Achievements and opportunities in initiating governance for urban sustainability

Riley Smith, Arnim Wiek

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    29 Scopus citations


    The concept of urban sustainability governance has developed as an institutional guiding concept to holistically address the vitality of cities under a long-term perspective and is based on the collaborative efforts of government, administration, business, science, and the civil society. Yet, the initiation and implementation of this guiding concept faces a variety of barriers, including deficient conceptualization, unfamiliarity, detrimental organizational structures, and inertia. We examine the initiation of urban sustainability governance in the City of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. On the basis of the reviews of administrative documents and interviews with staffacross various administrative levels and units, we reflect on achievements and shortcomings against guidelines of urban sustainability governance spelled out in the literature. Our study indicates accomplishments in the conceptualization of a vision and overall framework to operate from, but also a number of deficits in specifying sustainability targets, applying governance principles, and evaluating impacts. Additionally, we discuss how administrative structures influence how urban sustainability governance is being implemented. We draw conclusions regarding general factors for succeeding in the initiation and implementation of urban sustainability governance.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)429-447
    Number of pages19
    JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


    • Evaluation
    • Governance implementation
    • Guidelines
    • Principles
    • Sustainable governance

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
    • Public Administration
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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