£10 million research hub to boost Glasgow’s transition to climate resilience

Published: 15 February 2022

Scientists are to begin work on a large-scale research programme that will help transform Glasgow into a thriving, climate resilient city and support its ambition to reach net zero by 2030.

Scientists are to begin work on a large-scale research programme that will help transform Glasgow into a thriving, climate resilient city and support its ambition to reach net zero by 2030.

University of Glasgow researchers, including two academics from the College of Arts Professor Minty Donald and Dr Rhys Williams, will work in partnership with Glasgow City Council to create transformation projects across the city and embed sustainability into the wider socio-political system.

The project, which has received £10 million from the Natural Environment Research Council, will: 

  • Transform urban river edge land use to firstly, identify areas to create urban corridor parks that will act as flood storage areas to help manage flood risks for city homes and businesses, and secondly, build more urban nature such as salt marshes for improving urban blue space quality for wildlife and people whilst improving societal resilience to climate change.
  • Review and deliver improved biodiversity by restoring and connecting habitats that are currently isolated across the city by mapping important species of birds, mammals and working with local agencies to implement suitable management of greenspace to increase connectivity between core habitats.
  • Regenerate derelict and polluted land into spaces that mineralise greenhouse gases and trap organic pollutants into building materials for the future.
  • Improve air quality and reduce CO2 through changing travel behaviours by increasing uptake of active travel including cycling, wheeling and walking to reduce car journeys.
  • Develop sustainable low carbon energy solutions at the community scale that empower local people as active energy citizens to co-create clean energy demand.

The Community Collaboration workstream, which Dr Ria Dunkley of the School of Education will lead, with College of Arts Co-Investigators Professor Donaldand Dr Williams as well as Dr Nai Rui Chng of the College of Social Sciences, will work in partnership with diverse existing and emergent communities across Glasgow to explore the processes and outcomes of co-produced research within the five areas listed above.

The innovative programme to create a sustainable, healthy urban environment will help regenerate the river Clyde region, which faces significant social, economic and environmental challenges, and will provide learning that will help other cities in their missions to adopting green solutions.

Professor Jaime L Toney, director of the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Sustainable Solutions, is leading the GALLANT project, said:“We’re delighted to have received this funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, which is a significant boost to delivering Glasgow’s post-COP26 legacy.

“GALLANT builds on the Green Recovery Dialogues, a series of discussions between the University, Glasgow City Council, businesses and community groups. As a result of those conversations, we were able to identify areas for urgent action in the recovery from Covid toward achieving the city’s net-zero climate resilience objectives.

“Using Glasgow as a living lab is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with communities and stakeholders across the city to deliver tangible environmental solutions that also improve public health, wellbeing, and move us toward a green, inclusive economy.”

Professor Minty Donald, Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice at the School of Culture and Creative Arts, said: “GALLANT is a really significant opportunity to work over a sustained period of time with experts from other disciplines on a project that has the potential to impact positively on Glasgow. As a creative practitioner-researcher, I’m excited to discover both what I can learn from and bring to this ambitious project.

“My role is to develop, apply and reflect on a range of creative practices, which will be part of GALLANT’s community collaboration programme. Working with colleagues from the Colleges of Social Sciences and Arts, I will be investigating how creative practices such as performance and creative mapping might be used to invite (human and other-than-human) communities to play active, critical, empowered, and informed roles in the ways that cities change in response to climate change and social inequalities.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “This collaborative research hub, backed by £10 million UK Government funding, will help Glasgow build on the legacy of COP26 and lead the way to a sustainable future.”

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “This important project is a testament to the strength of our partnership work on sustainability in Glasgow and it draws on the best of our town-gown relationships.”

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC, said: “As COP26 has shown, it’s vital that we invest in world-leading science to find solutions now to climate change and recovery of our natural environment. This investment by NERC will enable an ambitious step change in how the best science from across different disciplines can come together to address major environmental challenges facing the UK and support the transition to a Net Zero and nature-positive future.” 

Delivering a Climate Resilient City through City-University Partnership: Glasgow as a Living Lab Accelerating Novel Transformation (GALLANT)

GALLANT's vision is to develop whole-systems solutions for a just and sustainable transition delivered at the city scale. Cities are increasingly seen as drivers of a carbon neutral future because through shared policy and knowledge exchange it is possible for successful action in one city to be adopted by others, creating scalable and rapid change. GALLANT seeks to work with local partners and communities to transform the city into a thriving place for people and nature.

Led by the University of Glasgow, in partnership with Glasgow City Council. These are the full list of project partners: C40 Cities, Korn Ferry, Deloitte MCS Limited, UN Economic Commission Europe, The Alan Turing Institute, Bike for Good, British Geological Survey, Cycling Scotland, Environment Agency, ERS Remediation, Glasgow Natural History Society, Glasgow Centre for Population Health, Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, ITM Mechanical Solutions, NatureScot, Paths for All, Public Health Scotland, Ramboll UK, RSPB, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, SLR Consulting Limited, Star Refrigeration Ltd, Sustrans, Zero Waste Scotland, CSIRO, Seven Lochs Wetland Park, Clyde Mission, and Glasgow Life.


The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), part of UK Research and Innovation, is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major environmental issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more.  Learn more on NERC on the UKRI website which can be assessed on the following webpage - www.ukri.org



First published: 15 February 2022