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  • 1.
    Andersson, Erik
    et al.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden .
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Memory carriers and stewardship of metropolitan landscapes2016In: Ecological Indicators, ISSN 1470-160X, E-ISSN 1872-7034, Vol. 70, p. 606-614Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    History matters, and can be an active and dynamic component in the present. We explore social-ecological memory as way to diagnose and engage with urban green space performance and resilience. Rapidly changing cities pose a threat and a challenge to the continuity that has helped to support biodiversity and ecological functions by upholding similar or only slowly changing adaptive cycles over time. Continuity is perpetuated through memory carriers, slowly changing variables and features that retain or make available information on how different situations have been dealt with before. Ecological memory carriers comprise memory banks, spatial connections and mobile link species. These can be supported by social memory carriers, represented by collectively created social features like habits, oral tradition, rules-in-use and artifacts, as well as media and external sources. Loss or lack of memory can be diagnoses by the absence or disconnect between memory carriers, as will be illustrated by several typical situations. Drawing on a set of example situations, we present an outline for a look-up table approach that connects ecological memory carriers to the social memory carriers that support them and use these connections to set diagnoses and indicate potential remedies. The inclusion of memory carriers in planning and management considerations may facilitate preservation of feedbacks and disturbance regimes as well as species and habitats, and the cultural values and meanings that go with them.

  • 2.
    Andersson, Erik
    et al.
    Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Ahrné, K.
    Department of Entomology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.
    Measuring social – ecological dynamics behind the generation of ecosystem services2007In: Ecological Applications, ISSN 1051-0761, E-ISSN 1939-5582, Vol. 17, no 5, p. 1267-1278Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The generation of ecosystem services depends on both social and ecological features. Here we focus on management, its ecological consequences, and social drivers. Our approach combined (1) quantitative surveys of local species diversity and abundance of three functional groups of ecosystem service providers (pollinators, seed dispersers, and insectivores) with (2) qualitative studies of local management practices connected to these services and their underlying social mechanisms, i.e., institutions, local ecological knowledge, and a sense of place. It focused on the ecology of three types of green areas (allotment gardens, cemeteries, and city parks) in the city of Stockholm, Sweden. These are superficially similar but differ considerably in their management. Effects of the different practices could be seen in the three functional groups, primarily as a higher abundance of pollinators in the informally managed allotment gardens and as differences in the composition of seed dispersers and insectivores. Thus, informal management, which is normally disregarded by planning authorities, is important for ecosystem services in the urban landscape. Furthermore, we suggest that informal management has an important secondary function: It may be crucial during periods of instability and change as it is argued to promote qualities with potential for adaptation. Allotment gardeners seem to be the most motivated managers, something that is reflected in their deeper knowledge and can be explained by a sense of place and management institutions. We propose that co-management would be one possible way to infuse the same positive qualities into all management and that improved information exchange between managers would be one further step toward ecologically functional urban landscapes.

  • 3.
    Andersson, Erik
    et al.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Borgström, S.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Colding, Johan
    The Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Elmqvist, Tomas
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Folke, Carl
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; The Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Gren, A.
    The Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Reconnecting cities to the biosphere: Stewardship of green infrastructure and urban ecosystem services2016In: Sustainable Cities: Urban Planning Challenges and Policy, CRC Press , 2016, p. 29-45Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 4.
    Andersson, Erik
    et al.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Borgström, Sara
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Colding, Johan
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; The Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Elmqvist, Thomas
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Folke, Carl
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; The Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Gren, Åsa
    The Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Reconnecting Cities to the Biosphere: Stewardship of Green Infrastructure and Urban Ecosystem Services2014In: Ambio, ISSN 0044-7447, E-ISSN 1654-7209, Vol. 43, no 4, p. 445-453Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Within-city green infrastructure can offer opportunities and new contexts for people to become stewards of ecosystem services. We analyze cities as social-ecological systems, synthesize the literature, and provide examples from more than 15 years of research in the Stockholm urban region, Sweden. The social-ecological approach spans from investigating ecosystem properties to the social frameworks and personal values that drive and shape human interactions with nature. Key findings demonstrate that urban ecosystem services are generated by social-ecological systems and that local stewards are critically important. However, land-use planning and management seldom account for their role in the generation of urban ecosystem services. While the small scale patchwork of land uses in cities stimulates intense interactions across borders much focus is still on individual patches. The results highlight the importance and complexity of stewardship of urban biodiversity and ecosystem services and of the planning and governance of urban green infrastructure.

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  • 5.
    Andersson, Erik
    et al.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University; North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.
    Grimm, Nancy B
    Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.
    Lewis, Joshua A
    Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA.
    Redman, Charles L
    Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University.
    Colding, Johan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm.
    Elmqvist, Thomas
    Urban climate resilience through hybrid infrastructure2022In: Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, ISSN 1877-3435, E-ISSN 1877-3443, Vol. 55, article id 101158Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Urban infrastructure will require transformative changes to adapt to changing disturbance patterns. We ask what new opportunities hybrid infrastructure—built environments coupled with landscape-scale biophysical structures and processes—offer for building different layers of resilience critical for dealing with increased variation in the frequency, magnitude and different phases of climate-related disturbances. With its more diverse components and different internal logics, hybrid infrastructure opens up alternative and additive ways of building resilience for and through critical infrastructure, by providing a wider range of functions and responses. Second, hybrid infrastructure points toward greater opportunities for ongoing (re)design at the landscape level, where structure and function can be constantly renegotiated and recombined.

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  • 6.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm resilience center; Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    A Social-Ecological Research Lens on Urban Resilience2016Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    Social-Ecological Research has approached the city as a living ecosystem, an approach that really begun with the urban scholars of the early 1900s. But new developments in this line of research started during the 1990s to study various social-ecological relations in a web of life reaching far beyond the built environment of any city. Such research argues that it is in such social-ecological relations where the resilience of cities ultimately rests, for example in a food system consisting of the chain of activities connecting food producing ecosystems, processing, distribution, consump­tion, and waste management, as well as all the associated regulatory institutions and activities. Contrary to popular belief, it is in such social-ecological research traditions, where the most prolific authors on urban resilience are found.

  • 7.
    Barthel, Stephan
    Stockholms universitet, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
    Framtidens Albano: forskning omsatt i  praktik2010In: Universitetsnytt, no 6 dec., p. 18-19Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 8.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science.
    Potentialer inom styrkeområdet Smarta Hållbara Städer och Samhällen2021Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [sv]

    EU:s Gröna Giv stödjer en samhällstransformation  till en modern, resurseffektiv och konkurrenskraftig ekonomi där det inte finns några nettoutsläpp av växthusgaser år 2050, där den ekonomiska tillväxten har frikopplats från resursförbrukningen, och där inga människor eller platser lämnas utanför. Region Gävleborg kan verka för dessa tre mål simultant genom att stödja innovationer i mellanrummen ett fossilfritt Gävleborg och smart specialisering om Hållbara och Smarta Städer och Samhällen.

