Holistic framing of such initiatives is crucial to capture key interdependencies, trade-offs and synergies.
The more transformational changes are underpinned by evolutionary design approaches Costanza which embrace experimentation, as well as the need for underlying structural changes. Stakeholder engagement is therefore required on future aspirations and scenarios Costanza ; Ryan et al. The framework also shows that decision making needs to be supported by an understanding of how urban systems behave and evolve.
This includes an appreciation of the extent to which specific urban profiles e. The city is an open system with many interactions with the region and beyond, so some drivers will be exogenous to the city e. The specific urban profile, along with decisions and other drivers, shape the highly heterogeneous social, biophysical and physical patterns spatial and temporal , and processes, associated with the full range of urban assets or resources.
Assets here are broadly defined, and can as noted in Fig.
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The urban processes can also be social, biophysical or physical. These concepts can also be linked to the views of the city as an ecosystem Bai , which is consistent with suggestions that metabolism approaches could be extended to the impacts on, and role of, ecosystems and social resources and actors Newman ; Newton and Bai ; Pincetl et al. These processes and their impacts also feed back into the drivers of change, and the urban structures and patterns, sometimes leading to unintended consequences.
These feedbacks may be biophysical e. Schelling on segregation. Understanding of these urban systems can be facilitated by a range of useful frameworks and methodologies including resilience and social—ecological systems thinking Folke ; Ostrom and Cox ; the view of the city as a combination of complex social—ecological—technical systems SETS Ramaswami et al. The complex system interdependencies can generate many possible urban transition pathways. Alternative urban development trajectories can have very different sustainability outcomes Bai ; Newton and Bai ; Pickett et al.
Thus, guiding the realised trajectory becomes critical to achieving goals, while recognising that such complex systems are emergent and not simply amenable to top—down command-and-control approaches.
Hence flexible strategies and adaptive management need to be supported by multi-level governance, indicators, monitoring and evaluation processes. Finally, the framework reflects that a set of key focal areas need to be identified, where policy and decision makers have the best chance of guiding sustainable urban transformations.
However, in practice these will always depend to some extent on the context. In our case we are looking at informing a national change agenda across and within major cities in Australia, and the focal areas identified in this context are discussed in the following section. The framework at Fig. As it stands some of the more academic concepts are not familiar to practitioners, and will require translation into language they can more readily relate to, similar to the dual-language approach used by Diaz et al.
Nevertheless it can be used to help position some of the other outcomes from our co-design process, as described below. In a first-pass analysis of Australian urban sustainable development the co-design process has identified, for the capital cities, the stated urban goals and related urban design principles, the current drivers of the gap between these and actual implementation, and a number of focal areas with high potential to address the gaps.
As reflected in Fig. This is not surprising as the plans reflect urban planning theories and movements that have evolved internationally over more than twenty years. The more recent of these draw on New Urbanism and Compact City ideas, but emphasise integration with nature, reduced materials usage, waste and emissions, and a restorative relationship between cities and the local and distant natural resources they depend on. In addition the Resilient Cities movement emphasises resilience to major change including but not only climate change Rockefeller Foundation Individually these approaches emphasise different aspects of sustainable development, and over time reflect a gradual extension from liveability issues to include sustainability and resilience concerns.
However the co-design process concluded that, while these principles and the underlying goals are reflected in major Australian city plans, there are significant problems in translating them into practice. It identified a number of external and local drivers that currently influence strategy, decisions and action in Australian cities; and how these often become barriers to effective implementation of the goals and principles. In particular many of the drivers are interconnected; most of the drivers, while they may be influenced locally, are beyond the control of any one jurisdiction; and current institutional and policy settings provide incentives to decision-makers that are often counter to the stated goals.
Understanding these drivers is a first step towards developing policy and practice, from national through to local levels, which better support sustainable urban development. These are summarised at a high level in Fig. Knowledge framework for sustainable urban development see Fig. These two focal areas were therefore seen as overarching enablers for integrated and transformational change.
At the next level down the focal areas identified ranged from larger metropolitan-scale strategies and investments, to precinct and building design decisions, and influencing more sustainable business and citizen choices. Initial consultations in the co-design process tended to emphasise the more experimental and locally driven renewal and reinvention initiatives, typically at neighbourhood, precinct and building levels, that can fully take into account local context and community needs and aspirations, and also demonstrate the potential of new approaches for future scaling up and transfer.
