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Critical review of Sustainable Development planning & policies


KU Leuven February 2012 Benot Legrand benoitlgrd@hotmail.com

1 Sustainable development - History _ Definitions _ Conferences - 5 principles - Interpretations _ Paradoxes Beyond SD - Cradle to cradle - Positive development - Prosperity without growth Spatial dimension of SD - Spatial implications of SD principles - Sustainable planning - Axis of reflection - Examples Conclusions


1987 Brundtland commission report 2 objectives associated for the 1st time:
- Fasten development of the poor countries - Limit impacts of human activities on the environment

A thinking process, not a program Sustainable development is a development that meets the need for the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

- Poverty is not a fate

> Coalition needed to fight poverty > Poor themselves should be involved : participatory approach

SD & poverty

- Poverty reduces peoples capacity to use resources in a sustainable manner; it intensifies pressure on the environment
> Are African poor affecting more the environment then rich American?

- Report recommended a min. world economic growth of 3%/year to have an impact on absolute poverty
> But is it good for the environment?

The limits of development are the ones of our technologies & social setting as well as the biosphere capacity to cope with human activities

SD & environment

> Biosphere should be protected for the benefit of the human being > Technology perceived as the medium to solve the equation of poverty and environment preservation

2. DEFINITIONS (more than 200)

Brundtand 1988 ICLEI 1996 OCDE 1997

- Inter-generational social equity by integrating environmental efficiency to economic efficiency - Providing environmental, social & economic services without putting in danger natural, social & human built systems - Management strategy based on in-out quantitative measures, optimizing energy & material productivity in order to limit natural resources consumption, pollution, waste, costs, while creating a competitive advantage - Progressive social improvement without economical growth beyond ecological capacity

H. Daly 2004

Not a nave ecologist discourse but a long-time process that should provide benefit to all

Dynamic balance between 3 interdependent spheres

Today Target


Balanced share of wealth, investment & resource exploitation efficiency, welfare Preservation of ecosystems integrity & biodiversity, resources management, climate change control - Equity, cohesion, participation of all in decision process - Cultural preservation, balanced incomes share, - Access to stable employment & services, - Democratic institutions, collaboration & consensus rather then conflicts



To work in a coordinate way trough:

Minimal exploitation of the natural resources green investment New clean technology Alternative approaches on development Institutional changes

According to the actual present & future needs as well as environment capacities

A common responsibility

SD located within 4 intersecting spheres of concern:

(1) (2) (3) (4) Environment Legal-institutional terrain Culture and civil society Economy and technology

Spatial implications

A comprehensive approach difficult to tackle

1992 Rio, environment issues considered globally for the 1st time
- Rio Declaration, 27 principles - Climates changes convention - Action Plan for the 21st C
- Promotion of the socioeconomic dimension - Natural resources conservation & management - Role of local groups reinforced - Executions means proposed

1997 Rio + 5, New-York

- No major progress - Human rights high-lighted - Concept of ecological efficiency in place

2000 New-York Conference, Millennium Development goals

Poverty reduction by 2015 - 44 indicators

2002 Rio + 10, Johannesburg, Slow progress:

- CO production increased by 400 million tons - Coral reef in danger 10% > 27% - Deforestation - Poor stable despite demography increase, while world economy increased by 10 trillions USD - 6,400 towns having a LA21, but 82,5% in industrialized world

2005 Paris Declaration

Development cooperation more efficient through harmonization, alignment, local ownership, capacity development

2012 Rio + 20

Fashionable in the 90s, then slowly replaced by other paradigms/issues: climate changes

(Belgium Federal Office of Planning) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. World-wide awareness, common but differentiated responsibility Long-term vision, intra & inter generational equity Integration of the components Caution principle in front of scientific uncertainty Participatory approach

1. Responsibility Necessity of coordinated actions at all levels

- Behavior changes
At individual, community, regional, national, international levels

- Think globally, act locally

Local actions have to consider worldwide interdependence, being integrated within a global action plan

Common & differentiated responsibility

- Historical responsibility of the industrialized world - Present responsibility of the fast-growing countries

Good governance
- Public institutions able to realize actions for the common interest with control & participation of the citizens - Responsiveness & efficiency of local administration - Civil society included in the process

Deregulation or more planning & control? Less State or better State?

2. Equity & long-term vision Equity between people of different classes within interconnected spaces over the time
> Solidarity between people within same time, same place already complicate, who to do?