    Sverige kan bli klimatneutralt redan 2045. FAIRTRANS (En Rättvis klimatomställning mot en fossilfritt samhälle) är ett nationellt program som drivs i samarbete mellan Stockholms Universitet och Högskolan i Gävle och samproducerar ny kunskap och policy i denna riktning. Vätgas är en av de lovande teknologierna för transporter och arbetsmaskiner, men den kommer framför allt att få en stor betydelse för omställningen av industrin och energisystemet. Den kan bidra till att öka elproduktionen från förnybara energikällor och förstärka elnätet, och kan samtidigt användas för att fasa ut fossila bränslen i olika industriprocesser. Sedan 2021 är Gävle Kommun med i det nationella programmet VIABLE CITIES om klimatneutrala städer. Namnet på programmet är ”Klimatneutralt Gävle 2030” och målet är att skapa en systemtransformation tillsammans med andra aktörer inom det nationella nätverket VIABLE CITIES. Tre åtgärder kommer att arbetas med som ligger i linje med kommunens klimatfärdplan: kollektivtrafiken, planerings-och byggprocessen, samt att öka handlingskompetens hos medborgare (beteende och konsumtion). FUTURE PROOF CITIES (FPC) har fokus på industridoktorander och har stor potential att långsiktigt öka kapaciteten inom sin respektive organisationer. FPC samproducerar kunskap om social hållbarhet, klimatomställningen, klimat-resiliens, samt samproducerar kunskap kring både digitala och analoga metoder för integrering av kunskapssystem.

    Eu-projektet (H2020) RES4BUILD har det övergripande målet att minska koldioxidutsläppen i energiförbrukningen i byggnader.  Det utvecklar integrerade förnybara energibaserade lösningar som är skräddarsydda efter användarnas och installatörernas behov, samt kostnadskonkurrenskraftiga 2025. ”Resilient Cooling of Buildings” har fokus på övergången till resilienta och koldioxidsnåla kylsystem i byggnader. Detta inkluderar också lösningar för samhällen att klara och förhindra termiska och andra effekter av den globala uppvärmningen.

    Inom en smart och attraktiv stad utgör BIG (Bettering life through Integrative GIS) ett innovativt projekt om metodutveckling för en upplevelsebaserad urban design. BIG är ett samarbetsprojekt mellan Högskolan i Gävle och Future Position X (FPX).

    EU:s andra mål i EU:s Gröna Giv handlar om en BNP tillväxt frikopplad från användningen fossila bränslen, vilket samspelar med målområdet i den regionala utvecklingsstrategin om samhällsnyttig, cirkulär och biobaserad ekonomi.  Innovationsarenor som förenar bio-ekonomi och hållbar stadsutveckling bör utvecklas.”Hållbara värdekedjor genom cirkulära affärsmodeller” har utvecklat mätetal för cirkularitet, en samverkansplattform för industriell och urban symbios har etablerats och därtill har flera företag och olika resursflöden som t.ex. plast och byggavfall undersökts i samarbete med Movexum. I projektet Bioväx studeras hur produktion av biogas och växtnäring kan etableras och byggas ut med Gävle kommun.

    Ett strategiskt arbete i linje med EU:s Gröna Giv målområde 3 bör samproduceras med aktörer inom akademi, civilsamhälle och näringsliv. Det pågår innovationsutveckling om urbana (digitala) gemensamheter för en socialt hållbar utveckling av våra tätorter. Här finns potential för beteendeförändringar kopplat till delningsekonomiska förtjänster samt genom minskning av inrikes transporter och arbetspendling. Arbetet med urbana digitala gemensamheter ligger i linje med ”Klimatneutralt Gävle 2030” som satsar på kompetenshöjning hos invånare. Två viktiga projekt för samverkan pågår mellan HiG och kommuner: Stadsdelslyftet i Gävle och Ökad inkludering i Sandviken. En samverkansgrupp börjar ta form som tentativt kallas ´Samhällsarbete för socialt hållbar stadsutveckling´. Denna samverkansgrupp har representanter för Gavlegårdarna, Sandvikenhus, Socialtjänstens förebyggandeenheter i Gävle och Sandviken. Horisontell innovationsutveckling (HiL) har visat sig kunna överbrygga organisatoriska hinder för transformation. 

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  • 9.
    Barthel, Stephan
    Stockholms universitet, Systemekologiska institutionen.
    Recalling Urban Nature: Linking City People to Ecosystem Services2008Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Societal development is dependent on the generation of ecosystem services (ES) to sustain it; however, many ES are degrading. This thesis investigates how social-ecological features behind practices of actor groups shape the generation of ES. The empirical basis is case studies in the urban landscape of Stockholm, Sweden, and the methodological approach is interdisciplinary. Paper I shows that the urban landscape owes it current flow of ES to co-evolutionary processes and that governance with the aim of sustaining ES must take into account historical property rights and the involvement of a diversity of actor groups, as well as ecological processes of the larger landscape. Paper II studies allotment gardens, cemeteries and city parks in relation to the generation of pollination, seed dispersal and pest regulation. Differences in social features behind practice are reflected primary as higher abundance of pollinators in the informally managed allotment gardens and as differences in the compositions of seed dispersers and insectivores’ birds. Thus, voluntary and often ignored actor groups, motivated by sense-of-place, support the generation of some ES here. Paper III shows how practice, linked to ES generation, is retained and stored among allotment gardeners, and modified and transmitted through time, by means of social-ecological memory (SE-memory). SE-memory is an emergent property of a dual process of participation and reification and it facilitates monitoring of local change and links practice, often in habits, to place specific processes that underlie provisioning ES. Paper IV explores how spatial scale mismatches between ecological process and processes of management can be bridged by a spatially explicit and flexible social network structure of governance. Urban ES are a product of human driven co-evolution, consequently sustaining ES in urban landscapes is not about conservation without people, but shaped by and dependent on management practice by people. Practice that links to generation of ES are facilitated by SE-memory of local actors that holds long term management rights. Consequently, local communities of ecosystem practice, which contribute to the production of ES should explicitly be taken into account in urban green governance.

  • 10.
    Barthel, Stephan
    Stockholms universitet, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
    Resilience2014In: A Companion to Urban Anthropology / [ed] Donald M. Nonini, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing , 2014, p. 428-446Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This chapter uses a resilience lens, where resilience is defined as the capacity to absorb shocks, utilize them, reorganize, and continue to develop without losing fundamental functions (Folke 2006). This resilience lens can be used to analyze the role of urban gardens as memory carriers of ways to build food securityin cities (see Chapters 20 and 23, “Memory and Narrative” and “Food and Farming”).

