On 15 December 2021, a Build4People webinar together the Center for Khmer Studies took place. The main aim of this event was to inform on the state of the art of the academic field of sustainable urban transformation, to introduce case studies of sustainable urban transformation from other Asian countries (India, Singapore) and to discuss the sustainable urban transformation approaches of the Build4People project in Phnom Penh.

In this context, Build4People is proud to have convinced Dr. Mansi Jain from Utrecht University, one of the leading scholars in this field, to join this event as a keynote speaker. Mansi is a Postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University, Netherlands in the research hubs “Transforming Cities” and “Data and Knowledge Hub-Healthy Urban Living” where she conducts trans-disciplinary research with urban stakeholders.

During her keynote speech, Mansi introduced about urban transformation and stressed that a radical change towards sustainable change is urgently required. She put her lecture focus on her doctoral and postdoctoral research. In doing so, she presented the so called Sectoral System Innovation Assessment framework (SSIAf), which is based on the five qualitative components Expectations/Visioning, Actor-network, Learning process, Institutions and Marked-demand. She applied the SSIAf on the NZEB in India which ensured a good comparison of the two cities New Delhi and Singapore in terms of their green building. Her analysis showed that the difference between the two cities is quite big, which is partly due to the fact, that the central government of Singapore was taking the lead of developing more focused building sector policies and in contrast in India there exists mainly a private sector influencing the factors towards sustainable transformation.

Afterwards, Dr Michael Waibel gave an overview about the overall Build4people project and the general approaches. He explained why the building sector is the main research area in the project and why the issue of user behavior is so relevant. He emphasized that the Build4People project incorporates a multi-disciplinary, multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral approach. According to him sustainable urban transformation can only be achieved with the combination of cultural, economic, and political dimensions, and should not only be seen as a technological challenge.

He further explained Build4People’s overall goal is to pursue a people-led, cross-cutting, transdisciplinary action research approach and a view of integrated urban development. Thereby, the combination of knowledge and insights from different work packages helps to develop tailor-made interventions by means of action research.

Last but not least, Ravi Jayaweera provided theoretical and empirical insights from the Build4People Work Package #6 which deals with questions of sustainable urban transformation. He initiated, that another issue beside carbonization is the resource consumption and cities in general are crucial for combating sustainability challenges, in particular cities of the Global South.

Ravi Jayaweera introduced two key theoretical framings from transitions literature: the multi-level framework and the combination of quasi-evolutionary and institutional theory. For the latter he differentiated selection pressure and referred to Richard Scott. He presented the three institutional types, heterocognive, normative and regulatory and the Respond of the regime authors: adaptive capacities.

Furthermore, Ravi Jayaweera introduced his two main research questions and this methodology. Finally, he addressed the In/stability through Cultural-Cognitive, Normative and Regulatory Processes based on his research.

Question raised during the concluding discussion led by CKS director Natharoun Ngo included questions of understandings and dealt with issues of recommendations for implementors and the local population for a positive change.

Successive joint dissemination events with the Centre of Khmer Studies will be organized with inputs from Build4People WP#5 “Urban Climate” and Build4People WP#1 “Behaviour Change” in the upcoming months.