Governing Urban Sustainability: Comparing Cities in the USA and Germany, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Governing Urban Sustainability

Comparing Cities in the USA and Germany, 1st Edition

By Lisa Pettibone


200 pages

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In her study of the interactions between tools of urban sustainability governance in key cities, Lisa Pettibone argues that a new factor-sustainability-minded groups-may be critical to building momentum for sustainability. The book presents in-depth case studies of six cities in the USA and Germany: New York, Portland, Seattle, Berlin, Hamburg, and Heidelburg. Drawing on 75 interviews, document analysis, and a bilingual literature review, the book analyzes how sustainability is politically constructed in city strategic plans and sustainability indicators. The volume provides a comprehensive introduction to the principles of sustainability, discusses the key governance instruments relevant to urban sustainability, and delivers new empirical and theoretical material on their role in a sustainability transition. It concludes that despite the national-level differences, cities’ experiences in both countries are similar. Political sustainability at the city level differs in several important ways from academic principles of sustainability. Finally, it proposes that sustainability-minded groups may be a key link to connect urban sustainability in practice to theoretical concepts.


’Cities have now begun to receive the attention they deserve as frontline actors in the struggle for environmental sustainability and this book makes an important contribution to our knowledge of why and how these efforts are unfolding. Those who seek a better understanding of the uses of sustainability indicators in urban environmental governance will do well to read this volume.’ Frank Fischer, Rutgers University, USA ’As the world’s states and global institutions struggle to make meaningful progress toward solutions to the central environmental and sustainability challenges of our age, attention increasingly turns to cities. Pettibone’s in-depth research focuses on 6 urban sustainability leaders in the United States and Germany, yielding insights about governance, sustainability indicators, strategic planning and civil society involvement. Urban sustainability governance is rich, interesting and dynamic, but it also faces a host of challenges with which urban activists and researchers must grapple.’ Stacy VanDeveer, University of New Hampshire, USA

Table of Contents

Contents: Part I Defining Urban Sustainability: A new framework for urban sustainability governance; Sustainability in five principles; History of sustainability in the United States and Germany. Part II Urban Sustainability Governance in Six U.S. and German Cities: The instruments of urban sustainability governance; Creating a vision: strategic plans and urban sustainability; Quantifying values with sustainability indicators; Building motivation: sustainability-minded groups. Part III Realizing Sustainability Principles in Urban Sustainability Governance: Reconceptualizing urban sustainability governance; Conclusions. Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Lisa Pettibone is a research associate at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, where she works on citizen science and participatory research, with a particular interest in transdisciplinary sustainability research. She earned her doctorate in political science at the Freie Universität Berlin and has degrees from the George Washington University and New York University. Dr. Pettibone has worked in the U.S. Senate and the German Bundestag, as well as for the non-profit organization Citizens For Europe.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / Sustainable Agriculture