Conclusion, Implications and Practical Guidelines
Kapitel i bok, 2016

Sustainable cities in sustainable societies (David Simon) This chapter introduces and contextualises the book and its rationale. It argues the importance of urban sustainability and seeing this as an integral part of sustainable societies, providing numerous development, economic, environmental and social challenges in different contexts. It guides readers through the contested terrain of interpretations of sustainability and current international efforts to provide targeted progress in this respect through the Sustainable Development Goals. The differences between ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ sustainability discourses, policies and practices and the need to integrate economic, socio-cultural and environmental dimensions within holistic approaches are explained. In this context, the importance of and reasons for focusing on the three key characteristics of sustainable cities that form the basis of this book, namely fairness, greenness and accessibility, are set out. Changing ideas and practices for making cities fair (Susan Parnell) Starting with questions about what an increasingly urban world implies for fairness at the national or global scale in the 21st century, the chapter traces divergent and contradictory intellectual and practice-based traditions that the notion of fairness in the city implies, including work on urban equity; justice; redistribution; the public good, the good city and the right to the city. The central argument is that ideas and practices about fairness in the city vary over time and space. On the one hand, there is appropriate concern about rising exclusion and the withdrawal of social protection in some centres from new urban nodes. On the other, counter tendencies and new innovations support the utopian aspiration that cities will provide a better future for the millions of new residents who will call them home. Green cities: from tokenism to incrementalism and transformation (David Simon) This chapter outlines how sustainability concerns in relation to urban areas have arisen, evolved and been applied over time and in different socio-spatial contexts. Urban greening can be traced back to the 1980s, although its widespread emergence in discourse and practice is much more recent. The diversity of meanings and associations attached to urban greening – indicative of its appeal in numerous contexts – is examined. Various ‘weak’ or instrumental approaches to urban greening can be distinguished from ‘strong’ versions that imply more fundamental transitions and transformations. A key driver behind the recent popularisation of city greening initiatives is the imperative of addressing climate change. Conventional thinking has bifurcated climate change actions into tackling mitigation versus promoting adaptation. Recent evidence shows that this is an artificial division and that carefully targeted interventions can achieve both and also provide health and other co-benefits. Paradoxically, too, a portfolio of individually modest and incremental interventions can have aggregate effects where the whole becomes more than the sum of the parts and hence has important transformative value. Accessible cities: from urban density to multidimensional access (James Waters) This chapter advocates the concept of ‘accessible cities’, where accessibility is the freedom or ability to obtain goods and services and urban opportunities of various kinds to facilitate human well-being. Multiple dimensions of the concept are discussed, as well as how it might be achieved in different contexts. In these terms, accessibility constitutes an advance over density, a more limited but widely used term to describe a key urban characteristic in diverse conceptual and normative framings that include density of social networks and employment and other opportunities. In physical terms, purported benefits of high-density development include efficiency and reduced environmental impact, agglomeration and economic benefits, as well as improved social equity but the evidence is mixed and trade-offs occur. Moreover, in some contexts, especially within poor areas of certain South and Southeast Asian metropolises, excessive population density is problematic. Conclusions and implications (David Simon and Henrietta Palmer) This chapter pulls together the central strands of the book’s arguments and highlights the challenges they imply for making meaningful conceptual and practical progress in the foreseeable future in different contexts. This includes reflections on the anticipated value of the inclusion of an explicitly urban Sustainable Development Goal to be implemented as one of 17 SDGs. Finally, this chapter relates the characteristics and normative objectives of fair, green and accessible to evolving urban research agendas.

fair cities

urban accessibility

urban transformation

just cities

accessible cities

Sustainable cities

green cities


Henrietta Palmer

Chalmers, Arkitektur

Mistra Urban Futures

Göteborgs universitet

Rethinking Sustainable Cities: Accessible, green and fair, ed. by David Simon: Policy Press, Bristol, UK

978-1-4473-3284-8 (ISBN)


Hållbar utveckling


Building Futures (2010-2018)


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