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The Governance of Sustainable Mobility and Urban Planning

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Technological innovations have made possible the development of sustainable mobility and sustainable physical environment. Energy neutrality, limitation of CO2 emissions, improvement of user friendliness, technical robustness, embedding of infrastructures in the physical environment, climate and water adaptability, functional flexibility, material use based on cradle-to-cradle - these are all areas where innovative technological solutions can be applied in sustainable mobility projects and urban planning initiatives. Regardless of the availability of such technologies, sustainable mobility and a sustainable physical environment are often difficult to be realized in practice. This may be caused by problems and challenges that are inherently related to the governance of sustainable mobility projects and urban planning initiatives. Such problems are complex, uncertain, persistent, difficult to manage and hard to grasp (Rotmans, 2005).

The governance of spatial projects is uncertain, because different actors have different interests and agendas and may easily change their positions through confrontation and negotiation. . An entrepreneur may have commercial interests, while citizens or environmental groups may defend ecological interests. The impacts of mobility projects are difficult to assess, due to the inability of their standardization in financial terms (or otherwise). Management problems also arise, as politicians are tend to seek short-term solutions, while the management of spatial projects requires a long-term vision and perseverance. The governance of sustainable mobility and urban planning projects are hard to grasp, because each actor may have different interpretations of ‘sustainability’. The economic benefits of a road extension may be enough for one actor to consider such a project sustainable, without taking into account its environmental impacts.

Module Objectives:

In the course ‘The governance of sustainable mobility and urban planning’ you will learn more about the different aspects of governance in these areas. You will learn about its problems and challenges, strategies, policies and solutions, cases, transitions in governance, trends and needs. This course gives you the intellectual and practical tool to be successfully involved in the management of sustainable mobility and urban planning initiatives, as a student, researcher, policy maker or project manager.

Section I

The first section deals with defining sustainable mobility and urban planning the problems and challenges in their governance.

Section II

The second section consists of three lectures that are concerned with strategies, policies, solutions, cases and transitions in sustainable mobility and urban planning projects.

Section III

Section III consists of one final lecture, which reveals trends and needs of the governance of sustainable mobility and urban planning, including both technical and political aspects. 

For more information about the module, contact the module developer Somesh Sharma (, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, the Netherlands.

Creative Commons

All SUSTAIN materials are subject to the basic terms and conditions in accordance with the Creative Commons license agreement. Users should give credit to the SUSTAIN Project as well as to the module developer. Furthermore, users are not allowed to use any module material for commercial purposes without permission from the SUSTAIN Project and module developer.