Balance between present needs & long-term interests

> To preserve biodiversity & natural resources > Present actions integrated within a long-term vision

3. Integration Social, economical & environmental spheres considered in a dynamic way within a single strategy
> Multi-disciplinary & holistic approach that should consider interconnections & side effects > In practice, they are studied in parallel by different agencies with antagonist objectives & views

4. Principe of caution To limit the risks through scientific studies & monitoring - Multidisciplinary approach increases scientific uncertainty - Level of uncertainty increased when considering larger scales of time & space
> Needs of accurate monitoring of actions as well as environmental & socioeconomic in-depth studies before new intervention > Civil society has to control technocrats & associate to decisions

5. Participation Why?
- SD is the responsibility of each of us - To control both politicians & scientists decisions
> Pop. needs to be well educated & organized

60s Participation at the agenda

Students & feminist movements criticizing authoritarian patriarchal civilization
> Right to have access to basic needs but also freedom of speech

80s Participation ousted by the market than re-introduced by Brundtlands commission

- Politicians could not be efficient without citizens control - Attitude of the consumer-polluter could not change without implication of the citizen in the decision process - Habitat II conference (1986) confirmed the necessity of participatory approach to develop sustainable human settlement

1969 Arnsteins ladder

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Citizen control Delegated power Partnership Placation Consultation informing Therapy Manipulation Non participation Tokenism Citizen Power

- Participative approach depends upon culture, political system, education - Requires institutional strengthening, capacity building & decentralization - Set up of a dialogue between authority, civil society, private sector

No consensus on the meaning of participation Other analysis of participatory levels

1979 - E. Burke, classification of participation in the planning process
- Reviewing & commenting proposed plans - Give information or specific advice regarding the plans, acknowledgement of citizens particular expertise - Advisory role; consultation formalized - Shared decision making


- S. Paul, recognizes 4 levels:

- Information - Consultation - Decision making - Initiating action


- M. Choguill, rather than citizen, focus on community in developing countries

- Lowest level: community self-management without government support - Govrt should support & empower communities for designing & controling development initiatives

Participation = Democracy? Democracy or strong power to impose the changes?

1. Narrow versus broad perspectives Distinction between a narrow (fysiocentric) and a broad perspective (anthropocentric) approach:
- Fysiocentric: the protection and preservation of the environment is the starting point without considering human needs - Anthropocentric: the human needs are the starting point The protection and the preservation of the environment is considered as a necessary contribution to human welfare

2. North versus South perspectives Green agenda - Industrial countries concern

Focus on environmental problems, loss of biodiversity, climate changes, deforestation that may directly affect Western pop.

Brown agenda - Third-world concern

Poverty reduction, living condition improvement, infrastructure upgrading which are the prime priority of the pop. of the South

Does poverty increase environment risks? Does environment protection limit the means to fight poverty?
> Need of a global & coherent vision integrating both aspects with definition of clear priorities

1. With regard to environment - Too anthropocentric
- SD reduces the biosphere to environmental assets at the service of human needs > Should not be instead, nature to be protected for its own right? - Genuine sustainability requires more than ecological restoration

- A trade-off between economic growth and associated environment costs

2. With regard to economy - Economical growth not put into question

How to reconcile infinite growth within a finite planet?

- Globalization acknowledged
- Globalization dilutes responsibility of consumer: not aware of pollution that takes place at the production site - Globalization is in opposition with an endogen economy promoted by SD

- Principle of liberalism not questioned

Could self-control and new technologies solve all the problems?

- Inter-relations between rich & poor not clarified

The share of wealth & a more balanced economical model not presented as an option

3. With regard to social dimension - Social dimension just an add-on to economy/environment

No analysis of what a real sustainable society should be

- SD is top-down
- Initiated by transnational organizations - Risk of evacuation of the political debate within society and the establishment of a post-democratic space leaded by technocrats

- Demography control not mentioned

Limit of the planet to feed indefinitely an expending humanity

4. With regard to space Spatial dimension not enough considered

- Specificities of spatial dimension not included in the equation - Space is the continuum where the 3 other dimensions interact - No acknowledgment that space is a source of conflict & of potentialities for limiting pollution, favoring economic development & social integration

5. The limits of SD - Tries to mitigate the side effects of modernity and capitalism - Does not propose a new base to build society through an original form of development

No time for compromises but what more to expect from UN conferences?




