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SIMON RUNSTEN

Tr ac i ng t he Expor t of Swe di s h Ur ban Sus t ai nabi l i t y

To Ci t i e s

i n t he Gl obal Sout h,

Fr om Swe de n wi t h Lov e

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The idea behind the dust jacket of this thesis, inspired by Hult (2017), is to graphically play with how the concept of Swedish urban sustainability has been packaged to travel to low-income cities in the Global South. The use of the term love refers to the attraction which I argue that the Sustainable City concept has had on a wide range of actors.

More intuitively perhaps, it also helps to emphasize how this export, regardless of the critical stance I at times assume, has of course always been well intended. The postal stamp in the upper right corner depicts the Turning Torso, which is a landmark in the Swedish urban flagship district Västra hamnen in Malmö. With it, I refer to the remarkable stability I note that these districts have assumed as role models in the export of Swedish urban sustainability. The priority stamp on the back hints at the sense of urgency which has come to shape its packaging.

Cover artwork by the author.

“Par Avion” illustration released under Creative Commons CC0.

Turning Torso stamp retrieved from Postmuseum.

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To Cities in the Global South, From Sweden with Love

Tracing the Export of Swedish Urban Sustainability

by

Simon Runsten

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To Cities in the Global South, From Sweden with Love

Tracing the Export of Swedish Urban Sustainability

av

Simon Runsten

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Master of Science Thesis INDEK 2017:52

To Cities in the Global South, From Sweden with Love

Simon Runsten

Approved

2017-06-05

Examiner

Cali Nuur

Supervisor

Pär Blomkvist

Commissioner Contact person

Abstract

Rapid urbanization and limited resources is creating enormous challenges to cities in the global South, which has been increasingly acknowledged as a motivation for international cooperation in recent years. Both theory and practice have however paid little attention to how differences in geographical contexts and views on what sustainability is play out in such cooperation. This study therefore explores how Swedish actors have sought to contribute to urban sustainability in low-income countries in the Global South. These efforts are traced through a case study of the Swedish SymbioCity concept by using an actor-network theory approach.

Policy mobility theory is used to discuss how the transfer and translation of policies between cities takes focus away from their contested nature.

Concepts are then drawn from socio-technical transitions theory to discuss what this specifically means in transitioning towards sustainability.

Data is gathered through review of written materials and semi-structured interviews with actors in the case study.

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In following the evolution of the Sustainable City concept, I argue that it has managed to mutate so well “from trade to aid” due to its “fluid” and lovable qualities and a notion of Swedish urban sustainability which can be flexibly interpreted. In tracing the networking of Swedish sustainability, I argue that SymbioCity has followed a previously observed pattern in which the approach has been adapted to travel and the recipients have been prepared to receive the approach. In considering how the approach has impacted its recipients, I argue that although its applications seem to have been appreciated, the translation of urban sustainability throughout the network has turned focus away from the issue of what urban sustainability is by coordinating activities and by educating the recipients’ attention towards techno-managerial problem framings.

I conclude that Swedish actors have managed to carefully adopt a commercial model of urban sustainability to the purposes of development cooperation and its geographical contexts of application. While this mutation has given rise to a network of somewhat disconnected practices, the efforts of both branches have nevertheless contributed to establishing sustainability as being fundamentally uncontested in its nature. This view of sustainability can be said to be permitted by certain interpretations of the Swedish experience of becoming more sustainable. From this I conclude that to ensure that international cooperation for urban sustainability takes place on equal and fundamentally democratic terms, Swedish actors (and sustainability transition theorists alike) would do well to also encourage and facilitate inclusive and critical discussions of how urban sustainability can be understood, in the North as well as the South.

The main limitation of this work lies in the actual engagement with the targeted cities, which prevents a thorough understanding of both the perceived and the actual impact of the export of Swedish urban sustainability. Further research should therefore pay attention to how it has affected the targeted cities.

Key words: Urban sustainability, Development cooperation, Actor-network, Policy mobility, Socio-technical transitions

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Examensarbete INDEK 2017:52

To Cities in the Global South, From Sweden with Love

Simon Runsten

Godkänt

2017-06-05

Examinator

Cali Nuur

Handledare

Pär Blomkvist

Uppdragsgivare Kontaktperson

Sammanfattning

Hög urbaniseringstakt i kombination med begränsade resurser skapar enorma utmaningar för städer på södra halvklotet, vilket under de senaste åren i allt högre grad betraktats som en motivation för en intensifiering av internationellt samarbete. Både teori och praktik har emellertid ägnat lite uppmärksamhet åt hur skillnader i geografiska sammanhang och sätt att se på hållbarhet inverkar på sådant samarbete. Den här studien undersöker därför hur svenska aktörer har försökt bidra till hållbara städer i låginkomstländer på södra halvklotet. Dessa försök utforskas genom en fallstudie av det svenska SymbioCity-konceptet med hjälp av aktör- nätverksteori. Teori om policyrörlighet används för att diskutera hur överföringen och översättningen av praktiker mellan städer vänder fokus bort från deras omtvistbara natur. Begrepp hämtas sedan från teori om omvandling av socio-tekniska system för att diskutera vad detta specifikt innebär i termer av omställning mot hållbarhet. Data samlas in genom granskning av skriftligt material och semi-strukturerade intervjuer med aktörer i fallstudien.

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Jag avhandlar tre faser i utvecklingen av det svenska konceptet för urban hållbarhet. Initiativet att exportera svensk kompetens inom urban hållbarhet uppstod i första fasen ur intresset att kombinera stadsplanering med export av miljöteknik, som inspirerades av svenska aktörers deltagande i en tävling om stadsplanering i Kina. Behovet av att kommunicera svensk urban hållbarhet på internationella arenor ledde till slut till att detta intresse tog formen av Sustainable City-konceptet.

Konceptet marknadsfördes med en berättelse om Sveriges frikoppling av koldioxidutsläpp och ekonomisk tillväxt. Konceptet har sedermera etablerats som en obligatorisk passagepunkt i aktörsnätverket för att hjälpa svenska företag att sälja miljöteknik till nya marknader.

I andra fasen identifierade Sida behovet av ett integrerat tillvägagångssätt för stadsplanering, såsom Sustainable City-konceptet, i låginkomstländer.

