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How Green Is the City?

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

edited by Dimitri Devuyst
Luc Hens
Walter De Lannoy
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 488
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  • Book Info
    How Green Is the City?
    Book Description:

    This book deals with practical ways to reach a more sustainable state in urban areas through such tools as strategic environmental assessment, sustainability assessment, direction analysis, baseline setting and progress measurement, sustainability targets, and ecological footprint analysis.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51802-4
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Business, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Boxes
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. List of Contributors
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
    Dimitri Devuyst, Luc Hens and Walter De Lannoy
  8. Introduction to Sustainability Assessment at the Local Level
    (pp. 1-36)
    Dimitri Devuyst

    This book is the result of a research project funded by the Fund for Scientific Research—Flanders (Belgium) that looks into strategic environmental assessment as an instrument to develop urban areas more sustainably. This research is carried out at the Environmental Impact Assessment Center, which is part of the Human Ecology Department at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). In 1975 the VUB instituted a Master of Human Ecology educational program. As the interdisciplinary study of the relationships between the human species and its environment, human ecology is distinct from traditional animal, plant, or microbial ecology in that it recognizes the...

  9. The Conundrum of Urban Sustainability
    (pp. 37-42)
    William E. Rees

    By early in the coming decade, the majority of humankind will be living in cities. For the first time in the two-million-year history of our species, the immediate human environment will be the “built environment.” By some conventional accounts, accelerating urbanization is just another piece of evidence that the human economy is “decoupling” from the environment, that humanity is finally leaving nature and the rural countryside behind. This is a perceptual error. Even as we urbanize, human beings remain dependent on the environment, and cities become the major drivers of global ecological change. Moreover, the sustainability of our cities is...

  10. Part I Sustainable Development in Urban Areas

    • [Part I Introduction]
      (pp. 43-46)
      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...

    • Chapter 1 Sustainable Development in Urban Areas: An Overview
      (pp. 47-62)
      Rodney R. White

      As a concept, the notion of sustainable urban development is simple, appealing, and an essential component of global sustainability. On a technical level we already have many of the pieces that we need to construct communities that would be much more sustainable than those we inhabit today. We can even identify working examples of urban activities that are more sustainable than the typical ones. However, the incentive structure of regulations, prices, and taxes does not encourage the diffusion of these improved practices. We need to put into place the regulations—such as a tax on carbon emissions—that will create...

    • Chapter 2 Local Agenda 21: The Pursuit of Sustainable Development in Subnational Domains
      (pp. 63-84)
      William M. Lafferty

      The pursuit of sustainable development at the local and regional level of governance has received a powerful impetus from the follow-up to Chapter 28 of Agenda 21, the “action plan” adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. “Local Agenda 21” (LA21) has become an international symbol for new initiatives for sustainable local and regional communities. With strong support from the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), and the European Commission, Local Agenda 21 is one of the major success stories from the Earth Summit. The purpose of this chapter is...

    • Chapter 3 The Eco-City Approach to Sustainable Development in Urban Areas
      (pp. 85-104)
      Mark Roseland

      This chapter deals with the “eco-city,” a relatively new concept that brings together ideas from several disciplines such as urban planning, transportation, health, housing, energy, economic development, natural habitats, public participation, and social justice. The author examines how “eco-city” principles can be introduced at the local level, how various dimensions of the eco-city vision are interlinked, and he helps the reader navigate the new literature which has recently appeared. Examples found in the United States, Canada, and Brazil are discussed. While many of these examples are impressive in scope or design, most have been adopted piecemeal rather than as part...

    • An Example of Eco-City Development: Urban Agriculture
      (pp. 105-108)
      Thomas van Wijngaarden

      One seventh of the planet’s food supply is grown in cities, and there are 800 million urban farmers in the world (City Farmer 1997). In spite of this fact, the role that urban agriculture can play in sustainable development is not currently recognized to its full extent. Urban agriculture has the potential to considerably contribute to food and income security, pollution prevention, waste reduction, and the improvement of living conditions in urban environments. Urban agriculture has multiple facets, including arable farming (cereals and vegetables), fruit growing, aquaculture, and livestock rearing from a micro scale up to co-operatives with a considerable...

