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 20: The future of sustainable economic development in cities

Edward J. Blakely

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


In all respects, since the inception of the field of economic development, the notion and practice of sustainability has been a core principle. As a founder of the academic and professional field of local economic development, my first edition of Planning Local Economic Development (Blakely 1990) is premised on the notion that local communities (cities, towns, neighbourhoods) could and should form themselves into economically viable units based on their continuous and replenishable resources. In this way, I argued, the basic foundation of sustainable economic development is endogenous (local resources) development. Local resources are described as human, physical, social, economic, organization/institutional and governmental or regulatory. Regional economies are not isolated units; they operate in a larger and increasingly global framework. However, central to the concept of local economic development is making choices within the global framework on what and how to use resources of the locality – no matter how place is defined. My concept of sustainable economic development grows out of more than 50 years of practice along with academic teaching. My concept rests on three pillars. First, economic development must be indigenous; that is, it should be driven by use of the human, natural and community resources in the place and not by external economic drivers. That is not to say that a firm attracted to a place is a bad idea. But the firm needs to fit the environment, instead of forcing the environment, human and physical, to be altered to fit the firm.

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