SASSI (A Systems Approach to Sustainable Sanitation Challenges in Urbanising China) aims to enhance our understanding of complex human-environment interactions and their sustainability outcomes. SASSI will define and advance a systems approach for sanitation which situates basic human functions within wider human ecosystems of critical social, economic and environmental resources and social institutions, cycles and order.
The project studies sustainability outcomes across different sanitation systems, environments and temporal scales using various analytical approaches and state-of-the-art modelling.
SASSI addresses crosscutting issues in sustainable development. It focuses on Shanghai (China) as a prime example of urban transformation, drawing on quantitative and qualitative data to understand the development of infrastructure over time and explore how possible context-specific policy- or design-focused interventions may contribute to sustainable development in the future.
Sanitation infrastructure is entangled with social, technical and ecological systems at different spatial and temporal scales. The planning, implementation, management, maintenance and use of sanitation systems have substantial implications for sustainability. Such sustainability outcomes can depend on factors as diverse as context-specific resource availability, everyday practices and local values, beliefs and norms.
Expanding sanitation systems is key to sustainable development transitions, considering that Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 has a strong focus on sanitation. More importantly, sanitation systems are linked with multiple other SDGs and create substantial interlinkages between SDGs. Even though sanitation systems are usually implemented with the aim to improve human well-being, transitions in national sanitation infrastructures may carry adverse implications for human health, social relations and environmental sustainability. Yet, there is a lack of systematic and integrated evidence on the sustainability outcomes of transitions in sanitation systems, especially in (rapidly) developing countries.
The overall aim of this interdisciplinary project is to enhance our understanding of the complex human-environment interactions in sanitation systems and their sustainability outcomes in rapidly developing countries.
This can contribute knowledge and best practices to improve human well-being, which is the overall focus of the Sustainable Development agenda. The project has four interlinked objectives:
SASSI studies the sustainability outcomes of current sanitation practices (and transitions) across different sanitation systems (e.g., service-networked or sewage-based sanitation), spatial contexts (e.g., urban, peri-urban, rural) and temporal scales (to account for time lags, increased scale and pace and the indirect effects of sanitation).
We use a mixed-methods approach to understand infrastructural transitions over time and explore how possible context-specific policy- or design-focused interventions may contribute to sustainable development goals. To do so, we combine various analytical approaches from the natural and the social sciences through state-of-the-art modelling using concepts from complexity science. Scenario development and simulation allows us to consider plausible futures, whilst taking into account possible uncertainties.
We focus on Shanghai (China) because it is a prime example and model of urban transformation. The mega-city is China’s most populous city and administratively equal to a province. Beyond dense urban centres, it contains urban villages, satellite towns and swaths of sparsely populated agricultural land. Thus, it offers unique opportunities to study the entanglement of co-evolving urban, peri-urban and rural systems at varying stages of infrastructural development.
Dr Deljana IOSSIFOVA, University of Manchester, Architecture (International Lead and PI UK)
Dr Murilo da Silva BAPTISTA, University of Aberdeen, Complex Systems and Mathematical Biology (Co-I UK)
Prof Nir OREN, University of Aberdeen, Computer Science (Co-I UK)
Ulysses SENGUPTA, Machester Metropolitan University, Architecture (Co-I UK)
Dr Youcao REN, University of Manchester (Research Associate)
Eric CHEUNG, Manchester Metropolitan University (Research Associate)
Mahmud TANTOUSH, Manchester Metropolitan University (Research Associate)
Anthony BLADEN, University of Manchester (Research Assistant)
Prof Feng LUAN, Tongji University, Urban Planning (PI China)
Prof Nannan DONG, Tongji University. Landscape Study (Co-I China)
Prof Hongbin CHEN, Tongji Univeristy, Environmental Science and Engineering (Co-I China)
Dr Alexandros GASPARATOS, University of Tokyo, Sustainability Science (PI Japan)
Prof Em Clara GREED, University of the West of England
Sarah ICHIOKA, Desire Lines
Prof Jochen MONSTADT, Utrecht University
Prof Nikolas ROSE, Kings College London
Prof Tim SCHWANEN, University of Oxford
Dr Jose SIRI, Wellcome Trust
SASSI is funded by Towards a Sustainable Earth (TaSE)– a collaboration between UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), Japan Science and Technology Agency and National Natural Science Foundation of China.
Duration: 02/2019 – 07/2021
Funding: £519,880 (FEC)
NERC Reference: NE/S012354/1