Special Issue "Governing the Transformation of Urban Infrastructures"

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 (31 March 2017).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Harald Rohracher
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Thematic Studies-Technology and Social Change, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden
Tel. +46 70 0896002
Interests: urban low-carbon transitions; governing socio-technical change; smart and sustainable cities; the role of users in innovation processes; infrastructure management in cities and regions
PD Dr. Michael Ornetzeder
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Strohgasse 45/5, 1030 Vienna, Austria
Tel. +43-1-51581-6589
Interests: energy transitions; technology assessment; energy-efficient buildings; smart city demo projects; smart grids; monitoring of urban innovation; user innovation and user participation
Dr. Philipp Späth
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Social Environmental Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg, Tennenbacherstrasse 4, Freiburg 79106, Germany
Tel. +49-761-2033725
Interests: urban environmental governance; urban planning; smart city governance; sustainable urban development; transformation in urban mobility; urban food systems; energy transitions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The challenge of making our cities more sustainable is, to a large extent, a challenge of transforming urban infrastructures. Tackling problems such as climate change, resource depletion, or energy security require fundamental transformations of the ways we produce, distribute, and use goods and energy, organize our systems of transport, or food production and consumption. While we see the emergence of a growing variety of new technologies around renewable energy generation, electricity distribution through smart grids, ultra-energy efficient buildings, or new vehicle propulsion technologies, this alone will not solve the problems we are facing. Systemic change needs to deal with the interdependencies of technologies with the social, cultural, and economic dimensions they are embedded in—social practices of use, business models, visions and expectations, regulations and other institutional structures, or the interests and strategies of different groups of actors.

Cities have turned out to be key players in such transformation processes. Despite their lack of legislative power and control over large-scale infrastructures, they command a range of “soft” governance capacities to facilitate sustainable socio-technical change processes—the implementation of sustainability experiments and related processes of knowledge creation and learning, the creation of new actor coalitions between administration, business and civil society around particular environmental initiatives, or the forging of networks between and across cities to join force in tackling environmental and social problems.

Contributions to this Special Issue should empirically deal with cases of sustainable infrastructural change in cities and in particular with governance strategies to shape such transformation processes towards greater sustainability.

Prof. Dr. Harald Rohracher
PD, Dr. Michael Ornetzeder
Dr. Philipp Späth
Guest Editors

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 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 1700 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 infrastructures
  • sustainability transitions
  • socio-technical change
  • smart cities
  • sustainable cities
  • environmental governance
  • energy
  • transport
  • urban agriculture

