The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Julia Wesely

Nationality: Austrian

Year of entry: 2013


Julia holds a BSc in Environment and Natural Resource Management from the University of Applied Life Sciences in Vienna and a MSc in Ecosystems, Governance and Globalisation from Stockholm University. Her studies were largely framed within resilience theory and focused on the understanding of social-ecological systems.

Prior to starting her PhD, she gained research experience at the Sustainable Europe Research Institute in Vienna, where she was involved in projects dealing with climate change vulnerability and adaptation on community as well as European scale. She also worked at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape (WSL) in a project investigating Alpine disaster and hazard management.

Her current research interests lie in the integration of discussions around urban poverty and disaster management. Particularly, she wants to explore and highlight how different measurements of risk, vulnerability and poverty relate to local coping mechanisms of urban dwellers.

Research information

Title: "Towards an enabling environment for integrated risk management: An analysis of the medium-sized city of Manizales in the Colombian Andes”

Key Topics: urban risk, integrated management, environmental hazards, good-practice case study, historical institutionalism

Abstract: The PhD analyses the vulnerability of urban dwellers to small-scale disasters like seasonal floods and mudslides in relation to different dimensions of poverty. It situates itself a) conceptually in discourses of place-based vulnerability, urban poverty and extensive disasters b) politically in discussions on measuring and defining multidimensional poverty for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and c) geographically in Manizales, Colombia.

This project addresses two significant research gaps. First, it explores the specifically urban characteristics of multidimensional poverty, which lack conceptual clarity particularly in the realm of informal settlements in cities of the Global South. For example, urban growth might force low-income dwellers that lack financial safety nets to reside in flood-prone areas and increase their exposure to hazards. Second, it pays attention to small-scale disasters, which are frequently not considered politically relevant, even though their accumulated socio-economic impacts have severe implications for perpetuating levels of poverty and/or forcing people into poverty.

With a perspective on the underlying causes and consequences of people´s vulnerability, this research aims to critically examine the dynamics between small-scale disasters and urban poverty in order to contribute to improved disaster management and poverty alleviation efforts.

Primary Supervisor: Cassidy Johnson

Secondary Supervisor: Stephan Edwards

Funders: ESRC/NERC 

Publications and other work
  • Wesely, J., Feiner, G., Omann, I., Schäpke, N (2014): Transition management as an approach to deal with climate change. In: Proceedings of the Transformation in a Changing Climate Conference, Oslo, 2013, 44-53. University of Oslo.
  • Kruse, S. and Wesely, J. (2013): Adaptives Naturgefahrenmanagement. Passende Massnahmen für angepasste Organisationen in Zeiten des Klimawandels. Workshop report. Online: http://www.wsl.ch/fe/wisoz/projekte/anik/index_DE
  • Wesely, J. and Omann, I. (2013): A social perspective on climate adaptation in forest management. In: Lucas-Borja, M. (ed.): Forest management of Mediterranean forests under the new context of climate change - building alternatives for the coming future. Nova Science Publishers.
  • Edwards, M., Guisan, A., Pock, D., Wesely, J. (eds.) (2012): EcoChange. Challenges in assessing and forecasting biodiversity and ecosystem changes in Europe. Project brochure.
  • Tinch, R., Omann, I., Jäger, J., Harrison, P., Wesely, J. (2012): Report describing the adaptive capacity methodology. Online:http://www.climsave.eu/climsave/doc/D4.1_Adaptive_capacity_method.pdf
  • Omann, I., Jäger, J., Grünberger, S., Wesely, J. (2010): Report on the development of the conceptual framework for the vulnerability assessment. Online:http://www.climsave.eu/climsave/doc/Report_on_Vulnerability_Framework.pdf
  • Wesely, J. (2010): Policy outcomes on water-related ecosystem services in an agricultural landscape in South Africa. Online:http://www.essays.se/essay/6820329afe/


  • Wesely, J., Feiner, G., Omann, I. (2013): Transition management as an approach to deal with climate change. Transformations in a Changing Climate, 19-21/06/2013, Osl.
  • Wesely, J. (2011): Soziale Bedeutung der Ökosystemdienstleistungen des Bodens. Jahrestagung der Österreichischen Bodenkundlichen Gesellschaft, 07/10/2011, St. Florian.

Poster presentations:

  • Kruse, S., Wesely, J. (2013): Learning from the past to prepare for a future under climate change. Organisational change in Alpine natural hazard management. European Climate Change Adaptation Conference, 18-20/03/2013, Hamburg
  • Bohunovsky, L., Omann, I., Wesely, J. (2011): Integrated assessment for sustainable development. Combining integrated sustainability assessment (ISA) with agent based modelling (ABM) to analyse farmers ́ decision making under different climate and socio-economic scenarios. Austrian Climate Days, 21-22/09/2011, Vienna
  • Wesely, J., Omann, I., Grünberger, S. (2011): Vernetzt im Klimawandel. Die Rolle von Human- und Sozialkapital im Umgang mit und Anpassung an den Klimawandel. Austrian Climate Days, 21-22/09/2011, Vienna 


Julia is also currently the student representative for 1st Year students at the UCL ESRC Doctoral Training Centre.