Publication Details

Advancing urban sustainability theory and action: Challenges and opportunities

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Childers, Daniel L.; Pickett, Steward T.A.; Grove, J. Morgan; Ogden, Laura; Whitmer, Alison.

Year Published

2014

Publication

Landscape and Urban Planning. 125: 320-328.

Abstract

Urban ecology and its theories are increasingly poised to contribute to urban sustainability, through both basic understanding and action. We present a conceptual framework that expands the Industrial → Sanitary → Sustainable City transition to include non-sanitary cities, "new cities", and various permutations of transition options for cities encountering exogenous and endogenous "triggers of change". When investigating and modeling these urban transitions, we should consider: (1) the triggers that have induced change; (2) situations where crisis triggers change; (3) why cities transition toward more sustainable states on their own, in the absence of crisis; (4) what we can learn from new city transitions, and non-sanitary city transitions; and (5) how resource interactions affect urban transitions. Several existing theoretical frameworks, including sustainability, resilience, adaptation, and vulnerability, may be helpful when considering urban transitions. We suggest that all of these theories interact through inertia in urban systems, and that this multi-faceted inertia—e.g. institutional inertia, infrastructural inertia, and social inertia—imparts degrees of rigidity that make urban systems less flexible and nimble when facing transitional triggers and change.

Citation

Childers, Daniel L.; Pickett, Steward T.A.; Grove, J. Morgan; Ogden, Laura; Whitmer, Alison. 2014. Advancing urban sustainability theory and action: Challenges and opportunities. Landscape and Urban Planning. 125: 320-328. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.01.022.

Last updated on: April 18, 2014