A call for research on urban renewal and sustainability

The Environmental and Sustainability Research Center at the Open University invites researchers to submit proposals for policy-oriented studies that will respond to the challenge of implementing sustainable urban renewal in Israel.

Rapid population growth in Israel, coupled with pressure on city centers and the imperative to conserve open space, has led to a surge in urban renewal projects in recent years. Urban renewal, as practiced in Israel, entails the redevelopment of existing urban areas while drastically increasing their density. These processes introduce economic, environmental, and social challenges that demand the attention of researchers from various disciplines.

On one hand, urban renewal initiatives can serve as catalysts for city development, bolstering local economies and modernizing residential structures and infrastructure. Urban renewal endeavors can also present opportunities for innovation across a spectrum of domains, including energy efficiency, sustainable construction practices, smart city technologies, the establishment of high-quality green spaces within urban environments and more. Conversely, these processes reshape the social fabric of cities, potentially contributing to ecological harm, public health problems and strain on urban infrastructure.

Deadline for submitting proposals: 15.10.2023. [CLOSED]

 For the call on urban renewal and sustainability >>

A call for research on sustainability and urban resilience

The Goldman Sonnenfeld School of Sustainability and Climate Change at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev together with The Environment and Sustainability Research Center at the Open University invite researchers to submit proposals for policy-oriented studies that will answer the challenge of developing sustainable cities in Israel with resilience to climate change.

Sustainable urban resilience has become an important concept in the context of urbanization and climate change. Israeli cities, home to over 90% of the country's population, face a combination of challenges. Some of these challenges are ongoing, such as budget depletion, environmental deterioration, traffic congestion, and social and economic inequality, and some result from one-time or repeated extreme events, such as epidemics, floods, earthquakes and extreme weather events. Cities in Israel need innovative and effective solutions to ensure their long-term sustainability and resilience, especially given the challenges of global warming and climate change. The ultimate goal of sustainable urban resilience is to produce cities that are able to withstand and address new shocks and pressures while maintaining their essential functions and ensuring the health and well-being of their residents. This involves combining existing principles and resilience in urban planning, design and management processes, as well as involving stakeholders and promoting social equality. Urban resilience is also related to the technological aspects of mining and processing huge amounts of urban data to enable monitoring, analysis and design of sustainable policies.

Deadline for submitting proposals: 6.6.2023 at 12:00 (CLOSED).

A call for research on urban density and health

The Environment and Sustainability Research Center at the Open University invites researchers to submit proposals for policy-oriented studies that respond to the challenge of creating healthy yet dense urban spaces.

Israel is one of the most urbanized countries in the world and it is still undergoing accelerated urbanization. By the year 2065, Israel is expected to double its population to about 20 million people. More than 95% of Israelis will live in cities, few of them new. The majority of the population will live in extensions of existing cities or in city centers following urban renewal. The entire State of Israel is undergoing a process of densification, seen mainly within city centers and in developments on city outskirts.

Urban density is the subject of much ongoing, multidisciplinary research. A variety of disciplines, including city planning, environmental sciences and public health, sociology and anthropology, architecture and economics, have contributed relevant knowledge to this field including planning for density, different aspects of density, its impacts and solutions. Urban density has been found to have an impact on health, with often harmful consequences. A 2020 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that high levels of residential density are associated with increased exposure to air pollution which is a risk factor for heart, lung and blood vessel disease. During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the connection between urban density and the transmission of infectious diseases became more acute. A public health study published in the Lancet in 2020 found that urban density was positively associated with the spread of COVID-19 in European cities, but found that other factors, such as population mobility and socioeconomic status, also had an impact.

Urban density is related to improving the use of land resources and the ability to preserve open space. At the same time, there is an ongoing debate regarding the role of urban density in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its contribution to mitigating climate change. A 2020 study published in the journal Energy and Buildings found that high levels of urban density are associated with low per capita energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in European cities, but the relationship was found to be complex and dependent on other factors such as building design and transportation patterns. Another 2021 study analyzed the social and cultural dimensions of urban density. This study, published in the journal Sustainability, found that high-density urban environments can foster a sense of community and social cohesion but also pose challenges to privacy and social distancing.

Deadline for submitting proposals: 30.4.2023 at 12:00 (CLOSED).

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