1st Edition

Social Sustainability, Climate Resilience and Community-Based Urban Development What About the People?

By Cathy Baldwin, Robin King Copyright 2018
    200 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    198 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Urban communities around the world face increased stress from natural disasters linked to climate change, and other urban pressures. They need to grow rapidly stronger in order to cope, adapt and flourish. Strong social networks and social cohesion can be more important for a community’s resilience than the actual physical structures of a city. But how can urban planning and design support these critical collective social strengths?

    This book offers blue sky thinking from the applied social and behavioural sciences, and urban planning. It looks at case studies from 14 countries around the world – including India, the USA, South Africa, Indonesia, the UK and New Zealand – focusing on initiatives for housing, public space and transport stops, and also natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes. Building on these insights, the authors propose a 'gold standard': a socially aware planning process and policy recommendation for those drawing up city sustainability and climate change resilience strategies, and urban developers looking to build climate-proof infrastructure and spaces. 

    This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of urban studies, resilience studies and climate change policy, as well as policymakers and practitioners working in related fields.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables



    Glossary of terms and definitions

    1. Context and Rationale
    2. Spirit and Methodology
    3. Social Sustainability in Routine Daily Life
    4. Social Sustainability and Urban Development
    5. Community Resilience and Environmental Adversities
    6. Creating Built Environments that Influence Pro-Community Behaviours
    7. Built Environments that Influence Socially Sustainable Behaviours
    8. Socially Sustainable Communities can also be Resilient Communities
    9. Findings and Conclusion

    10 Recommendations: Planning and Designing for the Socially Sustainable, Resilient Community




    Cathy Baldwin is an Applied Social and Behavioural Scientist and Public Health Consultant, Research Associate at the University of Oxford, and Visiting Researcher at Oxford Brookes University, UK.

    Robin King is Director of Knowledge Capture and Collaboration at the World Resources Institute (WRI), and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University, USA.

    "‘The physical environment cannot be understood simply by looking at it’ (p. 64). This book is a call to policymakers, planners and designers involved in urban developments to take the social and cultural meanings of the places and spaces they influence more seriously. The messages contained in the book are not only relevant for climate change-aware urban development, but for any planned intervention that has potential to place additional stress on urban infrastructure and populations." Ana Maria Esteves, Director Community Insights Group, The Netherlands

    "The authors advocate for the importance of social planning and design through a variety of international case studies that demonstrate community resilience. They contend that traditional planning approaches often overlook the significance of social sustainability, which is the basic ingredient for the health and well-being of communities. This collection provides valuable insights for architects, planners, policy makers, community leaders, and students." Henry Sanoff, Professor Emeritus of Architecture, North Carolina State University, USA

    "This timely and creative book links the usually separated fields of urban resilience and community resilience with community resilience, sustainability and social justice. It encourages planners, and those who shape their own settlements, to find ways of supporting the social processes that underpin community resilience, through the idea of ‘socially aware planning’." Helen Ross, The School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Australia

    "As the world becomes increasingly urban, planners, politicians, and social scientists increasingly direct their attention to the challenges of urban development, social sustainability, and community resilience. As they do so, we increasingly categorize urban life economically, sociologically, and anthropologically. Development, sustainability, and resilience become nouns – objects to be studied, dissected, and debated. Baldwin and King’s informative volume reminds us that they are verbs; actions which are never completed.In doing so they rediscover how people should stand at the center of our attention when we think about our necessarily urban future." Blair A. Ruble, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, USA

    "In a time of uncertainty and contention, this book provides clarity and hope. Integrating interdisciplinary inquiry with a rich global array of local experiments, the authors carefully connect, with exceptional precision and scholarship, potential actions to develop greater human capacity, social sustainability and resilience for an uncertain, yet demanding future." John Stuart Hall, Emeritus Professor of Public Affairs, Arizona State University, USA

     "This publication from Baldwin & King provided us with valuable reflections about the need and the added value of meaningful stakeholder engagement across various stages of planning activities. Their considerations and recommendations for socially aware planning are based on numerous case studies and so provide practical guidance for our consultancy work within Royal HaskoningDHV." Philippe Hanna and Hugo Woesthuis, Royal HaskoningDHV, Netherlands

