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Sustainable Welfare in Swedish Cities: Challenges of Eco-Social Integration in Urban Sustainability Governance

Jamil Khan, Roger Hildingsson, Lisa Garting

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In this paper, we study the integration of ecological sustainability and social welfare concerns in cities. Efforts to handle ecological challenges risk having negative impacts on equality and social welfare. While current levels of consumption and material welfare are unsustainable, there is a need for more sustainable approaches to welfare and wellbeing. Still, ecological and social concerns in urban governance are treated as separated topics. Based on text analysis of policy documents and qualitative interviews, we study how ecological and social welfare concerns are being addressed and integrated into urban planning in three Swedish cities (Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö). Theoretically, the paper draws on conceptualizations of sustainable welfare, social and ecological sustainability, and policy integration. We find ecological and social welfare concerns being acknowledged as interconnected and we see signs of an emerging sustainable welfare agenda in the cities, e.g., around Agenda 2030. However, in practice, eco-social policy integration is only established to a limited degree, for instance in neighborhood development, transport planning, and green city planning. Issues of ecological justice and equity and the relationship between socioeconomic factors and consumption-related environmental impacts are hardly addressed. Thus, much remains to be done for eco-social policy integration to materialize at the urban level.

Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 383

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