1st Edition

Urban Sustainability in Theory and Practice Circles of sustainability

By Paul James Copyright 2015
    282 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    282 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Cities are home to the most consequential current attempts at human adaptation and they provide one possible focus for the flourishing of life on this planet. However, for this to be realized in more than an ad hoc way, a substantial rethinking of current approaches and practices needs to occur.

    Urban Sustainability in Theory and Practice responds to the crises of sustainability in the world today by going back to basics. It makes four major contributions to thinking about and acting upon cities. It provides a means of reflexivity learning about urban sustainability in the process of working practically for positive social development and projected change. It challenges the usually taken-for-granted nature of sustainability practices while providing tools for modifying those practices. It emphasizes the necessity of a holistic and integrated understanding of urban life. Finally it rewrites existing dominant understandings of the social whole such as the triple-bottom line approach that reduce environmental questions to externalities and social questions to background issues. The book is a much-needed practical and conceptual guide for rethinking urban engagement.

    Covering the full range of sustainability domains and bridging discourses aimed at academics and practitioners, this is an essential read for all those studying, researching and working in urban geography, sustainability assessment, urban planning, urban sociology and politics, sustainable development and environmental studies.

    Part 1: Setting the Global-Local Scene  1. Confronting a World in Crisis  2. Defining the World around Us  Part 2: Understanding Social Life  3. Social Domains  4. Social Mapping  5. Social Meaning  Part 3. Developing Methods and Tools  6. Assessing Sustainability  7. Generating an Urban Sustainability Profile  8. Measuring Community Sustainability  9. Conducting a Peer Review  10. Adapting to Climate Change  11. Projecting Alternative Futures  12. Simulating Future Trends  Conclusion


    Paul James is Professor of Globalization and Cultural Diversity in the Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney, Australia. He was Director of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme from 2007 till 2014.

    "Simple in outline; brilliant in conception. This is a rare work that superbly brings together the thinking of key theorists, activists, local people, and practitioners — including a taskforce from Metropolis. We are proud to have been a part of the process."–Alain Le Saux, Secretary General of World Association of Major Metropolises, Barcelona, Spain

    "Circles of Sustainability is an extraordinary guide to our way forward. By bringing together the clear insight of political analysts with the citizen-oriented perspective of experienced practitioners, this book changes the paradigm of urban studies. It is a brilliant book that will be used by cities such as Berlin as we seek a better world together."Michael Müller, Senator for Urban Development and Major of Berlin, Germany

    "An inspirational and practical resource for helping our cities drive a revolution in sustainability. The book expertly shows that cities' toughest issues cannot be solved in isolation. No single actor — government, civil society or the private sector — has the all of the answers, nor can we successfully deal with poverty, climate change, unemployment or rights abuses, for example, if we look at them as separate events. Collaboration and holistic approaches must be driving precepts for achieving a better world." –Georg Kell, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact, New York, USA

    "Questions of urban sustainable development will be of critical importance around the world. This book presents a profound re-calibration of the once elusive sustainability concept that integrates social and environmental dimensions; an approach that is theoretically informed and practically operational. A must-read for all who are concerned with the urban future."Jan Nijman, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    "This book, elegantly written, raises one of the most important issues of the 21st century — how to make our cities more liveable. The Chocolatao Project appears, together with many other sustainable practices across the world, as a response to this challenge, by establishing a sound cross-sectoral approach to significantly improve the life of garbage pickers in the city of Porto Alegre."José Fortunati, Mayor of Porto Alegre, Brazil

    "The book is a "must read" for a wide target audience ranging from students, administrators, to planners."Luc Hens, Environment, Development and Sustainability