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Clearing the existing fog over the smart sustainable city concept: highlighting the importance of governance

Luiza Schuch de Azambuja , Gabriela Viale Pereira and Robert Krimmer.

*The articles published in this section are academic publications whose property belongs to their authors and do not imply the cession of the author’s economic rights in favor of the CAP4CITY Project, its members or third parties.

Abstract- Population grow and rapid urbanization generate several consequences such as congestion, air, water and urban pollution, health issues, social inequality, natural resource shortage, among others. These challenges added to the technological development and digitalization of governments motivated new urbanization models relying on the use of technologies, which we can call digital city, intelligent city, eco city, sustainable city, and smart city. Besides, in 2015 the United Nations (UN) Member States published the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to balance the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, increasing the attention to sustainable ways of urban development. This context contributed to the emergence of the Smart Sustainable City (SSC) concept, which can be seen as a strategic response to overcome the urbanization challenges with the help of Information Communication Technologies (ICT). 

However, there is still uncertainty over the Smart Sustainable City concept and its main characteristics. In addition, limited attention has been given to smart governance aspects, which is recognized as crucial for sustainable development. Thus, this research aims to contextualize the emergence of the SSC concept, identify its characteristics, and to offer a Smart Sustainable City conceptual framework considering the main aspects of a SSC and highlighting the governance dimension. In order to do so, a literature review was performed. The contributions of this research are twofold: (i) strengthening the scientific discussion on smart sustainable city governance, providing its definition; and (ii) suggesting a conceptual model that illustrates a SSC including the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environmental), urban infrastructure connecting the SSC elements, and the governance dimension, aiming to guide and provide a balance between the other SSC dimensions.