Joanna Williams

  • Associate Professor in Sustainable Development and Director of the Circular Cities Hub - University College London

Research interests

Jo Williams has 23 years of research experience broadly in the area of environmental sustainability. Since 1997, her research interest has focused on reducing resource consumption and tackling green-house gas emissions, more particularly the transition pathways towards achieving this goal.

She has worked on projects focussed on low carbon experiments and urban transitions; resource sharing and collaborative lifestyles; circular urban resource systems; the translation of eco-innovation to new contexts; ecological foot-printing and eco-system services; smart cities; eco-neighbourhoods and community resource provision. She is particularly interested in the dynamic process of change in complex urban systems, with particular reference to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption.

Jo is the Director of the Circular Cities Hub. The Hub is based within UCL, but comprises an international network of cities, professionals, and academics working on delivering circular cities. The Hub aims to provide resources to help build capacity amongst cities and professionals to deliver this objective. It is engaged in action research projects in this area currently focussed in Europe, but it’s long-term aim is to also build capacity in the global south.

Jo advises cities on Circular strategies; has been asked to advise the UK Government and European Commission on Circular Cities and has several researchers working in related areas – blue-print for circular integrated infrastructure; smart shrinkage in Korea; translating ecocyles to Asia; Circular Transitions - Barriers and Mechanisms for Scaling Circular Experiments and Strategies an Challenges for Circular Cities.

Jo is also interested in the scaling-up and translation of urban eco-innovation ( low carbon, circular experiments) to new contexts; and the management of these processes leading towards sustainable urban transitions. She adopts a systems-based approach in her work. Her research has centred on European, American and Asian examples.

The results from some of her research projects have captured the imagination of the world press (in particular Zero Carbon Realities and Going Solo) and influenced thinking within UNEP, European Environment Agency, Globe European Commission, and various national Governments.