Professor Vanesa Castan Broto

Department of Geography

Professor of Climate Urbanism

A profile picture of Vanesa Castàn Broto
Profile picture of A profile picture of Vanesa Castàn Broto
+44 114 222 7942

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Professor Vanesa Castan Broto
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

Vanesa joined the Urban Institute in September 2017, following her appointment as a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Her research has been funded by the British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, ESRC, EPSRC and the Institution of Civil Engineers.

In 2016 she received the Philip Leverhulme Prize for contributions to Geography. In 2013 she received a United Nations Award for Lighthouse Activities that contribute to fight climate change with a focus on the urban poor.

Research interests

Vanesa’s research focuses on the governance of global environmental change in the urbanization age. She focuses on three interrelated themes: 1) the governance of climate change in urban areas; 2) urbanization and the dynamics of energy transitions; and 3) barriers to the implementation of climate change action.

The first strand of her research focuses on who governs climate change in urban areas and how. For example, she has mapped her contributions to the field in the 2017 article “Urban Governance and the Politics of Climate Change” (in World Development) in relation to both normative and critical strands of thinking about urban governance for climate change. Vanesa has also made direct contributions to international policy, for example, as a lead chapter author for UN-Habitat’s 2016 World Cities Report.

The second strand of her research focuses on the dynamics of energy transition. Following her engagement with urban infrastructure as a means to understand climate change policy, she is developing a feminist neo-materialist perspective on the governance of energy transitions. Vanesa has imagined the concept of urban energy landscapes as spatial arrangements of cultural practices and artefacts that reflect the coevolution of socio-economic, technological, and ecological systems. This conception challenges broadly accepted notions of energy landscapes as the product of public perceptions of energy developments. A recent paper on “Energy landscapes and urban trajectories towards sustainability” (in Energy Policy) provides an overview of her work in this area.

The third area of her research focuses on developing practical ways to activate urban transformations and deliver climate action in practice. An example of this work is her research on participatory planning for climate change. At the moment, Vanesa is engaged in a series of activities with local partners in Mozambique to rethink sustainable energy access in urban areas. An overview of her efforts to rethink sustainable energy access in an urbanization context is presented in a recent collective paper “Universal access to sustainable energy in urban areas” (in Nature Energy).



  • Castan Broto V & Westman L (2019) Urban Sustainability and Justice Just Sustainabilities and Environmental Planning. Zed Books Ltd.. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Castán Broto V (2019) Urban Energy Landscapes. Cambridge University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Castán Broto V, Ensor J, Boyd E, Allen C, Seventine C & Augusto Macucule D (2015) Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique. UCL Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Bulkeley HA, Broto VC & Edwards GAS (2014) An Urban Politics of Climate Change Experimentation and the Governing of Socio-Technical Transitions. Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles