The Paris Agreement, the recent Special Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the Sustainable Development Goals are examples of United Nation’s facilitated calls for urgent climate action and more generally for a rapid transition of society towards sustainability. Since urban personal mobility is a significant contributor to society’s current sustainability challenges, and considering current trends of population growth and urbanisation, there is a strong need to develop enhanced support for urban planning for rapid transitioning to sustainable personal mobility.
This thesis is part of a wider effort to develop methodological support for such planning and action. The aim of the thesis is to provide a partial foundation for that wider effort by: (i) identifying and organising prominent research themes related to the above topic; and since previous research points to benefits of a transdisciplinary, multisectoral and multicultural approach, (ii) exploring and addressing the complexity of co-production processes in such contexts; and (iii) analysing the appropriateness of some prominent planning approaches for the desired planning support.
The aim is pursued through a systematic literature review, including bibliometric analyses, and two empirical case studies, including workshops, interviews, field studies and feasibility studies. One of the case studies included participants from several countries in the Southern Baltic region and the other case study tested the usefulness of different planning approaches in the local context of Kisumu, Kenya and Gothenburg, Sweden, respectively.
The thesis provides a map of some prominent research themes and discusses their relevance to the field of urban planning for rapid transitioning to sustainable personal mobility. The analysis of the identified themes and their development over the past ten years shows that there has been a shift in mobility planning from ’predict and provide’ towards participatory visionary approaches. This, in turn, has led to new challenges, related to, for example, epistemic communities, language and culture. Furthermore, it is seen that sustainability considerations have become increasingly pronounced in the urban mobility planning literature. However, different dimensions of sustainability are often considered individually (e.g. the ecological and social dimensions) and coordinated approaches to sustainable mobility planning are virtually lacking.
At the methodological level, the thesis provides a preliminary conceptual framework for analysing complexity in co-production processes with regard to epistemic communities, language and culture, as well as a discussion of the usefulness of four specific planning approaches for the desired planning support, namely the backcasting, transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge, foresighting and SymbioCity approaches.
The overall conclusion is that there is a need for research that would show how mobility actors can contribute to resolve pressing issues related to climate change fast enough without compromising other aspects of sustainability, including how temporary trade-offs can be addressed in a strategic way.