Sustainable Urban Water Management; Geography of Transitions; Innovation Systems
van Welie Mara J, Boon Wouter P C, Truffer Bernhard (2020), Innovation system formation in international development cooperation: The role of intermediaries in urban sanitation, in Science and Public Policy
, 47(3), 333-347.
van Welie Mara J., Truffer Bernhard, Gebauer Heiko (2019), Innovation challenges of utilities in informal settlements: Combining a capabilities and regime perspective, in Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
, 33, 84-101.
van Welie Mara J., Truffer Bernhard, Yap Xiao-Shan (2019), Towards sustainable urban basic services in low-income countries: A Technological Innovation System analysis of sanitation value chains in Nairobi, in Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
, 33, 196-214.
Van Welie Mara, Cherunya Pauline, Truffer Bernhard, Murphy James T. (2018), Analysing transition pathways in developing cities: The case of Nairobi's splintered sanitation regime, in Technological forecasting and social change
, 137, 259-271.
Long term transformations of industries and infrastructure systems towards sustainability (so called sustainability transitions) have gained increasing attention in innovation studies (see Markard et al. 2012), and in human geography and regional studies (e.g. Patchell and Hayter 2013; Truffer and Coenen 2012). Early iterations of this literature focused on a few industrialized countries (Coenen et al. 2012) but more recently transition research has identified emerging economies and developing countries as major places where transition challenges are to be met. More specifically, scholars of the “geography of sustainability transitions” research strand (Truffer and Coenen 2012; Raven et al. 2012) recently provided conceptual guidance and empirical applications demonstrating how research in this field can be carried out (cf. a forthcoming special issue edited by Truffer, Murphy and Raven). The present proposal aims at contributing to this emerging field of scholarship through the advancement of a geographically sensitive framework to study transition dynamics and an empirical focus on the provision of basic/utility services (esp. sanitation) in cities of the Global South. Transitions towards more sustainable sector structures will depend on successful generation of new service-delivery options and on their large-scale implementation within local contexts. Regarding the development of these offerings, the actors, networks and institutions, which form around new socio-technical configurations have been conceptualized as Technological Innovation Systems (TIS, see Bergek et al. 2008). Successful implementation depends on whether and how these configurations fit into local institutional and infrastructural contexts or “socio-technical regimes” that govern public services in developing regions (Geels 2002). As such, there is a fundamental scholarly challenge at work here, how to conceptualize, operationalize, and manage the diffusion or integration of TIS innovations into geographically distinct regimes such that they disrupt “business-as-usual” service provisioning and consumption systems and practices in ways that foster transitions toward sustainability. The proposal analyzes possible transition pathways in basic services, focusing specifically on the case of Nairobi, Kenya. It will examine how new socio-technical configurations (conceptualized as specific TISs) interact with prevailing regime structures of these sectors. Three conceptual building blocks are proposed to analyze these interactions: i) system failures for assessing the capacity of the TISs to develop disruptive innovations; ii) user and service provider practices as core elements of regime structures; and iii) legitimization and trust formation as core processes in the embedding of new service options into existing socio-technical regimes. By analyzing these dimensions and their interaction, we aim at better identifying challenges and prospects for more or less “disruptive” innovations to emerge out of and be diffused from different TISs. Utility services in developing countries are the target of many international aid organizations and actors forming different globalized TIS. Hence, we will also analyze the role that multi-scalar actor networks play in disruptive innovation. Conceptually, this research aims at contributing to the elaboration of a systemic understanding of innovation processes that contribute to sustainability transitions and therefore at providing an early reference case for “geography of sustainability transitions” research in contexts of the Global South. In broader terms, this research shall contribute to a more reflexive and institutionally sensitive approach for designing new utility services both by local actors and by international development agencies.