Eco-town to eco-city development: a new vision for urbanism toward equitable, sustainable, post fossil-carbon societies

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Urban development policies and practices have been far from achieving the desired transitions towards sustainable approaches at the global levels. The political, cultural, societal and economic factors that affect the level of progress vary widely, and; so do the efforts towards the adoption of sustainability measures at local and national levels. In spite of the technological advances and the experiences of the past three decades, which should be helping to accelerate the transitions into sustainable urban policies and actions, the positive impacts, thus far, are minimal. This is mainly due to the rapidly growing urban populations, political and economic ambitions or the lack of environmental awareness and education of the societies.

Initiatives of sustainable urbanism have been instrumental in terms of understanding the implications at the policy levels as well as with regards to the integration of environmental measures in planning and design practices. For example, the eco-cities movement made some exposure in terms of the green building principles but the human aspects that are highly relevant to the achievement of change at personal and societal levels were not thoroughly and effectively integrated into the vision and planning processes of urban planners and decision-makers. Also, due to the exponential increases in the resource and energy flow rates and the rates at which human actions are causing environmental damage, the current approaches of eco-design within the realm of urban development, only posit reductionist - and to some extent - restorative solutions at best. Regenerative development, as an alternative concept within the framework of ecological worldview, offers to restore and regenerate the social-ecological system, thereby to increase the social / natural capitals through design, dialogue and engagement of all stakeholders in mutually supportive symbiotic relations.

In this context, the eco-towns/eco-city developments in the size of neighborhoods and districts within the urban settings have much potential in terms of contributing to the transitioning of wider urban populations into equitable, sustainable, post fossil-carbon societies. They have been the testing grounds for analyzing the environmental planning, development processes, governance models and more recently, for the evaluation of their outcomes socially and ecologically. On the one hand, many of the eco-town/eco-city examples have demonstrated an array of innovative approaches in design and the integration of technology into the daily lives of residents. On the other hand however, the tangible successes are weak with regard to promoting social equity, behavioral change, cognitive adaptations and the dissemination of positive results for wider policy adaptations and practices.

Therefore, key aspects that need to be addressed include but are not limited to:

  • Formulation of the eco-town development’s governance through democratic and ‘meaningful participation’ of all stakeholders;
  • Adaptation of holistic design with ‘open systems thinking’ in different contexts;
  • Mobilization and expansion of learning mechanisms within and among the communities.
  • Integration of functions of the new built environment to ensure that the eco-system services can and will be provided sustainably for the short and long-term to yield net-positive benefits.

   This Call for abstracts and subsequently for papers for a workshop for the Global Conference that is designed to challenge participants to develop new visions and to create a framework, indicators and strategies for developing equitable, sustainable, post fossil-carbon urbanism, in ways that can be operationalized at local, regional and global levels.

In this context, an illustrative, regional, eco-town development, will be the primary unit of discussion and will be the context within which the workshop participants will be challenged to address aspects such as, but not limited to the following questions: 

  • What is the definition of ‘success’ in the context of sustainable, equitable, post-fossil carbon urban developments?
  • What factors affect the success of sustainable, equitable, post-fossil carbon urban development processes?
  • How can the eco-town’s development processes be designed/formulated to improve the perceived quality of life (QOL) of residents, to reduce the metabolic flow rates and to increase the life support systems of the wider urban communities, eco-systems and bioregions?
  • How can the Regenerative development framework be adapted into the eco-town/eco-city development process, thereby to effectively stimulate broader transitions into sustainable, equitable post fossil-carbon urban developments?
  • What alternative eco-town/eco-city development frameworks or approaches can be developed, to more effectively, support adaptation and implementation of the ecological design principles in different institutional, cultural and geographical contexts?
  • With regard to achieving sustainable, equitable, post-fossil carbon urban developments; what are the challenges and opportunities in terms of size, scope and context within which to operationalize effective approaches/frameworks and/or concepts? 

Format and Procedures for Submission of Responses to this Call for Papers

We invite authors to prepare and submit extended abstracts, in English, of about 500 words in response to this “Call-for-abstracts”.

Please submit your abstracts and/or proposals for illustrative eco-town planning formats, panel discussions, simulations, and other interactive activities, via the conference website:

Specify that your abstract is meant to be considered for this workshop on ‘Eco-town to eco-city development.

For more information, please contact:
Ph D. candidate, Mr. Bogachan Bayulken
(Antalya, Turkey)
Ph D. Student in the International PhD Program in Cleaner Production, Cleaner Products, Industrial Ecology & Sustainability, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Prof. Wim Hafkamp, Erasmus University leader of the International off-Campus Ph.d. program on Cleaner Production, Industrial Ecology, Eco-Products and Sustainable Development.

Prof. Donald Huisingh, Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment, University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN.  


Bayulken, B. & Huisingh, D., 2015. Are lessons from eco-towns helping planners make more effective progress in transforming cities into sustainable urban systems: a literature review (part 2 of 2). Journal of Cleaner Production, pp.1–14.
Bayulken, B. & Huisingh, D., 2014. Perceived `Quality of Life' in eco-developments and in conventional residential settings: an explorative study. Journal of Cleaner Production, pp.1–10.
Birkeland, J., 2012. Design Blindness in Sustainable Development: From Closed to Open Systems Design Thinking. Journal of Urban Design, 17(2), pp.163–187.
Birkeland, J., 2014. Positive development and assessment. Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, 3(1), pp.4–22.
Caprotti, F., 2014. Eco-urbanism and the Eco-city, or, Denying the Right to the City? Antipode, pp.n/a–n/a.
Cole, R.J., 2012a. Regenerative design and development: current theory and practice. Building Research & Information, 40(1), pp.1–6.
Cole, R.J., 2012b. Transitioning from green to regenerative design. Building Research & Information, 40(1), pp.39–53.
Mang, P. & Reed, B., 2012. Designing from place: a regenerative framework and methodology. Building Research & Information, 40(1), pp.23–38.
Norgaard, K.M., 2009. Cognitive and Behavioral Challenges in Responding to Climate Change. The World Bank Development Economics World Development Report Team, pp.1–76.
Oldenhuizing, J., de Kraker, J. & Valkering, P., 2013. Design of a Quality-of-Life monitor to promote learning in a multi-actor network for sustainable urban development. Journal of Cleaner Production, 49(c), pp.74–84.
du Plessis, C., 2012. Towards a regenerative paradigm for the built environment. Building Research & Information, 40(1), pp.7–22.
Zhang, X. et al., 2013. Delivering a low-carbon community in China: Technology vs. strategy? Habitat International, 37(C), pp.130–137.

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