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Exploring an Explicit Use of the Concept of Sustainability in Transport Planning


The aim of this paper is to explore an explicit use of the concept of sustainability within transport planning. This paper analyses the concept of sustainability based on a practical approach for a sustainable development of Nordhavn, an area of Copenhagen, exemplifying a complex planning problem. An exploration of the application of the concept of sustainability is carried out using elements of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM). This approach indicates a need to separate the use of sustainability considerations regarding the transport planning ‘process’ from the transport planning ‘results’. The two approaches are related to the planning levels presented by Ulrich (Syst Prac 1(4):415–428, 1988). It was chosen to focus on the understanding of a sustainable transport planning process. This focus is addressed by four stakeholder groups interviewed based on the ‘ought to’ mode of Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH). Finally an outline of some of the factors of a sustainable transport planning process is proposed.

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The participation of stakeholders in the interviews has been of great value for the work with the paper and for the PHD study and thesis of which it is part. Furthermore, the two anonymous reviewers have contributed with many valuable comments which have helped to bring the paper into its current form. For this I am thankful.

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Correspondence to Sara Lise Jeppesen.

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The paper was written, submitted and revised the first time while the author was a PhD student at the Department of Transport, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark. The author has following changed job and is now employed by Københavns Kommune, Center for Trafik, and only minor linguistic and grammatical related changes have been made in the second revision completed afterwards.

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Jeppesen, S.L. Exploring an Explicit Use of the Concept of Sustainability in Transport Planning. Syst Pract Action Res 24, 133–146 (2011).

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  • Implicit/explicit sustainability
  • ‘Process’/‘result’
  • Soft systems methodology
  • Critical systems heuristics