Justice and Governance

'Justice and governance cuts across all sectors and policy areas and is at the heart of societies’ pursuit of sustainability. By engaging in internationally-recognised, theoretically-informed, and practically-relevant research, our aim is to raise critical questions about and seek innovative answers to: how justice is understood, pursued, and practised in environmental governance, and how alternative forms and scales of governance affect the pursuit of sustainability.'

Academic Lead: Simin Davoudi, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

Environmental justice covers the substantive right of all people to environmental benefits (such as clean air and water, open spaces, etc.) and their right to be protected from environmental burdens (such as pollution, climate risks, etc). Our research on environmental justice puts the emphasis on the social dimension of sustainability without assuming that there is an automatic compatibility between sustainability and justice. Given that environmental justice has to be pursued rather than assumed, at Newcastle University we are focusing our attention on the interface between pursuing justice in the distribution of environmental resources and risks, and equity and fairness in environmental governance, helping to shape national and international policy. Our research covers the following aspects:

Justice and Governance sub-themes

For further information on each aspect please see:






'Environmental Justice and the City'

Study commissioned by Newcastle City Council and funded by the Institute for Local Governance to inform the work of Newcastle City Council's Fairness Commission. Report written by Simon Davoudi and Elizabeth Brooks.

Executive summary

Full report



Architecture and roadmap to manage multiple pressures on lagoons (ARCH)

Picture of the ARCH project team

The ARCH research project aims to develop participative methodologies in collaboration with policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders to provide road maps for management of the multiple pressures affecting lagoons (estuarine coastal areas) in Europe. These are located at the interface between land and sea and the transition between fresh and salt water. They represent highly dynamic and productive ecosystems with complex structures. The complexity of managing lagoons and estuary systems is growing because of the multiple pressures stemming from urban, industrial, agricultural, and recreational activities. The European Commission has taken the lead to promote Integrated Coastal Zone Management. However, there are growing concerns that climate change, increasing urbanisation, industrialisation and tourism will further exacerbate the existing pressures. These may result in the gradual loss of biodiversity and increasing pressures on water resources.  Tackling these pressures while minimising the environmental, economic and social vulnerabilities associated with their impacts is the main concern of ARCH research project. ARCH will examine the ongoing social and ecological interactions in 10 lagoon case studies covering all major seas surrounding Europe (Baltic Sea, Norwegian Sea, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea). Work on the case study sites will be undertaken using an evidence-informed, participatory process.

The ARCH consortium consists of 11 partners from 9 European countries: Norway (lead partner), the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Portugal, Romania, Poland, UK and Greece. Members of the consortium are leading in national and European research on coastal management, marine ecology, environmental chemistry, climate change, economics, governance, spatial planning and urbanism. The Newcastle University team is led by Professor Simin Davoudi and includes Dr Elisabeth Brooks and Dr Paola Gazzola.

Retrofitting Sustainability for Energy Reduction in Urban and Rural Systems: An Agenda for Interdisciplinary Research

Sustainable retrofitting is a developing combination of engineering techniques that operate at different spatial scales (single dwellings, streets, neighbourhoods, cities and regions). It is built on explicit assumptions about the technical effectiveness and cost efficiency of this form of intervention, but with largely implicit assumptions about models and processes of socio-economic and institutional change, and their consequences for resource-efficient behaviour, equity and fairness, healthy living and well-being. To take forward the concept into effective application calls for strategic collaboration between the physical, engineering and social sciences. Supported by funding from the EPSRC, we are organising a series of workshops which aim to formulate an interdisciplinary research agenda on retrofitting sustainability. The concept will be interrogated from engineering, planning, public health, transport and social science perspectives, to establish a sound basis and clear focus for collaborative research on the critical issues – technological, social and economic – confronting sustainable retrofitting as a strategy for energy reduction in urban and rural systems.

Coordinated by:



For further information, email sustainability@ncl.ac.uk.