Urbanization is an ongoing process all over the globe. People moving from rural to urban areas are the primary cause of urbanization, and history indicates that this movement of people is very hard to influence. The inflow of new residents to urban areas results in the need for more buildings and infrasystems, new institutions and often, new ways of life. How does this relate to the sustainability challenge? Given the ways in which most cities are currently developing, urbanization does not contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals.
This thesis explores a new research strategy for studying the process of urbanization and how it may hold opportunities for addressing the long-term objectives of environmentally sustainable urban development. The research strategy: MAMMUT – Managing the Metabolism of Urbanization, is a methodological and conceptual framework, it is a dynamic and cross-disciplinary approach towards understanding urban sustainability.
The main novelty in this research strategy is to explore the use of situations of opportunity – instants when stakeholders have a possibility greater than average to guide and influence the urbanization process so as to contribute to more of environmental sustainability – as units of analysis. Political scientists have used concepts similar to this, however none is as wide in scope and time. Four aspects are analysed in a situation of opportunity: urban structure, institutional framework, new ways of life and environmental impacts – enhancing the cross-disciplinary approach of the framework. Also, in terms of time frame, the pre-history, the formative moment and the outcome of each situation are studied.
A cover essay and three papers compose this thesis. The papers apply and test the above-mentioned methodology in pilot studies about historical situations of opportunity created by the development of public transport systems in Stockholm, Dar es Salaam and Curitiba. The cover essay discusses the lessons learned with the pilot studies and aims at: (a) discussing and further developing the MAMMUT methodological and conceptual framework; (b) analysing the relations and synergies between the four aspects of urbanization (as proposed by MAMMUT’s framework).
The main conclusion of the thesis is that the MAMMUT research strategy can be a useful tool for analysing the urbanization process and its relations to sustainable development. Suggestions for improvements in the framework are made. Also, the four aspects of urbanization suggested for the analysis of a given situation are confirmed relevant, however the analysis of the relations and synergies between these aspects is revealed to be as important as studying the four aspects per se.
Stockholm: KTH , 2005. , 50 p.