Strategies for sustainability in shrinking cities: Frames, rationales and goals for a development path change
Addressing the challenges and opportunities in shrinking cities requires approaches and strategies different from those that have been applied under growth conditions. Research on shrinking cities has generated a plethora of approaches and strategies for the shrinkage trajectory and has identified sustainability as a guiding principle. However, shrinking city development in practice either cannot confront the situation of shrinkage, or does so without an integrative, consistent approach, while the concept of sustainability has ambiguous meanings, giving rise to competing or contradicting rationales. This paper identifies the need for clearer directions for a re-orientation away from the growth-oriented approaches, in conjunction with a critical reflection on what sustainability means for different shrinking cities. Towards this end, it first assembles an overview of the strategic framings behind urban development ideas proffered in the shrinking city discourse, with a focus on the temporal, agential and spatial dimensions and the cross-cutting frame of higher-level interdependencies. Secondly, with a deeper reflection on the inner tensions of the sustainability concept, it distils the key rationales and proposes new strategy-making approaches for a development path change towards sustainable development that responds to different local situations.