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Special Issue "Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Professor Harini Nagendra

Azim Premi University, PES Institute of Technology Campus, Pixel Park, B Block, Electronics City, Hosur Road, Bangalore 560100, India
Website | E-Mail
Interests: protected areas; landcover change in South Asia; urban landscape ecology; remote sensing for biodiversity assessment; local institutions and social interviews

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The 21st century is the era of urbanization, and cities and urban areas will be essential to transitions towards greater global and local sustainability. Urban areas constitute particularly challenging contexts for sustainability, given their high ecological footprints, population densities, social fragmentation, inequity and poverty, and teleconnections, which generate vulnerabilities to changes in distant parts of the world. We welcome submissions that evaluate the role of urban areas and the impact of urbanization on sustainability, exploring a range of issues that include (but are not limited to) climate change, energy and resource use, urban metabolism, land change, rural-urban migrations, globalization and teleconnections, urban ecology, urban social-ecological systems and urban sustainability education. Papers can be empirical or theoretical in focus. We especially invite submissions that examine urban sustainability from lesser-known contexts, such as from smaller cities and towns, shrinking urban areas, and cities of the global South, and papers that go beyond a disciplinary focus to look at inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary studies. However, we also welcome disciplinary papers and research that focuses on mega-cities and cities of the global North, which provide advances in our understanding of urban sustainability issues.

Prof. Dr. Harini Nagendra
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • urban Sustainability
  • urban education
  • urban ecology
  • urban metabolism
  • urbanization and land change
  • rural-urban migration
  • globalization and teleconnections

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Adaptive Governance and Market Heterogeneity: An Institutional Analysis of an Urban Food System in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2191; doi:10.3390/su9122191
Received: 2 October 2017 / Revised: 6 November 2017 / Accepted: 18 November 2017 / Published: 27 November 2017
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Abstract
African cities face immense challenges over the coming decades. As countries urbanize, African cities must maintain service provision for rapidly increasing populations, yet with limited resources. In particular, urban food systems must be able to cope with regional food shortages and catalyze (or
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African cities face immense challenges over the coming decades. As countries urbanize, African cities must maintain service provision for rapidly increasing populations, yet with limited resources. In particular, urban food systems must be able to cope with regional food shortages and catalyze (or at least enable) the distribution of food from diverse sources in order to ensure that the cost of food remains affordable for all of the segments of a city’s population. Food systems in most African cities are composed of wholesale sellers, formal markets, street vendors, shops, and increasingly large-scale international stores, creating an evolving landscape of food sources. At the same time, urban population growth can result in rapid changes in urban structure with new peri-urban development and transitions in socioeconomic status within existing areas. Governance plays an important role in the creation and coordination of formal and informal actors across different types of food providers. At the municipal level, new markets must be approved to keep pace with urban expansion. Within residential areas, market management committees must work to maintain traditional markets in the context of increasing competition from large-scale grocers and small-scale street vendors. We use household and market-level data that was collected in Lusaka, Zambia, to conduct an institutional analysis of residential areas to examine the interplay between households, public markets, and street vendors. Analysis of the city’s food system identifies a complex network of relationships featuring formal and informal governance arrangements, which may affect food system functionality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle Social Vulnerability to Natural Hazards in Urban Systems. An Application in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2043; doi:10.3390/su9112043
Received: 25 September 2017 / Revised: 30 October 2017 / Accepted: 31 October 2017 / Published: 7 November 2017
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Abstract
The concept of risk has become increasingly complex, and has been used not only in relation to the natural features of a region, but also to its socio-economic context. In this conceptualization, the latter directly influences the capacity of a community to cope
