Governing the City of Flows: How Urban Metabolism Approaches May Strengthen Accountability in Strategic Planning

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Governing the City of Flows: How Urban Metabolism Approaches May Strengthen Accountability in Strategic Planning


  • Cathrin Zengerling Urban Footprints Research Group, HafenCity University Hamburg, Germany


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Abstract:  The article aims to provide an initial insight into if and how urban metabolism perspectives and approaches may strengthen accountability in urban environmental strategic planning. It argues that many of the challenges in governing urban environmental flows successfully result from accountability gaps in strategic planning. The aim of the research is to test the assumption that urban metabolism perspectives and approaches strengthen accountability in urban environmental strategic planning. Applying a four-pillar accountability analysis to the strategic climate and resource plans of New York and Zurich, two cities which put environmental sustainability high on their political agenda, the study traces the role of urban metabolism perspectives and approaches and discusses the benefits these may have for accountable strategic planning with a focus on carbon and material flows. The interim results show on the one hand that implicit urban metabolism approaches are vital for both cities’ strategic planning and that they contribute to strengthened accountability in all four pillars of the analysis: responsibility, transparency, assessment and participation. On the other hand, the analysis highlights further potential benefits of urban metabolism perspectives and approaches in urban strategic climate and resource planning.

Keywords:  accountability; carbon flows; material flows; strategic planning; sustainable cities; urban governance; urban metabolism

Published:   21 February 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v4i1.1750


© Cathrin Zengerling. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.