State of play - Sustainability
Since the 1987 first coining of the term ‘sustainability’ (Brundtland Report), definitions derived from the concepts of ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ have evolved. Over time it seems that the term has outgrown its purely idealistic roots and is now firmly embedded as an official business model. In other words, sustainability has become ‘big business’. The term ‘sustainable city’ has consequently also become quite a hot topic. But what exactly is a ‘sustainable city’? City programmes and initiatives, all in some way or another linked to the term ‘sustainable cities’, are many and varied. This EMI Knowledge & Research Agenda Sustainability will gauge the current sustainability priorities and views of European cities and formulate fundamental research questions to highlight the sustainability debate in cities and bring it to the EU level.
The Knowledge and Research Agenda Sustainability
The European Metropolitan network Institute understands sustainability to be one of the main challenges facing today’s cities and larger urban areas, but also acknowledges the huge variety of (vague) interpretations associated with the concept. The aims of the Knowledge & Research Agenda on Sustainability is to:
Map the current variety and diverse interpretations of the concept sustainability in European cities by means of a questionnaire
Highlight successful ‘sustainability’ projects in European cities based on the same questionnaire
Analyse the sustainability targets of European cities against the backdrop of wider EU ambitions (such as EU2020).
Based on these above-mentioned elements of the KRA, identify (long-term) fundamental research questions shared by urban practitioners across Europe.
The EMI Approach: Practice-led
There still exists a wide chasm between the (development of the) theoretical sustainability debate and the practical translation that cities assign to the concept. That is why it is crucial to first understand what this practical translation of cities is. In other words what do cities understand the term ‘sustainability’ to mean? How do cities contribute to this overall EU20201strategy? And which projects do cities name when asked about their most successful sustainability projects? Input from urban practitioners will help create a clearer picture on how the concept of sustainability applies to European cities. By promoting a wide range of successful projects, EMI will paint the ‘sustainability picture’ on the urban level and, at the same time, by publicizing results, will inspire urban practitioners across Europe to (further) develop their own sustainability projects. Finally, EMI will analyse practices and views of cities against current EU policies in order to determine how cities are able to translate the high ambitions on the EU level into practice.
By means of a questionnaire urban practitioners will provide valuable input for this KRA on sustainability. Cities of all sizes are asked to fill out the questionnaire, answering questions as well has describing the sustainability projects they are most proud of. EMI has formed a successful partnership with ICLEI2(an essential partner given their knowledge, network and proven track-record in connecting research and policy-making) in setting up, distributing and disseminating results of the questionnaire.
Results and Deliverables
The questionnaire has been drafted and sent out to EMI’s and ICLEI’s broad network of stakeholders. Deadline to hand-in the questionnaire is the 23rd of April 2012.
Results will then be analysed in May/June.
An overview of successful city projects will ensue, illustrating the diversity of the sustainability concept in cities as well as serving as an inspiration Europe’s urban practitioners. This will be completed in June.
An overarching research agenda in which the outcomes of the questionnaire and elements of the successful projects serve as valuable input will be completed in June. This will include a set of fundamental research questions to further inform the general sustainability debate on both EU and regional levels.
For more information or requests for participation, please contact EMI’s research team on Sustainability:
Koen Hollander: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ries Kamphof: email@example.com
Sietske Voorn: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rein Zwart: email@example.com
For more information about EMI, or information about the other KRAs, please visit our