Detta ledde till tillämpningen av konceptet i två pilotstudier och utvecklingen av en manual. Sida bjöds senare in av Business Sweden för att i kommunikationssyfte bilda ett gemensamt koncept för svensk urban hållbarhet, som kom att kallas SymbioCity.

I tredje fasen överfördes tillämpningen av tillvägagångssättet för stadsplanering i låginkomstländer från Sida till SKL International.

Förutom att dela Sidas avsikt om att bistå fattiga städer med stadsplanering, har övergången också betraktats som ett sätt att bygga upp kapacitet i urban hållbarhet inom SKL International:s nätverk.

Tillvägagångssättet tillämpades på ytterligare pilotprojekt, en andra rapport utvecklades och ytterligare dokument utvecklades för att operationalisera och sprida konceptet. Detta bidrog till att etablera SymbioCity-konceptet som en obligatorisk passagepunkt i stadsplaneringsnätverket. Även om det har funnits avsikter att skapa ett gemensamt koncept, kan SKL International sägas ha etablerat sig som en im-passagepunkt mellan de två grenarna i nätverket.

I kartläggningen av utvecklingen av Sustainable City-konceptet argumenterar jag för att det har kunnat anpassats så bra från marknadsföring till utvecklingssamarbete på grund av vissa "flytande" och

”älskvärda” egenskaper, samt en tolkningsflexibel uppfattning om svensk urban hållbarhet. I spårandet av nätverkandet av svensk hållbarhet argumenterar jag för att SymbioCity har följt ett tidigare observerat

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mönster där tillvägagångssättet har paketerats för att spridas och där mottagarna har blivit förberedda på att ta emot det. När jag överväger hur tillvägagångssättet har påverkat sina mottagare argumenterar jag för att även om dess tillämpningar tycks ha varit uppskattade, så har översättningen av urban hållbarhet i hela nätverket vridit fokus bort från frågan om vad urban hållbarhet faktiskt är genom samordning av aktiviteter och riktande av mottagarnas uppmärksamhet mot tekniska och organisatoriska problemformuleringar.

Jag drar slutsatsen att svenska aktörer framgångsrikt har anpassat en modell för hållbar stadsutveckling med kommersiellt ursprung till utvecklingssamarbetesändamål och de därför avsedda geografiska tillämpningsområdena. Även om denna anpassning har givit upphov till ett nätverk av åtskilda praktiker, har båda grenarnas verksamheter verkat för att befästa hållbarhetsbegreppet som fundamentalt obestritt. Denna syn på hållbarhet kan sägas ha blivit möjlig genom vissa tolkningar av den svenska erfarenheten att bli mer hållbar. För att säkerställa att internationellt samarbete för urban hållbarhet sker på lika och grundläggande demokratiska villkor, föreslår jag att svenska aktörer (och teoretiker tillika) också kan uppmuntra och underlätta inkluderande och kritiska diskussioner om hur hållbarhet kan förstås, i städer på södra så väl som på norra halvklotet. Den främsta begränsningen i detta arbete är den i engagemanget med städerna i fråga, vilket förhindrar en grundlig förståelse för både den upplevda och den faktiska effekten av exporten av svensk urban hållbarhet. Ytterligare forskning bör därför inriktas på hur exporten av svensk urban hållbarhet har påverkat de avsedda städerna.

Key words: Urban hållbarhet, Utvecklingssamarbete, Aktörs-nätverk, Policyrörlighet, Socio-teknisk omvandling

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Table of Contents

Abstract ... i

Sammanfattning ... iii

Table of Contents ... vi

List of Figures ... viii

List of Tables ... ix

Acknowledgements ... x

1 Introduction ... 1

1.1 Background ... 3

1.2 Problematization ... 6

1.3 Purpose and Research Questions ... 7

1.4 Contribution ... 8

1.5 Delimitations ... 8

1.6 Disposition of the Thesis ... 9

Chapter Summary ... 10

2 Previous Research ... 11

2.1 North-South Transfer of Urban Sustainability as Anti-Political ... 13

2.2 Swedish Expertise in Development Cooperation ... 14

2.3 The Swedish City as a Role Model ... 17

Chapter Summary ... 20

3 Theoretical Framing ... 21

3.1 Socio-Technical Transitions Theory and Sustainability Transitions 23 3.2 Actor-Network Theory: Material-Semiotic Toolbox ... 30

3.3 Policy Mobility Theory: Circulation of Expertise ... 34

3.4 Applied Analytical Approach and Concepts ... 36

Chapter Summary ... 38

4 Method ... 39

4.1 Research Approach ... 41

4.2 Data Collection ... 42

4.3 Research Quality ... 44

4.4 Research Process ... 45

Chapter Summary ... 46

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5 Introduction to the SymbioCity Approach ... 47

5.1 SymbioCity as a Conceptual Framework ... 49

5.2 Working Procedure in the Approach ... 51

Chapter Summary ... 52

6 Three Phases of the Actor-Networking ... 53

6.1 Exporting Environmental Technology through Urban Planning .... 55

6.2 Adding Development Expertise to the Sustainable City Concept ... 60

6.3 Building and Networking Municipal Expertise ... 63

6.4 Overview of Documents and Events ... 67

Chapter Summary ... 70

7 Mutation, Promotion and Impact of the SymbioCity Approach ... 71

7.1 Mutating the Concept for Development Cooperation ... 73

7.2 Promoting Swedish Urban Sustainability to the Global South... 79

7.3 The Impact of Circulating and Performing Swedish Sustainability . 84 7.4 Summary of Translations of Urban Sustainability ... 87

Chapter Summary ... 92

8 Conclusions ... 93

8.1 Summary of Findings ... 95

8.2 Relating the Findings to the Literature ... 98

8.3 Practical Implications of the Findings ... 101

8.4 Limitations of the Study and Suggestions for Further Research .... 103

Chapter Summary ... 104 References... a

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List of Figures

Figure 1 Socio-technical transitions as understood from the multi-level perspective (2005). ... 24 Figure 2 Conceptual framework of the SymbioCity Approach. Source:

Ranhagen and Groth (2012). ... 50 Figure 3 Aspects of sustainability in the SymbioCity Approach. Source:

Ranhagen and Groth (2012) ... 50 Figure 4 Stakeholder involvement as suggested by the approach.

Source: Andersson et al. (2014) ... 52 Figure 5 The SymbioCity graph, illustrating the Swedish experience of decoupling economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions. Source:

Hult (2013). ... 58 Figure 6Visit of Kenyan council of governors to Hammarby Sjöstad, Sweden. Source: Omenya and Krook (2014). Cropped by the author. . 76 Figure 7 Sketch of the Actor-Network(s) of Swedish Urban

Sustainability Export ... 90

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List of Tables

Table 1 List of consulted informants ... 43 Table 2 Timeline of documents describing the Sustainable City concept ... 68 Table 3 Timeline of a selection of events in evolution of SymbioCity. . 69 Table 4 Analysis of the actor-network using Hallström’s (2003, p. 52) traits ... 87 Table 5 Tracing of the Translations of Swedish Urban Sustainability in the Actor-Network of SymbioCity. ... 88

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Acknowledgements

While I am the solemn and responsible author of this work, the process of writing it has undoubtedly been supported by innumerable others.

Here I would like to the opportunity to thank some of those of particular importance. Firstly, I would like to thank Pär Blomkvist who has supervised the work by providing a productive container for the writing process and by guiding me through the theoretical and methodological jungle. I also owe thanks to David Nilsson and Peder Roberts at the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, and Anna Hult and Nelson Ekane at the Department of Urban Planning and Environment for their helpful comments on the thesis proposal. I would also like to thank my peer students at the thesis seminar at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, for providing constructive feed-back. Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for their unconditional support in whatever I take on and wherever it takes me.

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1 Introduction

This chapter introduces the topic of exporting Swedish expertise in urban sustainability to the Global South and motivates the purpose and research questions of this work.

A background is provided of the challenges facing cities in the Global South and how this challenge has been addressed through international development cooperation.

The lack of understanding of the contested nature of sustainability transitions both in practice and theory is problematized to motivate investigation of why and how the actor-network of Swedish urban sustainability export has emerged.

Lastly, necessary delimitations are presented followed by contributions made by the investigation to literature and practice is presented.

The introduction is concluded with an overview of the disposition of the thesis.

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“The increasing rapidity and scale of urbanisation, especially in areas of Asia and Africa, presents a vast and urgent need for more holistic governance and planning of urban development. Though urbanisation generates significant environmental and socioeconomic challenges, it is essentially a positive phenomenon. With proper governance and planning, urbanisation can contribute to improved livelihoods and social values, ethnic and cultural integration, extension of democratic rights and poverty alleviation. Urbanisation can enhance political, cultural and economic development and living conditions. ”

Background to the SymbioCity Approach (Ranhagen and Groth, 2012, p. 8)

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INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background

This chapter provides a background to the export of Swedish urban sustainability expertise to the Global South. First the challenge of urban sustainability in the Global South is briefly presented, followed by an introduction and critique of how this challenge is addressed through international cooperation. I then address a blind spot in the literature, on how such cooperation seeks to influence transitions towards urban sustainability. This is followed by an introduction to the Swedish SymbioCity concept as a case of such cooperation.

The Sustainability Challenge of Cities in the Global South

It has been widely cited that 2008 was the year in which the world’s urban population outgrew the non-urban (UN, 2015). By 2030, almost 60 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas and 95 per cent of urban expansion over the next decades will take place in the so called developing world. Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health.

However, the high density of cities is also thought to enable efficiency gains and technological innovation, while at the same time reducing resource and energy consumption. Sustainable cities is thus prioritized as one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Agenda 2030 (UN, 2016a), and has also been given attention through the development and adoption of the New Urban Agenda (UN Habitat, 2017). Cities in the Global South1, subjected to limited resources and strong pressures of urbanization, face an especially daunting challenge in

1 The term Global South is used here as a socio-economic and political reference, not always coincident with the southern hemisphere. The term is recognized as a contested construct encompassing a diverse set of contexts with limited economic and political resources in relation to a globalized economy. For further discussion, see Pagel et al. (2014) and Hollington et. al.

(2015). While actors in the study at times refer to “developing countries”, I use the term “Global South” as a part of trying to maintain a neutral position with regards to what is to be considered developed or sustainable. When contextual characteristics such as income levels are relevant I refer

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BACKGROUND

this regard (Patel et al., 2015). At the same time, it has been suggested (though not without contest (Rock et al., 2009)), that such cities also hold the opportunity to “leapfrog” development, i.e. to avoid the mistakes of so called developed countries and directly implement more sustainable modes of production and consumption (Tukker, 2005; Poustie et al., 2016).

International Development Cooperation and Urban Sustainability

Local governments across the Global South have often, encouraged by donors and aid agencies, resorted to adopting “best practices” of city development motivated by the sense urgency indicated by the quote introducing this chapter. This adoption of best practices has however tended to obscure the politics of urban sustainability and led to an often uncritical replication of solutions between cities and countries (Patel et al., 2015). Such uncritical replication of solutions between the Global North and the South also appears notably counterproductive to attempts of leapfrogging, as leapfrogging was defined as avoiding the mistakes of the so called developed countries in search for more sustainable ones, especially to the extent of which the sustainability of solutions in cities in the North can be questioned (Binz et al., 2012). At the level of theory, urban scholarship has also been criticized for what is considered uncritical adoption of both practices and theory springing from the Global North.

It has therefor been argued that a provincialization (i.e. provincial re- orientation) of global urbanism is necessary to challenge urban theories that treat Northern urbanization as the norm, to incorporate expertise and perspectives of urban majorities, and to imagine and enact alternative urban futures (Sheppard et al., 2013). Similarly, the necessity of a critical view on the framing of sustainability itself has also been pointed out (Lawhon and Murphy, 2012). International initiatives for sustainable urban development can thus be understood as epistemologically and politically loaded, and at times contested, engagements with the Global South, in which specific qualities of the initiative and the place meet.

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INTRODUCTION

The Lack of Power and Place in Sustainability Transitions Theory

Research on sustainability transitions has largely been oriented around single countries and simply assumed that innovations spread from

“enlightened” “developed” countries to countries less so. However, in recent years initiatives oriented towards sustainability transitions in the Global South have been multiplying (Truffer, 2012; Truffer et al., 2015).

