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Browsing by Subject "sustainable urban planning"

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  • Nieminen, Jenni (2019)
    Cities are responsible for many of the current environmental changes in the world. Even though the need for urban sustainability transitions is apparent, city governments have been, so far, uncapable of governing the change. In this thesis, the possible urban transition and its multi-level governance is examined through the case example of Eko-Viikki neighbourhood and the urban planning changes around it. The framework of multi-level perspective on socio-technical transitions (MLP) is used for the analysis. This theory on transitions is widely used, while criticized for its inadequate conceptualization of the regime (the dominant system) and its spatial application, especially in cities. Traditionally, the framework has not been used to study transitions in cities, due to which, there is a lack of case examples of urban sustainability transitions and their governance. This thesis addresses the deficiency in question and aims to find out which types of policy instruments could be essential in bringing about urban sustainability transitions and whether the dominant regime, in this case the urban planning of Helsinki, can actively influence the steering of the transition. The materials of this thesis consist of two different sources. The document analysis was used to gather the materials for the policy instrument analysis. In addition, six semi-structured expert interviews were conducted to provide supporting material for it, as well as to examine the change of the urban planning context in Finland. The materials were analysed by qualitative content analysis using the MLP framework and a commonly used environmental policy instrument classification as a frame. The results indicate that regime actors can have endogenous power to somewhat steer the urban sustainability transitions. The regime actors of urban planning of Helsinki were active in the Eko-Viikki project, and sustainability issues have become more integrated part of the everyday urban planning in Helsinki. As for the niche level of Eko-Viikki, regulation and collaboration related policy instruments were the most successful in advancing the sustainability issues. In fact, the site transfer conditions containing sustainability demands as well as the area working group method have been scaled up to the use of the regime. The city of Helsinki has, moreover, committed in advancing sustainable city development through international agreements and its own city strategies. As regards the landscape level, the land use and construction legislation changes have remarkably tightened the requirements for sustainability of urban planning, especially for the energy efficiency. On the contrary, the lack of certain types of instruments seem to remarkably hinder the urban sustainability transitions. According to the results, information related instruments need to be developed to make the most of the technical solutions available and, ultimately, to make urban planning more like continuous learning processes rather than individual projects. Also, the issue of short-term profit seeking should be addressed by economic instruments that involve long-term investments and set sustainability issues as a first priority. All in all, it can be concluded, that much has done for promoting sustainability in urban planning of Helsinki even though a profound urban sustainability transition cannot be said to have happened. Particularly, systemic and process focused policy instruments are needed to take into account the multiple different stakeholders involved, and the governance levels where urban sustainability transitions take place. The urban sustainability transitions can be enabled only together with other governmental bodies of the city, state, construction companies, maintenance companies and, ultimately, residents.