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Module 7: How can the urban environment be protected and cities be made resilient? Module 8: How can cities and urban areas be governed better to make them more sustainable? If you received an invite email, sign in with the same email and password you set. Learn how government, the private sector, and other actors can support sustainable urban development Get Started.

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Transportation and Mega-Urban Regions

Length 9 modules released weekly, with 2 catch-up weeks. Effort hours per module. Price FREE. Languages English. Prerequisites None. Requirements An internet connection to access course materials. Overview This course will launch on October 7, This course was made possible through the generous support of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation. The title squarely acknowledged conflict and scarce resources: what trade-offs of time, money, land and political capital should we allocate to each priority?

Is achieving one a prerequisite of achieving the other? This intentional partition of sustainable development and social justice does run the risk of reinforcing the very schism that the symposium was aiming to overcome. But as the history of race, gender and other social identities teaches us, sometimes you first need to acknowledge and confront difference before you transcend difference.

Program schedule - 55th ISOCARP World Planning Congress in Jakarta/Bogor, Indonesia

A hasty synthesis of social justice and sustainability will often be unsatisfactory: it provides a short-term sense of solution, but truncates further exploration. Instead, we should keep the sustainability-social justice debate open, evolving and in a creative tension. The two impulses arguably do not arise from the same social histories or institutions, and therefore cannot—at least for now—be merged without important stakeholders losing out. The pathway to reconciling social justice and environmental sustainability is one that explicitly recognizes both the significant, deep conflicts between the two forces and the urgent need to find innovative, ongoing social and technological pathways forward Campbell This strategy of seeking solutions through recognizing and reconciling diverse claims and interests has a strong tradition in urban planning, from the rejection of a unitary public interest by pluralist, advocacy planners Davidoff to the current Habermas-inspired communicative action planners, who collaboratively explore planning solutions through diverse public participation Healey ; Innes ; Forester The outcome is not a forced, monolithic solution, but rather a more inclusive set of solutions.

It is the search for common ground where advocates of social justice and environmental sustainability can craft shared—or at least compatible—strategies for retrofitting existing landscapes and designing new ones.

Urban Planning Models: Concentric Zone Model - Sector Model - Multi - Nuclei Model

As a result, each movement has historically developed its own distinctive language, methods, and values. For environmental sustainability, a core distinction is city vs.


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The two paradigms also have divergent conceptions of capital: social justice advocates decry the extreme concentration of economic capital among a small elite, and the uneven public investment in human capital education and labor , all leading to jarring inequalities of social capital the quality of communities and their institutional networks across neighborhoods and cities. By contrast, sustainability advocates criticize the exploitation of natural capital through excessive rates of resource extraction and waste disposal.

Furthermore, the divergent sense of justice is rooted in differing views of exploitation: either the exercise of power by one group over another social injustice , or the hubris of exerting excessive power over nature unsustainability. Finding common ground will thus mean finding a common language: translating conceptions of time, justice, place, land, and equity from social justice to environmental sustainability and back again. Planners can already draw on existing work that expands conceptions and measurements of capital, of environmental value, economic activity e.

The co-equal merging of these two movements will therefore not be a straightforward, inevitable process, though there is a lot to work with. The planning field, like other disciplines, runs the risk of privileging one position and marginalizing the other. The urban planning symposium illustrated both the obstacles and the potentials of this collaboration. That said, the structure and syntax of the two sets of discussions didn't always overlap as much as the organizers had hoped.

They instead represented two distinct discussions: at worst like two ships passing in the night, at best like counterpoint, and most often like overlapping but unsynchronized storylines. One group spoke of civil rights, poverty, discrimination, underdevelopment, racism, empowerment, disenfranchisement, violence, access; the other spoke of climate change, ecological footprint, living lightly, green design, clustered development, renewable resources, innovative ecological technology.

Session participants often struggled to address both themes simultaneously just as it is hard for most humans to speak two languages at one time. And the transition from one panel session to the next was at times a jarring shift in narrative style, with changing rhetorical strategies and evidentiary claims about why their cause be it farmland loss, urban unemployment, global climate change, struggling central city schools was particularly urgent.