MCDonough, M. Braungart - From a linear economy to a cycle economy - Directly inspired by nature: no waste, only recycling

Target: a positive footprint


J. Birkeland Starts from analysis of the limits of SD and tries to build solutions
- To go beyond environment preservation and to make net positive impact on the planet - To move from eco-efficiency to eco-effectiveness - Natural flows (energy, water, food) becomes a part of a bio-political dynamic that is never socially or ecologically neutral - Does not try to make a balance between different antagonisms but to integrate them towards a single goal

Still at the stage of a concept; not yet practical solutions to propose



T. Jackson All looking for prosperity but our economic model not sustainable. Alternatives previously explored:
- Economic decline:
- Possible only for rich countries > Will pop. accept pauperization? - Will lead to instability as less jobs & works; economic recession and human crisis Not an option

- Untied economic growth:

- Economic growth without using resources relative or absolute: ecological impact limited while productivity increased > Feasible? knowing that in 2050 humanity should have a productivity 130 more efficient than today

- To build up alternative model considering that:

- Principle of economic growth kept for poorer countries - World pop. will continue to increase - Social justice requires that all should have access to benefit of economic development - Humanity has to decrease significantly its ecological footprint by adapting its energy sources, infrastructures & protecting environment
> Role of public authority is crucial

- Postulate:
- Human beings shall blossom by giving more sense to their life with less goods - End of consumerism and exacerbation of materialist desire - Human and social values put in the first place rather than goods - To invent a new macroeconomic model for developed countries based on services and non trading sectors


What to do in terms of spatial management ?

Importance of scales:
- Architecture: - Urban design: - Town planning: - Regional planning: green architecture eco-districts eco-cities bio regions

> cities embedded in an hinterland

Importance of time:
Urban project: 100 years at least with possibilities of renewal Architectural project: 50 years at least with possibilities of rehabilitation


1.1. Principe of responsibility - Responsibility of the designer to integrate SD in their work as SD architecture &planning require a mutually constitutive conception of relations between nature and culture in the space (Gandy, 2004) - Coordinated actions at all levels require multi-disciplinary studies as to integrate other dimensions within the design object

1.2. Principe of equity & long-term vision Interconnection of people through time implies:
Preserve patrimony & culture, while adapting it to the present needs Recycle spaces to limit use of new materials & to preserve land Guarantee flexibility & durability of construction for future needs Use of individual projects to implement overall planning

Urban renewal: Barcelona, strategic plan & re-qualification of sea-front

1.3. Principe of integration Integration of the 3 spheres into space implies:

- Holistic studies of cities/ multi-sectors projects - Comprehensive vision of spatial management - Multifunctional spaces instead of specialized spaces

R. Rogers, Daimler Chrysler center, Berlin multi-functional building

1.4. Principe of caution - Use of natural & safe materials - Limit energy use - Limit socioeconomic risks - Respect site characteristics - topography, climate, geology

C. Mercenier, Villers-Le-Bouillet townhall

1.5. Principe of participation

- Public spaces = agora
> Space of dialogue, expression of citizenship, contestation

- From a technocratic planning to a more participatory approach

- Advocacy planning, participatory planning - Community design, social architecture not to design for but with

Role of the designer?

> Facilitator, initiator, catalyst, leader? > Quid control of the design process & the forms? > Quid city coherence, global vision?

-Take care of populist approach

Lucien Kroll: aesthetician approach of individual diversity > Be cautious with excess of individualism

Risk of tyranny of participation

L. Kroll, La mm, Louvain-la-Neuve

Traditional & vernacular architecture and planning as source of inspiration

Look at the past

The Megaron house - Socrates

Roman urban design

Kasbah, Draa-Tal, Marokko

What is a non sustainable city?

- Population loss - Loss of jobs due to industry & service delocalization

> Bilbao, Liverpool in 80s

- Unbalanced social composition & demography

> Moscow

- Environment degradation, energy system inefficient

> Beijing (coil)

- Improper use of natural resources

> Manaus, deforestation of Amazon

- Uncontrolled growth due to absence of authority control

> Goma

Which model for the future?


Garden city

Slum & skyline

Principles of sustainable city

- Quality of life for the entire population - Socioeconomic development with limited short-term & long-term environment impacts - Preservation of the resources - Integrating the poorest & favoring social mixing - Participative & good governance

Hammarby Sjstad Stockhom, eco city of 25,000 inhabitants

Spatial implications
- Preservation of none-renewable resources: land & water - Avoiding urban sprawl, social segregation, specialization of functions - Re-qualification & restructuring of public spaces - Equipment & services availability & accessibility to all - High density but with open spaces for recreation, clean air & cooling - Efficient public transport - Meaningful spaces respect of local symbols & culture - Local specificities valorized - Harmonious relationship between city & preserved hinterland

To achieve this, need of:

- Will & coordinated vision of decision-makers & actors - Adapted legislative, administrative and fiscal powers & frameworks - Appropriate planning tools

