Ecological modernisation

Achievements and limitations of densification

Authored by: Petter Næss , Inger-Lise Saglie

The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138894808
eBook ISBN: 9781315179780
Adobe ISBN:


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The dominant rationality of contemporary environmental planning is ecological modernisation. Within the field of urban development, densification has been considered for some decades as the most relevant eco-modernisation planning strategy. This chapter takes the densification strategy as its case and develops a critique that examines this policy in terms of the core premises of ecological modernisation. The densification strategy has several environmental merits compared to outward urban expansion. However, even a strongly pursued eco-modernisation strategy of densification cannot entirely decouple growth in buildings and infrastructure from its negative environmental impacts. The situation calls for approaches to environmental planning beyond the eco-modernisation perspective. We need a new paradigm for environmental planning and urban sustainability that secures adequate urban facilities for all members of society while not being committed to (per capita) growth in the built environment.

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