Environmental Integration in Sustainable Urban Planning from an Institutional Perspective : A Study of Swedish and Chinese Eco-City Development
Abstract: The continuously rising attention to and practice of eco-city development in Sweden and China, as well as the countries’ active cooperation has motivated this study and the exploration of eco-city development in these two countries. In eco-city development, diverse environmental issues may well be beyond the planning sector’s capacity and need to be resolved elsewhere by other authorities and agencies in such areas as energy, water and traffic. This may in practice require the reframing of certain institutions to ensure that relevant sector authorities, scientific institutions and actors have responsibilities for integrative tasks and can cooperate effectively.The study aims to investigate how institutional conditions affect environmental integration in urban planning. The approach used is the exploration of how different institutional conditions promote and/or hinder environmental integration by the examination of four examples of eco-city development in Sweden and China. Based on theories of institutions, Environmental Policy Integration (EPI) and sustainable urban planning, an analytical framework is used to describe institutional conditions related to formal rulemaking, informal rules and administrative management and organizations.Formal rules provide framework and legitimacy for guiding and enforcing actors in the practice of realizing environmental integration in urban planning. Meanwhile, informal rules; i.e. wills, interests, understanding and knowledge, could considerably affect the design of formal rules and how they are to be implemented. Administrative management and organization serve to realize environmental integration following the formal rules, but the informal institutional conditions of e.g. officials’ interests, understanding, knowledge and experience, as well as political support, affect the organizations’ performance and abilities for implementation, which in turn also largely depends on the specific organizational settings. All three need to be combined to achieve environmental integration in sustainable urban planning, since each one has its own strengths and weaknesses and they gradually affect each other in practices.
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