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Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2023) | Viewed by 43151

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
Interests: transport economics; environmental economics; sustainable cities
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable cities are cities which, whilst thriving and generating economic growth, minimise any negative social, economic and environmental impacts. The impacts on the environment, in particular, are of utmost importance, especially as cities around the world generate 70% of energy-related GHG emissions.

The world has committed to keeping global warming below 2°C, aspiring to a target of 1.5°C, and this will not be possible unless cities (in both developed and developing countries) reduce their CO2 emissions. Although cities generate most economic growth, they also face challenges related to rural–urban migration, poverty, inequality, unemployment, air pollution, and a shortage of infrastructure investment.

This Special Issue concentrates on sustainable cities. Papers are invited on any topic related to the sustainability of urban environments, challenges and potential solutions. Both theoretical and applied original papers will be considered, related to hypothetical or real world examples, in the developed or developing world.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Compact urban environments
  • Infrastructure investment (in communications, clean energy, water and waste managements, ultra-low emission transport or low energy buildings)
  • Urban sprawl reduction
  • Rural–urban migration
  • Informal housing, slums and social exclusion
  • Megacities
  • Climate hazards and resilience
  • Smart (connected) cities
  • Trade-offs in optimization
  • Air pollution and health

Dr. Georgina Santos
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 semimonthly 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 2400 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.

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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29 pages, 4603 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Cities, Smart Investments: A Characterization of “A Thousand Days-San Miguel”, a Program for Vulnerable Early Childhood in Argentina
by Maria Sol Gonzalez and Maria Emma Santos
Sustainability 2023, 15(16), 12205; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151612205 - 9 Aug 2023
Viewed by 726
Abstract
In this paper, we provide a thorough description of the “Programa de Acompañamiento Familiar Mil Días” (A Thousand Days, Mil Días), introduced in 2015 in the Municipality of San Miguel, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The program is targeted at pregnant women and mothers with [...] Read more.
In this paper, we provide a thorough description of the “Programa de Acompañamiento Familiar Mil Días” (A Thousand Days, Mil Días), introduced in 2015 in the Municipality of San Miguel, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The program is targeted at pregnant women and mothers with children of up to two years of age who are in a situation of extreme social and health vulnerability. While the target relevant period is the first thousand days of life, from gestation to two years of age, the intended duration is about a year, or until entrance criteria are overcome. We combine statistical analysis of the program’s primary data with qualitative analysis from two in-depth interviews. Our evidence confirms that Mil Días-SM effectively reaches a highly vulnerable population that exhibits interlocking material and educational deprivations, frequently combined with conflict-home environments, and children experiencing health neglect. The one-on-one mentoring provided through the program, along with a battery of other interventions, brings knowledge and support to these families. Children start receiving appropriate stimuli, mothers become aware of the importance of health care for them and their children, and they start feeling more empowered to take command of their lives and families. While the program exhibits remarkable attributes, we identify three aspects in which it could be improved: extending the intended duration time, reducing its dropout rate devising tools to retain the most vulnerable cases, and scaling up its coverage. Current evidence suggests programs like Mil Días are smart investments that can simultaneously contribute to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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21 pages, 553 KiB  
Article
Extending the IoT-Stream Model with a Taxonomy for Sensors in Sustainable Smart Cities
by Rodrigo Santos , Gabriel Eggly, Julián Gutierrez and Carlos I. Chesñevar 
Sustainability 2023, 15(8), 6594; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15086594 - 13 Apr 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1621
Abstract
Sustainable cities aim to have a lower environmental impact by reducing their carbon footprints as much as possible. The smart city paradigm based on the Internet of Things (IoT) is the natural approach to achieving this goal. Nevertheless, the proliferation of sensors and [...] Read more.
