RECLAIM – Reclaiming Forgotten Cities

RECLAIM – Reclaiming Forgotten Cities

The Sustainable Urban Systems and Infrastructure NetworkPlus (SUSI Network+) call was inspired by the shared goals (e.g., Net Zero, Levelling Up) of three UKRI research councils: the Natural Environment Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. They joined together for this call to create new multidisciplinary research communities to encourage a “system of systems” approach to research challenges. The aim of these new networks was to champion opportunities for environmental solutions in urban contexts for clean growth across UK. A critical motivation was to support and evolve the wider infrastructure and urban systems research communities and extend the value of the previous investment into UKCRIC by expanding the UKCRIC network and utilising its facilities. To this end, SUSI Network+ applicants were encouraged to utilise UKCRIC facilities as much as possible. The three successful SUSI Network+ networks are therefore highly complementary and UKCRIC is planning meetings and an event to explore reciprocal relationships and collaborations going forward.

RECLAIM (Reclaiming Forgotten Cities - Turning cities from vulnerable spaces to healthy places for people) is a SUSI Network+ led by the University of Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) in collaboration with the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Universities of Bath, Bangor, and Warwick.

The RECLAIM network aims to serve as a central hub for rapidly disseminating best practices related to Green-Blue-Grey-Infrastructure (GBGI) design. This includes taking into account the social and economic context of communities, the needs of local residents, and the latest scientific evidence on designing multifunctional GBGI solutions. By developing a common language, goals, and methodology, RECLAIM seeks to improve communication, dissemination, and replicability of GBGI.

At the heart of the network's mission is the goal of addressing the levelling up agenda by integrating social justice issues and ecological quality into the design of multi-functional grey, green, and blue spaces in cities. The aim is to create cities that are liveable, sustainable, and resilient to future challenges. The initiative is particularly focused on addressing the needs of smaller and/or economically disadvantaged urban areas and communities, which have often been overlooked in the implementation and assessment of GBGI. RECLAIM uses a participatory approach to engage and involve these communities in finding solutions.
Geographically, the initiative has a pan-UK scope, covering both larger cities where good practices are already established (such as Liverpool, Glasgow, and Newcastle) and smaller cities and less well-off areas in the northeast of England, north Wales, the Midlands, and southeast England. The disciplinary scope of RECLAIM is broad, aiming to bridge engineering, modelling, atmospheric chemistry, hydrology including marine, green infrastructure, urban art, urban design, and social sciences including science and technology studies.

The Urban Greenspace and People call (now closed) was issued to fund small research projects (<£40k) that address knowledge gaps in GBGI effectiveness against multiple outcomes, including social justice and equity. RECLAIM is now inviting applications for Knowledge Exchange Visits to support cross-sectorial exchange visits between network partners.

The RECLAIM Webinar Series will consist of 18 one-hour online sessions, once per month, until March 2024, to share best-practice and encourage knowledge exchange between practitioners, researchers, policymakers, businesses, charities, and individuals interested in using GBGI. Potential speakers are invited to apply to be included in this webinar series and to date featured a number of academics from UKCRIC member institutions. Applicants can be from any sector and at any level as long as they have important messages and findings to share with the audience concerning the role of GBGI in the sustainability of urban areas.

Membership to the network is free and open. Members receive email updates, can participate in network activities, have access to information generated by the project, and are able to contact other members. Find out more at RECLAIM.