, nowadays, the rate of higher incomes in de Jordaan is higher than Amsterdam, and the rate of lower incomes is lower (Funda, 2017). This indicates a shift from the working-class to the middle class.

These facts suggest that gentrification in de Jordaan is still going on. However, further research is needed to incorporate other factors that might influence the house prices and the shift from the working-class to the middle class.

The facts suggest that gentrification is still going on, but has gentrification already had its impact on the image of de Jordaan. Is the neighbourhood seen as a nice and prosperous area in Amsterdam, or is it still seen as a poor neighbourhood you better avoid? There were two inhabitants of Amsterdam willing to share their opinion about de Jordaan. They are both 21 years old and since 2014 living in the Frederik Hendrikbuurt, an area next to de Jordaan.

Saar Bakker: “De Jordaan is a really nice area. Both from the inside and from the outside. In the last few years, it remained sympathetic despite the fact the area became more and more popular. There are a lot of different people meeting in de Jordaan. On the one hand you have the ‘real Jordanezen’ (the people that are living there already for a long time), and on the other hand a lot of students. And everything in between. There are many nice pubs (fig. 3) in this area which makes it a place that attracts a lot of different people. Altogether, de Jordaan is a place that feels like home to everyone!”

Sjoerdje Bruinsma: “I see de Jordaan as a place for everyone. No matter if you want to walk past the canals or want to get lost in one of the beautiful small streets. A big change you will find an extraordinary store or a really nice pub. The pubs in de Jordaan are places in which young and old people meet and have a chat with each other. De Jordaan honours its French name ‘Jardin’: It blooms!”

People chatting at brown cafe 't Smalle

Fig. 3: Pub in de Jordaan (Drenth, 2017)

Altogether, de Jordaan is a really nice area in Amsterdam where gentrification has had its positive impacts. It started in the 70s and is still going on, but the inhabitants of Amsterdam see it already as a really nice area!

* Not public available

Is successful regeneration possible?

By Ailbhe Carney

What is successful regeneration of an area? Limerick city, Ballymun and the Fatima mansions have had plans of regeneration set in place for them, but have they worked?

Limerick city

The most deprived parts of Limerick city had a regeneration plan set in place under the Limerick Regeneration Initiative. The trigger to the regeneration was a devastating petrol bomb attack on children in the Moyross estate (Humphreys, 2010). The problems of the estate were only getting worse and there was an abundance of social disorder. The plan included new structures that would drive regeneration including additional funding (including public and private investment) and a planned and strategic approach to regeneration (Humphreys, 2010). The Moyross and Southhill areas have endured a lot of negative media attention because of criminal activity, particularly violent and drug related crime. Limerick has a high concentration of social housing built in the city and this in turn came with unique problems and challenges for the city (Fitzgerald, 2007).   The masterplans for regeneration in Moyross promoted high density developments in urban areas adjacent to public transport corridors. The plan also aims to redefine the tenure mix and varying the dwelling mix in the Moyross area (, 2017). In order to promote the new residential area and drive regeneration, the plan suggested providing a local supermarket, efficient transport services, promote the perception outside of the area that change is occurring and that a greater number of people living in the area would create ‘a vibrant public realm and contribute to civic behaviour and safer places’ (, 2017). So, did this plan improve the area? The developing of large concentrations of housing has not worked (Humphreys, 2010). New home buyers were not attracted to this area with only 6 houses being sold between February 2014 and February 2015 and only an extension of shops being built on to an existing shop at this time (Broche, 2015).

Derek Coyle owner of a Eurostar which he had to close down partially because of people moving out of the Moyross area “The depopulation was a major factor, because it meant we were losing so many customers. They knocked down 500 or 600 houses and moved people out. That’ll have a huge affect on any businesses in there” (Broche, 2015).

Fr Tony O’Riordan (Moyross parish priest) said ‘while physical regeneration of the estate is “slowly” emerging, the proposed picture of social regeneration is barely visible’ (Raleigh, 2014).

