Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2013 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Defining Urban Sustainability in Baltimore
Zeemering, Eric
Co-Authors: Eric S. Zeemering

Urban sustainability has become a policy priority for city governments around the globe, but remains difficult to conceptualize and define. Cities are implementing myriad policies to become more sustainable, including environmental, economic and social initiatives. Yet, we remain uncertain about how cities organize and prioritize these policies in the interest of becoming more sustainable places. Using Baltimore City as a case, study, this research asked 85 local actors, "What are the most important things that Baltimore can do in order to be a more sustainable city?" Through in-depth interviews and Q-methodology, three distinct ways to define and think about urban sustainability policies in Baltimore are identified. In some instances, understanding shared policy definitions can help us understand the networks of working relationships that emerge among governmental and nongovernmental actors to implement urban sustainability initiatives. The research findings challenge Baltimore and other cities to acknowledge the complex and varying policy definitions that shape a city’s sustainability efforts. For Baltimore, the research also highlights areas of consensus and disagreement about the meaning of urban sustainability, which may help local actors identify areas for future cooperation on policy implementation.