Rather than observing a common language, we might instead, at least in the short run, work towards a bilingualism between the two traditions.

watch And this might be enough of a collaboration for now. Some speakers were able to speak both languages more fluently than others. In these instances, the speaker had strong roots in one tradition such as civil rights-based community development advocacy and then actively engaged the other theme environmentalism over a sustained period of time. This suggests an important lesson: bringing environmentalism and social justice together in an expansive sense of sustainability takes conscious effort, hard work, sustained engagement and active building of coalitions over many years—often working squarely from one tradition and then consciously, actively working towards the other.

For most, this ability to fluently code-switch between environmentalism and social justice won't happen through passive parallel engagement, or through simply crafting a manifesto that combines language of both. So, though we work hard to align these two worlds more closely, powerful forces relentlessly pull social justice and environmental protection apart due to the contradictory pressures and political alliances of urban development, driving a wedge between the two movements see Figure 1.

Scholars and activists require an equal or even greater force to bring them together.

Related Topics

The prevailing political strategy of many modern industrial nations has been to accelerate greater social equality through economic growth and urban land expansion though Henry George reminds us that great poverty despite great prosperity is the paradox of industrial society. This strategy is a dynamic of the social welfare state and its redistributive institutions of taxation, organized labor, public provision of infrastructure, housing subsidies, and mass consumption of cheap goods, fuel and other natural resources.

Despite overt conflict between capital and labor—and rich and poor—both sides also share an overlapping interest in economic growth and in promoting at least a partial program of economic redistribution. As a result, the traditional reliance of social justice movements on economic growth to fund and provide broad political support for redistributive justice i. This reliance on equity-through-growth also points to the obstacles faced by traditional environmental justice strategies to achieve a broader economic justice.

This conundrum also points towards the urgency to develop alternative political strategies to achieve greater equity in an era of sustainability—pathways to social justice that are not reliant on the continual expansion of resource extraction, material consumption and conversion of green space into urbanized areas. This will be both an ideological and a political challenge, linked to the further decoupling of economic growth and resource extraction through both greater natural resource efficiencies and shifting a greater share of GDP towards relatively non-material consumption e.

Out of the ways in which we have interacted with the physical world we have made not only human nature and an altered natural order; we have also made societies. The meeting of environmental sustainability and social justice is often regrettably the meeting of unequals. By unequal I do not refer to the relative merit of the two priorities, but instead to the ill-matched political strengths of the two movements and the ability of each movement to prevail in struggles over access to land, the use of natural resources, and the distribution of environmental advantages and dangers.

Does society as a whole value environmental protection more than social justice and value economic development most of all?

1. A Creative Tension, Not a Premature Synthesis

This assertion is intuitively compelling but nearly impossible to conclusively measure. Rational choice theory would support the observation that the elite and middle-class segments of society have historically engaged the environmental movement with greater consistency and resources than they have engaged the social justice movement. The reasons are complex, but a simple explanation is that environmentalism—or at least the prevalent practice of anthrocentric, resource conservation—more directly serves the material interests of the privileged by restricting present-day consumption to increase future profits through resource extraction Oden By contrast, the privileged have long held a conflictual, ambivalent relationship towards social justice, alternately driven by paternalism, opposition, fear, and altruism going back to the Victorian anti-poverty efforts and earlier.

Not surprisingly, more radical, anti-growth, ecocentric environmentalisms find far less support among the economic elites. Such a conclusion may strike some as resigned or pessimistic. However, understanding these structural barriers may well be a necessary pre-requisite to a systemic understanding of the uneven engagement of sustainability and social justice and consequential steps towards reform. Though sometimes environmental and social justice movements find a productive common ground, more often these two clash, with fault lines emerging along social and economic class lines.