    Comparing Western urban histories in a global frame of reference suggests that a marked conceptual and physical separation between urban and rural sectors emerged largely as a consequence of high modernist time–space compression during the 1900s (Harvey 1990). However, it is estimated that in contemporary cities of the global South, approximately 800 million people are still engaged in urban agriculture, producing approximately 15–20 percent of the world’s food. These numbers are diminishing due to similar processes that drove food production from Western cities. Do such changes in the urban environment influence the capacity of urban people to respond to food shortages in the future?It has been suggested that modernist urbanization severs perceived and experienced relations between people and nature as urban lifestyles are adopted and resilience as access to green areas is reduced. This alienation process has been termedthe “extinction-of-experience” (Miller 2005), an ongoing generational amnesia among city peoples about their relationships to, and dependence upon, diverse ecosystems, including agro-ecosystems. Such social amnesia has been argued to produce food insecurity among growing urban populations, simply because it erodes options of self-sufficiency (Barthel, Parker, and Ernstson 2013). Food security is broadly defined here as having physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet dietary needs (FAO 1996). Following Pothukuchi and Kaufman (2000: 113), the food system is defined as “the chain of activities connecting food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management, as well as all the associated regulatory institutions and activities” (see Chapters 23 and 24, “Food and Farming” and “Pollution”). The focus of this essay is on food production, which makes this whole circuit possible. I highlight collectively managed urban gardens as potential “memory workers” to combat the ongoing generational amnesia among city dwellers about the intimate links between local agro-ecosystems and food security (Barthel, Parker, and Ernstson 2013).

  • 11.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Centre .
    Social-Ecological Urbanism and the Life of Baltic Cities2016In: The Nature of Cities, Vol. 2016Article, review/survey (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    Jane Jacobs critiqued modernist city planning in the now classic book The Death and Life of Great American Cities(1961). This book is now inspiring an urban renaissance. Jacobs proposed that a city must be understood as a system of organized complexity—in other words, as an ecosystem—and that any intervention in the urban fabric with a lack of such understanding is bound to result in unexpected surprises. Trained in zoology, Jacobs viewed the city much like a coral reef, where co-evolutionary dynamics between the coral organisms (the people) and the coral reef (the built environment) result in the emergence of a socio-spatial logic that can support various kind of functions and opportunities for people.

    First line of urban scholarship based on ecological thought

    Blueprint planning based on ideals such as Le Corbusier’s “The Shining City,” or Sir Ebenezer Howard’s “The Garden City,” Jacobs argued, is likely to fail since it lacks the critical understanding of the city as a complex socio-spatial system. Spatial morphology thinking (Hillier and Hanson, 1984) provided a precision and an analytical depth to the insights of Jane Jacobs. Density, accessibility and diversity are outlined as the main features of spatial capital for people in cities (Marcus, 2010), which are akin to insights in ecosystem ecology, where species diversity, species abundance and ecological connectivity are critical features.

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  • 12.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering.
    Viola has an Acorn in her Pocket2016Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 13.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Belton, Sophie
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Raymond, Christopher
    Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden.
    Giusti, Matteo
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Fostering Children’s Connection to Nature Through Authentic Situations: The Case of Saving Salamanders at School2018In: Frontiers in Psychology, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 9, article id 928Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

     The aim of this paper is to explore how children learn to form new relationships with nature. It draws on a longitudinal case study of children participating in a stewardship project involving the conservation of salamanders during the school day in Stockholm, Sweden. The qualitative method includes two waves of data collection: when a group of 10-year-old children participated in the project (2015) and 2 years after they participated (2017). We conducted 49 interviews with children as well as using participant observations and questionnaires. We found indications that children developed sympathy for salamanders and increased concern and care for nature, and that such relationships persisted 2 years after participation. Our rich qualitative data suggest that whole situations of sufficient unpredictability triggering free exploration of the area, direct sensory contact and significant experiences of interacting with a species were important for children’s development of affective relationships  with the salamander species and with nature in an open-ended sense. Saving the lives of trapped animals enabled direct sensory interaction, feedback, increased understanding, and development of new skills for dynamically exploring further ways of saving species in an interactive process experienced as deeply meaningful, enjoyable and connecting. The behavioral setting instilled a sense of pride and commitment, and the high degree of responsibility given to the children while exploring the habitat during authentic situations enriched children’s enjoyment. The study has implications for the design of education programs that aim to connect children with nature and for a child-sensitive urban policy that supports authentic nature situations in close spatial proximity to preschools and schools.

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  • 14. Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Berghauser Pont, M.
    Colding, Johan
    Gren, Å.
    Legeby, A.
    Marcus, L.
    DN Debatt: ”Nytt miljonprogram – unik chans att lösa flera frågor”2016In: Dagens nyheterArticle in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 15. Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Berghauser-Pont, Meta
    Chalmers.
    Colding, Johan
    Stockholms Universitet.
    Gren, Åsa
    Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
    Legeby, Ann
    KTH.
    Marcus, Lars
    Chalmers.
    Miljonprogram - unik chans att lösa flera frågor2016In: Dagens Nyheter, ISSN 1101-2447Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [sv]

    Dolt värde av enorma mått. Ett nytt miljonprogram kan förskräcka, men kan vara just vad Sverige behöver. Men vi ska inte upprepa misstagen från förra gången. I stället måste politikerna nu ta fasta på denna unika chans att ta itu med vår tids stora utmaningar som integration, tillväxt och hållbarhet, skriver sex forskare.

  • 16.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre.
    Berghauser-Pont, Meta
    Chalmers.
    Colding, Johan
    Stockholms Universitet.
    Gren, Åsa
    Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
    Legeby, Ann
    KTH.
    Marcus, Lars
    Chalmers.
    Nytt miljonprogram - unik chans att lösa flera frågor2016In: Dagens Nyheter, ISSN 1101-2447, no 25-aprArticle in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [sv]

    Dolt värde av enorma mått. Ett nytt miljonprogram kan förskräcka, men kan vara just vad Sverige behöver. Men vi ska inte upprepa misstagen från förra gången. I stället måste politikerna nu ta fasta på denna unika chans att ta itu med vår tids stora utmaningar som integration, tillväxt och hållbarhet, skriver sex forskare.

  • 17.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering.
    Colding, Johan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholms Universitet.
    A Critical Perspective on the “Smart City” Model2017Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    As urban ecologists we support developing smoother traffic systems, providing citizens with more easily accessible information, and of course promoting citizen-participation and local democracy in political decision-making. However, and as is normally the common destiny when new models for sustainable development are appearing, investments in these “smarter” models run the risk of making people blind to problems that need more immediate concern. In short, governance is a matter of prioritizing among different goals. Governance is also about making sure that strong and powerful enterprises and business interests do not hijack the public debate

  • 18.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering.
    Colding, Johan
    Stockholms Universitet.
    The Smart (Cyborg) City Needs Smarter Ecological Resilience Thinking2017Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    Employing a sort of a cyborg worldview—meaning a living system of intertwined human and machine parts—the Smart City system is seen as contributing to urban sustainability with the basic assumption that ‘the Internet of Things’ serves social and public ends. These ends include economic benefits, improving efficiency and quality of life for people by optimizing control of infrastructures. In this view, urban residents are at the center of a city’s sustainability transformation, while at the same time serving as “data sources”, providing urban planners (central controllers of the cyborg) various sources of information about human behavior that may or may not be exploited. While various efficiency measures often are beneficial for society, at least in the short term, the discussions of resilience of such a cyborg is mostly entirely avoided.

