A figure/ground analogy for integrating sustainability and planning

  • Christelle Beyers
Keywords: sustainability, planning, integrated sustainability


This article proposes a figure ground analogy as alternative way of conceptually integrating sustainability and planning. Within this framework planners are challenged to creatively consider planning practice and thought against a background of sustainability impact: and actively implement sustainability interventions in day-to-day planning activities. The article highlights three core issues as means of demonstrating this integration. Environmental footprint analysis aligns living standards and associated resource use with the urban environments expressed through planning. In addition, infrastructure serves as physical expression of the [un]sustainability of our cities; and the potential that a change in paradigm, thinking and action can bring about. Community participation is positioned within this potential for change as a way for poor communities to address the imbalance in resource use and distribution in, especially, cities. The article concludes by framing the figure/ground analogy within the complex reality of planning problems within which planners' have the inherent abilities and potential to plan for sustainability in our cities and settlements.


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