Pieces to a Puzzle : – Towards a Synergy of Sustainable Community Development Frameworks
In response to the myriad of problems confronting society including climatic changes on our planet numerous individuals, organizations, and governments are reinventing themselves forging a new pathway towards a more sustainable future. Facilitated by a variety of different conferences, initiatives, and strategies an increasing global trend has focused on the urban context addressing environmental, economic, and economic issues by developing sustainable communities. Sustainable communities are commonly guided in this process by a pre-existing framework formed on an underlying set of principles, ideas, and stages.
Worldwide, a variety of frameworks exist. At first glance, the frameworks may appear to have certain advantages over others in respect to their area of focus. For instance, some of the frameworks appear to place a focus on the physical built environment of communities as opposed to other which may accentuate ongoing community participation and collaboration. Although, numerous organizations and networks claim to be committed to the shared learning experiences of sustainable communities little published literature has emerged considering the opportunity of using multiple frameworks or considered integrating portions of the frameworks together. The purpose of this study is to compare three commonly implemented frameworks against eleven elements viewed, as integral to the development of sustainable communities to determine what opportunities may exist for collaboration/ integration of frameworks when developing sustainable communities. Based on previous research and literature these elements include community change process, stakeholder identification and evaluation, strategic planning, education; environmental, economic, and social responsibility, built environment and green design, sustainability indicators and evaluation tools, local government, and knowledge transfer. From these elements a conceptual framework has been developed on which a comparison of the Natural Step Framework, New Urbanism, and the Melbourne Principles has been conducted.
Through a deductive research approach five interviews have been conducted with experts in the field of sustainable community development on which a number of advantages and disadvantages have been identified with these frameworks. These have included advantages acknowledging frameworks provide a common platform to begin speaking about issues related to sustainability. However, a noted disadvantage is that frameworks fail to account for and incorporate the majority of stakeholders who comprise communities. While the frameworks due appear quite diverse in the way they approach developing sustainable communities as well as what they view sustainable communities as being by seeking to limit the gaps of these views through continuous learning, education and the transfer of knowledge opportunities do exist for the collaboration and integration of frameworks.
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