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A growing body of research has sought to explore the important relationship between planning and water, with a variety of studies helping to deliver improved insight into the five areas identified here. The RTPI also plays an important role by commissioning, encouraging, and showcasing high quality research to help support the application of successful planning across the world, contributing to the dissemination of inspiring and thought-leading content. The RTPI highlights outputs from university researchers within RTPI Accredited Planning Schools through Planning Research Matters.

Recent research has demonstrated the role of planners in achieving the transition towards integrated low-carbon food-water-energy systems and highlighted planners thought leadership in addressing and championing water resilience. For example, a collaboration between Chartered Town Planners at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), the Austrian Institute of Technology, the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Bristol Water, the Ministry of Municipality and the Environment (Qatar) and Qatar Environment & Energy Research Institute (QEERI) has led to the development of a new modelling tool. The tool was delivered as part of the Sustainable Urban Global Initiative and was piloted in four cities- Vienna, Berlin, Bristol and Doha.

The model constructs alternative development pathways for cities: the first is a ‘business as usual’ scenario that describes a continuation
of historical trends and policies; the second is a ‘sustainable development scenario’ reflecting transition towards low-carbon food-water-energy systems. Both scenarios are based on expected future socio-economic and technological developments in the pilot cities, established through participatory processes with key city stakeholders.

Modelling both scenarios can inform decisionmakers of the advantages and disadvantages associated with low-carbon policy and technological options. The project therefore offers decision-makers a set of policy guidelines that produce “win-win” outcomes for the challenges of climate change, but offer opportunities to make urban food, water, and energy systems more efficient and integrated within city plans. The model highlights three areas for improvement and how the planning profession is central to the solution. First, governance must become more integrated both horizontally (between city regions and municipalities) and vertically (linking higher and lower levels of government). Secondly, governance must also become more open, embracing bottom-up approaches that include citizen participation, NGOs, and civil society actors. Lastly, common assessment methodologies across government and national boundaries are needed.

The inputs of UWE Bristol were led by David Ludlow MRTPI, a Professor of European Smart Cities.