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The concept of risk has become increasingly complex, and has been used not only in relation to the natural features of a region, but also to its socio-economic context. In this conceptualization, the latter directly influences the capacity of a community to cope with, recover from, and adapt to natural hazards. Conceiving vulnerability as a measure of a socio-ecological system’s resilience, and at the same time, as a multidimensional variable that changes in space and time, makes the study of the different ways in which natural hazards impact on society all the more urgent. This is particularly true for developing countries, where risk related to natural hazards affects populations and areas that must deal with stress conditions, such as humanitarian, social and military emergencies. This article presents a methodology for the analysis of social vulnerability, defined and experimented in the context of the international cooperation project “Estudio de la amenaza sísmica y vulnerabilidad física del Gran Santo Domingo”. The methodology, implemented through the employment of a Geographic Information System, led to the elaboration of a “Social Vulnerability Index” and a “Social Vulnerability Map”. These seek to describe the current condition of vulnerability of the city of Santo Domingo de Guzmán (Distrito Nacional) in the Dominican Republic (DR), and are used to define context-related vulnerability scenarios, as well as to indicate the adequate set of mitigation objectives and actions. The results highlight the importance of using social vulnerability study as the point of departure for defining seismic-risk mitigation policies, emergency management, and territorial planning in order to reduce the impacts of disasters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle Urban Foraging: A Ubiquitous Human Practice Overlooked by Urban Planners, Policy, and Research
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1884; doi:10.3390/su9101884
Received: 22 August 2017 / Revised: 9 October 2017 / Accepted: 15 October 2017 / Published: 20 October 2017
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Abstract
Although hardly noticed or formally recognised, urban foraging by humans probably occurs in all urban settings around the world. We draw from research in India, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States to demonstrate the ubiquity and varied nature of urban foraging in
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Although hardly noticed or formally recognised, urban foraging by humans probably occurs in all urban settings around the world. We draw from research in India, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States to demonstrate the ubiquity and varied nature of urban foraging in different contexts. Across these different contexts, we distil seven themes that characterise and thereby advance thinking about research and the understanding of urban foraging. We show that it is widespread and occurs across a variety of urban spaces and places. The species used and the local practices vary between contexts, and are in constant flux as urban ecological and social settings change. This requires that urban foragers are knowledgeable about diverse species, harvest locations, and rights of access, and that their practices are adaptable to changing contexts. Despite its ubiquity, most cities have some forms of regulations that prohibit or discourage urban foraging. We highlight a few important exceptions that can provide prototypes and lessons for other cities regarding supportive policy frameworks and initiatives. The formulation of dynamic policy, design, and management strategies in support of urban foraging will benefit from understanding the common characteristics of foraging in cities worldwide, but also will require comprehension of the specific and dynamic contexts in which they would be implemented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle Multi-Criteria Analyses of Urban Planning for City Expansion: A Case Study of Zamora, Spain
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1850; doi:10.3390/su9101850
Received: 2 September 2017 / Revised: 23 September 2017 / Accepted: 2 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
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Abstract
This study has established a methodology to determine the most environmentally suitable area for the expansion of Zamora (Spain) using geographic information system (GIS) technology. The objective was to develop a GIS-based methodology for the identification of urban peripheral areas that are suitable
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This study has established a methodology to determine the most environmentally suitable area for the expansion of Zamora (Spain) using geographic information system (GIS) technology. The objective was to develop a GIS-based methodology for the identification of urban peripheral areas that are suitable for the accommodation of new buildings and services, that are compliant with environmental criteria, and that guarantee an adequate quality of life for the future population such that extra construction costs are avoided. The methodological core is based on two multi-criteria analyses (MCAs): MCA-1 determines areas suitable for building—the most environmentally sustainable areas that do not present risks or discomforts to the population—by analyzing the restrictive factors; MCA-2 takes the sectors that received a favorable evaluation in MCA-1, determines which of those have a lower economic overhead for construction, and analyzes the different conditioning criteria related to their pre-existing infrastructures. Finally, the location of the sectors is determined by a decision factor that satisfies some strategic need of the municipality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle The Influence of Structural Conditions and Cultural Inertia on Water Usage and Landscape Decision-Making in a California Metropolitan Area
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1746; doi:10.3390/su9101746