> Translation into different city concepts

Green city concept

- Low level of pollution & resources consumption through public transport & efficient buildings - Optimum waste management system - Large amount of multi purpose & inter-connected open spaces

Models & concepts

Shanghai, urban agriculture

Curitiba, parks as flooding prevention

Green areas appropriate for:

- Pollinate crops & orchards - Urban agriculture - Preserve biodiversity - Enhance larger ecological system - Recharge aquifers & control flooding through retention lacks - Limit heat island by Reducing T and channeling wind - Integrate noisy public transport - Absorb CO

Parks network of Bogota

Example of heat island control within city

Studies on the T increase in Berlin (+2,5C in 205 0) & the ways to drop it (wind blow, parks, reverberant materials)

Heidestrabe project

Ecopolis concept Minimize ecological footprint, maximize human potential

Transition from a linear to a circular or closed-loop metabolism Circular metabolism model - Understanding of the city as a complex, interconnected set of flows of energy, materials and information similar to nature - Strengthen links between the city and its close hinterland > Regional planning

Urban mining concept

Cities perceived as mines for recycle materials & agriculture production > Cradle to cradle concept

Eco cities concept - World Bank methodology to promote urban SD - Starting point: city as base to fight poverty & improve quality of life. Sustainable economy should be promoted while ecology preserved - Based on 4 principles
- City based approach Enable local government to act contextually considering their local ecology - Expanded platform for collaborative design and decision-making - One system approach Comprehensive analysis and action process considering city & its hinterland - Investment framework Values sustainability & resiliency
Take into accounts lifecycle analysis & value all capital assets including nature

Equitable city concept

- Social integration, participation, good governance - Economically efficient, endogenous - Optimization of interface local/ global, official/ informal economy - Wealth reallocation - Market regulation - Flexible & adapted norms to the different social groups specificities It includes:
- Bottom-up actions at the local level to generate creative self-reliant solutions - Top-down supports at the central level enabling/framing/supporting cities to implement local solutions

Tools that make cities more sustainable:

- Planning tools that catalyze process of change - Sustainable projects (districts-buildings) - Each element of the system should promote SD contributing to the development of the larger vision - Sustainable links between projects (networks, mobility) - Accountability of providers of services with greater collaboration - Collaborative planning system through platform of dialogue at city/region scale


City as a dynamic system

Methodology: multiplicity of actors

Emerge from overlapping actions of different groups/ coalitions with conflicting interests
Public sector
- Central level - Regional level - Municipal autorities - Public services companies

Civil society
- Individuals - NGOs, associations - Academics

Private sector
- Transnational companies - Industries - Developers - Lobbies

None has mandate/ capacity to address performance of the city a system but all stand to benefit when elements are well integrated

How to coordinate actions of the 3 actors?

Traditional planning
- Not adapted to contemporary society & complex cities - Spatial planning perceived as a purely passive regulatory instrument
> Became out-dated especially with emergence of neo-liberalism that saw planning as restriction to private initiatives

- Research of methods able to tackle the complexity and the challenges of contemporary society
> Technocrats do not have mandate to handle this look for more participatory approaches


- In the 90s spatial structure of cities and large territories again at the agenda as they have direct impact on mobility and CO production

Strategic structural planning planning

- Research of a comprehensive, holistic, participative mode of planning that considers spatial structure
> Structural planning merged with strategic planning

- SSP, an option to integrate SD in planning vision as it includes Participation, vision, action, evaluation
first working towards a long term vision


daily policy solving bottlenecks actions

a frame an action plan policy agreements



engaging different actors and population in the planning and decision process dispute resolution


permanent action involving people







- Urban concentration
Is also economically interesting as it favors proximity & interconnection of producers & consumers

1. Economy & space

- City economic efficiency not defined only by its size:

> ex: Tokyo (27 mi. inhabitants) more efficient than Manila (11 mi. inhabitants) that reached saturation

Las-Vegas expansion

- Morphology plays an active role

- Spatial structure influences accessibility within urban fabric - Transport efficiency & spatial use influence employment market

Periphery of Pretoria

2 options:
- Laisser-faire until saturation
> market self-control

- Act on spatial organization by promoting secondary cities, new towns, multiplication of economic poles - Means of action:
Proactive interventions, green belts, urban specifications, regional coordination
London green belt

Proposed model
Network of autonomous urban poles rather than large urban centers

Strengthening urban energy/economy autonomy Promotion of endogenous economy & locally produced energy
- Safeguard decentralized urban future - Reduce vulnerability - Create spirit of ownership - Improve social stability - Increase efficiency & reduce ecological footprint

