Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Unpacking Swedish Sustainability: The promotion and circulation of sustainable urbanism
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8360-4181
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Sweden has been praised for its achievements, and promoted as a role model, in sustainable urban development. This thesis, comprising five separate articles and a cover essay, is a critical study of the Swedish urban sustainable imaginary. The first article examines how this imaginary is produced. Using an actor-network theory approach, I view the Swedish pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010 as a node in a wider network, arguing that the notion of decoupling GDP growth from CO2 emissions constitutes a central storyline.

The second and third papers study the circulation of this imaginary in practice, specifically examining two cases of exporting Swedish sustainable urban planning to Chinese eco-city projects. Few of these plans, I note, were materialised in built form; rather, they contributed to the circulation of a repetitive model of sustainable urbanism, reinforcing a paradoxical idea of urban sustainability as “green islands of privilege”.

The storyline of decoupling – and the circulating business of sustainable urbanism into which it feeds – is based on a deficient territorial view of space. In this research, I advocate a political ecology perspective and relational view of space, wherein there are no such things as sustainable or unsustainable cities. Rather, planning should aim for more just socio-environmental relations within and across urban borders. The fourth and fifth papers address the wider question of how planning can foster more socio-environmentally just forms of urban sustainability. Here, I emphasise a consumption perspective on greenhouse gas emissions as an important counter-narrative and analyse two Swedish municipalities’ efforts to lessen citizens’ consumption through policy and planning practice.  

This research highlights the need to continuously develop and contest imaginaries and planning practices of sustainability, of who is perceived as “sustainable” and what a socio-environmentally just perspective might mean in practice for policy makers and planners alike.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2017. , p. 151
Series
TRITA-SOM, ISSN 1653-6126 ; 978-91-7729-249-4
Keyword [en]
Urban sustainability; Sweden; Eco-cities; GHG calculations; Political ecology; Actor network-theory
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Planning and Decision Analysis
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-199955ISBN: 978-91-7729-249-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-199955DiVA, id: diva2:1067111
Public defence
2017-02-10, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20170120

Available from: 2017-01-23 Created: 2017-01-20 Last updated: 2017-01-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The circulation of Swedish urban sustainability practices: to China and back
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The circulation of Swedish urban sustainability practices: to China and back
2015 (English)In: Environment and planning A, ISSN 0308-518X, E-ISSN 1472-3409, Vol. 47, no 3, p. 537-553Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper explores the effects and underlying intentions of Swedish practices of exporting sustainable development models to Chinese ecocities. Under the 'bestpractice' banner, international architectural firms are often invited to masterplan ecocity developments. The 'sustainable city' has thus become an export commodity, supported by the Swedish government and seen as especially suited to the Chinese ecocity market. Two cases are examined, where Swedish architecture firms have been commissioned to masterplan Chinese ecocities: the Caofedian and Wuxi Eco-cities. In particular, I examine three kinds of 'effects': first, the planning discourse manifested in the planning documents; second, how these plans materialize on the ground; and, third, the effects of this exported planning practice on Swedish policy and practice at home. This paper advances our understanding of how transnational urban sustainability practices are constructed and circulated. It further adds to the field of planning mobilities by examining not only the discourse and diffusion of transnational master planning but also how the 'export' circulates and returns. I argue that the two intentional logics of exporting the Swedish 'sustainable city'-to shape a better world and to export clean-tech products-could both be seen as having failed in these two cases. Instead, the naming and branding of the ecocities seem to boost a certain repetitive problematic idea and practice of sustainable urban development. I argue that the Swedish exported practice strengthens and legitimizes a circulating narrative establishing a sustainable urban planning practice fostering a paradoxically generic image of upper-middle-class consumers as ecocity inhabitants in China as well as in Sweden.

Keyword
ecocity, Sweden, sustainable urban development, China, ecological modernization
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-166361 (URN)10.1068/a130320p (DOI)000352365600004 ()2-s2.0-84925409544 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150507

Available from: 2015-05-07 Created: 2015-05-07 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
2. Swedish Production of Sustainable Urban Imaginaries in China
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish Production of Sustainable Urban Imaginaries in China
2013 (English)In: The Journal of urban technology, ISSN 1063-0732, E-ISSN 1466-1853, Vol. 20, no 1, p. 77-94Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sweden and the broader region of Scandinavia have been widely praised for their efforts to develop and promote models of sustainability for the rest of the world. Swedish international architecture and urban planning firms are driven by the advantage of being able to brand their projects as Sustainable and Scandinavian. In this sense, the sustainable city has become a Swedish service to export. In order to strengthen a coherent image of Swedish sustainable urban development, in, 2007, the Swedish Trade Council initiated a marketing platform for eco-profiled companies under the name of SymbioCity. This paper seeks to explore the production of imaginaries at play in the performance of SymbioCity. It especially addresses the way in which notions of progress and a better city life were presented to Chinese audiences in the Swedish pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. The Swedish pavilion is here regarded as a node in the export of a wider network of Swedish sustainable urban planning services. I argue that the imaginaries that Sweden produces through activities associated with the SymbioCity underlines a view that equates progress with the notion of decoupling of economic growth and CO2-emissions. In presenting an image of decoupling as a Swedish experience possible to transfer to China, it also establishes views of progress as linear and space as static. Using the term absent presence opens up a counter narrative, which turns decoupling as a Swedish experience into a myth and raises the need for urban imaginaries based on a relational view of space.

