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The Sustainable Places Research Institute combines expertise in buildings, energy systems, rural and urban communities, ecosystems, infrastructure, health, and policy-making in a way which has not been done before, enabling us to address the management and policy needs for integrated place-based solutions.

The Research Institute aims to 'model' how changes in local and national infrastructures, individual changes in behaviour and global changes in climate and land-use will affect sustainable practices in the future.

Through new scientific approaches it will place stronger emphasis on sustainable living within sustainable landscapes and city regions by studying the complex and dynamic interrelations between ecosystems, society and economy.

By studying these interactions at local, national and international levels, we place ourselves at the centre of global debates, drawing on existing expertise in the scientific fields of planning, applied social and psychological sciences, business and law, biological and earth sciences, engineering, architecture and health, as we attempt to address one of the biggest global questions we face; how can we create sustainable places?

In doing so we work both locally and internationally on a wide range of projects.



We work locally on a number of our projects including sDNA, SUSPLACE, Sustainable City Regions, PLACE ambassdors,  as well as through our work on biodiversity in Wales, such as Sharing stories, sharing collections and Biodiversity and the area-based approach in Wales.


Deep Place is a holistic approach to sustainable place-making. It is grounded in an empirical concern with how to achieve more economically, socially, environmentally and culturally sustainable places and communities.

Swansea Bay

Understanding the Risk Impacts on Identity from Renewable Energy Infrastructure: the case of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.

Researcher: Andrew Roberts

Cardigan, Carmarthen (West Wales), Grampound (Mid Cornwall) Llan Ffestiniog (North Wales), Llangattock (Brecon Beacons), Neenton (Shropshire)

Project: New rural paradigm with old financial paradigm? Understanding the phenomena of community shares in rural places in the UK.

Researcher: Justyna Prosser

Brecon Beacons, Tredegar, Cefn, Colbren

The impacts of energy transitions on vulnerable peripheral communities.

Researcher: Kate O'Sullivan

Treherbert, Llanberis and Llangattock

Energy and Equity Revisited: The Role of Community Energy in a Socially Just Energy System

Researcher: Alister Forman

Leicester, Milton Keynes, Blackburn, East London

In partnership with the Canal and River Trust the Sustainable Places Research Institute is investigating the public benefits of inland waterways in England and Wales.

East Anglia

The T:GRAINS project will explore whether a regional-based UK food system can provide healthy and sustainable diets, and if resilience in the system can be achieved through strengthening social capital among food system stakeholders.

Dundreggan, Torridon, Corrimony and Glen Affric, Scottish Highlands

Hands-on’ ecological restoration: Participants’ perspectives and the work they do.

Researcher: Dr Ella Furness


Lipsi, Dodecanese, Greece

Implications for the future of fisheries as extractive industries in the creation of sustainable places.

Researcher: Richard Lilley

Wageningen, Netherlands

The SUSPLACE project is coordinated at Wageningen University and brings together six universities and seven non-academic partners in seven European countries: The Netherlands, United Kingdom (Wales), Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Finland and Portugal. The SUSPLACE approach provides insight into how to utilize the full potential of places and communities for development and help to build capacities of people to engage in place-shaping processes and thus strengthen connectivity between policy-makers, academics, businesses and civil society.

Aran Islands, Republic of Ireland

Soil Ethics and Sustainable Place Making.

Researcher: Professor Susan Baker

Pattalam Lagoon, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Wakatobi National Park, SE Sulawesi, Indonesia, Selayar Island, SW Sulawesi, Indonesia, Koh Rong Archipelago, Cambodia, Guimaras Island, Philippines, Peurto Morelos

Our Research Fellow Dr Leanne Cullen-Unsworth, along with our research team, conduct basic and applied research into the structure, function and resilience of seagrass meadows, within a linked social ecological system. They also focus on their food provisioning service.

Sichuan province, China

A NERC-funded collaboration Resilience to earthquake-induced landslide risk in China, will further our understanding of how communities recover from landslides associated with large earthquakes.

Malaysia (Kuching, Kuala Lumpur, Penang)

Systems thinking and place-based methods for healthier Malaysian cities. This project joins partners with expertise in systems and place-based methods, urban planning and public health to examine urban health in Malaysia.

Xiamen, China

The impact of rapid urbanisation on health in Chinese mega-cities. The ‘British Council Researcher Links’ project provides opportunities for early career researchers from the UK and internationally to build long-lasting research collaborations.

Kinnabatangan floodplain, Sabah

In 2008 the University established the Danau Girang Field Centre the Kinabatangan floodplain, Sabah, Borneo.

Quintana Roo, Mexico

Land2Coast is an interdisciplinary investigation focussed on understanding how good governance can foster effective integrated land and coastal zone management in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Costa Rica and Ecuador

The CERTAIN: Certification Evaluation Toolkit and Rainforest Alliance, project examines the ecological, social and economic impact of certification criteria for production systems and the surrounding social-ecological system.