In 2009, I worked with my colleagues Kate Murray and Chidi Ogbuagu on a thesis entitled “Sustainable Cities – Realizing the Seven Forms of Community Capital,” as part of a Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability at the Blekinge Institute of Technology (Blekinge Tekniska Högskola) in Karlskrona, Sweden.
As part of the thesis, we created a resource guide that we hope can help urban sustainability practitioners, both internal and external to municipal governments, make the case for shifting towards sustainability. The resource guide outlines the sustainability challenge as it relates to municipalities, how municipalities affect global sustainability, and, using sustainability principles (SPs), helps outline an image of a sustainable city. It demonstrates how ‘backcasting’ (as opposed to forecasting) from SPs can assist the process of moving towards sustainability. It then delves into seven forms of community capital (natural, physical, financial, social, cultural, human and political) to reflect the forms of return on investment that can enhance the quality of a city. It provides a questionnaire that can help practitioners assess the current situation in their municipality, and how best to proceed in determining the most appropriate sustainability measures. Potential drivers towards and barriers hampering progress towards sustainability are then outlined. During the project, we spoke with 18 municipalities; in the resource guide, examples of measures they had undertaken in progressing towards sustainability are provided, and are categorized by municipality population and form of community capital. We conclude the resource guide with a case study that demonstrates how to most effectively use the guide for a specific situation.
Download the resource guide.