School of Natural and Built Environment

SOCIAL ENTERPRISES AND ENERGY ASSETS

Research Theme: Place, Well-being and Healthy Environment
Supervisors: Dr. Brendan Murtagh ( b.murtagh@qub.ac.uk ) and Dr. Wesley Flannery (w.flannery@qub.ac.uk)

This proposal explores the potential of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) to asset based resource management, sustainable and inclusive growth and economic policy and practices in the UK and internationally. By emphasising local ownership and control, alternative trajectories of economic development and responsible management of ecosystems are encouraged in communities often bypassed by international development or exploited by globalisation and its neoliberal tendencies. The proposal accepts that such formations are idealised, problematic and loaded with ethical compromises. The research aims to explore the economic, financial, technological, natural resource, community and policy implications and opportunities in these challenges. Based on effective practices in the UK and globally it examines how the SSE can help scale-up local ownership and control over assets (land, property, water, wind solar and so on) and to set out the legislative, policy and practice implications in creating more inclusive local economies in the global North and South. The objectives are: To explore the conceptual value of the SSE in asset based, local economic development; To evaluate the modalities of asset based SSE development and how practice might inform policy and practice, especially between the global north and south; To work on a range of international cases to maximise the transfer and translation of experience, learn across disciplines (specifically economics and finance; clean technologies; resource management; and community development) about how to create alternative models of sustainable growth;  To set out the implications for poverty alleviation, inclusive economics as well as more sustainable consumption, production and exchange across the global South. The research will involve a series of case studies in Northern Ireland, the UK, Europe, and potentially the global South. These will involve secondary analysis of their finance, staffing and organisation supported by interviews to establish: their start-up and development; enablers and constraints on growth; impact including social value measures; networks and alliances (including with state and private markets); local multiplier effects; and future plans. Their relationship with natural resources, environmental technologies and triple bottom-line effects on economics, social problems and the environment will be evaluated. These will also reflect different sectors, areas, sizes and stages of development and will include operational projects (eg locally owned wind farms), social finance providers (eg UCIT and Charity Bank) and intermediaries (eg the School for Social Entrepreneurs) to set out the implications for the sector, policy, skills and practice.  The project will set out the implications for practice, policy and international development programmes as well as translating knowledge in ways that might support local projects, intermediaries and creative thinking about how to address poverty within an assets framework.

How to Apply