Urban Sustainability and Justice

Just Sustainabilities and Environmental Planning

Vanesa Castán Broto and Linda Westman


An assessment of sustainability initiatives in over 200 cities offering a practical approach to just sustainability as a framework for urban development

Urban Sustainability and Justice presents an innovative yet practical approach to incorporate equity and social justice into sustainable development in urban areas, in line with the commitments of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. This work proposes a feminist reading of just sustainabilities' principles to reclaim sustainability as a progressive discourse which informs action on the ground. This work will help the committed activist (whether they are on the ground, working in a community, in a non-governmental organization (NGO), in a business, at a university, in any sphere in government) to connect their work to international efforts to deliver environmental justice in cities around the world.

Drawing on a comparative, international analysis of sustainability initiatives in over 200 cities, Castán Broto and Westman find limited evidence of the implementation of just sustainabilities principles in practice, but they argue that there is considerable potential to develop a justice-oriented sustainability agenda. Highlighting current successes while also assessing prospects for the future, the authors show that just sustainabilities is not merely an aspirational discourse, but a frame of reference to support radical action on the ground.

Author Bio

Vanesa Castán Broto is a professorial fellow at the Urban Institute, University of Sheffield, and chair of the research group on Climate Urbanism. She leads the European Research Council project Low Carbon Action in Ordinary Cities. Vanesa’s last book is Urban Energy Landscapes (2019). She is a Lead Author in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a chapter author for UN-Habitat’s 2020 World Cities Report.

Linda Westman is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Urban Institute, University of Sheffield, whose work engages with the governance of sustainability and climate change, urban sustainability transformations, and justice.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction 
  • 2. The appropriation of sustainability values       
  • 3. The challenge of emancipatory sustainability thought
  • 4. Planning for Just Sustainabilities         
  • 5. Improving wellbeing and quality of life             
  • 6. Meeting the needs of present and future generations             
  • 7. Justice and equity in recognition, process, participation and outcome
  • 8. Ecosystem Limits
  • 9. Conclusion   


'A convincing treatise on why social justice is central to achieving urban sustainability. Castán Broto and Westman present just sustainability initiatives of urban activists around the world that support emancipatory goals and principles.'
Robert D. Bullard, Texas Southern University

'Castán Broto and Westman provide a thoughtful, multi-pronged assessment of urban sustainability. Drawing on rich experience of diverse urban settings, this is a must-read for those who seek a morally just, empirically grounded and theoretically sound framework that can help us transition to a more equitable, sustainable urban future.'
Harini Nagendra, Azim Premji University

'This is the ultimate book for thinking what just and sustainable cities in the 21st century could look like.'
Giorgos Kallis, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


Publication Date: 17 June 2021
208 pages


Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786994936

In Print

Product ISBNs: Hardback: 9781786994929
eBook ePub: 9781786994950
eBook PDF: 9781786994943
eBook Kindle: 9781786994967

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