    • Chapter 4 Sustainable Development at the Local Level: The North-South Context
      (pp. 109-124)
      Dimitri Devuyst

      Although urban population growth rates slowed down in the 1980s and 1990s, the number of people living in urban areas is expected to double between 1990 and 2025 to more than 5 billion people. Some 90 percent of this growth will take place in developing countries, which implies a major challenge for urban planners, local authorities, and people aiming for a more sustainable urban future. In this chapter it is argued that each city has a unique set of problems in dealing with sustainable development and each city requires a specific vision and tailor-made measures with which to solve them....

  11. Part II Urban Sustainability Assessment Tools in the Decision-Making Process

    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 125-128)
      Dimitri Devuyst

      Sustainability assessment as presented in this book is mainly an instrument of the “impact assessment” type, growing out of the existing systems for environmental impact assessment (EIA). Therefore, Part II of the book first looks more closely into EIA and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and the role of these instruments in the decision-making process. This leads to the development of methodological approaches to sustainability assessment and their application in practice.

      Against the background of major changes in the world and the efforts to address them, one can argue that the traditional environmental impact assessment instrument is ready for change. Impact...

    • Chapter 5 Linking Impact Assessment with Sustainable Development and the Introduction of Strategic Environmental Assessment
      (pp. 129-156)
      Dimitri Devuyst

      This chapter is an introduction to the concepts of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). It provides an overview of good practice in SEA, discusses SEA application at the local level, and examines the links between SEA and sustainable development. Aspects of integration are also examined in-depth. Procedural and methodological issues of integration are discussed in relation to planning processes, decision-making, sustainable development strategies, and Local Agenda 21 processes. Moreover, the integration of environmental, social, and economic issues in SEA studies and the integration of SEA with other instruments for environmental management is discussed.

      Impact assessment can...

    • Chapter 6 Strategic Environmental Assessment and the Decision-Making Process
      (pp. 157-174)
      Lone Koernoev

      Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a work tool used for the consideration of ecological dimensions of policy. Integration of SEA into the planning and policy-making processes is widely recognized as a fundamental component to this instrument (Therivel and Partidario 1996; Partidario 1996; Sadler 1994). To integrate SEA it is necessary to have knowledge on processes taking place within an organization and knowledge on how decisions are made.

      This chapter focuses on the subject of rationality in decision-making processes and the implications for the integration of SEA. The main questions in this chapter are: How does decision-making take place? Is the...

    • Chapter 7 Sustainability Assessment at the Local Level
      (pp. 175-206)
      Dimitri Devuyst

      A definition of sustainability assessment as well as a general methodological framework for sustainability assessment, the ASSIPAC method, are provided in this chapter. A number of specific instruments for sustainability assessment for use at the local level are presented, and examples are given of Belgian, Dutch, and U.S. sustainability assessment systems. Methods to be used in a sustainability assessment, such as systems analysis, ecocycles, and eco-balancing, action planning, force field analysis, and problem-in-context are discussed.

      As indicated in Chapter 5, the need for EIA at higher levels of planning and policy-making has given rise to questions concerning an appropriate assessment...

    • Chapter 8 Sustainability Assessment in Practice: Case Studies Using the ASSIPAC Methodology
      (pp. 207-220)
      Dimitri Devuyst

      In this chapter three examples are given of the application of the ASSIPAC methodology. The first case is a proposal for a Belgian law that would force Belgian companies to develop transportation management plans. Both the negative and positive aspects—from a sustainable point of view—are discussed, using the ASSIPAC Sustainability Assessment Checklist. The forces against the proposal, as well as ideas for an agenda for change are discussed. The second case is a brief illustration of the ASSIPAC Sustainability Assessment Study Approach, using a hypothetical example. The third case deals with existing operational funding systems for reviving Flemish...

