International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities
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International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities

Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox

This Handbook offers an unrivalled overview of current research into how globalization is affecting the external relations and internal structures of major cities in the world.
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Chapter 28: Cities and Sustainability: Reflections on a Decade of World Development

Kathy Pain


Kathy Pain INTRODUCTION This chapter revisits the key themes addressed by Blowers and Pain in their contribution to the Open University’s (1999) Understanding Cities book series – ‘The unsustainable city?’. The intention of their paper, which was written for the final volume of the series, subtitled Unruly Cities?, was to provide a ‘turn of the twenty first century’ overview of major governance challenges posed for the sustainability of the world’s largest cities from a specifically geographical and spatial perspective. At a time when discourse on the relationship between sustainability, development and cities was dominated by positivist approaches, the authors’ analysis focused on the growing significance of the relational and social nature of cities as key determinants of sustainability. But, in spite of the upsurge of interest and policy rhetoric on this critically important subject during the past decade, inter-city relations, as discussed by Blowers and Pain (1999), still generally lack attention in the growing multidisciplinary literature. Empirical research undertaken by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) research group in the intervening period indicates that the need to adopt a relational approach to understanding cities, and the juxtaposition between their development and sustainability, has become more necessary than ever. Thus the case for contextualizing debate through engagement with the increasingly complex relations of cities in contemporary ‘globalization’ is revisited in the present chapter. Whereas it is customary to begin the discussion of cities and sustainability by defining the term ‘sustainable development’, which is broadly concerned with the impact of development on...

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