Received: 29 July 2017 / Revised: 22 September 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 27 September 2017
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Abstract
Urban development and planning are increasingly centered on matters of sustainability, balancing economic development with ecosystem services and biological diversity within urban environments. In addition to these institutional and structural factors, the decision-making process within individual households must be understood to address rising
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Urban development and planning are increasingly centered on matters of sustainability, balancing economic development with ecosystem services and biological diversity within urban environments. In addition to these institutional and structural factors, the decision-making process within individual households must be understood to address rising concerns about water use. Therefore, individual characteristics and preferences that influence the use of water also warrant examination. In response to a survey of occupants of single-family residences in the Fresno Clovis Metropolitan Area of California, contextual interviews and focus group interviews with a homeowner sub-sample, we find evidence of an interplay of social—structural, institutional, and cultural factors involved in influencing individual water use behaviors and landscape decision-making. The complexity of residential behaviors and decision-making poses some potential issues with regards to the interactions between individual households and institutional actors in matters of water usage and landscaping, as residents surveyed indicate relatively little confidence in institutions and groups to make wise water policy decisions. We conclude that the promotion and implementation of sustainable water use practices will require not only environmental education for the citizenry, but also a tailoring of information for environmental educational initiatives that address the particularities of individual neighborhoods and communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle Differences of Cycling Experiences and Perceptions between E-Bike and Bicycle Users in the United States
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1662; doi:10.3390/su9091662
Received: 1 August 2017 / Revised: 1 September 2017 / Accepted: 14 September 2017 / Published: 19 September 2017
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Abstract
E-bikes are bicycles that provide pedal-assistance to aid people in cycling. Because of the potential of promoting sustainable transportation, more attention has been focused on the e-bike market. This paper investigates the differences of the cycling experience and perceptions between e-bike and conventional
[...] Read more.
E-bikes are bicycles that provide pedal-assistance to aid people in cycling. Because of the potential of promoting sustainable transportation, more attention has been focused on the e-bike market. This paper investigates the differences of the cycling experience and perceptions between e-bike and conventional bicycle users, using samples drawn from independent bicycle dealer customers. A total of 806 respondents in the United States took the on-line survey, including 363 e-bike-owning respondents. The results show that e-bikes play a more important role in utilitarian travel, such as commuting and running errands, compared to a conventional bicycle. Conventional bicycle-owning respondents use their bicycles more for recreation and exercise. Also, e-bike owners tend to bike longer distances and take more trips per week. Both e-bike respondents and bicycle respondents stated that improved health was a key factor for cycling, while Millennials and Generation X respondents cycle to save time and improve the environment. Finally, an ordered logit model is proposed for evaluating factors that influence interest in future e-bike ownership. Travel purpose, e-bike familiarity, annual household income, and education level are statistically significant factors in the model. These findings begin to provide insight and a profile of potential new markets for e-bikes in the United States. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle Communication Networks and Performance of Four New Delhi City Parks
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1551; doi:10.3390/su9091551
Received: 26 June 2017 / Revised: 19 August 2017 / Accepted: 27 August 2017 / Published: 31 August 2017
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Abstract
Urban green spaces are very important for human wellbeing and environmental sustainability. The efficiency of managing urban green spaces often depends on communication and integration of information. We performed a social network analysis survey for assessing the communication structure among the staff in
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Urban green spaces are very important for human wellbeing and environmental sustainability. The efficiency of managing urban green spaces often depends on communication and integration of information. We performed a social network analysis survey for assessing the communication structure among the staff in four New Delhi city parks. We were interested in the relationship between three topological properties of the social networks (centre of gravity, MaxS, compactness) and three network-independent attributes of their performance (average satisfaction, visitor’s median expected improvements, number of species identified). The presence of a dynamic leader, improved communication and flow of information down the hierarchical chain and lastly, maximization of interaction and strengthening of relationships of the co-workers are three network properties that emerge as very important for a well-performing park. Through this study, we demonstrate the ability of social network analysis to provide simple, yet powerful, insights that can assist in improving the management of urban green spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle Ecological Footprint Analysis Based on Changing Food Consumption in a Poorly Developed Area of China