  • 19.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre.
    Colding, Johan
    Stockholms Universitet.
    Andersson, Erik
    Stockholms Universitet.
    Schewenius, Maria
    Stockholms Universitet.
    Campus Albano, Stockholm - Creating a social-ecological ‘best practices’ campus area in the Baltic region for supporting learning, innovation, and sense of community: In Live Baltic Campus: Inventory Reports2016Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Campus Albano is the newest addition to the Stockholm University campus, Stockholm, Sweden. Production commenced on Nov. 30, 2015, after a five-year planning and design process. The student- and researcher accommodations, and the university buildings are expected to be ready by 2018 and 2019, respectively. The project is significant both for its participatory planning process, and for the strong focus on supporting ecosystem services, for example wetlands and allotment gardens, in the final campus design.

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  • 20.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Colding, Johan
    Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Elmqvist, Tomas
    Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Folke, Carl
    Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    History and local management of a biodiversity-rich, urban cultural landscape2005In: Ecology & Society, E-ISSN 1708-3087, Vol. 10, no 2, article id 10Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Urban green spaces provide socially valuable ecosystem services. Through an historical analysis of the development of the National Urban Park (NUP) of Stockholm, we illustrate how the coevolutionary process of humans and nature has resulted in the high level of biological diversity and associated recreational services found in the park. The ecological values of the area are generated in the cultural landscape. External pressures resulting in urban sprawl in the Stockholm metropolitan region increasingly challenge the capacity of the NUP to continue to generate valuable ecosystem services. Setting aside protected areas, without accounting for the role of human stewardship of the cultural landscape, will most likely fail. In a social inventory of the area, we identify 69 local user and interest groups currently involved in the NUP area. Of these, 25 are local stewardship associations that have a direct role in managing habitats within the park that sustain such services as recreational landscapes, seed dispersal, and pollination. We propose that incentives should be created to widen the current biodiversity management paradigm, and actively engage local stewardship associations in adaptive co-management processes of the park and surrounding green spaces. Copyright © 2005 by the author(s). Published here under license by the Resilience Alliance.

  • 21. Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Colding, Johan
    Erixon, Hanna
    Ernstson, Henrik
    KTH, Historiska studier av teknik, vetenskap och miljö.
    Grahn, Sara
    Kärsten, Carl
    Marcus, Lars
    Torsvall, Jonas
    Principles of Social Ecological Design: Case study Albano Campus, Stockholm2013Book (Other academic)
  • 22.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Stockholms universitet, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
    Colding, Johan
    Stockholms universitet, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
    Ernstson, Henrik
    Stockholms universitet, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
    QBook4-Hållbarhet: Albano Resilient Campus2010Report (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 23. Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Colding, Johan
    Ernstson, Henrik
    KTH, Historiska studier av teknik, vetenskap och miljö.
    Grahn, Sara
    KTH, Arkitektur.
    Erixon, Hanna
    KTH, Arkitektur.
    Marcus, Lars
    KTH, Stadsbyggnad.
    Kärsten, Carl
    Torsvall, Jonas
    Chans sätta Stockholm på kartan2011In: Svenska dagbladetArticle in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
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  • 24.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science.
    Colding, Johan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science.
    Hiswåls, Anne-Sofie
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Public Health and Sport Science, Public Health Science.
    Thalén, Peder
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities, Religious studies.
    Turunen, Päivi
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Social Work.
    Urban green commons for socially sustainable cities and communities2022In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, Vol. 12, no 2, p. 310-322Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In these times of global pandemics and climate crisis, social sustainability has become a crucial issue within diverse sectors and disciplines. This article aims to broaden the discussions on social sustainability in general, and in relation to community work within professional social work in particular.

    By means of a cross-disciplinary bricolage approach – with a focus on the commons – we aim to construct a holistic view of urban social sustainability. Beginning with the Anthropocene concept, which recognizes the human impact on the Earth’s natural systems and hence highlights the need to include the natural environment as a determinant of good and fair living conditions for all, we remix arguments and examples relating to social sustainability with environmental and spatial dimensions to develop an urban green commons. Our cross-disciplinary perspective extends beyond contemporary social policy by bringing together natural resource management, public health, and spiritual aspects of the commons. In order to fit the plurality of urban contexts across the planet, further critical deliberations are needed, focusing on social sustainability and collective action for sustainable change in each context. 

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  • 25. Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Colding, Johan
    Schewenius, M
    Andersson, E
    The Participatory design process that lead to the vision of Campus Albano: Live Baltic Science Report2016Report (Other academic)
  • 26.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden; Department of History, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Crumley, Carole L.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden; Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden.
    Svedin, Uno
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Biocultural Refugia: Combating the Erosion of Diversity in Landscapes of Food Production2013In: Ecology & Society, E-ISSN 1708-3087, Vol. 18, no 4, article id 71Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    There is urgent need to both reduce the rate of biodiversity loss caused by industrialized agriculture and feed more people. The aim of this paper is to highlight the role of places that harbor traditional ecological knowledge, artifacts, and methods when preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services in landscapes of food production. We use three examples in Europe of biocultural refugia, defined as the physical places that not only shelter farm biodiversity, but also carry knowledge and experiences about practical management of how to produce food while stewarding biodiversity and ecosystem services. Memory carriers include genotypes, landscape features, oral, and artistic traditions and self-organized systems of rules, and as such reflect a diverse portfolio of practices on how to deal with unpredictable change. We find that the rich biodiversity of many regionally distinct cultural landscapes has been maintained through different smallholder practices developed in relation to local environmental fluctuations and carried within biocultural refugia for as long as millennia. Places that transmit traditional ecological knowledge and practices hold important lessons for policy makers since they may provide genetic and cultural reservoirs - refugia - for the wide array of species that have co-evolved with humans in Europe for more than 6000 thousand yrs. Biodiversity restoration projects in domesticated landscapes can employ the biophysical elements and cultural practices embedded in biocultural refugia to create locally adapted small-scale mosaics of habitats that allow species to flourish and adapt to change. We conclude that such insights must be included in discussions of land-sparing vs. land-sharing when producing more food while combating loss of biodiversity. We found the latter strategy rational in domesticated landscapes with a long history of agriculture.

