Sustainable Cities and Communities

Living Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Pinar Gökcin Özuyar, Tony Wall

Opportunities for All: Inclusive and Equitable Sustainable Development

  • Yanjun CaiEmail author
Living reference work entry



According to the 12th Edition Collins English Dictionary, equal opportunity is defined as “the offering of employment, pay, or promotion equally to all, without discrimination as to sex, race, colour, disability, etc.” (2014). This definition of equal opportunity focuses on economic inclusion and equality among people to promote shared prosperity. In addition to the monetary perspective, the equality of opportunity is a complex and contested concept in the field of political philosophy, often associated with the metaphors of “levelling the playing field” and “starting gate equality” (Anderson 1999; Rawls 2009; Roemer 2009). Furthermore, beyond that of political theory, the concept of equality of opportunity has been applied in various domains, including sociology, education, psychology, public health, and economics. Also, equal opportunity is often linked with antidiscrimination, fairness,...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.



In addition to Olga Kuznetsova’s thorough editorial review, I am immensely grateful to Amrita Daniere, Scott Drinkall, and Shahin Rahman for their valuable insights that significantly improved the manuscript.


  1. Agyeman J, Evans T (2003) Toward just sustainability in urban communities: building equity rights with sustainable solutions. Ann Am Acad Pol Soc Sci 590:35–53. Scholar
  2. Agyeman J, Schlosberg D, Craven L, Matthews C (2016) Trends and directions in environmental justice: from inequity to everyday life, community, and just sustainabilities. Annu Rev Environ Resour 41: 321–340. Scholar
  3. Anderson ES (1999) What is the point of equality? Ethics 109:287–337. Scholar
  4. Arneson R (2015) Equality of opportunity. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from
  5. Becker S, Crandall M, Fisher KE, Kinney B, Landry C, Rocha A (2010) Opportunity for all: how the American public benefits from Internet access at U.S. libraries.  Institute of Museum and Library ServicesGoogle Scholar
  6. Béné C, Arthur R, Norbury H, Edward H. Allison, Beveridge M, Bush S, Campling L, Leschen W, Little D, Squires D, Shakuntala H. Thilsted, Troell M, Williams M (2016) Contribution of Fisheries and Aquaculture to Food Security and Poverty Reduction: Assessing the Current Evidence. World Develop 79:177–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blanc DL (2015) Towards integration at last? The sustainable development goals as a network of targets. Sustain Dev 23:176–187. Scholar
  8. Brondizio ES, Tourneau F-ML (2016) Environmental governance for all. Science 352(6291):1272–1273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Castro CJ (2004) Sustainable development: mainstream and critical perspectives. Organ Environ 17:195–225. Scholar
  10. Cohen GA (2009) Rescuing justice and equality. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  11. Copiello S (2015) Achieving affordable housing through energy efficiency strategy. Ener Pol 85:288–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cowell R, Bristow G, Munday M (2011) Acceptance, acceptability and environmental justice: the role of community benefits in wind energy development. J Environ Plan Manage 54(4):539–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dempsey N, Bramley G, Power S, Brown C (2011) The social dimension of sustainable development: defining urban social sustainability. Sustain Dev 19:289–300. Scholar
  14. Dworkin R (2002) Sovereign virtue: the theory and practice of equality. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  15. Employment and Social Development Canada (2018) Canada’s first poverty reduction strategy (navigation page). Retrieved from
  16. Giddens A (1979) Agency, structure. In: Giddens A (ed) Central problems in social theory: action, structure and contradiction in social analysis. Contemporary social theory. Macmillan Education UK, London, pp 49–95. Scholar
  17. Giddens A (1984) The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  18. Giddens M (2018) The SDGs Are An Opportunity, Not Just A Challenge. Forbes. Retrieved from
  19. Hajer M, Nilsson M, Raworth K, Bakker P, Berkhout F, de Boer Y, Rockström J, Ludwig K, Kok M, Hajer M, Nilsson M, Raworth K, Bakker P, Berkhout F, de Boer Y, Rockström J, Ludwig K, Kok M (2015) Beyond cockpit-ism: four insights to enhance the transformative potential of the sustainable development goals. Sustainability 7:1651–1660. Scholar
  20. Hák T, Janoušková S, Moldan B (2016) Sustainable Development Goals: a need for relevant indicators. Ecol Indic 60:565–573. Scholar
  21. Harvey D (2010) Social justice and the city (Vol. 1) University of Georgia Press, AtlantaGoogle Scholar
  22. Holden E, Linnerud K, Banister D (2014) Sustainable development: Our Common Future revisited. Glob Environ Chang 26:130–139. Scholar
  23. Holliday CO, Schmidheiny S, Watts P (2017) Walking the Talk: The Business Case for Sustainable Development. Routledge, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kanbur R, Rhee C, Zhuang J (2014) Inequality in Asia and the Pacific: trends, drivers, and policy implications. Routledge, HobokenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kay A (2005) Territorial justice and devolution. Br J Polit Int Rel 7:544–560. Scholar
  26. Koehler G (2016) Tapping the Sustainable Development Goals for Progressive Gender Equity and Equality Policy? Gender Develop 24(1):53–68. Scholar
  27. Ministry of Social Development (2004) Opportunity for all New Zealanders. Ministry of Social Development, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  28. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2006) Sustainable Communities: Building for the future. Retrieved from
  29. Purfield C, Finger H, Ongley K, Baduel B, Castellanos C, Pierre G, Stepanyan V, Roos E (2018) Opportunity for all: promoting growth and inclusiveness in the Middle East and North Africa. The International Monetary Fund, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  30. Rawls J (2009) A theory of justice. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  31. Robinson J (2004) Squaring the circle? Some thoughts on the idea of sustainable development. Ecol Econ 48(4):369–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Roemer JE (2002) Equality of opportunity: a progress report. Soc Choice Welf 19:455–471. Scholar
  33. Roemer JE (2009) Equality of opportunity. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  34. Sachs JD (2015) The age of sustainable development. Columbia University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Seyfang G, Smith A (2007) Grassroots innovations for sustainable development: Towards a new research and policy agenda. Environ Pol 16(4):584–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sheller M (2015) Racialized Mobility Transitions in Philadelphia: Connecting Urban Sustainability and Transport Justice. City Soc 27(1):70–91. Scholar
  37. Shi L, Chu E, Anguelovski I, Aylett A, Debats J, Goh K, Schenk T, Seto KC, Dodman D, Roberts D, Roberts JT, VanDeveer SD (2016) Roadmap towards justice in urban climate adaptation research. Nat Clim Chang 6(2):131–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Son HH (2013) Inequality of human opportunities in developing Asia. Asian Dev Rev 30:110–130. Scholar
  39. Watts J (2018) We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN. The GuardianGoogle Scholar
  40. Weaver, Paul, Leo Jansen, Geert van Grootveld, Egbert van Spiegel, Philip Vergragt (2017) Sustainable Technology Development. Routledge, New York. Scholar
  41. Wolff RP (1990) Understanding Rawls: a reconstruction and critique of a theory of justice. Peter Smith, GloucesterGoogle Scholar
  42. World Bank (2016) Doing business 2017: equal opportunity for all (No. 109551). The World Bank Group, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. World Health Organization (2015) Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessment. World Health OrganizationGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia Partnership, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public PolicyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Olga Kuznetsova
    • 1
  1. 1.Economics, Policy and International BuisnessManchester Metropolitan University,ManchesterUK