A perspective which has become a compelling mode of analysis of urban sustainability transitions is the multi-level perspective (MLP) (Lawhon and Murphy, 2012). It enables such analysis by mapping out the co- evolutionary process between incumbent socio-technical configurations (regimes), emerging alternatives (niches), and developments or events in the system environment (landscape) that can lead to deeper structural change (Geels, 2002). Sustainability transitions are conceptualized as shifts from what is considered an unsustainable socio-technical regime towards a more sustainable one, through an interplay of forces at the different levels (Truffer and Coenen, 2012). Drawing lessons from this field, transitions management provides a prescriptive framework for how such transitions should be approached. However, applications of the MLP have tended to lack political aspects, and neither considered geography sufficiently (Lawhon and Murphy, 2012; Smith et al., 2010).

Especially, there has been a lack of engagement with the Global South in socio-technical transition theory (Lawhon and Murphy, 2012). Recent research has therefore engaged in trying to bridge the gap between geography and transitions theory (Hansen and Coenen, 2015; Truffer et al., 2015), notably also in the urban context of the Global South (Ernstson et al., 2010). However, it seems no work has yet explicitly considered the influence of international development cooperation initiatives on urban sustainability transitions innovation niches.

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PROBLEMATIZATION

Export of Swedish Expertise in Urban Sustainability

An initiative for international development cooperation for sustainable cities based in Sweden is SymbioCity (formerly Sustainable City). As a government initiative run jointly by Business Sweden (promoting national exports on behalf of the Swedish government and industry) and SKL International (supporting cities in developing countries to plan and build sustainably) with support from the Swedish international development agency (Sida), it is a platform for Swedish know-how in sustainable urban development, using amongst other elements so called good practices. As a framework, the so called SymbioCity Approach gathers Swedish methodology for and experiences of sustainable urban development (SymbioCity, 2016). It provides an interesting case both for engaging with the transfer of urban sustainability across geographies and for constructive engagement with sustainability transitions theory. The intentions and strategies of its actors have so far only been studied with a focus on the promotion of environmental technology (Hult, 2013; Mejía- Dugand, 2016).

1.2 Problematization

While international partnerships are considered key in addressing the sustainability challenges of cities around the world (UN, 2016a, 2016b), practice as well as theory has thus far tended to disregard the contexts in which sustainability is to be achieved, the diversity of interpretations of what sustainability is and different standpoints on how it should be achieved (Guy and Marvin, 1999; Smith et al., 2010; Lawhon and Murphy, 2012; Sheppard et al., 2013; Patel et al., 2015). The literature has also paid insufficient attention to how actors in such partnerships and their approaches seek to influence urban sustainability transitions, especially in the Global South (Lawhon and Murphy, 2012). While Sweden has been an early player in urban sustainability export, the intentions and strategies of its actors have so far only been studied with a focus on the promotion of environmental technology.

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INTRODUCTION

1.3 Purpose and Research Questions

The goal of this work is to contribute to an emerging field of research at the intersection of sustainability transitions theory and human geography by providing an understanding of how international cooperation initiatives seek to affect the conditions for sustainability transitions. The purpose of the study is to explore how Swedish actors have tried to contribute to urban sustainability in low-income cities in the Global South and how these efforts may have impacted its recipients. The purpose is fulfilled by answering the general research question and its sub-questions as follows:

Main RQ Why and how has the actor-network of Swedish urban sustainability export to low-income contexts in the Global South emerged?

RQ1 By whom and for what purposes was the Swedish concept of urban sustainability developed?

RQ2 How has the Swedish concept of urban sustainability been promoted and circulated to low-income cities in the Global South?

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CONTRIBUTION

1.4 Contribution

By engaging with the above research questions, this work contributes to scholarly literature on the empirical fields of Swedish aid, Swedish urban sustainability and development cooperation for (urban) sustainability2. It also makes an empirical and theoretical contribution to the field of sustainability transitions by engaging in its conversation with other fields and its expansion to previously understudied geographies. Lastly, the review of the SymbioCity concept and its activities contributes practically to practitioners involved in its network.

1.5 Delimitations

As is hopefully discernable from the background, there are many questions related to striving for urban sustainability in the Global South worth considering. This work is not meant to engage with the question of what constitutes urban sustainability or determining whether the approach is effective in promoting whatever it is thought to be across space and between socio-economic contexts. It is rather meant to explore how sustainability is negotiated and how this negotiation is affected by the positionality of its negotiators. The work is furthermore delimited to the case of SymbioCity and its extension to low-income cities in the Global South. While delimiting its external validity to relations in other constellations of countries and cities, this nevertheless provides valuable empirics for both literature and theory, as suggested in section 1.4.

2 I have been made aware that another thesis is currently being written on the case of SymbioCity and how it translates urban sustainability across scales and space. Efforts to take part of it have

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INTRODUCTION

1.6 Disposition of the Thesis

The succeeding chapters of this thesis are structured as follows. The introductory part continues with chapter 2, introducing previous research on transfer of policies for urban sustainability, historical examples of Swedish export of expertise, and previous accounts of Swedish cities as role models for urban sustainability. Chapter 3 introduces theory on sustainability transitions and transfer of urban policies, as well as an approach to tracing actor-networks. It is however worth pointing out that previous research and theory overlap to some extent. My intention is using the former section to point to the state of relevant empirical knowledge, whereas the latter introduces useful theoretical approaches to the analysis. Chapter 4 then motivates the case study method chosen to explore the actor-networking of Swedish urban sustainability.

Chapter 5 introduces the analysis and argumentation by presenting the SymbioCity Approach. Chapter 6 is dedicated to a chronology of what I identify as three phases of the actor-networking of Swedish urban sustainability. Chapter 7 presents what I argue to be three themes of the actor-networking of the concept of Swedish urban sustainability, namely how it has managed to mutate for various purposes and contexts, how it was promoted to the context of the Global South, and how the circulation and performance of it has impacted on its recipients. As the reader may note, the analytical chapters 6 and 7 also overlap to some extent. To clarify the analysis, these chapters are therefore concluded with overviews of central events and documents (section 6.4) and central translations (section 7.4)

In the concluding chapter 8, I first summarize my findings by responding to the research questions. I then relate the study to previous research and the theoretical debate on sustainability transitions (outlined in chapter 3).

