U-TURN Program

Urban Transformation and Urbanization Research Network

The U-TURN program focuses on identifying innovative ways of decoupling adverse environmental changes from progressive social change through influencing urban transformation and urbanization structures and processes.

The program is based on the underlying premise that the ways urbanization and urban transformations unfold over the next few decades will have profound implications for the prospects of sustainability at regional and global scales.  On the one hand there are tremendous opportunities to guide changes in urban forms and functions in ways that both support environmentally-benign lifestyles and at the same time secure livelihoods and improve well-being of the poor. On the other hand, there are no guarantees that challenges arising from rapid urbanization will be fairly met or that the outcome will be more resilient societies and ecosystems.

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Photo: Pixabay

Our approach has been two-fold. First we have been building up a better understanding of the history of urbanization in the Chiang Mai – Lamphun corridor from several different social and ecological perspectives starting with carbon and air quality and moving on to water management issues. Second we have exchanged our views and experiences through collaborative comparative studies with other cities and towns in Asia. Throughout we have paid special attention to issues of governance and knowledge. In recent years we have focussed more attention on peri-urban areas and the special challenges households in them face from floods and poor water quality.

Our theoretical contributions have included improving treatment of urbanization dynamics in urbanizing regions by considering change from the perspective of changes in resilience of the regional social-ecological system.