Dilapidated housing in Moyross Estate


Photo source (

Fatima Mansions

Fatima mansions located in Rialto in Dublin is a local authority housing estate with a troubled past. The Fatima mansions were built between 1941 and 1951 as an attempt to rehouse the inner city’s poor. In the 1970s, the area gained a reputation for drugs and in the 1980s, a heroin epidemic broke out which contributed to its negative image through the media leading to a widespread view that the area was in crisis (Conway et al, 2011). The residents of the Fatima Mansions began campaigning for a full redevelopment of their area in the mid 1980s. In 1995, the Fatima Groups United (FGU) was established which included a mix of residents (some of whom were in local services) and community service employees (Norris et al, 2016). The FGU created their own redevelopment plan after failed negotiations with Dublin City council. They called it Eleven Acres, Ten Steps and it focused on holistic social, economic and physical redevelopment. In 2001, discussions between the Council and residents led to a compromise including the demolition of the flats and their replacement by public housing, dwellings for sale at below market value to low-income households, commercial and community facilities (community and sports centre), funding for a social regeneration plan and the establishment of an independent redevelopment management board.  This was funded by public private partnership (PPP). In return for this, the developer could construct 396 private dwellings and sell them to the open market (Norris et al, 2016). The regeneration of Fatima mansions is an example of cultural-led social housing estate regeneration. As part of the Eleven Acres, Ten Steps regeneration plan it identifies that art and culture are essential activities to help build community, mitigate the estate’s public image and encourage social integration and attract non-residents into the area and residents to go to cultural events (Fatima Groups United, 2000 cited in Norries et al, 2015). Amongst interviews with the Council and the residents of the Fatima mansions it can be concluded that the regeneration has been largely but not completely successful. The positives of the area would be that the new housing is of high quality and that there has been a good impact from the social regeneration. However, poverty and drug use remains a problem. Some private dwellings failed to sell following the economic crash meaning the mix in tenure of the redevelopment have only been partially successful (Norris et al, 2016).

New Housing in the Fatima mansions


Photo Source (


Ballymun is in the outer suburbs of Dublin and was built in the 1960s. Seven fifteen storey blocks were built along with, nineteen eight storey ‘spine block’ clusters, ten four-storey ‘walk-up’ blocks and 400 two-storey houses (Power, 2000). The trigger to developing Ballymun was the 1963 housing crisis. It was estimated that 26% of dwellings in Dublin had exceeded their life expectancy. A house on Bolton street collapsed on an elderly couple killing them both. Ten days later two young girls died from being buried in debris (Power, 2000). The project unfortunately failed in both housing and social terms with the growing problem of heroin addiction and the lack of amenities available to residents (Kelly, 2016). In 1997, a regeneration programme began in the Ballymun area and in 1998 a masterplan was created. The main initiatives of the masterplan were demolishing all the tower blocks, ‘spine block’ clusters and ten four storey blocks. To create new homes of an appropriate scale in different sizes and styles. The construction of parks and art and leisure centres. A new main street with civic buildings a community arts facility, refurbished swimming pool and a new town centre development to replace the existing Shopping Centre. And lastly strategic land measurements beside the M50 for job opportunities (Purcell, 2007). Did the government follow through with the masterplan? They did to an extent. The plan was delayed (supposed to be completed in 2006) due to poor management and lack of risk planning (Purcell, 2007). The final tower only came down in 2015 (Kelly, 2015). Although physical regeneration has progressed well, social problems persist in the area. Fr. Peter McVerry highlights that alcohol and drug abuse still plague the area resulting in violence, crime and anti- social behaviour (O’Brien, 2008). Economic regeneration has not been developed either as  employment remains statics and incomes low (Kelly, 2016).  Looking at all three areas we can see that there are positives from the regeneration programme. However, the majority of the plans have either not been implemented due to lack of funds or have focused too much on one aspect of regeneration. For example, physical regeneration is successful in Ballymun while economic and social regeneration seemed to be brushed under the carpet. Physical, economic and social regeneration of an area all need to be incorporated accordingly to the area so regeneration is successful.

The demolition of Joseph Plunkett tower in Ballymun begins. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin. Photo source (


New housing in Ballymun. Photo source (



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