Resource management as a key factor for sustainable urban planning

C.M. Agudelo Vera, A.R. Mels, K.J. Keesman, H.H.M. Rijnaarts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Due to fast urbanization and increasing living standards, the environmental sustainability of our global society becomes more and more questionable. In this historical review we investigate the role of resources management (RM) and urban planning (UP) and propose ways for integration in sustainable development (SD). RM follows the principle of circular causation, and we reflect on to what extent RM has been an element for urban planning. Since the existence of the first settlements, a close relationship between RM, urbanization and technological development has been present. RM followed the demand for urban resources like water, energy, and food. In history, RM has been fostered by innovation and technology developments and has driven population growth and urbanization. Recent massive resource demand, especially in relation to energy and material flows, has altered natural ecosystems and has resulted in environmental degradation. UP has developed separately in response to different questions. UP followed the demand for improved living conditions, often associated to safety, good manufacturing and trading conditions and appropriate sanitation and waste management. In history UP has been a developing research area, especially since the industrial era and the related strong urbanization at the end of the 18th century. UP responded to new emerging problems in urban areas and became increasingly complex. Nowadays, UP has to address many objectives that are often conflicting, including, the urban sustainability. Our current urban un-sustainability is rooted in massive resource consumption and waste production beyond natural limits, and the absence of flows from waste to resources. Therefore, sustainable urban development requires integration of RM into UP. We propose new ways to this integration
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2295-2303
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • cities
  • city
  • ecosystems
  • metabolism
  • ecology
  • history
  • 21st-century
  • complexity
  • challenges
  • systems

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