The circulation of Swedish urban sustainability practices: to China and back
2015 (English)In: Environment and planning A, ISSN 0308-518X, E-ISSN 1472-3409, Vol. 47, no 3, 537-553 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
This paper explores the effects and underlying intentions of Swedish practices of exporting sustainable development models to Chinese ecocities. Under the 'bestpractice' banner, international architectural firms are often invited to masterplan ecocity developments. The 'sustainable city' has thus become an export commodity, supported by the Swedish government and seen as especially suited to the Chinese ecocity market. Two cases are examined, where Swedish architecture firms have been commissioned to masterplan Chinese ecocities: the Caofedian and Wuxi Eco-cities. In particular, I examine three kinds of 'effects': first, the planning discourse manifested in the planning documents; second, how these plans materialize on the ground; and, third, the effects of this exported planning practice on Swedish policy and practice at home. This paper advances our understanding of how transnational urban sustainability practices are constructed and circulated. It further adds to the field of planning mobilities by examining not only the discourse and diffusion of transnational master planning but also how the 'export' circulates and returns. I argue that the two intentional logics of exporting the Swedish 'sustainable city'-to shape a better world and to export clean-tech products-could both be seen as having failed in these two cases. Instead, the naming and branding of the ecocities seem to boost a certain repetitive problematic idea and practice of sustainable urban development. I argue that the Swedish exported practice strengthens and legitimizes a circulating narrative establishing a sustainable urban planning practice fostering a paradoxically generic image of upper-middle-class consumers as ecocity inhabitants in China as well as in Sweden.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 47, no 3, 537-553 p.
ecocity, Sweden, sustainable urban development, China, ecological modernization
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-166361DOI: 10.1068/a130320pISI: 000352365600004ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84925409544OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-166361DiVA: diva2:810603
QC 201505072015-05-072015-05-072015-05-07Bibliographically approved