  • 27.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Natural Resource Management, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Folke, Carl
    Natural Resource Management, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Colding, Johan
    Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Social-ecological memory in urban gardens-Retaining the capacity for management of ecosystem services2010In: Global Environmental Change, ISSN 0959-3780, E-ISSN 1872-9495, Vol. 20, no 2, p. 255-265Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Many ecosystem services are in decline. Local ecological knowledge and associated practice are essential to sustain and enhance ecosystem services on the ground. Here, we focus on social or collective memory in relation to management practice that sustains ecosystem services, and investigate where and how ecological practices, knowledge and experience are retained and transmitted. We analyze such social-ecological memory of allotment gardens in the Stockholm urban area, Sweden. Allotment gardens support ecosystem services such as pollination, seed dispersal and pest regulation in the broader urban landscape. Surveys and interviews were preformed over a four-year period with several hundreds of gardeners. We found that the allotment gardens function as communities-of-practice, where participation and reification interact and social-ecological memory is a shared source of resilience of the community by being both emergent and persistent. Ecological practices and knowledge in allotment gardens are retained and transmitted by imitation of practices, oral communication and collective rituals and habits, as well as by the physical gardens, artifacts, metaphors and rules-in-use (institutions). Finally, a wider social context provides external support through various forms of media, markets, social networks, collaborative organizations, and legal structures. We exemplify the role of urban gardens in generating ecosystem services in times of crisis and change and conclude that stewards of urban green areas and the social memory that they carry may help counteract further decline of critical ecosystem services. .

  • 28.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Department of History, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Isendahl, Christian
    Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
    Urban gardens, agriculture, and water management: Sources of resilience for long-term food security in cities2013In: Ecological Economics, ISSN 0921-8009, E-ISSN 1873-6106, Vol. 86, p. 224-234Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Food security has always been a key resilience facet for people living in cities. This paper discusses lessons for food security fromhistoric and prehistoric cities. The Chicago school of urban sociology established amodernist understanding of urbanism as an essentialist reality separate from its larger life-support system. However, different urban histories have given rise to a remarkable spatial diversity and temporal variation viewed at the global and long-term scales that are often overlooked in urban scholarship.Drawing on two case studies fromwidely different historical and cultural contexts – the Classic Maya civilization of the late first millennium AD and Byzantine Constantinople – this paper demonstrates urban farming as a pertinent feature of urban support systems over the long-term and global scales. We show how urban gardens, agriculture, and water management as well as the linked social–ecological memories of how to uphold such practices over time have contributed to long-term food security during eras of energy scarcity. We exemplify with the function of such local blue–green infrastructures during chocks to urban supply lines. We conclude that agricultural production is not “the antithesis of the city," but often an integrated urban activity that contribute to the resilience of cities.

  • 29.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm University.
    Isendahl, Christian
    Göteborgs Universitet.
    Vis, Ben
    University of Kent, UK.
    Drescher, Axel
    University of Erlangen-Nuernberg, Germany.
    Evans, Dan
    Lancaster University, UK.
    van Timmeren, Arjan
    TU Delft, The Netherlands.
    Global urbanization and food production in direct competition for land: Leverage places to mitigate impacts on SDG2 and on the Earth System2019In: The Anthropocene Review, ISSN 2053-0196, Vol. 6, no 1-2, p. 71-97Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Global urbanization and food production are in direct competition for land. This paper carries outa critical review of how displacing crop production from urban and peri-urban land to other areas– because of issues related to soil quality – will demand a substantially larger proportion of theEarth’s terrestrial land surface than the surface area lost to urban encroachment. Such relationshipsmay trigger further distancing effects and unfair social-ecological teleconnections. It risks also settingin motion amplifying effects within the Earth System. In combination, such multiple stressors set thescene for food riots in cities of the Global South. Our review identifies viable leverage points on whichto act in order to navigate urban expansion away from fertile croplands. We first elaborate on thepolitical complexities in declaring urban and peri-urban lands with fertile soils as one global commons.We find that the combination of an advisory global policy aligned with regional policies enablingrobust common properties rights for bottom-up actors and movements in urban and peri-urbanagriculture (UPA) as multi-level leverage places to intervene. To substantiate the ability of aligningglobal advisory policy with regional planning, we review both past and contemporary examples whereempowering local social-ecological UPA practices and circular economies have had a stimulatingeffect on urban resilience and helped preserve, restore, and maintain urban lands with healthy soils.

  • 30.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Department of History, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Parker, John
    National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of Calilfornia, Santa Barbara, USA.
    Ernstson, Henrik
    Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, Rondesbosch, Cape Town, South Africa.
    Food and Green Space in Cities: A Resilience Lens on Gardens and Urban Environmental Movements2015In: Urban Studies, ISSN 0042-0980, E-ISSN 1360-063X, Vol. 52, no 7, p. 1321-1338Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article examines the role played by urban gardens during historical collapses in urban food supply lines and identifies the social processes required to protect two crit- ical elements of urban food production during times of crisis - open green spaces and the collective memory of how to grow food. Advanced communication and transport technologies allow food sequestration from the farthest reaches of the planet, but have markedly increasing urban dependence on global food systems over the past 50 years. Simultaneously, such advances have eroded collective memory of food production, while suitable spaces for urban gardening have been lost. These factors combine to heighten the potential for food shortages when - as occurred in the 20th century - major economic, political or environmental crises sever supply lines to urban areas. This paper considers how to govern urban areas sustainably in order to ensure food security in times of crisis by: evincing the effectiveness of urban gardening during crises; showing how allotment gardens serve as conduits for transmitting collective social-ecological memories of food production; and, discussing roles and strategies of urban environmental movements for protecting urban green space. Urban gardening and urban social movements can build local ecological and social response capacity against major collapses in urban food supplies. Hence, they should be incorporated as central elements of sustainable urban development. Urban governance for resilience should be historically informed about major food crises and allow for redundant food production solutions as a response to uncertain futures.

  • 31.
    Barthel, Stephan
    et al.
    Department of History, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Parker, John
    National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA; Barrett Honors College, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA.
    Folke, Carl
    Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Colding, Johan
    Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Urban gardens: pockets of social-ecological memory2014In: Greening in the Red Zone: Disaster, Resilience, and Community Greening Part II / [ed] Keith G. Tidball and Marianne E. Krasny, Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands , 2014, p. 145-158Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    It is well known that urban allotment gardens provide important ecosystem services. Their potential to act as sources of local resilience during times of crisis is less appreciated, despite the role they have played as areas of food security during times of crisis in history. Their ability to provide such relief, however, requires that the skills and knowledge needed for effective gardening can be transmitted over time and across social groups. In short, some portion of urban society must remember how to grow food. This chapter proposes that collectively managed gardens function as ‘pockets’ of social-ecological memory in urban landscapes by storing the knowledge and experience required to grow food. Allotment gardeners operate as ‘communities of practice’ with ecosystem stewardship reflecting long-term, dynamic interactions between community members and gardening sites. Social-ecological memories about food production and past crises are retained and transmitted through habits, traditions, informal institutions, artifacts and the physical structure of the gardens themselves. Allotment gardens thus serve as incubators of social-ecological knowledge with experiences that can be accessed and transferred to other land uses in times of crisis, contributing to urban resilience. Conversely, failure to protect these pockets of social-ecological memory could result in a collective ‘forgetting’ of important social-ecological knowledge and reduce social-ecological resilience.

