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Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award 2009

Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award 2009

Judith Sykes

Judith Sykes has received the Dow Award for Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge, a prize run by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership for her research into Polices for Delivering Energy Efficient Urban Environments in Developing Countries. She was specially commended amongst the three winners and has been invited to attend a further awards ceremony at Dow in the US.

Judith's research is a component of the MPhil in Engineering in Sustainable Development she is currently undertaking through the Department's Centre for Sustainable Development. She specifically chose the MPhil course at the Centre because it has allowed her flexibility to pursue interests in energy use, generation technologies and energy policy as well as studies into the broader issues around sustainable development.

It is the context of global issues of rapid urbanisation, economic growth and increasing energy consumption, and given that over 50% of energy consumed in developed nations is in the heating and lighting of buildings that led Judith to the question at the core of her thesis. How do rapidly urbanising cities pursue paths that are delinked from use of fossil fuels in the provision of the built environment as well as meeting other social development goals such as improved human welfare?

This is clearly a vast topic and with only a short period in which to complete her research, she will be focussing on South Africa as an example of an emerging economy, principally looking at urban development in the cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The core element of research will be looking at barriers to implementation of energy efficient buildings, what indicators can be used to measure the success of policies and what international support can be provided to overcome such barriers, such as capacity building, technology transfer and finance mechanisms including the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS) revenues.

Judith is using the prize money to fund a research trip to South Africa where she will spend time in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Through links with the Universities of both these cities she has arranged interviews and meetings with a number of developers, municipal planners and representatives from Non-Governmental Organisations and has been invited to visit exemplar energy efficient projects in Witsand and Ivory Park in Johannesburg and similar projects in Cape Town.

Judith is clearly very excited about her research project and has also received an enthuisiastic response from those already working in the sector in South Africa. The outcome of her research will not only assist those furthering South Africa's energy policy, but will also feed into the work here at the Centre for Sustainable Development, the Cambridge Centre for Energy Studies and particularly the Electricity Policy Research Group where her supervisor Karsten Neuhoff is based.

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