How Green Is the City? Sustainability Assessment and the Management of Urban Environments

By Dimitri Devuyst; Luc Hens et al. | Go to book overview

Part I
Sustainable Development in Urban Areas
Dimitri Devuyst

Since this book deals with assessing sustainability at the local level, Part I looks into the concept of “sustainable urban development,” how to make this concept more operational, and how to put it into practice. Contributions in this part deal primarily with the following questions: Is sustainable urban development realizable? What approaches can be used to attain a more sustainable state in urban areas? How can we deal with the uniqueness of each city (and take into consideration the differences between poorer and more wealthy urban areas) in sustainable development initiatives?

In Chapter 1 Rodney R. White traces the history and gives an overview of current issues of sustainable development in urban areas. Sustainable development of our modern urban areas is a major challenge. Because we do not know whether it is in fact attainable, sustainability should be regarded as a social aspiration; certainly it is a feature we all would like our societies to have. White is optimistic about the future and sees ample opportunities for making our cities more sustainable. This chapter also deals with organizational and physical problems inherent in trying to develop a sustainable society and delves into the question of how sustainable urban development might work technically. White expects that a move toward a more sustainable society will not occur spontaneously under the present “rules of engagement” with the biosphere. Therefore, a set of new key rules are proposed and examples are given.

One of the ways for local authorities to attain a more sustainable state is through the introduction of a Local Agenda 21 process. In Chapter 2 William M. Lafferty reviews the textual and operational basis for Local Agenda 21. Local Agenda 21 is described in Chapter 28 of Agenda 21 and is an appeal to local authorities to engage in a dialogue for sustainable development with the members of their constituencies. In other words, the development of a Local Agenda 21 is a process that should lead cities and municipalities to a more sustainable state. Updated information is provided on the status of Local Agenda 21 activities in Europe, with specific focus on the Norwegian situation. Lafferty also develops criteria for best available practice in Local Agenda 21. The aim is that these criteria will gain a wide enough acceptance so that they can be used as

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