    "All too often, development is something that happens "to" people. They are passive receivers of both the processes and the impacts of development, with assessment of projects technocratically focused on minimising negative impacts, and with developers at best consulting those people and at worst marginalising them. Cathy Baldwin and Robin King show how planning that is oriented around socially positive objectives, and how development processes that promote genuine community participation, can improve social sustainability, wellbeing, cohesion, and community resilience. They provide extensive examples of the kinds of attributes, behaviours, and responses that can enhance social sustainability – this makes it a valuable resource for practitioners struggling to translate otherwise abstract concepts into everyday practices that are easy to understand and analyse. Many of their insights could be applied beyond the urban environment, being relevant to social dimensions of other major developments such as mining projects in rural communities." Richard Parsons, Social Impact Assessment Specialist, Department of Planning and Environment, New South Wales Government, Sydney, Australia

    "Packed with ideas and examples this book looks at cities across the world and sets out a template for decisions that are ‘pro-community’. The authors consistently challenge us, and show us how to keep people, life and happiness at the centre and the forefront of urban policy." Ben Cave, Director, Ben Cave Associates Limited, UK

    "Baldwin and King beautifully compile and build on existing theories and numerous examples spread out around the globe to reach new conclusions about the relationship between social capital/cohesion and social/environmental sustainability, making it crystal clear that no investment is better to produce well-being and vibrant, inclusive cities than investing in people and their relationships to one another and place. In addition, they have compiled a set of resources and case studies that organizations like ours can effectively use in ensuring such an urban future, by supporting communities in realizing their development objectives, with or without government support. As they effectively point out, this is the definition of resilience." Theresa Williamson, Catalytic Communities, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    "This book could not have come at a more appropriate time, when developing nations want to become ‘developed’ through improved infrastructure and double-digit economies, however, ‘the people’ seem to have been left behind. This beautifully told story brings back the focus to the more complicated human dimension that is as important as the built environment in the face of climate change, [and] is a must read for urban planners, who want to achieve resilient development, cost effectively and with all on board." Irene Karani, Director at LTS Africa, Kenya

    "This work is incredibly important for the evidence it provides of the critical nature of broad social engagement on the effectiveness and sustainability of development planning. The case studies illuminate the interconnections between the social and built environments, as well as the feasibility of engaging historically marginalized people in urban planning processes. This book leaves no room for excuses not to use socially-aware planning and design processes." -- Natalie Elwell, Senior Gender Advisor, World Resources Institute (WRI), Washington DC, USA

    "Social Sustainability, Climate Resilience and Community-Based Urban Development provides valuable insights into the behavioural indicators that nurture social cohesion and generate socially sustainable communities. With a strong evidence-base established from fourteen global case studies, Baldwin and King show that the health and cohesion of a community will determine how resilient that community can be in times of stress. Offering practical initiatives that will enable cities to develop socially aware planning processes leading to long term sustainability and climate-proofing, this book is a welcome go-to manual for global urbanism, policy and planning." -- Kathi Holt, Executive Director, NERØHOLT, and Vice-President, Urban Design Alliance, Australia

    "In a time where targets seem to take precedence over people, Baldwin and King make cogent arguments for bringing the human dimension back into urban planning's approach to climate issues. This is a burgeoning field in urban and design studies, and the international practical examples in the book are highly informative of approaches that will, and should, become more commonplace in the future." -- Angela Connelly, Research Associate at the School of Environment, Education and Development, The University of Manchester, UK 

    "This book is a call to policy-makers, planners and designers involved in urban developments to take the social and cultural meanings of the places and spaces they influence more seriously. The messages contained are not only relevant for climate change-aware urban development, but for any planned intervention that has potential to place additional stress on urban infrastructure and populations. This book is recommended reading for developers, and those advising developers, who would like to deepen their understanding of community resilience while being inspired by case studies that show how resilience can be strengthened in practice." -- Ana Maria Esteves, Director Community Insights Group, The Netherlands; extract of review from Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal Journal