    • Chapter 9 Direction Analysis: An Example of Municipal Sustainability Assessment in Norway
      (pp. 221-246)
      Carlo Aall

      Three local and regional authorities have participated in a project aimed at developing and testing a scheme for direction analysis. The project which was financed by The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (NALRA), was a result of a report made by the NALRA committee on environmental issues in 1993, which recommended the use of direction analysis to elucidate the contents of the goal for sustainable development. The suggested model for direction analysis is based on a sustainability indicator system. But rather than developing a universal indicator list, we have developed a framework for locally adapted sustainability indicators. A...

  12. Part III Tools for Setting a Baseline and Measuring Progress in Urban Sustainability Assessment

    • [Part III Introduction]
      (pp. 247-250)
      Dimitri Devuyst

      Part III of this book deals with the indicator approach to sustainability assessment. Monitoring, or the repetitive and periodic measurement of certain variables, is an important activity in our attempts to achieve sustainable development. Data resulting from monitoring initiatives can inform policy-makers about whether they are on the right track or have diverted from their planned path towards a more sustainable state. Indicators for sustainable development can be used in monitoring activities to set the baseline situation and measure progress toward sustainability goals and targets determined by local authorities. This Part aims to provide a state-of-the-art guide in the development...

    • Chapter 10 Indicators of Sustainable Development
      (pp. 251-274)
      Thomas van Wijngaarden

      The need for a more sustainable development of our societies also creates the need for means to inform upon and measure our progress towards this common goal. One of the large number of initiatives aiming at providing information on sustainable development is the development and use of indicators of sustainable development. Such indicators provide baseline and monitoring information to decision-makers, but also serve to inform the public on achievements towards sustainable development.

      This chapter begins with an introduction of the necessity to monitor sustainable development and then provides an overview of the types of indicators of sustainable development, and how...

    • Chapter 11 Indicators for Sustainable Development in Urban Areas
      (pp. 275-298)
      Elizabeth Kline

      Many people are more concerned about daily survival than meeting their own and their families’ long-term needs and dreams. Of necessity, they worry about getting a minimum wage job, escaping violence, drinking unpolluted water, coping with sickness, and hoping that their children will get a good enough education to better their circumstances. How, then, can indicators be relevant to their lives?

      The basic test for the appropriateness of specific indicators is that they make sense to the affected persons. Because circumstances vary person-to-person and place-to-place, the development and identification of indicators need to be tailored carefully to resonate with people...

    • Additional Examples of the Use of Sustainability Indicators at the Local Level
      (pp. 299-302)
      Mark Roseland

      Moving toward eco-cities is a long-term goal, so it is important that the incremental steps we take in the short-term are leading us in the right direction. There are two kinds of tools available to citizens and their governments for managing community sustainability. Community planning and assessment tools can sometimes be conducted by citizen groups with little training, whereas technical planning and assessment tools more often require the involvement of trained staff or consultants. Technical planning and assessment tools may not lend themselves as readily to public participation, but people can participate more effectively in decision-making if they understand some...

    • Chapter 12 Sustainability Reporting and the Development of Sustainability Targets
      (pp. 303-338)
      Dimitri Devuyst

      This chapter gives insight into the sustainability reporting process as developed by the UK Local Government Management Board. Sustainability reporting is a development of State of the Environment Reporting and aims to obtain and interpret information, which can then be used to guide actions and decisions. Periodically repeating the sustainability reporting process makes it possible to get information on progress made over time. Although examples of sustainability reporting at the local level are relatively scarce, the following cases were found: Minnesota Milestones, Oregon Shines, Pierce County Quality of Life Benchmarks, Hamilton-Wentworth’s Sustainability Indicators, and the Santa Monica Sustainable City Program....

