Reconceptualising urbanism, ecology and networked infrastructures

Swilling, M. (2011)

Article

There is increasing consensus that the existing system of production and consumption is ecologically unsustainable and inequitable. The global economy depends on the use of 60 billion tons of material resources and 500 exajoules of energy annually. It is these flows that are responsible for resource depletion, negative environmental impacts and social injustice in many developing countries where these resources are extracted. However, the bulk of these resources are used, consumed and disposed of as wastes within cities. More specifically, the way urban infrastructures are configured determines how these resource flows are conducted through cities. It follows that these flows could be reconfigured if existing urban infrastructures were retrofitted or new ones designed to ensure the more sustainable use of these resources in cities. The result would be a shift from unsustainable urbanism to a more sustainable urbanism. Inclusive and splintered urbanism are reviewed as dominant forms of unsustainable urbanism as a result of the way urban infrastructures are configured, while green urbanism and slum urbanism are reviewed as possible alternatives. A conception of 'liveable urbanism' is proposed as a way of thinking about urban development that restores ecosystems and promotes sufficiency. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.

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