chapter  9
15 Pages

Strategies for sustainable spatial development: operationalising sustainability in strategic projects


For decades the environmental dimension and impact of planning have been largely neglected, despite the fact that spatial planning interventions often had a substantial negative impact on the environment. However, since the late 1960s, the ‘modernist’ planning approach, and the growth-oriented economic development concerns that informed it, increasingly met its environmental limits. There is a growing awareness that the earth’s resources are limited (Meadows et al. 1974: 40-67) and that we live in a ‘finite’ world. This awareness has raised a new set of challenges and opportunities for (spatial) planning practice and is reinvigorating its strategic dimension by its stress on the need for long-term thinking and transformative practices (see also Chapter 2). The emerging approaches and answers to these challenges and opportunities are referred to as planning for sustainability. In several countries in the 1990s and the 2000s, often within the existing planning offices of national administrations, sustainable development plans have emerged. Spatial planning for sustainability followed suit, albeit rather hesitantly, and remains somewhat exceptional on the national level. Moreover, it was not clear what the contribution of spatial planning could be in relation to sustainable development.