The Politics of the Urban Sustainability Concept

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Abstract

The Politics of the Urban Sustainability Concept explores the widely proclaimed urban sustainability vision that has swept across urban landscapes of the global west like a tidal wave. This planning vision, mixing with notions of “smart growth”, “regional planning”, and “sustainable cities”, now dots urban environments in cities big, medium, and small. This book critically interrogates this vision and practices for the concrete material realities it produces for all urban citizens. This book is inspired by recent calls for a “just sustainability”. Here, urban sustainability is considered through the lenses of things scantily considered: human rights, equality in access to resources and facilities, and the production of economic opportunities and decent qualities of life for all. This book reveals a city growth and redevelopment vision that can be deeply problematic in who it serves and how it reconfigures urban environments. Often, favoring of the affluent in orientation, this problematic vision too often relies on a failed expectation that benefits will trickle down to all. It legitimizes the building of flagrantly segregated, profoundly splintered cities as a now powerful neoliberal tool in current political and economic realities. Cloaked in a mix of ambiguity and class-based specificity the urban sustainability vision threatens to magnify already vexing inequalities in many cities across the globe.