Keyword
Sweden, Sustainable Urban Development, Decoupling, China
National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-119070 (URN)10.1080/10630732.2012.735405 (DOI)000314349900006 ()2-s2.0-84877326932 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20130305

Available from: 2013-03-05 Created: 2013-03-05 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. The travelling business of sustainable urbanism: international consultants as norm-setters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The travelling business of sustainable urbanism: international consultants as norm-setters
2017 (English)In: Environment and planning A, ISSN 0308-518X, E-ISSN 1472-3409, Vol. 49, no 8, p. 1779-1796Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper examines the international travels of ideas about sustainable urban planning and design through a focus on private sector architecture, planning and engineering consultants. These consultants, who we refer to as the Global Intelligence Corps (GIC), package up their expertise in urban sustainability as a marketable commodity, and apply it on projects around the world. In doing so the GIC shape norms about what constitutes ‘good’ sustainable urban planning, and contribute to the development of an internationalised travelling model of sustainable urbanism. This paper draws on a broad study of the industry (GIC) in sustainable urban planning and design, and two in-depth case studies of Swedish GIC firms working on Chinese Eco-city projects. Analysis of this material illustrates how the GIC’s work shapes a traveling model of sustainable urbanism, and how this in turn creates and reinforces particular norms in urban planning practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2017
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-200285 (URN)10.1177/0308518X16686069 (DOI)000405876100006 ()2-s2.0-85025086653 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20170123

Available from: 2017-01-23 Created: 2017-01-23 Last updated: 2017-11-28Bibliographically approved
4. Possibilities and problems with applying a consumption perspectivein local climate strategies: the case of Gothenburg, Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Possibilities and problems with applying a consumption perspectivein local climate strategies: the case of Gothenburg, Sweden
2016 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 134, p. 434-442Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sweden has been praised for its sustainability efforts and decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.When nations and urban districts publicize their low GHG emissions, these emissions are often based on aproduction perspective including only emissions occurring within their geographical boundary. If insteada consumption perspective is applied then all emissions attributable to the inhabitants con-sumptionpatterns, no matter where they occur, are included, e.g. from imported goods and air travel. This providesnew outlooks on sustainability, from this perspective Swedish emissions have increased rather thandecreased in the last decades. Swedish researchers and the Swedish Environmental Pro-tection Agencypropose that the production perspective should be complemented with a consumption perspective todescribe more fairly who is responsible for what emissions. The purpose of this paper is to examine how aconsumption perspective on GHG emissions has gained ground in Sweden, specifically in the newStrategic Climate Program of the City of Gothenburg, discussing what municipal strategies andenvironmental discourses this perspective enhances. Applying actorenetwork theory, we found threecommon features of importance for Sweden, and the City of Gothenburg, supporting the consumptionperspective to gain ground. One is the existence of long-term environmental goals that facilitate thisperspective. The other features are the existence of civil servants as drivers and the use of calculationsfrom legitimate “fact builders.” We conclude that a consumption perspective strengthens the environmentaljustice discourse (as it claims to be a more just way of calculating global and local environmentaleffects) while possibly also increasing an individualized environmental discourse (as many municipalstrategies aim to inform and influence the public to make lifestyle changes on their own). We argue that aconsumption perspective is necessary in order to fully address environmental problems and to high-lightissues of justice and responsibility. At the same time, this kind of eco-governmentality might lead toindividualized self-governed climate subjects with outlooks that are too limited to foster change ofdominant everyday practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016
Keyword
Consumption, GHG calculations, Cities, Eco-governmentality, Sweden
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-200284 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.10.033 (DOI)
Note

QC 20170123

Available from: 2017-01-23 Created: 2017-01-23 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved
5. Planning for sharing: Providing infrastructure for citizensto be makers and sharers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Planning for sharing: Providing infrastructure for citizensto be makers and sharers
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This paper explores how local authorities can develop infrastructure for collaborativeconsumption, i.e. sharing amongst citizens of tools, spaces and practical skills. The Cityof Malmö, Sweden, is used as a case study to illustrate the work with such sharinginfrastructure. Existing planning research and planning practice for sustainabilitygenerally focus on facilitating for citizens to live more eco-friendly in terms of housing,modes of transport, waste flows and use of green space, but generally do not addresscitizens’ consumption of other material goods. This paper points to a potential role forlocal public planning in relation to collaborative consumption through creating what wecall sharing infrastructure, i.e. providing access to shared tools and spaces for makingand repairing, thus enabling citizens to act in the city not only as consumers, but also asmakers and sharers.

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-200286 (URN)
Note

QC 20170123

Available from: 2017-01-23 Created: 2017-01-23 Last updated: 2017-01-23Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(1871 kB)256 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT02.pdfFile size 1871 kBChecksum SHA-512
aae6f67cc5b3ac1399542dd0c5711b0335b27cfbcd4e5d033d7698055d00380850cec5c944bb0b8017e818f57d432b9bf73f1d09e1faa54a60d40c4525da36b1
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Hult, Anna
By organisation
Urban and Regional Studies
Other Social Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 256 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

isbn
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

isbn
urn-nbn
Total: 1342 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf