Advertisement

Cities as Forces for Good in the Environment: A Systems Approach

  • M. Bruce Beck
  • Dillip K. Das
  • Michael Thompson
  • Innocent Chirisa
  • Stephen Eromobor
  • Serge Kubanza
  • Tejas Rewal
  • Everardt Burger
Chapter

Abstract

Background: The various elements of infrastructure in cities and their systems of governance—for transport, buildings, solid waste management, sewerage and wastewater treatment, and so on—may be re-worked such that cities may become forces for good (CFG, for short) in the environment. The chapter is a study in the lessons learned from implementing and pursuing research into how a systems approach can be employed to meet the challenges of achieving CFGs. Methodology: Four case studies in CFG are presented within the framework of the methods and computational models of Systems Dynamics (SD): transport infrastructure for the Kanyakumari city-region in India, resource recovery from wastewater infrastructure in the city of Harare, Zimbabwe, environmental injustice in the handling of solid municipal wastes in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and improving the use of energy in university campus buildings in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Application/Relevance to systems analysis: The chapter presents the successes and the difficulties of undertaking Applied Systems Analysis (ASA) in demanding urban contexts. Policy and practice implications: Policy for CFG derived from ASA often appears to be a matter of determining better technological innovations and engineering interventions in the infrastructure of cities, while practice often demands that infrastructure improvements follow from social and institutional improvements. Conclusion: The first of three conclusions is that combining the rigorous, logical, non-quantitative, more discursive and more incisive style of thinking derived from the humanities, particularly, social anthropology, with better computational modelling will yield better outcomes for ASA. Secondly, in a global context, cities—as opposed to nation-states—are increasingly becoming the locations and scale at which today’s environmental, economic, and social “problems” might best be “solved”. Third, and last, we conclude that South Africa, while it may not have a long tradition of problem-solving according to ASA, has for us emphasised (through our experience of the South African YSSPs) the limitations of an historical over-reliance on hard, quantitative methods of systems analysis.

Keywords

Governance systems Computational models Systems dynamics Transport infrastructure Wastewater infrastructure  Solid municipal waste Applied Systems Analysis 

References

  1. Anthoff, D., & Tol, R. S. J. (2014). FUND—climate framework for uncertainty, negotiation and distribution: Technical description (Version 3.9) (available online at www.fund-model.org/versions).
  2. Arup, O. (2014). City Resilience Framework. Report, The Rockefeller Foundation and Ove Arup & Partners International, (April), 24 pp.Google Scholar
  3. Barles, S. (2007a). Feeding the city: Food consumption and flow of nitrogen, Paris, 1801–1914. Science of the Total Environment, 375, 48–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barles, S. (2007b). Urban metabolism and river systems: An historical perspective—Paris and the Seine, 1790–1970. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 11, 1757–1769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beck, M. B. (2011). Cities as forces for good in the environment: Sustainability in the water sector (xx + 165 pp). Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, (ISBN: 978-1-61584-248-4) (online as http://cfgnet.org/archives/587).
  6. Beck, M. B. (2014). Handling uncertainty in environmental models at the science-policy-society interfaces. In M. Boumans, G. Hon, & A. C. Petersen (Eds.), Error and uncertainty in scientific practice (pp. 97–135). London: Pickering & Chatto.Google Scholar
  7. Beck, M. B. (2016). Understanding the science of ecosystem services: Engineering infrastructure for urban water services. Applying systems thinking: An outreach paper (viii + 37 pp). International Water Association, The Hague, The Netherlands (online as http://www.iwa-network.org/ecosystem-services-not-so-much-the-water-as-whats-in-it/).
  8. Beck, M. B., Fath, B. D., Parker, A. K., Osidele, O. O., Cowie, G. M., Rasmussen, T. C., et al. (2002). Developing a concept of adaptive community learning: Case study of a rapidly urbanizing watershed. Integrated Assessment, 3(4), 299–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Beck, M. B., Gupta, H., Rastetter, E., Shoemaker, C., Tarboton, D., Butler, R., et al. (2009). Grand challenges of the future for environmental modeling (White Paper). National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia (ISBN: 978-1-61584-248-3; online as http://cfgnet.org/archives/249).
  10. Beck, M. B., Thompson, M., Ney, S., Gyawali, D., & Jeffrey, P. (2011). On governance for re-engineering city infrastructure. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Engineering Sustainability, 164(ES2), 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Beck, M. B., & Villarroel Walker, R. (2011). Global water crisis: A joined-up view from the city. Surveys and Perspectives Integrating Environment and Society, 4.1, [Online] Online since 27 December 2011 (available online at http://sapiens.revues.org/1187).
  12. Beck, M. B., & Villarroel Walker, R. (2013a). On water security, sustainability, and the water-food-energy-climate nexus. Frontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering, 7(5), 626–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Beck, M. B., & Villarroel Walker, R. (2013b). Nexus security: Governance, innovation, and the resilient city. Frontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering, 7(5), 640–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Beck, M. B., Villarroel Walker, R., & Thompson, M. (2013). Smarter urban metabolism: Earth systems re-engineering. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers Engineering Sustainability, 166(5), 229–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Borsuk, M. E., Stow, C. A., & Reckhow, K. H. (2004). A Bayesian network of eutrophication models for synthesis, prediction, and uncertainty analysis. Ecological Modelling, 173(2–3), 219–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Checkland, P. (1985). The approach to plural rationality through soft systems methodology. In M. Grauer, M. Thompson & A. Wierzbicki (Eds.), Plural rationality and interactive decision processes (pp. 8–21). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. CISL. (2015). Unhedgeable risk. How climate change sentiment impacts investment (57 pp). Cambridge: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (available online at www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/publications/sustainable-finance).
  18. Coyle, R. G. (1996). System dynamics modelling: A practical approach. London: Chapman and Hall.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Crutzen, P. J., Beck, M. B., & Thompson, M. (2007). “Cities”, Options, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Laxenburg, Austria, 8.Google Scholar
  20. Dagerskog, L., Coulibaly, C., & Ouandaoga, I. (2010). The emerging market of treated human excreta in Ouagadougou. Urban Agriculture Magazine, 23, 45–48 (April) (posted at www.ruaf.org).
  21. Dake, K., & Thompson, M. (1999). Making ends meet, in the household and on the planet. GeoJournal, 47, 417–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Das, D., & Sonar, S. G. (2013). Perspective impacts of information technology industry in development of Pune City in India. Journal of New Generation Sciences, 1(3), 1–17.Google Scholar
  23. Davy, B. (1997). Essential injustice: When legal institutions cannot resolve environmental and land disputes. Vienna: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. De Maximy, R. (Ed.). (1984). Kinshasa, Ville en Suspens, Dynamique de Croissance et Problème d’Urbanisme. Paris: De l’Orstom.Google Scholar
  25. Dodds, L., & Hopwood, B. (2006). BAN Waste, environmental justice and citizen participation in a policy setting. Local Environment, 11(3), 269–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Drechsel, P., & Erni, M. (2010). Analysing the nexus of sanitation and agriculture at municipal scale. Urban Agriculture Magazine, 23, 11–12 (April) (posted at www.ruaf.org).
  27. Fink, J. H. (2012). Cities as geoengineering building blocks. In R. J. Dawson, C. L. Walsh & C. G. Kilsby (Eds.), Earth systems engineering 2012: A technical symposium on systems engineering for sustainable adaptation to global change. Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research, Newcastle University, UK, pp. 59–64.Google Scholar
  28. Forrester, J. W. (1969). Urban dynamics. Massachusetts: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. Gyawali, D., Thompson, M., & Verweij, M. (2017). Aid, technology and development: The lessons from Nepal. London: Earthscan-Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Harrington, E. (2012). Building a coastal wetland in the heart of a city. Nature, 486, 189.Google Scholar
  31. Holling, C. S. (Ed.). (1978). Adaptive environmental assessment and management. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  32. Holling, C. S. (1986). The resilience of terrestrial ecosystems: Local surprise and global change. In W. C. Clark & R. E. Munn (Eds.), Sustainable development of the biosphere (pp. 292–317). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Holmgren, K. E., Li, H., Verstraete, W., & Cornel, P. (2016). State of the Art Compendium Report on resource recovery from water. The Hague: International Water Association.Google Scholar
  34. ICSU. (2011). Health and Wellbeing in the Changing urban environment: A systems analysis approach. In Interdisciplinary science plan (42 pp). Paris: International Council for Science (ICSU). (http://www.icsu.org/publications/reports-and-reviews/health-and-wellbeing/).
  35. Katz, B., & Bradley, J. (2013). The Metropolitan revolution. How cities and metros are fixing our broken politics and fragile economy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  36. Kubanza, N. S. (2004). The consequences of the failure of urbanisation of the City of Kinshasa (Honours Dissertation, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Kinshasa, DRC).Google Scholar
  37. Kubanza, N. S. (2006). The resurgence of endemic diseases in the City of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. MSc Research Report, Department of Sociology, University of Kinshasa, DRC.Google Scholar
  38. Kubanza, N. S. (2010). Perception and issues of solid waste management in South Africa, A case study of Johannesburg. Masters Research Report, Department of Development Planning, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Google Scholar
  39. Larsen, T. A., Udert, K. M., & Lienert, J. (Eds.). (2013). Source separation and decentralization for wastewater management. London: IWA Publishing.Google Scholar
  40. Leonard, L., & Pelling, M. (2010). Mobilisation and protest: Environmental justice in Durban, South Africa. Local Environment, 15(2), 137–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mbumba, N. (Ed.). (1982). Kinshasa 1881–1981, 100 ans après Stanley, Problèmes et Avenir d’une Ville. Kinshasa, DRC: Centre de Recherches Pédagogiques.Google Scholar
  42. McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to cradle: Remaking the way we make things. New York: North Point Press.Google Scholar
  43. Mehaffy, M. W., & Salingaros, N. A. (2014). The biological basis of resilient cities. Ecologist [Online] (www.theecologist.org/green_green-living; posted 25 January, 2014).
  44. Mercer. (2015). Investing in a time of climate change (103 pp). London: Mercer LLC (available online at www.mercer.com/ri/climate-change-study).
  45. Mo, H.-P., Wen, Z.-G., & Chen, J. (2009). China’s recyclable resources recycling system and policy: A case study in Suzhou. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 53, 409–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. NAE. (2016). Grand challenges for engineering: Imperatives, prospects, and priorities: Summary of a forum (42 p). Washington, DC: US National Academy of Engineering, National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  47. Ney, S. (2009). Resolving messy policy problems: Handling conflict in environmental, transport, health and ageing policy. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  48. NHDP. (2011). National highways development project maps, NHDP Project Phases—I, II & III. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, September 2011.Google Scholar
  49. NHDP. (2014). National highways development project: An overview. Government of India, pp. 1–2 (Retrieved 7 June 2014).Google Scholar
  50. Nordhaus, W. (2014). Estimates of the social cost of carbon: Concepts and results from the DICE-213R model and alternative approaches. Journal Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 1, 273–312.  https://doi.org/10.1086/676035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. NWCF. (2009). The Bagmati: Issues, challenges and prospects. Technical Report, prepared by Nepal Water Conservation Foundation (NWCF) for King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation, Kathmandu, Nepal.Google Scholar
  52. Pain, M. (Ed.). (1984). Kinshasa, la Ville et la Cité. Paris: De l’Orstom.Google Scholar
  53. Patt, A. (2007). Assessing model-based and conflict-based uncertainty. Global Environmental Change, 17, 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pucher, J., Korattyswaropam, N., Mittal, N., & Neenu, I. (2005). Urban transport crisis in India. Transport Policy, 12, 185–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Reichert, P., Borsuk, M. E., Hostmann, M., Schweizer, S., Spörri, C., Tockner, K., et al. (2007). Concepts of decision support for river rehabilitation. Environmental Modelling and Software, 22(2), 188–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Reichert, P., Langhans, S. D., Lienert, J., & Schuwirth, N. (2015). The conceptual foundation of environmental decision support. Environmental Management, 154, 316–332.Google Scholar
  57. Rewal, T. (2016). Planning for optimum transportation system for sustainable development in Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu (PhD Dissertation, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee).Google Scholar
  58. Salingaros, N. A. (2005). Principles of urban structure. Amsterdam: Techne Press.Google Scholar
  59. Shen, Q., Chen, Q., Tang, B., Yeung, S., Hu, Y., & Cheung, G. (2009). A system dynamics model for the sustainable land use planning and development. Habitat International, 15, 25–33.Google Scholar
  60. Sterman, J. (1982). Business dynamics: Systems thinking and modelling for a complex world. Boston: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  61. Thompson, M. (1979). Rubbish theory: The creation and destruction of value. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Thompson, M. (1998). Waste and fairness. Social Research, 65(1, Spring), 55–73.Google Scholar
  63. Thompson, M. (2002). Man and nature as a single but complex system. In P. Timmerman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of global environmental change (Vol. 5, pp. 384–393). Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  64. Thompson, M. (2003). Stoffströme und moralische Standpunkte. In M. Fansa & S. Wolfram (Eds.), Müll: Facetten von der Steinzeit bis zum Gelben Sack, Mainz am Rhein, Philipp von Zabern (English translation as “Material Flows and Moral Positions”. Insight, Cities as Forces for Good (CFG) Network; online as http://cfgnet.org/archives/531).
  65. Thompson, M. (2011). Sustainability is an essentially contested concept. Surveys and Perspectives Integrating Environment and Society, 4.1, [Online] Online since 23 November 2011 (available online at http://sapiens.revues.org/1177).
  66. Thompson, M. (2017). Rubbish theory: The creation and destruction of value (Second and extended edition). London: Pluto.Google Scholar
  67. Thompson, M., & Beck, M. B. (2014). Coping with change: Urban resilience, sustainability, adaptability and path dependence. Working Paper 13, Foresight Future of Cities, UK Government Office for Science (GOS), December, p. 45 (Available from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-of-cities-coping-with-change).
  68. Thompson, M., Ellis, R., & Wildavsky, A. (1990). Cultural theory. Boulder, Colorado: West View.Google Scholar
  69. Thompson, M., & Warburton, M. (1985). Decision making under contradictory certainties: How to save the Himalayas when you can’t find out what’s wrong with them. Applied Systems Analysis, 12, 3–34.Google Scholar
  70. Trucost, (2013). Natural capital at risk: The top 100 externalities to business. London: Trucost.Google Scholar
  71. Tshishimbi, E. (2006). Travail des Enfants et des Jeunes dans la Ville de Kinshasa, Galiléo. Kinshasa, DRC: Galiléo.Google Scholar
  72. Tukahirwa, J., Mol, A., & Oosterveer, P. (2010). Civil society participation in urban sanitation and solid waste management in Uganda. Local Environment, 15(1), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Varis, O. (2002). Belief networks: Generating the feared dislocations. In M. B. Beck (Ed.), Environmental foresight and models: A manifesto (pp. 169–205). Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Verweij, M. (2011). Clumsy solutions for a wicked world. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  75. Villarroel Walker, R., & Beck, M. B. (2012). Understanding the metabolism of urban-rural ecosystems: A multi-sectoral systems analysis. Urban Ecosystems, 15, 809–848.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-012-0241-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Villarroel Walker, R., & Beck, M. B. (2014). Nutrient recovery. Nexus innovation impact analysis. Insight, 1. BeCleantech Initiative, Sustainability Specialist Group, International Water Association, www.becleantech.org, August, (2014), p. 30 (see also www.cfgnet.org/archives/1528).
  77. Villarroel Walker, R., Beck, M. B., & Hall, J. W. (2012). Water—and nutrient and energy—systems in urbanizing watersheds. Frontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering, 6(5), 596–611.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11783-012-0445-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Villarroel Walker, R., Beck, M. B., Hall, J. W., Dawson, R. J., & Heidrich, O. (2014). The energy-water-food nexus: Strategic analysis of technologies for transforming the urban metabolism. Journal of Environmental Management, 141, 104–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Villarroel Walker, R., Beck, M. B., Hall, J. W., Dawson, R. J., & Heidrich, O. (2017). Identifying key technology and policy strategies for sustainable cities: A case study of London. Environmental Development, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envdev.2016.11.006 (published on-line 23 November, 2016).
  80. Walker, G. (2009). Beyond distribution and proximity: Exploring the multiple spatialities of environmental justice. Antipode, 41(4), 614–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wen, Z.-G., Zhang, C., Ji, X., & Xue, Y. (2015). Urban mining’s potential to relieve China’s coming resource crisis. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 19(6), 1091–1102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. WHO. (2009). Time for Action. Global Status Report on Road Safety, World Health Organisation, Geneva (www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/global_reports/en/).
  83. Williams, D. (2017). How statistics lost their power—and why we should fear what comes next. The Long Read, The Guardian, (19 January) (posted at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/19/crisis-of-statistics-big-data-democracy).
  84. Wolman, A. (1965). The metabolism of cities. Scientific American, 213(3), 179–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Zhang, H., & Wen, Z.-G. (2014). The consumption and recycling collection system of PET bottles: A case study of Beijing, China. Waste Management, 34(6), 987–998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Bruce Beck
    • 1
  • Dillip K. Das
    • 2
  • Michael Thompson
    • 3
  • Innocent Chirisa
    • 4
  • Stephen Eromobor
    • 2
  • Serge Kubanza
    • 5
  • Tejas Rewal
    • 6
  • Everardt Burger
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Civil & Environmental EngineeringImperial College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringCentral University of TechnologyBloemfonteinSouth Africa
  3. 3.Risk and Resilience ProgramInternational Institute for Applied Systems AnalysisLaxenburgAustria
  4. 4.Department of Urban and Regional PlanningUniversity of ZimbabweHarareZimbabwe
  5. 5.School of Geography, Archaeology, and Environmental StudiesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  6. 6.Department of Architecture and PlanningIndian Institute of TechnologyRoorkeeIndia

Personalised recommendations