Sustainable cities aim to have a lower environmental impact by reducing their carbon footprints as much as possible. The smart city paradigm based on the Internet of Things (IoT) is the natural approach to achieving this goal. Nevertheless, the proliferation of sensors and IoT technologies, along with the need for annotating real-time data, has promoted the need for light weight ontology-based models for IoT environments, such as IoT-Stream. The IoT-Stream model takes advantage of common knowledge sharing of the semantics while keeping queries and inferences simple. However, sensors in the IoT-Stream model are conceptualized as single entities, exluding further analysis concerning their features (energy consumption, cost, etc.) or application areas. In this article, we present a taxonomy of sensors that expands the original IoT-Stream model by facilitating the mapping of sensors/actuators and services in the context of smart cities in such a way that different applications can share information in a transparent way, avoiding unnecessary duplication of sensors and network infrastructure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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14 pages, 22174 KiB  
Article
Comparative Review of Neighborhood Sustainability Assessment Tools
by Pasqualino Boschetto, Alessandro Bove and Elena Mazzola
Sustainability 2022, 14(5), 3132; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14053132 - 7 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2592
Abstract
The paper aims to evaluate criteria for appraising the existing urban transformation projects in view of the social dimension of sustainability. Within the case study of the recovery project of “G. Prandina” barrack in Padua, north-east of Italy, the paper compares two different [...] Read more.
The paper aims to evaluate criteria for appraising the existing urban transformation projects in view of the social dimension of sustainability. Within the case study of the recovery project of “G. Prandina” barrack in Padua, north-east of Italy, the paper compares two different Italian rating systems to evaluate neighborhood sustainability: “GBC Quartieri” and “ITACA Scala Urbana”. The GBC Quartieri rating system, with a point scheme, allots credits for neighborhood design features, and integrates the environment, infrastructures, and buildings for the creation of sustainable communities with a relationship net and a pre-existence connection. The “ITACA Scala Urbana” procedure consists of a multicriteria evaluation of the environmental sustainability and the compilation of a group of worksheets, one for each different internal performance indicator. The results show the main differences and analogies among the different tools, and this analysis confirms that new neighborhood protocols originating from building rating systems dedicate little space to social aspects and to the concept of inclusion, instead of the newly developed neighborhood protocols. Through this examination, the research can also conclude that the identification of common macro-areas is present, which highlights the different levels of importance given to the various features connected to social sustainability in neighborhood transformation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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17 pages, 3399 KiB  
Article
Spatio-Temporal Variations of CO2 Emission from Energy Consumption in the Yangtze River Delta Region of China and Its Relationship with Nighttime Land Surface Temperature
by Juchao Zhao, Shaohua Zhang, Kun Yang, Yanhui Zhu and Yuling Ma
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8388; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208388 - 12 Oct 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2502
Abstract
The rapid development of industrialization and urbanization has resulted in a large amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which are closely related to the long-term stability of urban surface temperature and the sustainable development of cities in the future. However, there [...] Read more.
