Table of Contents

Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities

Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities

Strategies, Methods and Outlook

Elgar original reference

Edited by Daniel A. Mazmanian and Hilda Blanco

Against a backdrop of unprecedented levels of urbanization, 21st century cities across the globe share concerns for the challenges they face. This Companion provides a framework for understanding the city as a critical building block for a more sustainable future within broader subnational, national and continental contexts, and ultimately, within a global systems context. It discusses the sustainable strategies being devised, as well as the methods and tools for achieving them. Examples of social, economic, political and environmental sustainable policy strategies are presented and the extent to which they actually increase sustainability is analyzed.

Chapter 1: The sustainable city: introduction and overview

Hilda Blanco and Daniel A. Mazmanian

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, environment, environmental sociology, geography, cities, urban and regional studies, cities, urban studies


The unprecedented urbanization of human populations around the world presents one of the most profound challenges of the twenty-first century. The causes and consequences are many, diverse and much debated. Yet the number of urban dwellers, along with the growth of, especially, medium, large and truly mega-cities continues unabated, with significant implications for the health and viability of their populations and their impact on nature’s services. We believe that in this context any meaningful path forward must weave together both intra-and inter-temporal needs and challenges into a more comprehensive and thus sustainable cities approach. This approach must ultimately be spread globally, although not through the dictates of a central authority or even a binding global policy agreement, but through the cumulative action of path-breaking lead cities and their leaders around the world. Urban centers are the very places where societal challenges have throughout human history been confronted and overcome, through necessity, human ingenuity, experimentation and the diffusion of good ideas. Cities today are already coming together in a shared concern with the challenges of today’s urbanization, persuaded that the solutions can be found in charting a new course, that of becoming more sustainable: socially, economically and environmentally.