Roberta Cucca

The Unexpected Consequences of Sustainability. Green Cities Between Innovation and Ecogentrification



The definition of sustainable development clearly requires the integration of the economic, ecological and social impacts of the development. While scholars and practitioners have mainly focused their studies on environmental protection and green management, the social pillar in the concept of sustainable development has been on the research agenda to a more limited extent. Within this framework, the main aim of the present article is to highlight the relevance of an integrated approach to sustainability, in order to avoid possible trade-off mechanisms between the different dimensions of the concept, in the processes both of policy design and of policy implementation. In particular, through the analysis of two case studies - Vancouver (Canada) and Copenhagen (Denmark) - the investigation focuses on the urban policies promoted in these two contexts, under the brand of "sustainable city". This promotion was carried out through the organization of big international conferences or expositions about sustainability, the promotion of tools of environmental management in the field of waste management and mobility, and the enhancement of green areas. As a general result, both Vancouver and Copenhagen have attracted strategic economic and social resources such as talent, real estate investment, and international events; however these programmes seem to have also promoted a strong increase in the cost of housing, fostering a general process of "ecogentrification" by the replacement of the urban population and the emergence of new inequalities among different social groups. Finally, taking in to account the case of Vienna, some possible examples of strategies to create a more balanced principle of urban sustainability are presented.


  • Urban sustainability
  • ecogentrification
  • spatial justice
  • housing policies
  • social sustainability


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