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Exploiting Innovative Synergies Between Environment, Health, Heritage, Business and Tourism to Improve the Maintenance and Financial Stability of Inland Waterways Infrastructure

Project Description

This is a prestigious Scholarship awarded for four years with generous travel and research funds. It is a collaboration between the Centre for Living and Moffat Centre in GLASGOW

Today, 55% of the world’s population live in urban areas and the United Nations predicts this will increase to 68% by 2050 (another 2.5 billion people). This global urbanisation trend poses great challenges to human health and wellbeing (e.g. pollution, flood risk, non-communicable diseases, mental health). Some of these risks could be mediated with innovative management of urban waterways. Waterways (rivers, canals and lakes) are underutilised assets at the heart of most cities and in particular of mega cities like Tokyo, New Delhi and, Shangai. It is estimated that 50% of the world’s population will live within 5 km of an urban waterway by 2030. Inland waterways in urban settings can be reinvented to make cities and urban communities environmentally sustainable, resilient to climate change, healthy and economically vibrant. The management of these urban waterways is, however, an asset intensive industry with large infrastucture liability.
Urban waterways are not just water management infrastructures. They are also green and blue spaces, recreation parks, traffic free, environmentally friendly commuting routes, tourist destinations, heritage sites, and places to grow new innovative businesses. Exploiting these synergies should theoretically provide new sources of finance for the effective management of existing urban waterways. Currently there is no evidence base about how best to exploit the synergies between environment, business, tourism, heritage and health to manage and develop urban waterway assets and ensure their financial sustainability.
The regeneration of Scotland’s canals is probably the best natural experiment currently underway to study the development of novel ways to monitor, manage and attract long term investment to deteriorating urban waterways’ infrastructures. This is particularly relevant as 10% of the Scottish population lives within 2km of a canal which runs through some of the most deprived areas in the nation.

Aims and Objectives
The aim of this Scholarship is to develop an evidence base about how urban waterways capital maintenance can be funded over the long term by exploiting synergies between environment, health, heritage and business in an urbanising world. In other words, how waterways’ operators can work with other industries and sectors to leverage new capital for sustainable maintenance and development. For example; how can working with the tourism industry transform urban waterways into revenue generating attractions (e.g. the Kelpies in Falkirk) or can urban waterways partner up with the health and fitness industry to improve population health, generate income and share the monitoring of assets.

The objectives are to
1) Map existing and future opportunities for synergies in growing cities.
2) Document what type of partnerships work and under what conditions.
3) Document and provide evidence for what financial models can be used and what level of capital can be leveraged.
4) Provide urban waterways’ operators with quantitative evidence of the potential benefits they can bring to other industries.
5) Develop quantitative models and simulation of financials to help future forecasting (taking into account intergenerational equity).

Methods and Approach

The project will follow a mixed method approach from different fields of research.

- The project will use artificial intelligence, natural language processing and text mining technology to systematically search and synthesise evidence in the research and professional literature about capital maintenance in asset intensive industries and the innovative uses of urban waterways.
- The Scholar will search for examples in Scotland and abroad of innovative synergetic development and maintenance of inland waterways as well as in other asset intensive industries such as ports. The Scholar will conduct qualitative fieldwork with stakeholders in the inland waterways and asset intensive industries. Co-creation workshops under a quadruple helix model will be used to develop and discuss novel models.
- The Scholar will develop quantitative models and simulation (using big data where possible) to test scenarios and help in decision making.

To apply download the application form below and return to Laura Logie () in electronic (Word) format by: 31st January 2019 along with a copy of your current CV.

Funding Notes

The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is an open competition for PhD Scholars to undertake approved projects, hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. In this instance the PhD will be registered at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Full funding is available from the Scottish Government (to host institutions via the Scottish Funding Council). The funding available will be in line with the UKRI doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent). Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in February 2019.


Simpson JS, Webb S, Chastin SFM Effect of urban green and blue spaces on community health and wellbeing. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. In Press
Chastin SFM. Waterways & Wellbeing: Unlocking the Health Benefits of the World’s Canals. World Canals Congress 2016
Van Cauwenberg J, Loyen A, Lakerveld and Chastin SFM Differential influences of population densification and economic growth on Europeans' physical activity and sitting time. Cities DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2018.07.006

Richard S, Čukić I, Deary I, Gale C, Chastin SFM et al. The Influence of Neighbourhoods and the Social Environment on Sedentary Behaviour in Older Adults in Three Prospective Cohorts International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14(6):7

Chastin SFM, De Craemer M, Lien N et al. The SOS-framework (Systems of Sedentary behaviours): an international transdisciplinary consensus framework for the study of determinants, research priorities and policy on sedentary behaviour across the life course: a DEDIPAC-study DOI: 10.1186/s12966-016-0409-3

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