The Urban Sustainability Project

2013 - 2016
Research Type: Policy Research

The Urban Sustainability Project aimed to outline recommendations for policy and action in order to achieve sustainability through a change in the urban lifestyle. The project chose to focus on cities as the sites of most human activity. A team of leading experts formed recommendations in a variety of areas of human behavior.

The project is a continuation of the comprehensive “Israel Sustainability Outlook 2030” project, which was completed by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research and the Ministry for Environmental Protection. Strategic recommendations were issued for achieving sustainability.

The departure point for the project

Despite increased efficiency in production processes and the shift to environmentally friendly products, we remain far from attaining the targets necessary for the preservation of the global environment for future generations. Consequently, the focus of this research is on the behavioral sciences and sociology, as opposed to the usual environmental sciences and economics, in order to identify patterns of human behavior which could enable people to enjoy a high yet sustainable quality of life.

The Urban Sustainability Project’s final product was a series of policy recommendations for changing behavior in order to achieve a sustainable lifestyle in cities. The project developed policy tools and recommendations for local governments interested in promoting sustainability. The project touched upon community activity, cooperative economics, renewal of commercial centers, finding ways to shift from private cars to alternative modes of transportation, and finding ways to use urban public spaces efficiently and attractively. The project offers a “soft” approach to changing the urban lifestyle, in addition to large-scale changes in infrastructure. Such changes can be at times very productive and improve urban life with little effort and money compared to large-scale changes.

The Urban Sustainability Project continued for three years. In the first year, the theoretical background was written based on a wide variety of fields. In the second year, pilot tests were conducted on various ideas—urban laboratories. In the third year, policy recommendations for local governments were formulated. The project was accompanied by a public committee, headed by Raanan Dinor, and with the participation of experts and stakeholders from the public and business sectors, the local governments, academia, and civil society organizations.

The vision of a sustainable city as formulated in the Urban Sustainability Project:

A sustainable city enables a life of happiness and dignity for all, within and beyond the city itself. It uses its material, natural, human, and social infrastructures and resources wisely and fairly, while taking responsibility for its part in the management of global ecosystems, and with a sense of responsibility towards future generations and for the city’s physical and cultural heritage. This vision was formulated with a team of researchers in a meeting conducted in July 2014.

A city that strives for sustainability is a city that makes an effort to achieve this vision, and accordingly it encourages and enables the following:

  • The existence of human and environmental diversity for all;
  • Infrastructures accessible to all and fair distribution of resources;
  • Social, environmental, and economic resilience;
  • Leadership in action, involvement in and commitment to sustainability;
  • Participation by and cooperation among residents and all stakeholders – government, business, and civil society;
  • Responsible and sustainable consumption;
  • A selection of alternatives and options;
  • A culture of trust, mutual respect, creativity, growth and innovation, mutual support, and participation;
  • Community development, connectivity, communication, and social networks;
  • Equal opportunities in education, employment, services, and leisure;