I also provide some practical implications of the findings. Lastly, I note some limitations of the thesis, from which I make suggestions for further research. An overview of the thesis can be obtained by reading the summaries at the end of each chapter.

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CHAPTER SUMMARY

Chapter Summary

This chapter has introduced the topic of exporting Swedish expertise in urban sustainability to the Global South. Rapid urbanization and limited resources is creating enormous challenges to cities in the Global South, while sustainable cities have also come to be seen as a necessary part of sustainable development in general. While local governments in the Global South have often, encouraged by donors and aid agencies, resorted to adopting practices from the global North, this has tended to disregard differences in geographical context, access to resources and views on how sustainability should be understood. Sweden, a respected actor in both urban sustainability and development cooperation, and its SymbioCity concept constitutes a case of transferring practices for urban sustainability to cities in the Global South. This study explores how Swedish actors have sought to contribute to urban sustainability in the Global South through the Sustainable City and later SymbioCity concept.

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2 Previous Research

This chapter presents previous research relevant to the study.

This includes research showing how transfer of policies for urban sustainability has become depoliticized, historical examples of Swedish export of expertise, and previous accounts of Swedish cities as role models for urban sustainability.

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PREVIOUS RESEARCH

2.1 North-South Transfer of Urban Sustainability as Anti-Political

Urban sustainability policy and its North-South transfer has been argued to have become depoliticized as a part of the wide-spread acclaim of consensual approaches towards sustainability (Raco and Lin, 2012;

Beveridge and Koch, 2017). This depoliticized or anti-political policy mobility is attributable both to an historically consistent will to keep urban policy mobility networks intact but also to more recent broader anti- political trends in society (Clarke, 2012a). This broader trend consists in practices of contributing to urban sustainability being increasingly oriented towards a “Third Way” in which governance is reconfigured as consensus-oriented multi-stakeholder processes in which traditional state forms (various levels of government) partake alongside with experts, NGO’s and other responsible partners.

This Third Way is propagated by post-political writers through depictions of politics having moved beyond class-politics, leaving no alternative but to focus on non-adversarial politics (Raco and Lin, 2012). The underlying normative affirmation is that there is no alternative to sustainable urban development and that a failure will result in apocalypse (Mössner, 2016), ultimately necessitating “urgent, sustained and consensual action”

(Swyngedouw, 2009, p. 602). This opens up an opportunity for elites to roll out sustainability policies, often involving “reshaping local development practices, techniques of management and technologies of government” (Raco and Lin, 2012). Contemporary political theorists argue that depoliticized discourses have been hegemonic over the last decades” (Žižek, 2000; Mouffe, 2005; Swyngedouw, 2010). Such discourses have in turn been argued to have motivated consensus thinking and a technical and managerial view of politics, risking to shift attention away from grass root concerns over global developmentalism (Raco and Lin, 2012). Exactly how these post-political agendas are

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SWEDISH EXPERTISE IN DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

constructed and what rationalities underpin them in different geographical contexts has however been little explored (Raco and Lin, 2012).

Indeed, it has been shown that consensus-building can serve as a political strategy which aims to depoliticize sustainable urban development and to relocate the decision making process outside societal debate (Mössner, 2016). In transferring urban policies, McCann and Ward (2010) have described how policies get translated or reduced into models that travel, whereas destinations are subjected to discursive preparation through briefing papers, study tours, etc. It has furthermore been shown that Northern cities have at times taken on the role of experts in North-South interurban partnerships as a means to gain access to funding, and that cultures of accountability (i.e. expectations to deliver results) have favored short-term and delimited projects over well-crafted partnerships (Clarke, 2012b).

2.2 Swedish Expertise in Development Cooperation

While acknowledging the multiple de- and connotations of the concept, Bruno (2016) broadly refers development as a process of socioeconomic change in the form of modernization, carried out by technical experts, state officials or peasants, whereas development aid aims to facilitate actions leading to it. He notes that the intellectual origins of development assistance have been traced to progress and development as central tenants of Western intellectual history since the Enlightenment. In the nineteenth century, the concept of development was explicitly linked to a process of social progress through modernization. This understanding among Western thinkers was a fundamentally ethnocentric and uncriticizable one in which improvement and civilization came about through the import of science and technology from the West (Sutton et al., 1989). Since then, substantial criticism has been aimed at the concept from many authors, of which Escobar’s (1995) is well-known.

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PREVIOUS RESEARCH

While few attempts have been made to engage with the actual activities of Swedish development assistance from an ideological perspective, many studies have discussed the interests driving Swedish development aid policy (Öhman, 2007, pp. 22–23), which have been argued to range between solidarity and commercial interests in extending trade. Öhman herself (2007, p. 90) argues that during the course of Swedish development aid, altruistic ideals and commercial interests have been closely entangled. The development aid scholar Olav Stokke (1996) has suggested that the aid programs of all Scandinavian countries were rooted in values of international solidarity stemming from the dominance of Social Democratic parties, lending basic altruistic features to their aid interventions. Having no administrative burden from colonial territories may also have increased the ability to provide aid. A lack of colonial territories is nonetheless to be understood as lack of colonial interest.

Regardless of altruistic motives, the phenomenon of development aid draws much of its meaning and coherence from colonial relationships.

This observation is emphasized by post-colonial perspectives of development aid and its stressing of continuities between colonialism and development aid, including discrimination and oppression (Bruno, 2016, pp. 21–22). In relation to the promotion of Swedish expertise, it is worth noting that Sweden has always emphasized that aid should not be used to sell a Swedish model but rather that foreign aid can assist the realization of the recipients’ visions for development (Danielson et al., 2005).

Bruno (2016) assumes that expert authority is a central defining characteristic of modern society and consequently the development aid which aims to reproduce it. He notes that expert knowledge is necessary not just for solving problems but also to identify and legitimize methods for their solution. He cites Zygmunt Bauman (1989, p. 220):

“technology does not serve the solution of problems; it is, rather, the accessibility of a given technology that redefines successive parts of human reality as problems clamouring for resolution.”

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SWEDISH EXPERTISE IN DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

Technology thus seek applications through the problematizations of new areas3. Drawing on Vandendriessche et al. (2015) and Stehr and Grundmann (2011), he notes that this is a complicated process in which experts do not act merely as neutral mediators of knowledge but actively transform it through the performance of their expertise. This process, he notes from the writings of Fergusson, is further complicated by the observation that expertise tends to depoliticize matters, turning what is social or political issues into technical ones, finding answers in expertise.

