The importance of defining sustainable smart cities : A field study in Sweden and South Africa

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Industriell teknik; Uppsala universitet/Industriell teknik

Abstract: Urbanization is extensive and affects urban planning all over the world. More than half of the world's population lives in urban areas and the share is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. Growing cities can create new opportunities for economic growth but can also increase social gaps and strains on ecosystems. The rapid and large-scale migration of people into the city places new demands that need to be addressed in an economically, socially and ecologically sustainable way both in the Global North and the Global South. Inclusive and innovative urban planning is needed to make the cities safe and sustainable for the future. Concepts such as sustainable city and smart city have been studied as they are considered the solution to the challenge. The study is linked to one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for sustainable development, 11th SDG - Sustainable cities and communities. The purpose of the research study is to look at processes and enablers that drives the sustainable agenda. The thesis is a comparative field study in Sweden and South Africa, with the objectives to present enablers for successful projects towards sustainable cities. The differences in context and definitions of the concepts are analysed in terms of dimensions of the sustainable development. The study is based upon a qualitative methodology with primary and secondary collected data, such as interview study with variated actors related to sustainable urban projects and activities. The study is driven by Actor-Network Theory (ANT). The concept sustainable city is the starting point in the two studied contexts South Africa and Sweden and both human and non-human actors have been identified and analysed. The human actors in the study consist of precinct managers, property investors, developers, architects, consultants and representatives from provinces, municipalities, and non-profit organisations. Non-human actors who have emerged in the study and play a major role in the development of sustainable cities are different policies such as Agenda 2030, transportation, sustainable dimensions and the various concepts such as sustainable city and smart city. The study concludes by emphasizing the importance of collaboration between those involved, look to everyone's interests, make use of knowledge sharing and create common goals for inclusive, secure, sustainable and resilient cities and communities. A common picture is that it needs to be a bottom-up thinking. Local actors must be included in the creation of national and international policies, much of sustainable city projects and activities take place on local level.

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