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1323; doi:10.3390/su9081323
Received: 14 June 2017 / Revised: 17 July 2017 / Accepted: 24 July 2017 / Published: 22 August 2017
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Abstract
The per capita ecological footprint (EF) is a useful tool to compare consumption with nature's ability to support this consumption. Guyuan is an economically impoverished region in China, where EF provides important insights into whether human consumption can be sustained by the local
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The per capita ecological footprint (EF) is a useful tool to compare consumption with nature's ability to support this consumption. Guyuan is an economically impoverished region in China, where EF provides important insights into whether human consumption can be sustained by the local per capita biological capacity (BC), which represents the environment’s ability to support resource use. We estimated the EF of food consumption using local equivalence and yield factors, and compared EF in 1998 and 2013 with BC, which represented the existing biologically productive area (including cultivated land, grassland, forest, and water bodies) that supports this consumption. Data were collected from household surveys, government statistics, and land use maps. We found that food consumption changed, with decreasing consumption of staple foods and increasing consumption of meat, eggs, milk, edible oils, fruit, and vegetables. Decreased staple food consumption decreased the EF for this food group, but the large increase in meat consumption greatly increased EF from meat production (to more than 41 times the 1998 value). Cultivated land contributed greatly to both EF and BC, and staple foods and vegetables were the main EF components for this land. Overall, EF from food consumption decreased from 1998 to 2013, but local BC remained 188,356 ha below EF (i.e., current consumption is not sustainable based on local resources). The Grain for Green program, which focuses on increasing the BC of forest and grassland by replacing degraded cultivated land with these land use types, decreased the BC of cultivated land, leading to wide spatial variation in both EF and BC. These results will inform policy development by revealing the condition of each region’s use of the locally available production resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle Correlations between Socioeconomic Drivers and Indicators of Urban Expansion: Evidence from the Heavily Urbanised Shanghai Metropolitan Area, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1199; doi:10.3390/su9071199
Received: 10 May 2017 / Revised: 1 July 2017 / Accepted: 3 July 2017 / Published: 7 July 2017
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Abstract
Rapid urban expansion resulting in increased impervious surfaces causes a series of urban environmental problems, e.g., the urban heat island and urban forest fragmentation. Urban expansion is a serious threat to human quality of life and living environments. It has been studied from
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Rapid urban expansion resulting in increased impervious surfaces causes a series of urban environmental problems, e.g., the urban heat island and urban forest fragmentation. Urban expansion is a serious threat to human quality of life and living environments. It has been studied from a variety of aspects, but its driving factors and time series expansion characteristics (i.e., expansion intensity, pattern and direction) need to be better explained in order to devise more effective management strategies. This study examined how social and economic factors are linked in driving urban expansion. Based on multi-temporal aerial images, a rapid urban expansion period, 2000–2010, in Shanghai was analysed. The urban area expanded from 1770.36 to 2855.44 km2 in the period, with a mean annual expansion rate of 108.51 km2. Urban expansion in 2000–2005 (40.42%) was much faster than in 2005–2010 (14.86%), and its direction was southeast, southwest and south. The main pattern was edge expansion in both sub-periods. Social factors, especially population density, significantly affected urban expansion. These findings can help understand the urban expansion process and its driving factors, which has important implications for urban planning and management in Shanghai and similar cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle Property Rights and the Soybean Revolution: Shaping How China and Brazil Are Telecoupled
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 954; doi:10.3390/su9060954
Received: 4 April 2017 / Revised: 31 May 2017 / Accepted: 1 June 2017 / Published: 5 June 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (753 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
China currently has the largest population in the world and is currently experiencing rapid economic and urban growth, becoming the world’s number one pork and poultry consumer. In order to meet this growing demand for meat, China has increased its demand for soybeans
[...] Read more.
