VACCINATING THE NEXUS: Learning from crisis in cities

In the current context of rapid population growth, economic development, urbanisation, mobility demand, technological changes and climate change, it is increasingly recognised that we need to understand better the inter-dependencies between water, energy and food systems, which is known as the ‘Water-Energy-Food Nexus’.


Funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council, the ‘Vaccinating the Nexus’ project will investigate how shocks to the Water-Energy-Food nexus, such as flooding, droughts, energy shortages or unsustainable infrastructure development, may help inform the development of more environmentally sustainable and secure systems.  


The UCL City Leadership Laboratory will model how this ‘vaccination process’ occur in urban governance systems, exploring which structures and processes are triggered during a shock and how, where and when the ‘vaccination’ takes place. Novel approaches based on complex sciences and computational systemic simulation models will be combined with state-of-the-art social sciences models. The ultimate goal is to provide tangible evidence on the capacity of urban governance systems to adapt and improve resilience after being disrupted by major shocks. 

Focusing systematically on the intersection between crisis, city leadership and risk management, Learning from Crisis aims at understanding the impact of natural and man-made disasters crises on the capacity for cities to ‘learn’ (and strategically diminish) risk. The project is developed in partnership between University College London's STEaPP department and the World Bank. The project focuses particularly on natural disasters (such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and wildfires), drawing comparative lessons with man-made and complex crises (riots, pandemics, conflict, financial downturns), to develop a model to ascertain how, cities learn from crisis and how they deploy innovative mechanisms to diminish risk in their strategic plans. The project relies on a review of fifty cities globally, deepening a direct research engagement with interactive regional workshops in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, supporting the development of a longer-term capacity building for crisis management.

2012 EU-China Mayors' Forum © Committee of the Regions

Project Team