Masdar city, Abu Dhabi

- Debate between advocates compact city/ rural life/ compromise - Density requires:
- More equipments & infrastructures - Green & public spaces - Public transports - Behavior changes - Fight against spatial specialization & social gentrification - Social & functions mixing

2. Density

Shanghai, high towers social housing

3 types of models:
- American cities (50U/ha) - European cities (75U/ha) - Asian cities (150U/ha)

Pop. Density (persons/ha)

- Density does not necessarily equal to verticality

- Level of density related to culture, history - High buildings require more energy for construction, operation, maintenance - Low-rise, high density buildings

Tara project, New-Delhi, C. Correa, 1975-78 160 units/ha

Tara project, New-Delhi

Hotakubo Projet, Kumamoto, R., Yamamoto, 1991 - 110 units/ha

Proposed model
Poly-nuclear networks of poles having variety of characteristics & densities - Centers re-qualified made of different economic poles - Periphery restructured

The satellite towns around Shanghai

- Fight against private cars, while promoted by media - To favor:

- Multimodality: availability of different transport means - Inter-modality: easy access from one mode to the other - Accessibility of the urban fabric depending on the space usage, intensity of the uses & influence areas

3. Mobility

Curitiba, bus network

Bogota, bus lane

- Alternative transport means

- Alternative use: car-sharing, car renting, co-ownership - Bike rental, walking - Bus lane, tramway, underground - Different modes according to the traveling characteristics

New tram system in France

Electric bus lane in Spain

Proposed model
Multimodal network in coordination with land use, density, urban fabric and morphology

4. Management of low income areas

- Different actions
- Ignorance/ laisser-faire/ eviction/ upgrading - Awareness of the socioeconomic quality of the slum in late 60s

- Different solutions
- From simple infrastructures works up to socioeconomic supports - Resettlement, S & S, land sharing, upgrading

Slums & global city, Bangkok

Slums, Manila

- Different actors
Authorities: - Mainly related to resettlement, then infrastructure upgrading - Large scale - Discussion (information) with communities - Eviction is not a taboo - Preserve collectivity interests before the ones of communities - Some time global & spatial visions integrated

Social housing, Manila

Favela Barrio, Rio

Local communities: - Pro-poor, mainly through socioeconomic supports - Communities are actors of their development - Technical solutions not always optimal - Conflicting relations with authorities - Interests of the communities coming at the first place - Spatial dimension often forgotten

Slum reorganization, CODI, Bangkok

Synthesis of possible SD planning interventions

Planning intervention Proactive Regulatory resource mobilisation tools
Site allocation Norms Construction permit Strategic plan (region-cities) Strategic plan Norms Fiscal incentives Planning conditions, construction codes Construction permits Planning conditions/ design standards

Industry/local communities/ developers/ central government Developers/transport authorities Industries/car producers/users/ central government Individuals/industries

Issues Mitigation Energy supply

Renewable energy

Reducing travel

Settlements size, density, mixed use, accessibility

Mitigation Energy demand

Reducing other CO emission Energy efficiency

Flood risk

Protecting flood plains from development Protecting & enhancing green infrastructure

Environment agencies/developers/ insurances Developers/ civil society


Heat wave

- Mixing of function: housing, offices, social services, shops, farm - Social mixing: 82 apartments with 15 social housing - Mobility: bus & tube connection; electric car, pedestrians - High insulation, co-generation, renewable energy
- Energy consumption reduced by 50% - HH energy reduced by 60%

- Wastewater treatment

BedZED, London

BedZED, North & South elevations

BedZED, London

Energy, water & ventilation systems

- Housing unit 20% more expensive than a standard housing - Construction costs increased by 30%; investor almost bankrupt - Low flexibility & adaptability by the users

- 1,200ha - 6,000 housing units - 3,000 jobs - Structuring element of the Hanovres periphery development - Good public transport connections, with new tram lane - Social mixing & diversity of functions - Windmills, cogeneration, rainwater haversting - PPP with budget of 2,2 billions euros

Kronsberg, Hanover

Krongberg, water plant & photovoltaic cells, 1995

- Slower growth due to economic downturn - Lack of spatial integration with neighboring areas


- Challenges are important: Planet is at risks - Sustainable development, a paradigm with paradoxes:
- The only viable approach while waiting for a complete reorientation of economy - Spatial dimension has a key role to play - Coordination of different scales;
From architecture to urban design, Town planning to regional & national planning

- Need to integrate all the components within a coherent & dynamic approach in a participative manner, while controlling the design
(social & rational logic of space, esthetic, patrimony preservation)

- Better State rather than less State

Need of strong authority but open to dialogue & shared power

- Importance of innovation & evaluation