The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Nick Anim

Nationality: UK
Year of entry: 2014


BA (Hons) International Law and International Politics. MSc Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD). My MSc dissertation was inspired by the ESD field trip to Peru in 2013. There, against the backdrop of shifting paradigms in urban planning, management, and governance, my research cohort examined increasing complexities related to climate change and neoliberal processes of urbanisation. With our case study of the rapidly expanding self-managing community of Huaycan, located at the peri-urban interface (PUI) of Lima, our research was trained on the nexus between persistent issues relating to land speculation and housing in informal settlements, and water scarcity and corollaries of water justice. Focusing on marginalised groups at the PUI triggered my interest in exploring, for my dissertation, the contemporary applicability of the seminal Lefebvrian concept of ‘The Right to the City’ as a revolutionary interpretation of prevailing human rights-based approaches to development.

By a logical extension of my dissertation inquiry, as well as broader interests in political theorists’ concerns about the absence of hard empirical evidence affirming where and how the objectives of environmental sustainability and social justice are actually compatible, following my Masters studies I joined the Transition Towns Movement with a view to interrogating how social movements with a primary focus on community-based sustainability initiatives, address pressing issues of ‘people and planet’. Subsequently, in 2014, I embarked on my PhD journey, choosing the multicultural inner-city setting of Brixton as my case study. I soon became one of five Directors of Transition Town Brixton. As my research developed, it became increasingly apparent to me that a ‘diversity deficit syndrome’ perennially challenges environmental groups’ campaigns at various scales; from the global to the local they generally fail to attract significant or proportionate representation from racialised minorities’ demographics. Why?

Research Information

Title: “Green, But Mostly White: Exploring The Perennial Challenges of Inclusion And Diversity In Environmental Glocal Social Movements”
Keywords: Collective Action, Social Movements, Transition, Inclusion, Diversity,


In contexts where conventional ‘top-down’ multilevel governance approaches are slow, stagnant, or simply failing to adequately deal with the undesirable trajectories of development, it becomes increasingly more important to look towards grassroots-led collective action as essential for social transformations. This study investigates one such grassroots-led driver for change, the Transition Towns Movement (TTM), which aims to build sustainable communities in response to overlapping socioecological and economic crises. Employing a participatory action research approach, I explore the challenges of diversity and inclusion in the TTM’s collective action repertoires, processes, and struggles (CARPS). In so doing, I specifically address the following questions pertaining to environmental movements: (1) Why are environmental movements so ‘White’? Put differently, how does social identity, and by extension social orientation, interact with CARPS in environmental movements? (2) Why does ‘diversity and inclusion’ matter for environmental movements? (3) How can the TTM better engage with racialised minority groups to help build solidarity across disparate demands? (4) For a non-violent movement to be successful, does it have to be ‘political’?


Michael Walls

Robert Biel