  • 32.
    Bendt, Pim
    et al.
    Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; .
    Barthel, Stephan
    Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Department of History, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Colding, Johan
    Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden .
    Civic greening and environmental learning in public-access community gardens in Berlin2013In: Landscape and Urban Planning, ISSN 0169-2046, E-ISSN 1872-6062, Vol. 109, no 1, p. 18-30Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We analyse environmental learning in public-access community gardens (‘PAC-gardens’) in Berlin, representing public green spaces that are collectively managed by civil society groups. Through extensive fieldwork, and drawing upon social theories of learning, we describe learning communities in four PAC-gardens and analyse factors that influence participation and boundary interaction, that is when experiences brought in from the outside encounter socially defined competences. Results show that these PAC-gardens have self-generated social and physical structures, which to different degrees inhibit or facilitate boundary interactions, whereas skills of individuals to put those to work, in combination with the quality of the surrounding neighbourhoods, can be ascribed for creating broader participation and greater diversity in the content of learning about local sustainability. Identified learning streams included learning about gardening and local ecological conditions; about urban politics, and about social entrepreneurship. We discuss results in relation to environmental learning that combats the generational amnesia in cities about our dependence on nature, where PAC-gardens clearly distinguish themselves from more closed forms of urban gardening such as allotment gardens and gated community gardens. We conclude that PAC-gardens that intertwine gardening with social, political and economic practices can create broader and more heterogeneous learning about social–ecological conditions, and help develop sense-of-place in degraded neighbourhoods.

  • 33.
    Berghauser Pont, Meta
    et al.
    Chalmers University of Technology.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Faculty of Science, Stockholm University.
    Colding, Johan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm.
    Gren, Åsa
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm.
    Legeby, Ann
    Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.
    Marcus, Lars
    Chalmers University of Technology.
    Editorial: Social-ecological urbanism: Developing discourse, institutions and urban form for the design of resilient social-ecological systems in cities2022In: Frontiers in Built Environment, E-ISSN 2297-3362, Vol. 8, article id 982681Article in journal (Refereed)
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  • 34.
    Brandt, S. Anders
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Computer and Geospatial Sciences, Geospatial Sciences.
    Lim, Nancy Joy
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Computer and Geospatial Sciences, Geospatial Sciences.
    Colding, Johan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science.
    Mapping Flood Risk Uncertainty Zones in Support of Urban Resilience Planning2021In: Urban Planning, E-ISSN 2183-7635, Vol. 6, no 3, p. 258-271Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    River flooding and urbanization are processes of different character that take place worldwide. As the latter tends to make the consequences of the former worse, together with the uncertainties related to future climate change and flood‐risk modeling, there is a need to both use existing tools and develop new ones that help the management and planning of urban environments. In this article a prototype tool, based on estimated maximum land cover roughness variation, the slope of the ground, and the quality of the used digital elevation models, and that can produce flood ‘uncertainty zones’ of varying width around modeled flood boundaries, is presented. The concept of uncertainty, which urban planners often fail to consider in the spatial planning process, changes from something very difficult into an advantage in this way. Not only may these uncertainties be easier to understand by the urban planners, but the uncertainties may also function as a communication tool between the planners and other stakeholders. Because flood risk is something that urban planners always need to consider, these uncertainty zones can function both as buffer areas against floods, and as blue‐green designs of significant importance for a variety of ecosystem services. As the Earth is warming and the world is urbanizing at rates and scales unprecedented in history, we believe that new tools for urban resilience planning are not only urgently needed, but also will have a positive impact on urban planning.

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  • 35.
    Bren d'Amour, Christopher
    et al.
    Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Germany; Department Economics of Climate Change, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
    Reitsma, Femke
    Department of Geography,Canterbury University, Christchurch, New Zealand.
    Baiocchi, Giovanni
    Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Güneralp, Burak
    Center for Geospatial Science, Applications and Technology (GEOSAT), Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.
    Erb, Karl-Heinz
    Institute of Social Ecology Vienna, Alpen-Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt, Vienna, Austria.
    Haberl, Helmut
    Institute of Social Ecology Vienna, Alpen-Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt, Vienna, Austria.
    Creutzig, Felix
    Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Germany; Department Economics of Climate Change, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
    Seto, Karen C.
    Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
    Future urban land expansion and implications for global croplands2017In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 114, no 34, p. 8939-8944Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Urban expansion often occurs on croplands. However, there is little scientific understanding of how global patterns of future urban expansion will affect the world's cultivated areas. Here, we combine spatially explicit projections of urban expansion with datasets on global croplands and crop yields. Our results show that urban expansion will result in a 1.8-2.4% loss of global croplands by 2030, with substantial regional disparities. About 80% of global cropland loss from urban expansion will take place in Asia and Africa. In both Asia and Africa, much of the cropland that will be lost is more than twice as productive as national averages. Asia will experience the highest absolute loss in cropland, whereas African countries will experience the highest percentage loss of cropland. Globally, the croplands that are likely to be lost were responsible for 3-4% of worldwide crop production in 2000. Urban expansion is expected to take place on cropland that is 1.77 times more productive than the global average. The loss of cropland is likely to be accompanied by other sustainability risks and threatens livelihoods, with diverging characteristics for different megaurban regions. Governance of urban area expansion thus emerges as a key area for securing livelihoods in the agrarian economies of the Global South.

  • 36.
    Chen, Karen
    et al.
    Yale Univeristy.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm University.
    Depression is more common in the suburbs than in city centres2023Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [en]

    We wanted to find out which factors in the built environment were the most important for psychological wellbeing so that cities can be designed better to be both sustainable and supportive of mental health.

    A hectare of land can house the same amount of population with dense low-rises or sparse high-rises. High rises can be either in dense bustling business districts or in less dense city areas with fancy apartments facing a large green.

    Suburbs, however, tend to have a medium density of low-rise buildings. Which approach should we take?

  • 37.
    Chen, Tzu-Hsin Karen
    et al.
    School of the Environment, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.;Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.;Department of Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.;Big Data Centre for Environment and Health (BERTHA), Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark.;Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), University of Copenhagen, København V, Denmark..
    Horsdal, Henriette Thisted
    Big Data Centre for Environment and Health (BERTHA), Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark.;The National Centre for Register-based Research, Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark..
    Samuelsson, Karl
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. ISGlobal, Barcelona, Spain.
    Closter, Ane Marie
    Big Data Centre for Environment and Health (BERTHA), Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark.;The National Centre for Register-based Research, Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark..
    Davies, Megan
    Big Data Centre for Environment and Health (BERTHA), Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark.;Section of Epidemiology, University of Copenhagen, København K, Denmark..
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden..
    Pedersen, Carsten Bøcker
    Big Data Centre for Environment and Health (BERTHA), Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark.;The National Centre for Register-based Research, Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark.;Centre for Integrated Register-based Research (CIRRAU), Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark..
    Prishchepov, Alexander V.
    Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), University of Copenhagen, København V, Denmark..
    Sabel, Clive E.
    Big Data Centre for Environment and Health (BERTHA), Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark.;Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus V, Denmark..
    Higher depression risks in medium- than in high-density urban form across Denmark2023In: Science Advances, E-ISSN 2375-2548, Vol. 9, no 21, article id eadf3760Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Urban areas are associated with higher depression risks than rural areas. However, less is known about how different types of urban environments relate to depression risk. Here, we use satellite imagery and machine learning to quantify three-dimensional (3D) urban form (i.e., building density and height) over time. Combining satellite-derived urban form data and individual-level residential addresses, health, and socioeconomic registers, we conduct a case-control study (n = 75,650 cases and 756,500 controls) to examine the association between 3D urban form and depression in the Danish population. We find that living in dense inner-city areas did not carry the highest depression risks. Rather, after adjusting for socioeconomic factors, the highest risk was among sprawling suburbs, and the lowest was among multistory buildings with open space in the vicinity. The finding suggests that spatial land-use planning should prioritize securing access to open space in densely built areas to mitigate depression risks.