The rapid development of industrialization and urbanization has resulted in a large amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which are closely related to the long-term stability of urban surface temperature and the sustainable development of cities in the future. However, there is still a lack of research on the temporal and spatial changes of CO2 emissions in long-term series and their relationship with land surface temperature. In this study, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s Operational Linescan System (DMSP/OLS) data, Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) composite data, energy consumption statistics data and nighttime land surface temperature are selected to realize the spatial informatization of long-term series CO2 emissions in the Yangtze River Delta region, which reveals the spatial and temporal dynamic characteristics of CO2 emissions, spatial autocorrelation distribution patterns and their impacts on nighttime land surface temperature. According to the results, CO2 emissions in the Yangtze River Delta region show an obvious upward trend from 2000 to 2017, with an average annual growth rate of 6.26%, but the growth rate is gradually slowing down. In terms of spatial distribution, the CO2 emissions in that region have significant regional differences. Shanghai, Suzhou and their neighboring cities are the main distribution areas with high CO2 emissions and obvious patch distribution patterns. From the perspective of spatial trend, the areas whose CO2 emissions are of significant growth, relatively significant growth and extremely significant growth account for 8.78%, 4.84% and 0.58%, respectively, with a spatial pattern of increase in the east and no big change in the west. From the perspective of spatial autocorrelation, the global spatial autocorrelation index of CO2 emissions in the Yangtze River Delta region in the past 18 years has been greater than 0.66 (p < 0.01), which displays significant positive spatial autocorrelation characteristics, and the spatial agglomeration degree of CO2 emissions continues to increase from 2000 to 2010. From 2000 to 2017, the nighttime land surface temperature in that region showed a warming trend, and the areas where CO2 emissions are positively correlated with nighttime land surface temperature account for 88.98%. The increased CO2 emissions lead to, to a large extent, the rise of nighttime land surface temperature. The research results have important theoretical and practical significance for the Yangtze River Delta region to formulate a regional emission reduction strategy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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22 pages, 2371 KiB  
Article
Toward Sustainable Development: Decoupling the High Ecological Footprint from Human Society Development: A Case Study of Hong Kong
by Xiangyun Shi, Takanori Matsui, Takashi Machimura, Xiaoyu Gan and Ang Hu
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4177; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104177 - 20 May 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5513
Abstract
As a global financial center and one of the world’s first-tier cities, Hong Kong is committed to sustainable development and it expects to become the most sustainable city in Asia. With this in mind, this paper evaluates the level of sustainable development in [...] Read more.
As a global financial center and one of the world’s first-tier cities, Hong Kong is committed to sustainable development and it expects to become the most sustainable city in Asia. With this in mind, this paper evaluates the level of sustainable development in Hong Kong considering the factors of ecological footprint, biocapacity, and the human development index (HDI) from 1995 to 2016, in order to make policy recommendations for transforming Hong Kong into a more sustainable city. Between 1995 and 2016, a period during which the HDI rose, the per capita ecological footprint of Hong Kong increased from 4.842 gha to 6.223 gha. Moreover, fossil energy consumption had a crucial impact on the city’s ecological footprint, whereas the biocapacity of Hong Kong declined gradually. By contrast, Singapore, a city-state with an area similar to Hong Kong’s, presented the opposite situation—the HDI increased while the ecological footprint decreased. We performed a further comparative analysis and a SWOT analysis of Singapore and Hong Kong to elaborate on how to decouple the large ecological footprint from human society development. Concluding that the focus must be on energy consumption, reduction of the human activities’ negative impacts on marine environment, citizens and government, we provide policy suggestions for transforming toward a “high HDI and low footprint” sustainable development society in Hong Kong. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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24 pages, 936 KiB  
Article
Tackling Traffic Congestion with Workplace Parking Levies
by Georgina Santos, Anna Hagan and Orla Lenehan
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2200; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062200 - 12 Mar 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4322
Abstract
On the basis of 17 interviews with employers and 272 survey responses from employees, we explore the perceptions of a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) in Cardiff, with the aim of understanding if a WPL would be an acceptable traffic demand management policy to [...] Read more.