This tends to draw attention away from social injustices and to delimit considerations to what is defined by the expert, thus often not accounting for all the needs of the affected.

Bruno (2016) analyzes the role of agrarian expertise in Swedish development aid between 1950 and 2009. He does so by responding to three set of questions. The first is concerned with how Swedish expertise came to be considered relevant in the context of aid. He identifies a number of actors and explains how they were able to formulate development problems which were compatible with the expertise available at the Swedish universities of agrarian sciences and could be accepted by financiers and the aid practitioners. He further shows how these formulations also allowed fulfilment of other organizational goals of the universities. The second set of questions is centered around how the Swedish experts approached the problem of development and the application of their own expertise in the context of aid. He shows that the strategies proposed by the experts were understood as being grounded in the Swedish context, which made them attentive to how technologies were adapted and the importance of practical knowledge, but less so to the societal contexts and the social effects of their involvements. The

3 The similiarity to Akrich’s (1992) notion of “technology as script”, of which I will make use later in this thesis, is noteworthy.

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third set of questions is related to the institutional long-term cooperation between Sida and one of the universities, SLU, focusing on how and why it was created. He shows that while the cooperation was at times unbalanced and the goals of the parties was different, it was at the same time distinguished by a strong mutual sense of trust. Furthermore, Bruno emphasizes previously shown links between aid and Swedish domestic expertise, where Sweden, lacking a colonial base of knowledge, to a large extent had to found their aid interventions on domestic knowledge and on relations to other countries.

2.3 The Swedish City as a Role Model

Hult (2017, p. 5) traces the history of Sweden’s reputation of claiming to be and being portrayed as one of the world’s “most progressive, modern, equal and environmentally friendly countries” back to the so called Stockholm Exhibition in 1930, placing Sweden as a central nation internationally in modernism and functionalism (Rudberg, 1999). Around 40 years later, in 1972, Sweden hosted the first UN summit on the environment, referred to as the Stockholm Conference, placing Sweden as a central figure in international environmental affairs and later also in sustainable development. In the line of these events, she places the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, in which Swedish government bodies came together with private actors to promote Sweden as a role model in urban sustainability under the banner of “Better city, Better life”. She finds two intentional logics behind the Swedish export of sustainable planning services: to shape a better world and to export clean-tech products (Hult, 2015).

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THE SWEDISH CITY AS A ROLE MODEL

Hult (2013) has explored how Swedish urban sustainability has been promoted through the SymbioCity concept by engaging with the World Expo in Shanghai. She takes a starting point in the Swedish pavilion there and by using Actor-Network Theory (see chapter 3.2), considers it to be a node in a wider network producing an image of Sweden as a role model for urban sustainability. This allows her to trace the interests and knowledges which have informed and shaped the production of this image. The image is centered around a graph depicting Sweden’s decoupling of economic growth and emissions of carbon dioxide, which as she argues, is presented as a fact which lends authority to Swedish experience and knowledge of urban sustainability. She argues that central to the image presented is a view of sustainability in which “progress” is equated with “decoupling” of economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions. This Swedish experience, she argues, is furthermore portrayed as transferable to China, which reproduces views of progress as being linear and space as being static. Hult argues that this image, founded on a production perspective of emissions, when viewed from the lens of a consumption perspective, turns into a myth.

This storyline, Hult further argues (2017, p. 19), has been deliberately linked to urban flagship districts such as Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm and Västra Hamnen (Western Harbor) in Malmö. She problematizes the promotion of these districts as best-practice in urban sustainability. Citing Kreuger and Gibbs (2007), she notes that entire nations, Sweden among them, have been pointed out as best-practice examples; and Fitzgerald and Lenhart (2016) who point out that three of the most celebrated European eco-districts are Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm, Västra Hamnen in Malmö and Vauban in Freigburg. However, she notes, Rutherford (2008) and Pandis Iveroth (2014) claim that there is more environmental discourse than actual performance measurement of Hammarby Sjöstad. Hult further places these cities in the line of fire of environmental gentrification and reinforcement of an ecological modernization discourse by drawing on Rutherford (2008) who portrays

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Hammarby Sjöstad as being purposely kept a green middle-class enclave through housing policy after a change of government, and Baeten (2012) and Sandberg’s (2014) argument that Västra Hamnen turned a post- industrial landscape into a middle-class enclave mainly to meet economic development goals. She also notes that the Swedish government’s efforts of creating such demonstration projects has continued through the planning of Norra Djurgårdsstaden (the Royal Seaport Area). Wangel (2013) takes the critique of these districts further as she argues that not only are they cities which were deliberately built to showcase environmental technology and failing to meet the set standards, their promotion as role models also works as a form of “lifestyle imperialism”.

In this promotion, supposedly efficient environmental technologies provide means of becoming more sustainable without challenging more fundamental concerns, such as the lifestyle of the inhabitants.

Following up on Hult (2013), Mejía-Dugand (2016) traces the continued evolution of the SymbioCity concept by drawing on experiences from the World Urban Forum 7 held in Medellin, Colombia, in April 2014. He explores the strategies used to promote the SymbioCity “tool”, by studying physical and non-physical message from the Swedish delegation and its exhibition and by interviewing actors at the conference and from the Medellin city administration. He notes (p. 75) that “it is clear that the ultimate goal of this tool, i.e., the promotion of the export of eco-profiled technology, has not changed—but the message has”. Taking a starting point in the observation that the SymbioCity is for the most part trying to sell technological solutions which due to their invisible or hidden nature are difficult to see or comprehend, he argues that differences in contextual and historical characteristics between the idealized future and the target cities influence their willingness to adopt the promoted solutions. By drawing on examples he argues that the concept, or at least the message of it, has evolved to become more flexible and allow for bottom-up considerations to enter the discourse. This partly means that the message has improved its ability “to shift between cooperation and

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CHAPTER SUMMARY

commercial interests, as well as between a people-centered and a technology-centered approach” (p. 77). He nevertheless argues that Sida and SKL International have functioned as door openers to environmental technology suppliers in developing countries, taking advantage of locals that have been trained by them and who can facilitate market entrances, provide legitimacy and give access to distribution networks (Mejía- Dugand, 2013, 2016).

