Sai Varsha Akavarapu

M.Sc. Urban Ecological Planning


DLGS, Falkenbrunnen, Würzburger Straße 35, Room 212

Phone: +49 (0)351 463 42349

DLGS 2022 (2022-2025)

Doctoral Thesis

Working Title:
Navigating Sustainability transformations in India: An Evaluation of Urban Institutional Capacities w.r.t. Participatory Futures Discourses

Prof. Dr. Judith Miggelbrink, Technische Universität Dresden

IOER Research area:
Transformative Capacities

Recent use of the concept of Anthropocene in the urban arena signifies challenges, uncertainties and opportunities that the nature, scale and magnitude of human impacts bring about on global and bio-physical scales. However, its true substance lies in how the concept can be used to guide attributes, choices, policies and actions that can influence the future. And future as it seems, lies in guiding the transformation of the future of our societies through SMART & Sustainable means. Joining the discussions on the future, India too heralded a new paradigm for urban transformation through its Smart City Mission in 2015 emphasising largely on envisioning performative urban futures that are technologically smart, ecologically sustainable and inclusive of the local communities in question. And as such, central to the success of the mission is the governance of the urban sustainability transformations and the transformative capacities of the institutions to drive dialogues and actions with the local communities through participatory futures practices. Existing research acknowledges that the success or failure of participatory futures practices depends not just on the way they are staged and conducted, but also on the capacities of the urban professionals/practitioners who inform, facilitate, conduct, guide, record and implement the outcomes of such practices. However, there is considerably little insight into the particular sets of resources, skills, interactions and knowledge sharing mechanisms that local governments would require to comprehend, conduct and proliferate the use of participatory futures practices. To this extent, this research would focus on developing a framework in order to understand the current capacities of local governments in advancing participatory futures practices as well as empirically demonstrate the current realities in a case in India under the backdrop of the Smart Cities Mission. This research will utilize qualitative methods such as landscape imaging, structured and non-structured questionnaires, assessment of policy documents, critical discourse analysis of landmark judgements, interviews with relevant officials and the civic organisations to decipher the extent to which participation is seen/not as an essential practice and the ways in which it is conducted for smart and sustainable urban futuristic transitions. Through the research, the study aims to provide insights into the current realities vs the transformative potential of local governments in achieving inclusive and sustainable communities of the future.



Since 04/2022
Doctoral Student at TU Dresden, Faculty of Environmental Sciences

Studies in Urban Ecological Planning at Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway.
Academic Degree: M.Sc. Urban Ecological Planning

Studies in Urban and Regional planning at School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada, India.
Academic Degree: Bachelor of Planning


Programme Fellow at the India Smart Cities Fellowship Programme working under the Smart Cities Mission at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the National Institute of Urban Affairs.

05/2018 – 08/2019
Master’s Thesis Student/Student Assistant working on the Horizon 2020: Trans-Urban-EU-China Project, work package 1.3: Socio-economic values through heritage preservation, at the Department of Architecture and Planning at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.


Scholarship to pursue doctoral studies at the Leibniz-Institut für ökologische Raumentwicklung (IÖR) under the structured doctoral program of the Dresden Leibniz Graduate School.

ERASMUS + Scholarship to attend the VVITA workshop conducted by Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest (UAUIM) Romania.

UNHABITAT Grant to participate in the Wuhan Placemaking Week

Henrik Homan’s Memory Scholarship for the study conducted on developing a local area plan for Raviwar Peth, Pune.

Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education Scholarship for the Smart and Sustainable City Regions in India project conducted in Pune.