Social equity in urban sustainability initiatives : strategies and metrics for Baltimore and beyond
Author(s)Martin, Amanda W. (Amanda Whittemore)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Almost all cities in the United States have initiated efforts to become more sustainable. Theoretically, sustainability encompasses social equity, as well as ecological and economic systems. In practice, many cities are unsure about the role of equity in sustainability planning. With greater knowledge of how urban sustainability initiatives affect social equity, public officials will better be able to incorporate equity into their activities. However, at this time there are few tools and almost no data to conduct such an analysis. This thesis addresses this gap by using Baltimore, Maryland, as a case study to answer two questions: (1) What are cities doing in their sustainability efforts that has the potential to affect social equity? And (2) How will we know if cities are, in fact, advancing equity by planning for sustainability? This thesis finds that without a targeted effort to address local equity issues relevant to sustainability, these plans, policies, and programs are unlikely to produce any significant effect on existing inequities. A community-based engagement strategy to identify relevant equity issues will help cities establish these priorities and craft strategies to address them. However, cities also need to overcome major barriers to implementation in order to move toward sustainability. Sustainability planning lacks a precedent for implementation; adapting existing planning and regulatory schemes to sustainability objectives will provide one effective strategy. Leveraging public and private investments also holds promise. To facilitate learning about the relationship between sustainability strategies and equity outcomes, a protocol for assessing social equity impacts of urban sustainability plans is proposed. The thesis concludes with recommendations for cities like Baltimore that have sustainability initiatives, cities that have not yet initiated sustainability efforts, and researchers and evaluators.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2011.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 75-79).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.