Chapter Summary

In this chapter I have introduced previous research of relevance to the case study of the Swedish Sustainable City concept. This includes research showing how transfer of urban policies become depoliticized by being framed as techno-managerial. Not only has North-South transfer of urban policies and practices a history of being understood as non-political, but approaches built on consensus are also increasingly portrayed as necessary to cope with the challenges of urban sustainability in the Global South. Critics claim that this tends to draw attention away from concerns over global developmentalism. Previous studies of Swedish expertise in development cooperation has also problematized how expertise contributes to such depolitization. Historical examples of Swedish development cooperation have shown motivations of engagement have ranged between solidarity and commercial interests, where it has been argued that these have at times been closely entangled. Sweden has however always emphasized that aid should not be used to sell a Swedish model but rather that foreign aid can assist the realization of the recipients’ visions for development. Studies on the export of agricultural expertise have however shown that formulations of the problems to be addressed have indeed taken a starting point in the existent Swedish knowledge base.

Research on the positioning of Sweden and Swedish cities as role models for urban sustainability have tended to problematize the way sustainability is defined and communicated. This includes criticism of Swedish demonstration cities aimed at promoting environmental technology, how the Swedish model for urban sustainability has been marketed abroad and how this model has been adapted for purposes of development cooperation.

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3 Theoretical Framing

This chapter presents literature relevant to understanding why and how the actor-network of Swedish urban sustainability

export to the Global South has emerged.

This includes literature on sustainability transitions, the methodology of Actor-Network Theory and theory on policy mobility.

Finally, an overview is given of the concepts used in this study and how they are applied.

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THEORETICAL FRAMING

3.1 Socio-Technical Transitions Theory

Socio-technical transitions theory seeks to understand the co-evolution of societies and technological systems (Murphy, 2015). In doing so, two concepts are central: socio-technical regimes and niches. A socio- technical regime is defined as “the coherent complex of scientific knowledge, engineering practices, production process technologies, product characteristics, skills and procedures, established user needs, regulatory requirements, institutions and infrastructures” (Coenen et al., 2012). As a concept, it shows that scientific knowledge, engineering practices and technologies are socially embedded (Rip and Kemp, 1998), which constrains incremental socio-technical change to happen along established pathways (Markard et al., 2012). Sustainability transitions are thus seen as shifts from what is considered an unsustainable socio- technical regime towards a more sustainable one (Truffer and Coenen, 2012). Niches are conceptualized as spaces protected from the logic and direction of the prevailing regime, allowing radical innovation to take place, creating novel technologies which may eventually compete with incumbent ones.

Two theoretical frameworks considered central to sustainability transitions theory are those of Technological Innovation Systems (TIS) and the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP). TIS emphasizes functions that support the diffusion of new sustainability innovations across space and time, and focuses on institutional and organizational changes necessary for such innovations (Markard et al., 2012). This approach is criticized by proponents of the MLP for its preoccupation with successful technologies (Truffer and Coenen, 2012), which tries to explain transitions as co-evolutionary processes between multiple levels. These levels are incumbent socio-technical configurations (regimes), emerging alternatives (niches), and developments or events in the system environment (landscape) (Geels, 2002), as shown in Figure 1. Some have

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SOCIO-TECHNICAL TRANSITIONS THEORY

suggested an integrated framework to account for both approaches (Markard and Truffer, 2008), although others (Stirling, 2011) have questioned whether the diverging ontological assumptions of the schools allows such integration (Truffer and Coenen, 2012).

Figure 1 Socio-technical transitions as understood from the multi-level perspective (2005).

Two other central frameworks with more prescriptive approaches are Strategic Niche Management (SNM) and Transitions Management (TM).

While SNM has focused on the role of niches, and how they can be deliberately created and supported, TM has taken a larger view on how transitions can be influenced in more sustainable directions. This has been

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THEORETICAL FRAMING

done by drawing insights from complex systems theory, governance literature and by further development through action research (Markard et al., 2012). In relation to cities, urban transition labs have been suggested as a way of adopting TM to the urban context (Nevens et al., 2013) and similar concepts have been developed in the context of the Global South (Anderson et al., 2013).

TM has however been criticized for its post-political tendencies. TM suggests, as Kenis et al. (2016) argues, that sustainability transitions requires new modes of governance in which transitions processes are understood not in political but in market terms. It seeks consensus in long-term coordination towards a common good over traditional consensus model of negotiation between social interests. Its reliance on such a deliberative conception of democracy (consensus through dialogue) instead of aggregative (aggregating previously existing interests of individuals and groups through elections or voting) fails to acknowledge power relations, radical pluralism and the constitutive potential in conflict. This view is also contrasted by Mouffe’s (2005) advocacy of an agonistic conception of democracy in which conflict or antagonism is recognized as inevitable and in which actors understand their relations as political opposition. This new governance approach is further criticized for its focus on privileged groups in the name of bottom-up processes, which reinforces unequal distribution of power and makes this distribution invisible. While there is room for alternative paths to sustainability, their contestation is largely understood in the quasi- market terms of competing niches. Being based on a market-model, it also considers neutral the neoliberal political economy as a fundamental landscape element. This, they argue, makes it difficult for “ordinary”

citizens both to acknowledge the political and finding ways of being represented. A short quote summarizes their critique:

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SOCIO-TECHNICAL TRANSITIONS THEORY

[The dominant conception of sustainability transitions is that of]

“radical techno-managerial and socio-cultural transformations, organised within the horizons of a capitalist order that is beyond dispute” (Swyngedouw, 2010, p. 219).

The Geography of Urban Sustainability Transitions

Albeit popular for studying sustainability transitions, the MLP has been critiqued for a lack of scale, place and space for two key reasons. Firstly, institutions governing regimes and niches are not properly related to territorial contexts in sociotechnical transition theory, which makes it unable to explain why transitions towards sustainability can proceed in spatially uneven manners. Secondly, as the levels in the MLP are related to the maturity of the socio-technological system (degree of structuration of practices) rather than different geographical scales, it can be insensitive towards the scale of developments affecting the transitions. A multi-scalar approach has therefore been suggested, where levels and scale are two dimensions for classifying a transition (Coenen et al., 2012), which has in turn inspired what is called a second generation MLP, incorporating a spatial scale along with time and structure (both seen as implicit in the original levels). This second generation MLP explicitly theorizes developments in and between regional, national and international contexts. A consideration of space introduces a number of new dimensions to the analysis of socio-technical systems (Raven et al., 2012):

distance (or proximity) as a factor in innovative activity; spatial differentiation, from the observation that different places, however defined, exhibit niches, regimes and landscapes with different characteristics; and reach, the observation that ‘action at a distance’ operates in social systems across scales and levels.