It was also recognised that the value of such initiatives can be enhanced by complementary strategies encouraging more sustainable consumption and production choices and behaviours by individuals and communities Ryan ; Newton and Meyer and businesses e. Ellen Macarthur Foundation on the circular economy and industrial symbiosis.
Designing the City: Towards a More Sustainable Urban Form
However, the ensuing discussions increasingly focused on the identification and framing of strategic issues and investments with additional potential to drive holistic and transformative change. These were often at the broader spatial scales, from the precinct upwards to the whole-of-city and metropolitan region, and across sectors. Developing holistic solutions at these broader scales was seen as doubly important as: 1 they can make important contributions to sustainable development in their own right; 2 planning and investments at these scales provide a clearer direction within which precinct and building scale urban development, and sustainable consumption and production initiatives, equally essential to overall transformation, can proceed with greater confidence.
However, while many of these take systems approaches, none have a whole-of-urban-system charter. Whole - of - city, city - region and related cross - sectoral strategies : These encompass:. Newton , This includes issues such as centralised vs distributed energy, water and food infrastructure; understanding cross-sector interactions, trade-offs and synergies e. Outer-urban and peri - urban choices : Here, land-use and infrastructure decisions need to reconcile trade-offs between the differing interests of communities, governments state and local , developers, local industry including agriculture and horticulture , and water catchment and natural environment managers.
Decisions should be guided by alignment with whole-of-city and city-region strategies and by more holistic economic and valuation models e. Urban renewal and intensification decisions : These range from renewal of urban corridors, CBDs, suburbs and suburban centres down to individual precincts. Standard urban design typologies, including approaches to intensification, need to be translated to fit diverse local contexts reflecting climate, topography, environment and socio-cultural needs.
Moreover, spatial practices such as urban planning and urban design should take into account that sustainability is about urban processes as well as urban form Neuman The above means addressing community aspirations; incorporating physical, social, and culturally attuned architectures that encourage sustainable behaviours; and anticipating risks associated with intensification e. Temporal scale challenges : In each of the above spatially differentiated domains, conceptual and practical issues were identified in handling timing and sequencing of decisions. Examples included how infrastructure investment should be staged, and the extent to which it should lead or lag residential development; the need for whole-of-life-cycle costing of investments; and the incorporation of adaptive pathways to provide flexibility and resilience in a changing and uncertain environment Wise et al.
A common element in each of the above domains is the need to address significant trade-offs and synergies for whole-of-system solutions. Traditional business cases and financing options can be enhanced by capturing the values of such synergies and co-benefits, as well as the impact of trade-offs. Key examples of difficult urban trade-offs and choices at various scales, identified in the co-design process with stakeholders.
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Key examples of synergistic opportunities identified in the co-design process with stakeholders. This emphasises the importance of framing the strategic issues and opportunities broadly enough from the outset, and over a long enough time scale. Too narrow a framing fails to identify trade-offs and synergies. In contrast, framing that adequately encompasses the more significant synergies can simultaneously help resolve the more difficult trade-offs, facilitate whole-of-system solutions, and open the path to significant transformational change.
A final clear message from the co-design process was that practitioners seek improvement in the synthesis, translation and application of existing as well as new knowledge. This includes sector-specific knowledge, research and practice, even though the most significant knowledge gaps had been identified at the integrated systems level. Hence building on the existing research and knowledge base and capabilities is a key part of any solution, with improved platforms and approaches for mapping and translating knowledge into practice. Overall the above findings evidence that there is no single solution, but rather the need for a strategic multi-layered approach which has the potential to facilitate systemic transformation, guiding and facilitating change through both top-down and bottom-up influences, and at various spatial, governance and temporal scales—a systemic response to systemic challenges.
In addition to longer term and broader scale policies and investments, incremental and experimental approaches are seen as essential components of an overall transformational approach, not as an alternative. Priorities may vary from place to place and time to time, but future directions need to draw on the full range of complementary levers. The article has described the initial outcomes of a co-design process for sustainable urban development, drawing on a combination of Australian and international experience and research.
A knowledge framework Fig. Not all the individual insights are new, but their combination, developed through a multi-scale co-design approach, is novel.
Consistent with the reflexive consideration of co-design outcomes indicated in Fig. We found from the Australian experience that a wide range of systemic barriers are leading to significant gaps between publicly stated goals and actual decision making and practice.
