Ms Claudia Gonnelli

BA from Ca'Foscari University (Venice/Italy), MA from University of Bologna (Forli, Italy).

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Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy


I am a PhD student in Human Geography in the School of Environment. After completing my Master's degree in the University Of Bologna in International policy and Diplomacy with a thesis on China's renewable energy development, I then worked at the NATO headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, USA as a public affair intern. In 2014, I came to the University of Auckland to pursue my PhD and have since been working on as a graduate teaching assistant on various geography courses. I have also worked as a research assistant for Dr. Julie Mac Arthur on her project on community energy development in New Zealand, Canada, and the U.K. since 2015. 

Research | Current

While renewable energies have come at the forefront of the global political agenda, their siting remains extremely controversial and confrontational.  Hence, their social acceptance has become a hot topic in the academic, political, and industry sector, which resulted in an increase in participatory practices as a way to foster social acceptance. Yet, contemporary literature has struggled to investigate how local governments’ commitment to the implementation of participatory practices can affect their effectivity and ultimately to community acceptance. To address this gap as I have been looking at how local authorities engage with the community when confronted with a renewable energy siting proposal and their commitments to the technology and to public participation.

In my research I seek to investigate how different types of participation work in terms of their (1) Socio-political context, (2) Process design, (3) Scalar fit, (4) Power relationship. In order to do so, I compare New Zealand and Italian local government’s involvement in large-scale wind farm proposals – one of the most controversial renewable energy technologies to date. I focus on the role of the smaller levels of government in each country to see how they implement their respective national legislation on the matter and whether they promote any additional form of engagement. These results are also situated within the wider national efforts to promote wind energy development in accordance with national targets.

Gonnelli, C., Yoon, H. K., Fisher, K., & MacArthur, J. (2018). On-Track, But Off-Target: New Zealand’s 90% Renewable Electricity Target and District Council Planning. In Transition Towards 100% Renewable Energy (pp. 149-156). Springer, Cham.

Teaching | Current

Current tutoring: Geog322; Geog315

Past tutoring: Geog202, Geog307, Geog 250. 

Postgraduate supervision

PhD Supervisors: Hong-Key Yoon, Karen Fisher, Julie MacArthur

Areas of expertise

Multi-level governance of renewable energy transition, in particular, public participation in wind farm siting proposals in Italy and New Zealand.

Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 5, Room 569
New Zealand