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THEORETICAL FRAMING

As a response to the lack of sense of place and space in the MLP in attempts to understand urban sustainability transitions, it has been suggested that cities can be viewed as (although not necessarily always functioning as) innovation niches for sustainability transitions at the larger scale (Hodson and Marvin, 2010; Wolfram, 2016). From that view, two aspects of the MLP specific to cities necessary to consider have been recognized: As the levels of the MLP are, as previously noted, not related to geographical scales, one relevant aspect is that regarding the

“nestedness of regimes”, meaning that cities can shape and be shaped by national [and arguably also international] transitions; a second observation is that of the multiple levels of governance affecting the city, enabling and necessitating consideration of the intentional and unintentional influence of actors at national and supranational scales on action at the city-scale (Hodson and Marvin, 2010).

Applying the MLP on urban sustainability transitions in turn necessitates two considerations: firstly, the role of visions as reference points for building of networks for, committing to, orienting actions towards and persuasion of the desirability of the transition; secondly, the critical role of systemic intermediaries, i.e. organizations “set-up to intervene in a variety of ways in existing systems of producing and consuming resources”

(Hodson and Marvin, 2010). Regarding the role of visions of sustainability, several papers have pointed to their contested and changing nature (Meadowcroft, 2011; Garud and Gehman, 2012) and the necessity to consider their framing and negotiation (Eames et al., 2006; Truffer and Coenen, 2012). The role of systemic intermediaries and the capabilities required for such has also been studied and elaborated in more detail (Anderson et al., 2013; Hamann and April, 2013).

Others also recognizing the importance of actors and institutions at the supranational scale have suggested adopting a dialectic view of global networks with local nodes, allowing the dimensions of transitions to be defined based on how actors themselves develop relationships over space

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SOCIO-TECHNICAL TRANSITIONS THEORY

(Coenen et al., 2012). Such mapping of actors can also be done by complementing the MLP with inspiration from Actor-Network Theory (ANT) (Raven et al., 2012; Maassen, 2012), although it is worth noting that the ontological consistency (i.e. multiple levels versus flat) of such a combination has been disputed (Geels, 2011; Maassen, 2012).

Further examples of engagement with the supranational scale of transitions include conceptualizations of leapfrogging of urban infrastructures in relation to spatially conceived innovation systems (Binz et al., 2012), and engagement with transition management (pointing amongst other things towards the necessity of considering the role of international development institutions) (Poustie et al., 2016).

Development aid interventions has also been given attention in relation to the MLP through conceptualizations of donor programs as a form of transnational linkage (Hansen and Nygaard, 2013). Work on relational and territorial aspects on the global scale and their effect on urban (energy) transitions in the Global South (Mans, 2014) seems hitherto limited to a focus on business relations. As far as I am informed, no work has yet considered the influence of development cooperation initiatives at the supranational scale and their impact on urban sustainability niches as conceived in the MLP.

The Politics and Power in Sustainability Transitions

Apart from geographical aspects of transitions, the need to consider social processes and power relations has also been urged. Particularly, the MLP has been criticized for its techno-deterministic and teleological approach, and for focusing on elite actors in shaping transitions while insufficiently acknowledging the challenge of pluralistic and inclusive governance of transitions. This has inspired a complementing of the MLP with insights from political ecology by identification of interrelated problems and competing interventions, by consideration of a broader range of actors and their knowledges and by exploring the impact of power relations on transitions (Lawhon and Murphy, 2012). Others have joined in voicing

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THEORETICAL FRAMING

the need to consider the agency of actors, their strategies and their resources involved in shaping sustainability transitions (Farla et al., 2012).

To such ends, Murphy (2015) describes a relational “place-making”4 framework to reveal how actors construct places such as cities, with claimed relevance for both TIS and MLP approaches and then demonstrates how it can be applied to analyze the contested politics that shape the prospects for sustainability transitions. Others (Kern, 2015) have focused on the politics, agencies and structures in TIS. On the MLP field, the politics of transitions has been given attention through work focused on niche resistance (Geels, 2014) and critical niches (Smith et al., 2016). Notable applications of the MLP drawing on global political economy have considered economic power relations on the global scale in the shaping of energy transitions in the Global South (Newell and Phillips, 2016; Power et al., 2016). In the urban context the urban political ecology of urban infrastructures has also been given attention (Monstadt, 2009). Nevertheless, the recent attention given to the urban context in the MLP has yet to fill a gap in considering the politics of and the power relations in international development initiatives.

4 Place-making is defined as “the process of reproducing, eliminating, and/or modifying the structures, identities, meanings, geographies, positionalities, and power relations associated with a given place” (Murphy, 2015), p. 84).

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ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY: MATERIAL-SEMIOTIC TOOLBOX

3.2 Actor-Network Theory:

Material-Semiotic Toolbox

Paying attention to the role of actors, ANT has in recent years gained attention from MLP scholars (Maassen, 2012) and in relation to urban planning (Doak and Karadimitriou, 2007; Farías and Bender, 2012;

Beauregard, 2012; Rydin, 2013; Rapoport and Hult, 2017). Some ingredients in an ANT account includes (Law, 2008, p. 146):

• semiotic relationality - networks whose elements define and shape one another,

• materiality - stuff is there aplenty, not just “the social”,

• heterogeneity - there are different kinds of actors, human (“actors”) and otherwise (“actants”),

• process and its precariousness - all elements need to play their part moment by moment or it all comes unstuck, and

• attention given to:

o power as an effect - it is a function of network

configuration and in particular the creation of immutable mobiles, and

o space and to scale - how it is that networks extend themselves and translate distant actors.

Although emphasis is put on the precariousness of processes, there is also an acknowledgement of how the arrangement of relations into orders and hierarchies which may render a network (or parts of one) to be more provisional or stabilized (Rydin, 2013).

References

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