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  • 38.
    Cilliers, Sarel
    et al.
    North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.
    Siebert, Stefan
    North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.
    Barthel, Stephan
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Garden ecosystem services of Sub-Saharan Africa and the role of health clinic gardens as social-ecological systems2018In: Landscape and Urban Planning, ISSN 0169-2046, E-ISSN 1872-6062, Vol. 180, p. 294-307Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Rapid urbanization is predicted to take place in Africa in the near future and currently stressed cities will be even more overburdened in terms of pressure on green areas and increasing urban poverty. Effectively planning for and conserving current urban green infrastructure will be essential to ensure resilience and maintenance of quality urban environments. Gardens represent major portions of urban green infras- tructure. In this paper we review literature to determine the current status of garden ecosystem services under the main themes of provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural services in sub-Saharan Africa and identify the current challenges in optimizing these ecosystem services. Studying gardens as social- ecological systems might be the key to promote and enhance their resilience capacity in a changing world, acknowledging the fact that gardens are communities of practice in which social learning may occur. Studies on health clinic gardens in the North-West Province of South Africa have indicated how some of the challenges in terms of optimizing garden ecosystem services can be addressed. Multiple stakeholders involved in the health clinic gardens contribute towards a co-production of knowledge that could lead to social learning on aspects such as cultivation of nutritious food. More detailed studies on health clinic gardens are however, necessary to be able to develop a community-based resource man- agement framework that can be implemented in the North-West Province and potentially in other South African provinces and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa 

  • 39.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    An urban ecology critique on the "Smart City" model2017In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 164, p. 95-101Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this letter is to raise some critical concerns and gaps in the booming literature on Smart Cities; concerns that we think deserve greater attention from scientists, policy makers and urban planners. Using an urban ecology lens, we provide some reflections that need to forgo any wider-scale implementation of the Smart City-model with the goal to enhance urban sustainability. We discuss that the Smart City literature must better include analysis around social sustainability issues for city dwellers. Focus here should start on health issues and more critical analysis about whom the Smart City is for. Also, the literature must address issues of resilience and cyber security, including how Smart City solutions may affect the autonomy of urban governance, personal integrity and how it may affect the resilience of infrastructures that provide inhabitants with basic needs, such as food, energy and water security. A third major gap in this literature is how smart city developments may change human-nature relations. Focus here should start on how Smart City technologies may hinder or support children’s learning towards a stronger psychological connection with nature. Discussions are also needed on how the Smart City model may affect pro-environmental behavior more broadly.

  • 40.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Exploring the social-ecological systems discourse 20 years later2019In: Ecology & Society, E-ISSN 1708-3087, Vol. 24, no 1, p. 423-432, article id 2Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores the 20-year evolution of the social-ecological systems framework (SESs). Although a first definition of SES dates back to 1988, Berkes and Folke more thoroughly used the concept in 1998 to analyze resilience in local resource management systems. Since then studies of interlinked human and natural systems have emerged as a field on its own right, promoting interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration in a wide set of fields and practices. As the SES concept celebrates its 20-year existence we decided to make an overview of how authors use the concept in relation to research that deals with social and ecological linkages. Hence, we conducted a review of the SES concept using the Scopus database, analyzing a random set of journal articles on social-ecological systems (n = 50) regarding definitions of SES, authors’ main sources of inspiration in using the concept, as well as document type, subject area, and other relevant information. Although there is a steady increase of SES publications, we found that 61% of the papers analyzed did not even provide a definition of the term social-ecological system(s), a shortcoming that makes case comparisons difficult and reduces the usefulness of the concept. We also found three common SES frameworks that authors seem to be most commonly inspired by, referred to here as the original, the robustness, and multitier frameworks, respectively. The first can be characterized as a descriptive framework, the latter two more as diagnostic frameworks, useful for modeling. Although it would be a bit presumptuous of us to come up with a more thorough definition of the SES concept in this paper, we urge SES scholars to be more meticulous in making explicit what they mean by a social-ecological system when conducting SES research. 

  • 41.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, The Royal Swedish Academy of Science; Stockholm Resilience Centre.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Centre.
    Resilience and Sustainable Development2017In: Dreams and Seeds: The role of campuses in sustainable urban development / [ed] Schewenius, M., Keränen, P., al Rawaf, R., Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences , 2017, 1, p. 28-29Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 42.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Department of History, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    The potential of ‘Urban Green Commons’ in the resilience building of cities2013In: Ecological Economics, ISSN 0921-8009, E-ISSN 1873-6106, Vol. 86, p. 156-166Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    While cultural diversity is increasing in cities at a global level as a result of urbanization, biodiversity is decreasing with a subsequent loss of ecosystem services. It is clear that diversity plays a pivotal role in the resilience building of ecosystems; however, it is less clear what role cultural diversity plays in the resil- ience building of urban systems. In this paper we provide innovative insights on how common property sys- tems could contribute to urban resilience building. Through a review of recent findings on urban common property systems and the relevant literature, we deal with urban green commons (UGCs) and discuss their potential to manage cultural and biological diversity in cities. We describe three examples of UGCs, i.e. col- lectively managed parks, community gardens, and allotment areas, with a focus on their institutional characteristics, their role in promoting diverse learning streams, environmental stewardship, and social– ecological memory. We discuss how UGCs can facilitate cultural integration through civic participation in urban land-management, conditions for the emergence of UGCs, the importance of cognitive resilience building, and what role property-rights diversity plays in urban settings. We conclude by elucidating some key insights on how UGCs can promote urban resilience building.

  • 43.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    The Role of University Campuses in Reconnecting Humans to the Biosphere2017In: Sustainability, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 9, no 12, article id 2349Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper, we explore the potential for integrating university campuses in a global sustainability agenda for a closer reconnection of urban residents to the biosphere. This calls for a socio-cultural transition that allows universities and colleges to reconnect to the biosphere and become active stewards of the Earth System. Recognizing their pivotal role of fostering coming generations of humans, university campuses represent a unique socio-cultural setting to promote sustainable development in practice. Among others, this involves the nurturing of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Antropocene era, which is characterized by ongoing climate change and massive loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. We explore the traditional campus setting, its role as a community for rejuvenating town planning and its role as a governance authority that may promote or retard sustainable development with an ecological focus. We explore the “sustainable” university and describe the campus as an ecosystem and how a resilient campus can be designed to meet the novel and critical challenges of the Anthropocene. We conclude by providing some policy recommendations for higher educational institutes to speed up their ambitions in the area of sustainable biosphere management.