Large Scale Urbanization and the Mega Region Globalization, urbanization and the emergence of urban regions are intractably linked. The result was a fundamental change of the spatial structure of what can be considered a city at the global, regional and local scales: Globally , a complex network of gateways are interacting in a system of flows of people, freight and information composing spheres of production, consumption and circulation. Conventionally, urbanization is considered to be the outcome of socioeconomic processes occurring nationally, but global economic processes are among the strongest forces shaping contemporary urbanization.

This have been accompanied by expanded forms of global mobilities of people including migration, business travel and leisure. Distribution networks have expanded, namely through the division of production, manufacturing and consumption. This has been accompanied by a growth of the quantity of freight being shipped as well as by more complex supply and distribution chains. These are derived from strategic considerations where issues such as production and subcontracting planning and the choice of hubs and routes are considered for implementing global supply chains. Locally , the urban structure of most cities has evolved from a nodal single center structure to a multi-nodal one , with suburbanization being the dominant paradigm.

Additional demands for space and lower locational costs have been leading forces behind this process.


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  • This has often resulted in a fragmented system of movements and a complex lattice of interactions within a metropolitan area. Many activities related to freight distribution have been impacted by the construction of new transport terminals and distribution centers in response to growing space requirements as well as from the imperatives of fragmented supply chains. From their traditional location around central areas with prevalent port and rail linkages, transport terminals and distribution centers have shifted to peripheral locations where road and airport linkages are more predominant.


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    • Regionally , a functional specialization of interconnected urban centers has emerged with a division of economic activities regulated by hubs and regional transport infrastructures. The prevailing spatial structure of regional accumulation and distribution is thus articulated by a corridor dotted by major urban centers. Mega-Region Development World Urban Population, with Projections to in billions Global Gateways Index, Evolution of the Spatial Structure of a City Perspectives about the Urban Spatial Structure: From Dichotomy to Continuum The regionalism of urbanization implies not only that some cities have become metropolitan areas, but that individually or as a group they have become a complex functional regional entity; the mega region.

      Three scales can therefore be suggested to describe the mega region: Metropolitan Area. A single large city often officially defined and named as a jurisdictional and statistical unit that functions as a labor, consumption and production market. It can be considered as the basic economic unit of the global economy. The metropolitan area is not necessarily a continuous developed area and can include rural, non-urban when there is no agriculture or discontinuous areas of urban development. Although a metropolitan area is composed of multiple jurisdictions, it is structured by the commuting range of the core city from which radiates highways and urban transit lines.

      A continuum of urban activities, often interwoven with rural activities, that includes a large urban agglomeration several millions and a network of secondary satellite cities. It combines many different economic activities and land uses, including agricultural activities, large-scale housing projects and industrial estates. The EMR usually extends beyond the standard definition of a metropolitan area to include rural areas. A large scale corridor composed of several metropolitan areas some which are EMRs structured by transportation infrastructures and terminals that are supporting an intense system of regional economic and social interactions.

      MURs also have a substantial rural population, but agricultural activities are highly conditioned by the proximity of large urban markets. Although there are no formal convention about minimum size, MURs have at least 10 million inhabitants mostly concentrated in a few large multimillion metropolitan areas or EMR. The MUR is a specialized and interdependent entity that act as a comprehensive system of production, consumption and distribution. It serves as the main gateway between global, national and regional systems of accumulation and distribution.

      The Structure and Articulation of Mega-Urban Regions The emergence of mega urban regions as a distinct spatial structure began to be acknowledged in the s as they appeared in the developed world, namely in North America, Western Europe and Japan. The structure of mega-urban regions can be better understood through the concepts of articulation nodes , corridors and flows : Articulations nodes are where the organization and regulation of passengers transportation and freight distribution is taking place through a set of terminals and related added value activities. As hubs or gateways, they provide an interface between global and regional flows and are built upon the convergence of transport networks.

      Corridors with a linear accumulation of transport infrastructures servicing a set of articulation nodes. They support by their physical capacity the mobility of passengers and freight. Corridors usually emerge in phases of infrastructure and economic development , creating an increasingly interconnected region. Flows that are the expression of work, production, distribution, consumption and social activities.