On the basis of 17 interviews with employers and 272 survey responses from employees, we explore the perceptions of a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) in Cardiff, with the aim of understanding if a WPL would be an acceptable traffic demand management policy to tackle traffic congestion. We find that employers would not be very supportive of a WPL, whilst employees would, provided employers were to absorb the costs. Despite this support, the majority of those who drive to work would not be prepared to change mode. An important theme throughout the study was the perception of public transport and active travel provision in Cardiff being inadequate. Most study participants felt that investment in public transport and active travel is needed before a WPL is introduced. We conclude that, although a WPL would not be overwhelmingly acceptable to employers and employees, it would be more acceptable than congestion charging, and there is a possibility that acceptability could be increased with the help of feedback from a public consultation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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18 pages, 645 KiB  
Article
Impact of Suburbanisation on Sustainable Development of Settlements in Suburban Spaces: Smart and New Solutions
by Petr Hlaváček, Miroslav Kopáček and Lucie Horáčková
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7182; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247182 - 15 Dec 2019
Cited by 27 | Viewed by 5249
Abstract
The aim of this article is to evaluate the impact of suburbanisation on the development of settlements with an emphasis on environmental aspects that need to be addressed in the process of extensive growth of municipalities in suburban regions. In the theoretical part, [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to evaluate the impact of suburbanisation on the development of settlements with an emphasis on environmental aspects that need to be addressed in the process of extensive growth of municipalities in suburban regions. In the theoretical part, the article evaluates the processes of suburbanisation and their environmental impact. On a methodological level, municipalities in the suburban zone were first defined on the basis of driving distances. These municipalities were subjected to an analysis of the intensity of residential suburbanisation by calculating a multicriteria indicator from five selected criteria. In the second part of the analysis, a questionnaire survey of mayors was carried out in the particular municipalities. The responses were evaluated using the Likert scale method, and then statistically significant dependencies were sought among individual phenomena and environmental problems which need to be solved by the municipal management due to the growth of municipalities. It was found that the mayors consider changes in the landscape character to be among the most significant impacts of suburbanisation in the territory. A change in the rural character of municipalities because of the construction of urban-type houses is perceived as being very problematic. Another serious problem is the insufficient capacity of technical infrastructure such as sewerage and waste-water treatment. The costs of ensuring the quality of the environment and of public spaces, which are, in many cases, beyond the economic possibilities of municipalities, are also increasing significantly. The article also includes specifications of selected smart solutions and procedures that can help preserve the quality of the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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16 pages, 640 KiB  
Article
Experts’ Perceptions on the Particulate Matter Reduction Effects of Green Open Space
by Suyeon Kim, Seokjun Han, Sang-Woo Lee and Kyungjin An
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4835; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184835 - 4 Sep 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2049
Abstract
With recent declines in air quality, the significance of urban green spaces and their ecological functions have rapidly increased, especially with regard to the reduction of particulate matter. Various investigations regarding particle reduction in urban green spaces have been conducted; however, specific guidelines [...] Read more.
With recent declines in air quality, the significance of urban green spaces and their ecological functions have rapidly increased, especially with regard to the reduction of particulate matter. Various investigations regarding particle reduction in urban green spaces have been conducted; however, specific guidelines to establish empirical data for green spaces and to inform related policies are still lacking. Thus, this study aims to categorize experts’ perceptions of green spaces through Q-methodology and to identify ways to form a consensus, establish policies in the design and construction process, ultimately aiming to enhance particle reduction effects in urban green spaces. As a result, experts’ perceptions were classified into three categories: ‘active support,’ ‘skeptical,’ and ‘passive support’ groups. Experts’ opinions on the particle reduction effects of urban green areas are overarchingly agreed upon; however, the priorities involved and methods used in augmenting green space integration require further analysis and mediation. Additionally, further empirical evidence should be accumulated on the particulate matter reduction effects of urban green areas, including the quantification of particle concentration reduction in urban green spaces and considerations for policy establishment in design and construction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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17 pages, 2316 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Regional Sustainability of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Urban Agglomeration from 2000 to 2015 Using the Human Sustainable Development Index
by Shiyin Chen, Qingxu Huang, Ziwen Liu, Shiting Meng, Dan Yin, Lei Zhu and Chunyang He
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3160; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113160 - 5 Jun 2019
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 3238
Abstract
Sustainability assessment can analyze the challenges of regional development from societal, economic, and environmental dimensions and provide an important baseline for regional planning. Recently, the rapid socio-economic development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) urban agglomeration has inflicted great pressure on the regional environment. Therefore, [...] Read more.
