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Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 612; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030612

The Acceleration of Urban Sustainability Transitions: A Comparison of Brighton, Budapest, Dresden, Genk, and Stockholm

1
Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Weberplatz 1, 01217 Dresden, Germany
2
Dutch Research Institute for Transitions, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Postbus 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands
3
Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, Sussex House, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RH, UK
4
Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, Kungl Tekniska Högskolan, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
5
Studio Transitio, Straal 9, BE-2490 Balen, Belgium
6
Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, Sussex House, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RH, UK
7
Campus Sustainability Office, Central European University, Nador u. 9, 1051 Budapest, Hungary
8
Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Weberplatz 1, 01217 Dresden, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 January 2018 / Revised: 14 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 February 2018 / Published: 27 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Urban and Rural Development)
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Abstract

City-regions as sites of sustainability transitions have remained under-explored so far. With our comparative analysis of five diverse European city-regions, we offer new insights on contemporary sustainability transitions at the urban level. In a similar vein, the pre-development and the take-off phase of sustainability transitions have been studied in depth while the acceleration phase remains a research gap. We address this research gap by exploring how transitions can move beyond the seeding of alternative experiments and the activation of civil society initiatives. This raises the question of what commonalities and differences can be found between urban sustainability transitions. In our explorative study, we employ a newly developed framework of the acceleration mechanisms of sustainability transitions. We offer new insights on the multi-phase model of sustainability transitions. Our findings illustrate that there are no clear demarcations between the phases of transitions. From the perspective of city-regions, we rather found dynamics of acceleration, deceleration, and stagnation to unfold in parallel. We observed several transitions—transitions towards both sustainability and un-sustainability—to co-evolve. This suggests that the politics of persistence—the inertia and path dependencies of un-sustainability—should be considered in the study of urban sustainability transitions. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban sustainability transitions; acceleration; comparative case study; European city-regions; upscaling urban sustainability transitions; acceleration; comparative case study; European city-regions; upscaling
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Ehnert, F.; Frantzeskaki, N.; Barnes, J.; Borgström, S.; Gorissen, L.; Kern, F.; Strenchock, L.; Egermann, M. The Acceleration of Urban Sustainability Transitions: A Comparison of Brighton, Budapest, Dresden, Genk, and Stockholm. Sustainability 2018, 10, 612.

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