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Integrated Governance of the Sustainable Development Goals within City Regions (Advert Reference: RDF22/BL/LHRM/HOPE)

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Dr A Hope  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognise the role of cities in achieving sustainable development. However, these agendas were agreed and signed by national governments and thus implementing them at the local level requires a process of adaptation or localisation (Valencia et al., 2019). A key aspect of the SDGs is the implicit recognition of the integrated nature of sustainability, i.e., the importance of jointly addressing social, environmental, and economic dimensions. This requires multi-level collaboration, integration, and governance among all actors at any given level. Integrated governance includes horizontal collaboration (between entities and actors at the same level), vertical collaboration (among actors in different levels, e.g., national, regional, and local) as well as collaboration among different types of actors (public sector staff and politicians, private sector, civil society, and academia) (Biermann, et al, 2014). Given the complexity of sustainability issues, it is widely recognised that no single actor or level of governance can fully address sustainability without forming partnerships and cooperating with different types and levels of actors. This may include the use of Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) which may leverage private sector finance and expertise to deliver public sector infrastructure and services (Cui, Liu, Hope, & Wang, 2018; Fell & Mattsson, 2021).

Cities and City Regions are recognised as central to determining the sustainability of human development (Wiedmann & Allen, 2021). They are regarded as central to driving the sustainable development agenda in several ways. Cities exert a profound and far-reaching influence on the environment and societies outside their boundaries because of their population density, economic significance, affluence and ensuing global resource requirements. But cities are also centres of knowledge, technology, and innovation, which makes them crucial players in any sustainability transition (Seto, Golden, Alberti, & Turner, 2017). Whilst there are some examples of the different approaches adopted by various city regions as they work towards the SDGs, there is no comprehensive assessment of their success or challenges to date making it difficult to develop public policy, business strategy or practice guidance.

The proposed research will utilise a comparative study which will examine the way in which the SDGs are being integrated and governed within city regions with the aim of providing a blueprint for SDG integration. Possible case studies have been identified in the Newcastle City Region UK, Amsterdam City Region in the Netherlands, the New York City region in the United States and the Hangzhou City Region in China.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/BL/LHRM/HOPE) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Principal Supervisor - Dr Alex Hope

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for international and part-time applicants.


Cui, C., Liu, Y., Hope, A., & Wang, J. (2018). Review of studies on the public–private partnerships (PPP) for infrastructure projects. International Journal of Project Management. doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2018.03.004
O’Brien, G., & Hope, A. (2010). Localism and energy: Negotiating approaches to embedding resilience in energy systems. Energy policy, 38(12), 7550-7558.
Hope, A. (2018). Sustainable business model design: a review of tools for developing responsible business models. Sustainable Business Models, 377-394.
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