China currently has the largest population in the world and is currently experiencing rapid economic and urban growth, becoming the world’s number one pork and poultry consumer. In order to meet this growing demand for meat, China has increased its demand for soybeans to produce chicken and pork. It has imported soybeans from the United States, Brazil, and Argentina, while keeping its soybean production for direct human consumption stable at home. Brazil has become the largest soybean exporter to China, and, in response specifically to Chinese demand, has become the second largest producer of soybeans in the world. This has changed land use in Brazil, particularly in its central plateau. In this paper, we indicate how these two countries, telecoupled by trade in soybeans, are depending on each other as they try to balance environmental and economic objectives. Brazil, as a sending system, has created pressures on its natural ecosystems, which have led to losses particularly in the Cerrado biome and its ecotones in the Amazon’s tropical moist forest biome. China, as a receiving system, has created a land asset important to regenerating its lost natural systems (e.g., forest cover areas). Both countries have different property rights regimes, which have created distinct circumstances in which they are to protect or regenerate their natural ecosystems. Throughout this paper, we analyze how both countries have dealt with the lure offered by the soybean commodity trade. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Open AccessArticle Public Participatory Mapping of Cultural Ecosystem Services: Citizen Perception and Park Management in the Parco Nord of Milan (Italy)
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 891; doi:10.3390/su9060891
Received: 20 April 2017 / Revised: 16 May 2017 / Accepted: 16 May 2017 / Published: 24 May 2017
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Abstract
Ecosystem services may be underestimated, and consequently threatened, when land-use planning and management decisions are based on inadequate information. Unfortunately, most of the studies aimed to evaluate and map cultural ecosystem services (CES) are not used for actual decision support therefore there is
[...] Read more.
Ecosystem services may be underestimated, and consequently threatened, when land-use planning and management decisions are based on inadequate information. Unfortunately, most of the studies aimed to evaluate and map cultural ecosystem services (CES) are not used for actual decision support therefore there is a gap in the literature about its use in practice. This study aimed to reduce this gap by: (i) mapping CES perceived by city park users through participatory mapping (PPGIS); (ii) mapping CES arising from park management (management perception); (iii) comparing citizens and park management perception to identify matches or mismatches; and (iv) discussing the utility of the data acquired and the methodology proposed to inform urban planning. The methodology presented in this study resulted in data directly informative for urban planning. It provided spatially explicit data about perceived cultural services of the park as well as information about the matching or mismatching patterns about cultural services provision comparing the users’ view with the management dimension. This research demonstrated a way to use the potential of ES mapping to inform urban planning and explored the local management demand for CES mapping, showing this to be a valuable tool for effective integration into actual decision making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Bridging Adaptation to Climate Change and Urban Development across City Scales for Sustainability of Kampala
Authors: Shuaib Lwasa*, Kareem Buyana*, Peter Kasaija*, Job Mutyaba*, Hakiimu Sseviri*, Gloria Nakyagaba Nsangi*, Teddy Kisembo*, Disan Byarugaba*
Abstract: The fast-paced urbanisation and related problems of pollution, land degradation and climate change impacts have put the lives of urban populations especially the urban poor at high risk. Facing the reality of dealing with the effects of climate change and coupled with the inherent development challenges, cities are also now considered as having a potential for solutions to adapt and mitigate climate change. Cities are also challenged by transitioning to sustainability pathways in view of the intertwining problems of climate change, development deficits and disaster risk. This calls for finding scalable solutions to the challenges for sustainable urban development. There are currently few comprehensive examples of implementation strategies that link development with adaptation and mitigation as well as disasters risk reduction, the consequence of which creates risks of undermining years of development achievements. Drawing the line between adaptation to climate change and development adds another layer of complexity especially in least developed countries such as Uganda. But there are some disparate successes of interventions, which require linking up in an integrated manner but also scaling up across city spatial scales for sustainability. Learning by doing is one dimension but shared experiences and adapting such to local contexts is critical for urban sustainability. Likewise knowledge co-generation is now being vigorously tested with networks emerging to enable exchange of good ideas, practices and skills as well as practical action for local authorities to transition towards urban sustainability. Kampala faces many urban development challenges compounded by climate change related impacts of flooding, pollution and health issues. Evidence from early initiatives indicates that dealing with such problems and challenges can benefit from co-generation of knowledge and shared experiences, which could lead to identifiable pathways to sustainability. Knowledge has been generated by different actors on urban development issues but such is rarely shared nor are the good practices and lessons widely accessible to enable adoption, reducing risk, adaptation by the urban local authorities and national governments. Nor are these good practices integrated for urban sustainability. This paper attests to evidence of good practices, and potential to transition towards urban sustainability for inclusive, resilient and safe cities. The paper examines a possible strategic move for bridging local to citywide linkages of adaptation, risk reduction measures and urban development.
Keywords: development deficits, urban, sustainability, risk reduction, adaptation to climate change

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