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Experiences in urban governance for sustainability: the Constructive Dialogue in Swedish municipalities

  • Nora Smedby
  • Lena Neij
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 148-158
Publication/Series: Journal of Cleaner Production
Volume: 50
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

The objective of this paper is to analyse the Constructive Dialogue, an initiative for collaborative and integrated urban governance for a sustainable built environment. The dialogue processes, implemented in six Swedish cities in 2004-2009, involved various actors and many types of initiative. Designed as a meta-analysis based on existing evaluations and supplementary interviews, this study examines experiences in capacity building in terms of building relationships, enhancing knowledge, and mobilisation. The study also considers achieved outcome in terms of sustainability, and specifically in terms of environmental aspects. The results show that the collaborative processes to promote relationship building were highly appreciated and that processes of knowledge exchange and knowledge enhancement were seen as quite successful. Consequently, an important result was the enabling of faster processes for urban planning to facilitate the process of urban densification. However, capacity building in terms of mobilisation for a sustainable development was seen to be less successful; the results show that the capacity of the Dialogue to enable mobilisation around sustainability issues through the creation of common visions and goals was weak. The best result was seen in Malmo where the Constructive Dialogue resulted in a shared sustainability agreement which was applied in the development of a new construction site. However, limitations were the difficulties in setting ambitious goals and the lack of knowledge and experience to meet the goals set in the agreement. The study indicates a difficulty in simultaneously considering process and environmental concerns and a tension between consensus and cutting-edge solutions. The study also illustrates the need to further develop processes for urban governance for sustainability. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Collaborative planning
  • Urban environmental governance
  • Institutional
  • capacity building
  • Dialogue
  • Sustainable urban development


  • ISSN: 0959-6526
Lena Neij
E-mail: lena [dot] neij [at] iiiee [dot] lu [dot] se

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