Areas of expertise
- Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction
- Popular resistance
- Ecosystem services and nature-based solutions in urban areas (particularly ecosystem-based adaptation)
- Transdisciplinarity: concept and methods
- Swedish coastal municipalities; informal settlements in Latin America
My research revolves around how cities and people manage and adapt to climate-related risk, including the contributions and different representations of Nature in this process. Since uncovering and addressing root causes of risk and vulnerability requires working across traditional academic disciplines and the science/society-divide, I am also interested in transdisciplinary, participatory and reflexive approaches to science.
My current research focus at LUCSUS is on synergies and conflicts around climate change adaptation and related nature-based solutions in informal settlements in rapidly urbanising cities in the Global South; in particular, in Brazil and Colombia. This has led to articles examining human-nature connectedness in Brazilian favelas (working-class neighbourhoods), reparation ecology as a way to counter climate risk in Latin America, and the role of popular resistance in climate adaptation globally.
Past research includes my PhD thesis (Adapting Cities, 2018) on the emergence of climate adaptation as a policy goal for Swedish municipalities. It examined ecosystem-based adaptation and citizen engagement in adaptation as ways of reducing local risk from adverse climate events. This entailed reviewing scientific evidence from urban case studies worldwide, and empirically examining adaptation processes in south-Swedish coastal municipalities. In particular, I examined the questions of how and on what basis ecosystem-based adaptation is applied in cities; how and for what reasons Swedish citizens engage in adaptation; and how the two approaches had played out in adaptation governance in the South-Swedish Scania region.
Where the Favela Meets the Forest (favelAdapt), 2019-2023. Focused on human–nature interactions in Rio de Janeiro’s informal settlements, and the idea of 'urban ecosystem-based adaptation' as a platform for collaboration and conflict between different actors (residents, planners, scientists) and interests (Brazil). International postdoc project financed by VR.
Everyday Forms of Resistance to State Adaptation (RESIST), 2019-2023. An ethnographic study of how residents of informal settlements experience and create resistance to climate-related risks and top-down adaptation interventions (Colombia). Financed by FORMAS.
Building Inclusive Urban Communities (BInUCom), 2015-2019. Focused on how planning and architecture schools can develop their curricula to better address the complex challenges of informality, environmental risks and social exclusion faced by the urban poor (India). Erasmus+ capacity building project financed by the EU. (Project webpage@Danube University Krems).
Sustainable Urban Transformation for Climate Change Adaptation, 2012-2019. Focused on the role of active citizens and interactive risk governance for increasing cities' resilience to climate-related extreme events (Sweden). Financed by FORMAS. (Project webpage@LUCSUS, Dissemination page for Swedish stakeholders)
Implementing the Ecosystem Services Approach at the municipal level (ECOSIMP), 2013-2017. Focused on transdisciplinary methods for university–municipality collaboration and the conditions for implementing ecosystem services and ecosystem-based adaptation in municipal planning. Financed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. (Project webpage in Swedish)
My teaching generally focuses on methods for climate change adaptation and its integration (or mainstreaming) into local/urban planning. I encourage students to apply theoretical frameworks on risk, adaptation and resilience to analyse local climate risk beyond its apparent or immediate causes and suggest comprehensive adaptation strategies that resonate with local contexts and communities.
Since 2013, I have been involved in teaching the following courses at master’s level:
- Resilience and Sustainable Development (new elective in 2018) *
- Urban and Rural Systems and Sustainability (urban module) *
- Methods for Adaptation and Mitigation (adaptation module) **
*Lund University International Master’s Program in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science (LUMES) **Lund University Master’s Programme in Applied Climate Change Strategies (Tillämpad klimatstrategi)
In 2018, together with LUCSUS colleagues, I coordinated and taught the elective course Sustainable Local Development: Perspectives on Risk, Gender and Sanitation for architecture students at the University of Mumbai.
Outreach and policy engagement
As a Sustainability Scientist, an important part of my job is to engage with and communicate research to stakeholders and knowledge users outside academia. Selected experiences include:
- Working with rights-based community organisations in Rio de Janeiro's working-class neighbourhoods to create actionable knowledge on climate adaptation
- Contributing author on IPBES Values Assessment Chapter 6. Full reference: Kelemen, E., Subramanian, S., Nakangu, B., Islar, M., Kosmus, M., Nuesiri, E., Porter-Bolland, L., De Vos, A., Amaruzaman S., Yiu E., and Arroyo-Robles, G. (2022). Chapter 6: Policy options and capacity development to operationalize the inclusion of diverse values of nature in decision-making. In: Methodological Assessment Report on the Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Balvanera, P., Pascual, U., Christie, M., Baptiste, B., and González-Jiménez, D. (eds). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6522359
- Developing principles for city–citizen commoning for climate adaptation – a policy brief and an associated workshop for municipalities, and a flyer for citizens – based on our findings in the Urban Transformations project (for the outputs see https://www.lucsus.lu.se/klimatsamverkan, in Swedish)
- Continuous and transdisciplinary collaboration with municipal planners and ecologists in south-Swedish municipalities in the ECOSIMP project.
- Co-authoring policy reports and planning tools in both Swedish and English, including Synthesis report on ecosystem-based adaptation (2017, Swedish), ECOSIMP report to Naturvårdsverket (2017, Swedish), Ecosystem-based adaptation guideline (2016, English) and Synthesis report on Swedish adaptation research (2014, Swedish).
Displaying of publications. Sorted by year, then title.
Ebba Brink is a postdoctoral researcher at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS). She has a master's degree in Engineering Mathematics with a focus on Risk Management, and a PhD in Sustainability Science, both from Lund University. Her research is interdisciplinary and focuses on the roles of people and nature in the governance of urban climate risk.
Ebba’s ongoing research projects include:
- Where the Favela Meets the Forest (favelAdapt), on human–nature interactions in Rio’s informal settlements, and the idea of 'urban ecosystem-based adaptation' as a platform for collaboration and conflict (Brazil)
- Everyday Forms of Resistance to State Adaptation (RESIST), on how residents of informal settlements experience and create resistance to climate-related risks and top-down adaptation interventions (Colombia).
Related LU News
14 Nov 2018: “Urban dynamics such as shortage of affordable land and housing force the urban poor to settle on hazardous marginal lands in the city” (ENG)
31 Oct 2018: Fruitful culture clash in new elective course in India (SWE)