Sustainability assessment can analyze the challenges of regional development from societal, economic, and environmental dimensions and provide an important baseline for regional planning. Recently, the rapid socio-economic development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) urban agglomeration has inflicted great pressure on the regional environment. Therefore, this paper evaluated the sustainability dynamics of the BTH urban agglomeration from 2000 to 2015 at the city scale using the Human Sustainable Development Index (HSDI) and discussed the major drivers of the changes in regional sustainability. The results showed that the overall sustainability of the BTH urban agglomeration increased from 2000 to 2015, with the HSDI increasing by 10%. Among the three dimensions, the economic sustainability indicators grew the fastest, with a growth rate of 42%, while the environmental sustainability indicators declined by 8%. The decline of environmental sustainability played an important role in limiting regional sustainable development. Specifically, the optimization of the energy structure in six cities, e.g., Tangshan, Langfang and Cangzhou, was relatively weaker than that in the remaining seven cities. In the future, the BTH urban agglomeration must further optimize the energy structure to build a resource-saving and environmentally friendly society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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Review

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13 pages, 477 KiB  
Review
Quantitative Models of Well-Being to Inform Policy: Problems and Opportunities
by Crispin H. V. Cooper
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3180; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083180 - 15 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2912
Abstract
Subjective well-being, in contrast to other commonly used performance metrics such as gross domestic product, appears to offer a way to directly measure what society aims to achieve. Subjective well-being modeling to date has been restricted to regression analysis. This paper synthesizes and [...] Read more.
Subjective well-being, in contrast to other commonly used performance metrics such as gross domestic product, appears to offer a way to directly measure what society aims to achieve. Subjective well-being modeling to date has been restricted to regression analysis. This paper synthesizes and critiques existing literature and case studies to examine the challenges and opportunities presented by more advanced computations of well-being, including spatial, optimizing and spatial-optimizing models, which may well be created by researchers in the future if current policy level interest in well-being continues to grow. Subjective well-being is a promising measure, especially in light of recent research that shows reliable correlations with objective measures. However, the issue of individual adaptation means that excessive focus on subjective well-being may discriminate against groups with lower expectations and higher ability and/or willingness to adapt. Alternative approaches such as equivalent income may address this issue, at the expense of being harder to measure. Through an examination of four case studies and one thought experiment, we find that modeling challenges include nonlinearity, interaction, spatial sorting and extrapolation beyond valid limits. A significant research gap is found in how individual well-being scores should be aggregated to a collective one; this is a normative question although descriptive ethics would appear to offer a practical approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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18 pages, 431 KiB  
Review
Air Quality Strategies and Technologies: A Rapid Review of the International Evidence
by Sarah Quarmby, Georgina Santos and Megan Mathias
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2757; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102757 - 14 May 2019
Cited by 38 | Viewed by 8331
Abstract
Poor air quality is a pressing policy issue that spans public health and environmental portfolios, and governments worldwide are investing in a wide array of measures to address it. This paper is a rapid review of the evidence behind air quality strategies and [...] Read more.
Poor air quality is a pressing policy issue that spans public health and environmental portfolios, and governments worldwide are investing in a wide array of measures to address it. This paper is a rapid review of the evidence behind air quality strategies and technologies. It was conducted according to the principles of a systematic review, and includes both academic and “grey” literature sources. It focuses on road transport in urban areas, because air pollution tends to be worse in cities, and the main source is fossil fuel vehicles. It draws on the environmental science and policy literature to provide interdisciplinary insight into the most effective air quality policy measures. The most promising initiatives include active travel infrastructure, roadside barriers, low emission zones, and low speed limits. Technologies which remove pollution from the air largely remain unproven, especially at the scale needed to make a significant impact. The combinations of policies from three cities which rank highly for air quality are reviewed; one important finding is that policies are most effective when they are a part of a mutually reinforcing suite of measures. Policies consistent across the cities studied are good public transport coverage, a good cycle network, and financial incentives for electric vehicle purchase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Cities: Challenges and Potential Solutions)
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