  • 44. Colding, Johan
    et al.
    Barthel, Stephan
    Andersson, E
    Schewenius, M
    Inventory Report Live Baltic Campus2016Report (Other academic)
  • 45.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Department of History, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Bendt, Pim
    The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Snep, Robbert
    Alterra, Wageningen UR, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
    van der Knaap, Wim
    Wageningen University, Land Use Planning Group, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
    Ernstson, Henrik
    Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa.
    Urban green commons: Insights on urban common property systems2013In: Global Environmental Change, ISSN 0959-3780, E-ISSN 1872-9495, Vol. 23, no 5, p. 1039-1051Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this paper is to shed new light on urban common property systems. We deal with urban commons in relation to urban green-space management, referring to them as urban green commons. Applying a property-rights analytic perspective, we synthesize information on urban green commons from three case-study regions in Sweden, Germany, and South Africa, and elaborate on their role for biodiversity conservation in urban settings, with a focus on business sites. Cases cover both formally established types of urban green commons and bottom-up emerged community-managed habitats. As our review demonstrates, the right to actively manage urban green space is a key characteristic of urban green commons whether ownership to land is in the private, public, the club realm domain, or constitutes a hybrid of these. We discuss the important linkages among urban common property systems, social–ecological learning, and management of ecosystem services and biodiversity. Several benefits can be associated with urban green commons, such as a reduction of costs for ecosystem management and as designs for reconnecting city-inhabitants to the biosphere. The emergence of urban green commons appears closely linked to dealing with societal crises and for reorganizing cities; hence, they play a key role in transforming cities toward more socially and ecologically benign environments. While a range of political questions circumscribe the feasibility of urban green commons, we discuss their usefulness in management of different types of urban habitats, their political justification and limitation, their potential for improved biodiversity conservation, and conditions for their emergence. We conclude by postulating some general policy advice.

  • 46.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Ljung, Robert
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Swedish Agency for Work Environment Expertise, Sweden.
    Eriksson, Felix
    Sjöberg, Stefan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Social Work and Criminology, Social Work.
    Urban commons and collective action to address climate change2022In: Social Inclusion, ISSN 2183-2803, E-ISSN 2183-2803, Vol. 10, no 1, p. 103-114Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Climate change and the coupled loss of ecosystem services pose major collective action problems in that all individuals would benefit from better cooperation to address these problems but conflicting interests and/or incomplete knowledge discourage joint action. Adopting an inductive and multi‐layered approach, drawing upon the authors’ previous research on urban commons, we here summarize key insights on environmentally oriented urban commons and elaborate on what role they have in instigating climate‐proofing activities in urban areas. We deal with three types of urban commons, i.e., “urban green commons,” “coworking spaces,” and “community climate commons.” We describe how allotment gardens, community gardens, and other types of urban green commons contribute to environmental learning that may boost under‐ standing of environmental issues and which constitute important learning arenas for climate‐change mitigation and adap‐ tation. We also deal with the newly emerging phenomenon of coworking spaces that share many essential institutional attributes of urban commons and which can work for climate‐change mitigation through the benefits provided by a shar‐ ing economy and through reduction of domestic transportation and commuting distance. Community climate commons represent commons where local communities can mobilize together to create shared low‐carbon assets and which hold the potential to empower certain segments and civil society groups so that they can have greater influence and ownership of the transformation of reaching net‐zero carbon goals. We conclude this article by identifying some critical determinants for the up‐scaling of environmentally oriented urban commons.

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  • 47.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University.
    Samuelsson, Karl
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science.
    Supporting bottom-up human agency for adapting to climate change2020In: One Earth, ISSN 2590-3330, E-ISSN 2590-3322, Vol. 3, no 4, p. 392-395Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The metric focus of sustainability thinking is at risk of downplaying the role of climate-change adaptation as a strategy complementary to climate-change mitigation. The upcoming 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) needs to explore how adaptation based on human agency could contribute to dealing with climate change.

  • 48.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholms Universitet; Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholms Universitet.
    Sörqvist, Patrik
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science.
    Wicked Problems of Smart Cities2019In: Smart Cities, ISSN 2624-6511, Vol. 2, no 4, p. 512-521Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    It is often uncritically assumed that, when digital technologies are integrated into the operation of city functions, they inevitably contribute to sustainable urban development. Such a notion rests largely on the belief that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions pave the way for more democratic forms of planning, and that ‘smart’ technological devices result in a range of environmental benefits, e.g., energy efficiency and the mitigation of global warming. Drawing on the scientific literature that deals with ‘smart cities’, we here elaborate on how both propositions fail to consider drawbacks that could be characterized as ‘wicked’, i.e., problems that lack simplistic solutions and straightforward planning responses, and which often come about as ‘management surprises’, as a byproduct of achieving sustainability. We here deal with problems related to public choice constraints, ‘non-choice default technologies’ and the costs of automation for human learning and resilience. To avoid undemocratic forms of planning and too strong a dependence on non-choice default technologies, e.g., smart phones, we recommend that planners and policy makers safeguard redundancy in public-choice options by maintaining a wide range of alternative choices, including analog ones. Resilience thinking could help planners deal more effectively with the ‘wickedness’ of an increasingly hyper-connected society.

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    fulltext
  • 49.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Academy of Sciences, Sweden.
    Colding, Magnus
    Colding Digital Teknik AB, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Applying seven resilience principles on the Vision of the Digital City2020In: Cities, ISSN 0264-2751, E-ISSN 1873-6084, Vol. 103, article id 102761Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 50.
    Colding, Johan
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Academy of Sciences, Sweden.
    Colding, Magnus
    Colding Digital Teknik AB, Sweden.
    Barthel, Stephan
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden.
    The smart city model: A new panacea for urban sustainability or unmanageable complexity?2020In: Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, ISSN 2399-8083, Vol. 47, no 1, p. 179-187Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Despite several calls in this journal of debating the rapid growth of the literature on “smart cities”, such a debate has in large been absent. Smart cities are often un-critically launched as a sustainable way of developing cities. When cities become increasingly complex as its features are wired into the Internet, theories for their understanding is lagging behind. As it is prospected that a greater number of people and things will become connected by Information and Computer Technology, the complexity of urban systems will over time increase. Historical insights reveal that as complexity in societies increase, growth in energy consumption tends to follow. In this paper, we discuss whether complexity carried too far could lead to diminishing returns of energy saving and create unmanageable urban systems. As part of initiating such a debate, this commentary asks whether the smart cities development has a bearing on the issue whether a society can erode its capacity of sustaining itself? We pose this question against the backdrop that no one actually knows what type of society the smart cities model in the end will generate.

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