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Reconfiguring Urban Sustainability Transitions, Analysing Multiplicity
Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9020299 - 17 Feb 2017
Cited by 40
Abstract
Cities, and the networked infrastructures that sustain urban life, are seen as crucial sites for creating more sustainable futures. Yet, although there are many plans, the realisation of sustainable urban infrastructures on the ground is uneven. To develop better ways of understanding why [...] Read more.
Cities, and the networked infrastructures that sustain urban life, are seen as crucial sites for creating more sustainable futures. Yet, although there are many plans, the realisation of sustainable urban infrastructures on the ground is uneven. To develop better ways of understanding why this is the case, the paper makes a conceptual contribution by engaging with current understanding of urban sustainability transitions, using urban sustainable mobility as a reference point. It extends these insights to argue that urban transitions are not about technological or social innovation per se, but about how multiple innovations are experimented with, combined and reconfigured in existing urban contexts and how such processes are governed. There are potentially many ways in which urban sustainable mobility can be reconfigured contextually. Innovation is in the particular form of reconfiguration rather than individual technologies. To make analytical sense of this multiplicity, a preliminary framework is developed that offers the potential to think about urban transitions as contextual and reconfigurational. We argue that there is a need to embrace multiplicity and to understand its relationships to forms of reconfiguration, through empirical exploration and further theoretical and conceptual development. The preliminary framework is a contribution to doing so and we set out future directions for research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Governing the Transformation of Urban Infrastructures)
Open AccessArticle
The Incumbents’ Conservation Strategies in the German Energy Regime as an Impediment to Re-Municipalization—An Analysis Guided by the Multi-Level Perspective
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9010053 - 30 Dec 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
After two decades of privatization and outsourcing being the dominant trends across public services, an inclination towards founding new municipal power utilities can be observed. In this article, the authors examine the preservation strategies of the German energy regime following the transition approach [...] Read more.
After two decades of privatization and outsourcing being the dominant trends across public services, an inclination towards founding new municipal power utilities can be observed. In this article, the authors examine the preservation strategies of the German energy regime following the transition approach developed by Geels. From the multi-level perspective, it can be stated that innovations take place in niches and have to overcome the obstacles and persistence of the conventional fossil–nuclear energy regime. Through an empirical analysis, it can be concluded that the established regime significantly delays the decentralization process required for a transformation of energy structures on local electricity grids. Furthermore, it is shown that municipal utilities (Stadtwerke) are important key actors for the German Energiewende (energy transition) as they function as local energy distributors and they meet a variety of requirements to promote fundamental structural change. The trend towards re-municipalization and the re-establishment of municipal utilities reveal the desire to further strengthen the scope of local politics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Governing the Transformation of Urban Infrastructures)
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Open AccessArticle
Remedial Measures for Erroneous Environmental Policies: Assessing Infrastructure Projects of Waste-to-Energy Incineration in Taiwan with a Case Study of the Taitung Incinerator
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1284; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8121284 - 08 Dec 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
Taiwan, like many other countries, often incentivizes private investors to participate in the construction of infrastructures for environmental protection. The build-operate-transfer (BOT) or build-operate-own (BOO) model of financing public infrastructure was introduced to Taiwan in the 1990s. Among them, the construction of incinerators [...] Read more.
Taiwan, like many other countries, often incentivizes private investors to participate in the construction of infrastructures for environmental protection. The build-operate-transfer (BOT) or build-operate-own (BOO) model of financing public infrastructure was introduced to Taiwan in the 1990s. Among them, the construction of incinerators to treat the municipal solid waste using the BOT/BOO model was quite a success in the beginning. With the socio-technical change of lifestyle and waste generation, the amount of amount of trash dropped dramatically. The policy failed eventually, however, because the government over-estimated the trash quantity and refrained from inter-municipality cooperation to treat trash efficiently. This failure triggered a rash of intense debates and legal disputes. In the case of the Taitung incinerator, the 26th incinerator located in southeastern Taiwan, the arbitration resulted in the government making significant compensation payments to the private sector. The finished construction was consequently converted into a “mothballed and pensioned off” facility. This study applies in-depth interviews and literature review to discuss aspects contributing to the policy failure and proposes some possible remedial measures. Five aspects are summarized, namely, the administrative organization’s rigid attitude, the irrationality of the BOT/BOO contracts, the loss of the spirit of BOO partnerships, the heavy financial burden on local government, and the abandonment of inter-municipality cooperation. The remedial measures for the policy failure are presented in the form of thorough policy evaluation, room for contract adjustments under the BOT/BOO model, encouragement of cross-boundary cooperation, and revision of the legal framework for implementing decentralization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Governing the Transformation of Urban Infrastructures)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatiotemporal Variation of China’s State-Owned Construction Land Supply from 2003 to 2014
Sustainability 2016, 8(11), 1137; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8111137 - 04 Nov 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
State-owned construction land is the dominant legal land source for construction in China and its supply influences urban expansion, house prices, and economic development, among other factors. Surprisingly, limited attention has been directly devoted to the spatiotemporal variation in land supply or the [...] Read more.
State-owned construction land is the dominant legal land source for construction in China and its supply influences urban expansion, house prices, and economic development, among other factors. Surprisingly, limited attention has been directly devoted to the spatiotemporal variation in land supply or the driving factors. This paper applied a centroid model and hotspot analysis, and created a newly increased construction land dependence-degree index (NCD) to present the spatiotemporal variations of China’s construction land supply magnitude and pattern from 2003 to 2014, using land supply data from 339 cities. A two-way fixed effect model was introduced to reveal the influence of the socio-economic driving factors. The results showed that China’s state-owned construction land supply area (CLSA) and newly increased construction land supply area (NCSA) both increased during the period from 2003 to 2014, the geographic centroid of CLSA and NCSA moved northwest. NCD showed an overall increasing trend, and hotspots with high NCD migrated from the east region to the west region and shifted from an “east hot and west cold” pattern in 2003 to an “east cold and west hot” pattern in 2014. The gross domestic product (GDP) has a U-shape effect on CLSA and NCD. The population, average annual wage of workers, and investment in fixed assets (fiv) have positive effects on CLSA, and fiv also has a positive effect on NCD. The increasing ratio of tertiary industry added value to secondary industry added value reduces CLSA and NCD, and the effects of state policies vary from year to year. Different land supply policies should be implemented for cities in different development stages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Governing the Transformation of Urban Infrastructures)
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