The Acceleration of Urban Sustainability Transitions: a Comparison of Brighton, Budapest, Dresden, Genk, and Stockholm
Mary Ann Liebert
© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
City-regions as sites of sustainability transitions have remained under-explored so far. With our comparative analysis of five diverse European city-regions, we offer new insights on contemporary sustainability transitions at the urban level. In a similar vein, the pre-development and the take-off phase of sustainability transitions have been studied in depth while the acceleration phase remains a research gap. We address this research gap by exploring how transitions can move beyond the seeding of alternative experiments and the activation of civil society initiatives. This raises the question of what commonalities and differences can be found between urban sustainability transitions. In our explorative study, we employ a newly developed framework of the acceleration mechanisms of sustainability transitions. We offer new insights on the multi-phase model of sustainability transitions. Our findings illustrate that there are no clear demarcations between the phases of transitions. From the perspective of city-regions, we rather found dynamics of acceleration, deceleration, and stagnation to unfold in parallel. We observed several transitions—transitions towards both sustainability and un-sustainability—to co-evolve. This suggests that the politics of persistence—the inertia and path dependencies of un-sustainability—should be considered in the study of urban sustainability transitions.
The article is based on research carried out as part of the ARTS project (Accelerating and Rescaling Transitions to Sustainability) funded under the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under the grant agreement 603654. Although the authors take full responsibility for the paper, it is based on valuable contributions and comments from the whole ARTS consortia, including Andreas Blum, Kristin Reiß, Gordon MacKerron, Rachael Durrant, Erika Meynaerts, Magnus Tuvendal, My Svensdotter, Maria Schewenius, Nikolina Oreskovic, Giorgia Silvestri, Matthew Bach, Felix Spira, Derk Loorbach and Steffen Maschmeyer. We would also like to thank all of our respondents for giving up their valuable time to engage in interviews and workshops to make this research possible. We thank the anonymous reviewers for comments and constructive critique on an earlier version of this paper. The content of the paper does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Commission.
This is the final version of the article. Available from Mary Ann Liebert via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 10 (3), pp. 1 - 25