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Practice has tended to be siloed, with fragmented agendas and limited management of interdependencies, trade-offs and synergies. It emerged from the co-design process that policy responses to this situation will need to be systemic, multi-faceted and multi-layered, with an active seeking out of useful synergies. Such an approach is consistent with the exercise of multiple leverage points to guide the evolution of complex social—ecological systems Abson et al. Thus policy and decision makers may well benefit from explicit application of these frameworks.
Indeed the translation of socio-technical transition theory and MLP into the urban context is starting to emerge Berkhout et al. A more holistic approach also highlights the importance to policy making of broader framing of individual urban issues, to facilitate development of multi-objective solutions, and better leverage synergies to facilitate transformation.
These can better demonstrate the true costs and benefits to society, and facilitate financing. To a significant extent, these framing opportunities are independent of the size and shape of a city. What is considered a city is rapidly changing in a globally and locally networked world, where the city needs to be understood as flows, interactions and processes and not just locations Neuman and Hull ; Castells ; Batty ; and stakeholders come from the same sectors of society and the same multiple levels of government, regardless of city size Healey ; Neuman The findings highlight the dilemma for formal urban planning and design functions.
While it may therefore be true that policy guidance for smaller scale local initiatives should be flexible to allow bottom-up innovation Moroni , broader scale collective decision making on critical infrastructure and public realm investment is more complex, especially when multiple objectives and interdependencies are introduced. The need for better decision support in such areas is clearly reflected in the priority decision making domains that emerged from the co-design process, and is also reflected in recent international reports UNEP Two prerequisites for such future planning are clear—continuing innovation in institutional and governance approaches, and meaningful community and stakeholder engagement.
Complex urban systems are characterised by the diversity of actors, and the need for coherent and adaptive multi-level governance Neuman ; Loorbach ; Ostrom and Cox Sustainable urban development will require significant redesign of many social, political, financial and other institutional structures over time Young , increasingly generated on a foundation of democracy, decentralisation and strong social movements and engagement Satterthwaite A successful transdisciplinary approach also requires engagement from the outset with the full diversity of community and other stakeholder aspirations and values Hartz-Karp and Newman , including pursuit of social justice, equity and inclusion goals.
Co-production of solutions-based knowledge will also require significant cultural and procedural changes at individual organisational and actor levels to recognise the importance and legitimacy of multiple societal goals, values and sources of knowledge.
For example, even where extensive co-production processes have been carried out, there can be major obstacles to reintegrating the knowledge and implications back into the key organisations because of different institutional cultures, practices and mindsets Polk The co-design process confirmed that, in order to support policy and decision makers, collaborative research will increasingly require a whole-of-system perspective, with contributions from multiple disciplines, frameworks, methodologies and an increasing range of models and data. Only if the overall urban system and its subsystems are better understood can decision makers identify priority leverage points for transformational change, and increase the likelihood of achieving intended outcomes.
More specifically, potential to combine insights from natural integrating fields is being recognised, such as urban ecology Pickett et al. Clearly this is not a trivial ambition. The knowledge framework and approach developed in our study aim to contribute to such an integrating agenda.
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This also requires the engagement of many disciplines e. As mentioned, insights can also be drawn from multiple useful frameworks and methodologies e. Recent studies have helped identify common ground and synergies between many of these approaches, while recognising that each also provides distinctive insights and perspectives Smith and Stirling on SES and STT; Anderies et al. Another development to be encouraged is the increased translation of these into the urban context Crawford et al. Our co-design process also identified a need for greater focus on metropolitan-scale and cross-sector data and models.
Urban decision makers may be familiar with the use of traditional engineering and economic modelling, but less so with complex systems dynamic models Batty , ; Rickwood ; Baynes and Wiedmann , including agent-based modelling that can enhance understanding of complex behavioural drivers. There is also potential to draw on the vision of smart cities and urban analytics, with the use of new data and information sources e. It is still an open question whether the full scope of urban systems and processes can be adequately described using complex systems science models, building on more limited sectoral modelling, such as that for urban development Baynes , urban water management Moglia et al.
Nonetheless, at the very least such modelling can play an important role in facilitating collaboration and shared understanding with stakeholders Guhathakurta An analysis of 17 current urban modelling systems that were designed to provide practical decision support, confirmed that none provide the full range of desired integrated capabilities TEST , leading to ongoing development of at least one attempt to fill this gap and provide an enhanced basis for collaborative urban co-design at various scales TEST Finally the co-design process confirmed the strong interest in learning from the practical experience of others.