Professor Iain White

Iain White

Associate Dean Research

Qualifications: BA (Hons), Mtpl, PhD University of Manchester, MNZPI

About Iain

Iain White has been Professor of Environmental Planning at the University of Waikato in New Zealand since 2013 and is currently the Associate Dean Research for Arts, Law, Psychology and Social Science. Prior to this he was the Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology at the University of Manchester in the UK.

He is a planner who is committed to engaging beyond the discipline to researchers, practitioners and communities to conduct science in a way that generates real world impact. This focus typically spans the science-policy-practice interface, from theory all the way through to outcomes. It also tends to be conducted in an interdisciplinary manner, usually representing planning within multi-million dollar research platforms that span multiple disciplines and even countries. He has recently applied this intellectual approach to analysing why systemic change within institutions is so difficult, in particular with regard to new forms of spatial development, climate change adaptation, and addressing the housing crisis.

He was previously a Hallsworth visiting Professor at the University of Manchester, UK (2018-2019) and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia (2019-2022) and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Manchester (2022-2024). In 2020 he won the University of Waikato Vice Chancellor's award for Research Excellence and in 2021 the New Zealand Planning Institute John Mawson Award of Merit. He is also the Co-Chair of the Australasian Cities Research network (ACRN) and Chair of the Hamilton Arts Trust, which designs and organizes the successful Boon Street Art festivals.

He is the author of four books. 'Environmental Planning in Context' (2015) with Palgrave and 'Water and the City' (2010) published by Routledge. His most recent books are: The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning (2019), with Prof Simin Davoudi (University of Newcastle, UK), Prof Hilda Blanco (USC Price, US), and Richard Cowell (University of Cardiff, UK); and Why Plan? Theory for Practitioners (2019) with Prof Graham Haughton (University of Manchester, UK). He has over 50 peer reviewed articles or book chapters.

He has led or co-led over 20 research projects, many of which are within multi-million dollar programmes. These awards have come from a number of sources: research councils, the European Union, government agencies, NGOs, the Asia-Pacific network and the private sector. He is currently leading teams of researchers in the National Science Challenge: Resilience to Natures Challenges ($40m, 2019-2024), and also the MBIE Endeavour project 'Reducing flood inundation hazard and risk across Aotearoa-New Zealand' ($15.5m, 2020-2025).

To support this approach he is also active in science communication and engagement. He is a TEDx speaker and often presents to stakeholders, chairs public debates, and has appeared on various science programmes. More generally he has been interviewed as an expert by the press over 50 times, including for The Guardian, BBC TV, BBC Radio, TVNZ, Stuff, The NZ Herald, The Spinoff, Dominion Post, and RadioNZ.

Papers Taught

Research Supervised

Iain welcomes inquiries regarding PhD supervision on a variety of topics connected to Environmental Planning. He is particularly interested in topics connected with risk, decision-making, or natural hazards.

Research Interests

His main research interests are connected to the interdisciplinary nature of planning and the translation of science into policy and practice.

Recent Publications

  • Reu Junqueira, J., Serrao-Neumann, S., & White, I. (2021). Mitigating flood risks: analysis of different types and quantity of green infrastructure. In Stormwater 2021. Tauranga. Retrieved from

  • Hanna, C., Glavovic, B., & White, I. (2021). When climate change and other emergencies threaten where we live, how will we manage our retreat?. The Conversation. Retrieved from

  • White, I. (2021). Delivering the 20 Minute City in Hamilton, NZ. In The Town and Country Planning Association, London, UK. Retrieved from

  • Reu Junqueira, J., Serrao-Neumann, S., & White, I. (2021). Managing urban climate change risks: Prospects for using green infrastructure to increase urban resilience to floods. In T. Letcher (Ed.), The Impacts of Climate Change A Comprehensive Study of Physical, Biophysical, Social, and Political Issues (pp. 379-396). Elsevier. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-822373-4.00013-6

Find more research publications by Iain White


decision making; environmental change; environmental impacts; environmental policy and politics; environmental resources and planning; environmental risks; sustainability.