Society, economy, environment – towards the sustainable city

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Sustainable development is one of the most frequently used terms in contemporary social and spatial analysis. Theorists, researchers, planners and politicians discuss the problem in all its possible aspects. Sometimes one gets the impression that the notion of sustainable development is used to describe so many different things that its real meaning seems to be lost.

 The problem is especially complicated when we discuss the sustainable development of urban areas. The concentration of social and economic phenomena in a relatively small area intensifies the problems stemming from the dynamics of development. And the natural environment is often forgotten in urban development plans. Thus the issue of the sustainable development of cities evokes many doubts, misunderstandings and debates on such questions as:

· what does the term sustainable development actually mean for cities – growth, stagnation or decline?

· does the term sustainable development have the same meaning in Western and Eastern cities?

· is sustainability an overused slogan or a real goal in local authorities’ development plans?

· how is it possible to protect the idea of sustainability in the competitive and entrepreneurial mode of urban governance imposed by the neo-liberal paradigm of development in the contemporary world?

· are there any significant differences between the Western and Eastern cities’ policies regarding environmental protection?

· what are the real consequences of the European Union’s pressure on newly integrated states to adopt the policy of sustainable development?

The numerous approaches to the problem of sustainability represented in this book provide some opportunities for an in-depth investigation of sustainable development issues. The various views and ways of discussing the sustainable city reflect well the complicated nature of the matter. The papers are organised in four parts, encompassing such problems as: urban policy, governance and management, the city as a dwelling place, different ways towards sustainable urban development, and new approaches to the sustainability problem.

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