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Exploring the state of the art in urban sustainability literature – what do recent articles reveal?
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9509-8271
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In recent decades, the sustainable development of human settlements has emerged as a critical challenge. Urban sustainability has become a popular and widely-used term, reflecting the concept’s importance and relevance. This study presents a critical review of articles discussing urban sustainability published during 2011-2012.The study is exploratory and aims to stimulate discussion by examining the themes and content of recent articles to consider how the concept of urban sustainability is framed and used by scholars from different disciplines. The study provides insights into both the “real-world” practice of urban sustainability, as observed and reported by academics, and the academic practice of studying urban sustainability.The study proceeds as follows: a short Introduction presents background information motivating the study. Subsequently, the Method used to conduct the study is described, along with possible Limitations. The Results of the study follow. These illustrate the increasing number of articles discussing urban sustainability and present an overview of the approaches and analytical tools used by authors, along with (in general terms) the themes and topics addressed in their studies.The Results are followed by deeper Analysis of the texts and their contents, structured around four themes which emerge from the literature review. Following the Analysis, a Discussion reflects upon its findings and offers insights into the potential for future contributions that may enhance the study of urban sustainability, with particular reference to urban sustainability governance and the study of organizational aspects, processes and levels of participation. Specific research needs are summarised in the Conclusions.

Keyword [en]
Literature review; urban sustainability; sustainable development
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-104467OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-104467DiVA: diva2:697136
Available from: 2014-02-17 Created: 2014-02-17 Last updated: 2016-05-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Five factors for urban sustainability - exploring influences on municipal strategic planning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Five factors for urban sustainability - exploring influences on municipal strategic planning
2014 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In recent decades, there has been increasing consensus that sustainable urban development is critical to the future of human societies and planetary systems. The effects of population growth and the environmental impacts of human activities are evident around the world, observable not only in the rapid urbanisation of many large cities, but also in small-medium conurbations, rural communities, and even uninhabited areas. For this reason, sustainable urban development is the theme of this licentiate thesis.

The thesis focuses on the role of municipal organisations, the ways in which processes to develop strategies and policies addressing urban sustainability are organised, and how other stakeholders participate in such processes. The thesis concludes by presenting a new conceptual framework that aims to inform such strategic processes - the “five factors” influencing strategic planning processes for urban sustainability in municipalities.

The five factors concern the capacity of municipalities and others to act for urban sustainability; their mandate to do so; the resources available to them; the scope of their processes and intended outcomes; and their will, individually and collectively, to pursue urban sustainability. The “five factors” concept may aid future analysis of urban sustainability processes, both in planning and implementation. The “five factors” are based upon the findings of the three appended papers and the synthesis of their results in this thesis.

The first and second papers present studies of energy and climate strategy planning processes in Swedish municipalities active in a national programme, the Sustainable Municipality (Uthållig kommun). Paper 1 focuses upon the organisation of processes to develop energy and climate strategies, whereas Paper 2 reflects upon the experiences of participating stakeholders in such processes. The two papers build upon existing theoretical frameworks and present empirical data from case studies of five municipalities, based on document studies, interviews and comparative analysis, in order to make conclusions about the advantages and disadvantages of variations in the form and composition of energy and climate planning (e.g. that early involvement of stakeholders results in more comprehensive strategies).

In contrast, Paper 3 presents analysis of a multidisciplinary sample of academic journal articles addressing “urban sustainability” and published during the period 2011-2012. As such, this paper focuses on how urban sustainability is practiced, observed and represented in academic literature, and considers different issues that arise as a consequence (e.g. a lack of analysis of urban sustainability governance processes in municipalities). Whereas Papers 1 and 2 observe practice, making insights with reference to specific theoretical perspectives, Paper 3 provides overview and identifies wider challenges and opportunities for research on the theme of urban sustainability. Together, the three papers highlight a number of issues that influence the development of municipalities’ strategic work for urban sustainability – the five factors.

Abstract [sv]

På senare år har konsensus att hållbar stadsutveckling är kritisk-för jordens och mänsklighetens framtid vuxit fram. Effekterna av befolkningstillväxten och människors påverkan på miljön syns runt om i världen, och är inte bara märkbar i många stora städer utan även i mindre städer, på landsbygden och till och med i obebodda områden. Därför står i hållbar stadsutveckling i fokus i denna licentiatavhandling.Avhandlingen fokuserar på kommunorganisationens roll i hållbar stadsutveckling och organisering av processerna att utveckla strategier och politik som syftar till hållbar stadsutveckling. Utöver det har även deltagandet av andra aktörer i sådana processer studerats. Avhandlingen avslutas genom att presentera ett nytt begrepp som kan underlätta strategisk planering, nämligen ”de fem faktorerna”.De fem faktorerna är kommuners/aktörers kapacitet att arbeta för hållbar stadsutveckling; deras mandat att driva hållbar stadsutveckling; tillgängliga resurser som får disponeras; processernas omfattning och önskat utfall; och den individuella- och kollektiva viljan att uppnå hållbar stadsutveckling. Femfaktorsbegreppet skulle kunna bidra till framtidsanalys av hållbara stadsutvecklingsprocesser, i såväl planering som genomförande. De fem faktorerna bygger på slutsatser från licenciatsavhandlingens tre artiklar samt en syntes av dessa.Den första och andra artikeln presenterar resultaten från ett forskningsprojekt som granskade processerna kring framtagande av energi- och klimatstrategier i kommuner som deltog i det svenska nationella programmet Uthållig kommun. I första artikeln ligger fokus på organiseringen av processerna, medan erfarenheterna av deltagande intressenter reflekteras över i den andra artikeln. De två artiklarna bygger på befintliga teoretiska ramverk och presenterar en mängd empiri från fem kommuner, som erhållits genom t.ex. dokumentstudier, intervjuer. Utifrån detta harslutsatser dragits kring för- och nackdelar i utformningen av planeringsprocesser för energi- och klimatstrategier, t.ex. att processer som involverar intressenter tidigt även resulterar i strategier som är mer omfattandeI den tredje artikeln presenteras resultaten av en multidisciplinär litteraturundersökning. Vetenskapliga artiklar som handlar om ”hållbar stadsutveckling” och publicerade under perioden 2011-2012 står i fokus. Artikeln syftar till att bättre förstå hur hållbar stadsutveckling tillämpas i praktiken, hur det beaktas, hur det representeras i den akademiska litteraturen, samt vilka effekter som uppstår på grund av denna representation, såsom t.ex. ett brist på analys av governance processer för hållbar stadsutveckling i kommuner. Medan de första artiklarna behandlar praktiken med hänsyn till specifika teoretiska perspektiv, syftar den tredje artikeln till att ge en överblick och identifiera utmaningar och möjligheter inom forskningen för hållbar stadsutveckling. Tillsammans illustrerar de tre artiklarna ett flertal aspekter som påverkar utvecklingen av kommunernas strategiska arbete för hållbar stadsutveckling – de fem faktorerna.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. 172 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1646
Keyword
Energy and climate strategies, municipalities, stakeholders, strategic planning
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-104468 (URN)10.3384/lic.diva-104468 (DOI)978-91-7519-390-8 (ISBN)
Presentation
2014-03-14, A33, Hus A, Campus Valla, Linköping University, Linköping, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency
Available from: 2014-02-25 Created: 2014-02-17 Last updated: 2016-05-04Bibliographically approved

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