Island Press

Island Press

Can a City Be Sustainable? (State of the World)


Cities are the world’s future. Today, more than half of the global population—3.7 billion people—are urban dwellers, and that number is expected to double by 2050. There is no question that cities are growing; the only debate is over how they will grow. Will we invest in the physical and social infrastructure necessary for livable, equitable, and sustainable cities? In the latest edition of State of the World, the flagship publication of the Worldwatch Institute, experts from around the globe examine the core principles of sustainable urbanism and profile cities that are putting them into practice.

Authors / Editors:
Print ISSN:
May 2016

State of the Worldfirst puts our current moment in context, tracing cities in the arc of human history. It also examines the basic structural elements of every city: materials and fuels; people and economics; and biodiversity. In part two, professionals working on some of the world’s most inventive urban sustainability projects share their first-hand experience. Success stories come from places as diverse as Ahmedabad, India; Freiburg, Germany; and Shanghai, China. In many cases, local people are acting to improve their cities, even when national efforts are stalled. Parts three and four examine cross-cutting issues that affect the success of all cities. Topics range from the nitty-gritty of handling waste and developing public transportation to civic participation and navigating dysfunctional government.

Throughout, readers discover the most pressing challenges facing communities and the most promising solutions currently being developed. The result is a snapshot of cities today and a vision for global urban sustainability tomorrow.


Foreword \ Garrett Fitzgerald
Foreword \ Eduardo Paes
World`s Cities at a Glance \ Gary Gardner

Part I. Cities as Human Constructs
Chapter 1. Imagining a Sustainable City \ Gary Gardner
Chapter 2. Cities in the Arc of Human History: A Materials Perspective \ Gary Gardner
Chapter 3. The City: A System of Systems \ Gary Gardner
Chapter 4. Toward a Vision of Sustainable Cities \ Gary Gardner
Chapter 5. The Energy Wildcard: Possible Energy Constraints to Further Urbanization \ Richard Heinberg

Part II. The Urban Climate Challenge
Chapter 6. Cities and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Scope of the Challenge \ Tom Prugh and Michael Renner
Chapter 7. Urbanism and Global Sprawl \ Peter Calthorpe
-City View: Shanghai, China \ Haibing Ma
Chapter 8. Reducing the Environmental Footprint of Buildings \ Michael Renner
-City View: Freiberg, Germany \ Simone Ariane Pflaum
Chapter 9. Energy Efficiency in Buildings: A Crisis of Opportunity \ Gregory H. Kats
-City View: Melbourne, Australia \ Robert Doyle
Chapter 10. Is 100 Percent Renewable Energy in Cities Possible? \ Betsy Agar and Michael Renner
-City View: Vancouver, Canada \ Gregor Robertson
Chapter 11. Supporting Sustainable Transportation \ Michael Renner
Chapter 12. Urban Transport and Climate Change \ Cornie Huizenga, Karl Peet, and Sudhir Gota
-City View: Singapore \ Geoffrey Davison and Ang Wei Ping
Chapter 13. Source Reduction and Recycling of Waste \ Michael Renner
-City View: Ahmedabad and Pune, India \ Kartikeya Sarabhai, Madhavi Joshi, and Sanskriti Menon
Chapter 14. Solid Waste and Climate Change \ Perinaz Bhada-Tata and Daniel Hoornweg
-City View: Barcelona, Spain \ Marti Boada Junca, Roser Maneja Zaragoza, and Pablo Knobel Guelar
Chapter 15. Rural-Urban Migration, Lifestyles, and Deforestation \ Tom Prugh

Part III. Politics, Equity, and Livability
Chapter 16. Remunicipalization, the Low-Carbon Transition, and Energy Democracy \ Andrew Cumbers
-City View: Portland, Oregon, United States \ Brian Holland and Juan Wei
Chapter 17. The Vital Role of Biodiversity in Urban Sustainability \ Marti Boada Junca, Roser Maneja Zaragoza, and Pablo Knobel Guelar
-City View: Jerusalem, Israel \ Marti Boada Junca, Roser Maneja Zaragoza, and Pablo Knobel Guelar
Chapter 18. The Inclusive City: Urban Planning for Diversity and Social Cohesion \ Franziska Schreiber and Alexander Carius
-City View: Durban, South Africa \ Debra Roberts and Sean O`Donoghue
Chapter 19. Urbanization, Inclusion, and Social Justice \ Jim Jarvie and Richard Friend


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