    • Chapter 13 Global Change, Ecological Footprints, and Urban Sustainability
      (pp. 339-364)
      William E. Rees

      This chapter uses ecological footprint analysis to assess the prospects for urban sustainability and the conditions necessary to achieve it. Up to 80 percent of the human populations of high-income countries “live” in cities, and half of humanity will be urbanized early in the new millennium. Some people see this trend as evidence that technological “man” is leaving nature behind. This reveals a culturally distorted perception of biophysical reality—urbanites actually weigh even more heavily on the natural world. In strictly ecological terms, cities are incomplete ecosystems, the human equivalent of cattle feedlots. They are highly disturbed nodes of consumption...

  13. Part IV Tools for Sustainability Assessment at the Household Level

    • [Part IV Introduction]
      (pp. 365-366)
      Dimitri Devuyst

      The last part of this book examines sustainability assessment at the most local level, which is the individual or household level. Reaching a more sustainable state will require effort from all levels of government and from various sectors. Individuals will also be confronted with requests and demands to lead more sustainable lifestyles. The goal of this part is to examine how sustainability aspects of lifestyles can be measured and how the sustainable nature of personal or household decisions can be assessed.

      In Chapter 14, Paul Harland and Henk Staats examine the EcoTeam Program, a program that has been developed by...

    • Chapter 14 Striving for Sustainability via Behavioral Modification at the Household Level: Psychological Aspects and Effectiveness
      (pp. 367-388)
      Paul Harland and Henk Staats

      The EcoTeam Program has been developed to offer households a method to design a more sustainable way of living. In this program, people organize themselves in groups of six to ten neighbors or friends to evaluate and if possible to improve their environmentally relevant household behavior. What are the psychological mechanisms in this program that would help participants to succeed in their striving for sustainability? To what extent do participants actually improve environmentally relevant household behavior, and do these improvements lead them to decrease their use of natural resources? This chapter focuses on these questions by offering a long-term view...

    • Global Action Plan Research in Switzerland
      (pp. 389-392)
      Susanne Bruppacher

      The association Global Action Plan (GAP) Switzerland was founded in 1993. By October, 1998, 164 EcoTeams (approximately 1,000 households) had worked through the program. Over the last five years the Swiss GAP manual was revised several times, and the latest version dates from 1997. This version introduced a major change in that participants no longer kept records of their consumption, but estimated it by means of a lifestyle questionnaire before and after the program. In contrast to findings from the Netherlands (Weenig et al. 1994), keeping records of consumption was perceived as rather inconvenient and as a consequence, the GAP...

    • Chapter 15 Sustainable Lifestyle Assessment
      (pp. 393-418)
      Dimitri Devuyst and Sofie Van Volsem

      International institutions, governments, NGOs, and individual citizens currently realize that efforts to make our societies more sustainable should be accompanied by a thorough examination and changing of our lifestyles. Every day individuals and households make important decisions and take part in routine activities which have consequences for the sustainable development of our societies. Therefore, there is a need to develop tools that assess whether our daily life decisions result in more sustainable lifestyles. Sustainable Lifestyle Assessment (SLA) can take a self-assessment approach or a “research” approach. The self-assessment approach aims to encourage individuals or households to evaluate the sustainability of...

    • Linking Sustainability Assessment to a Vision for a Sustainable Future
      (pp. 419-438)
      Dimitri Devuyst

      The Western lifestyle is characterized by high consumption levels, extravagant use of natural resources, and excessive production of waste, a widening gap between the rich and poor, and rapid growth of the global human population, all of which pose a major problem for the future survival of our species. The earth can only absorb an impact up to its carrying capacity, and scientists indicate that this level is being approached rapidly. Sustainable development means “development that meets the needs of the present generations without compromising the needs of future generations” (WCED 1987). It aims to develop societies in which humans...

  14. Index
    (pp. 439-458)