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Future of Phoenix addresses sustainability issues

April 26, 2011

President's Award for Sustainability: The Future of Phoenix: Crafting Sustainable Development Strategies

Cities across the country are challenged by complex sustainability issues. These urban challenges range from budgetary deficits and increasing infrastructure requirements, air pollution and climate change impacts, to poverty and public health issues such as childhood obesity. Conventional research has made some progress in analyzing these challenges, but very little progress in developing strategies to mitigate and solve these problems.

Similarly, urban planning tends to be guided by past plans and status quo data rather than visionary goals rooted in sustainability principles and stakeholder values.

The impetus for this research project revolved around the City of Phoenix’s commitment to make sustainability strategies and anticipatory governance the guiding concepts of its General Plan. The city’s General Plan is the most important single document that provides long-range guidance for the city’s future development. An inter- and trans-disciplinary research team of faculty and graduate students from ASU in collaboration with the City’s Planning Department has engaged in analyzing the current state of Phoenix, crafting future visions and scenarios, and developing transformative sustainability strategies which have been incorporated into the new General Plan Hearing Draft.

The project aided the City of Phoenix in conducting its first stakeholder engagement in 30 years (related to the General Plan), engaging more than one hundred citizens, businesses, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholder groups. The research results are currently being implemented through projects in selected neighborhoods with the goal of making the vision of a sustainable Phoenix a reality.

ASU Team Members:

• Arnim Wiek, School of Sustainability.

• Andrea Baty, School of Sustainability.

• Nan Ellin, Urban Planning.

• David Iwaniec, School of Sustainability.

• Braden Kay, School of Sustainability.

• Leonard Machler, School of Sustainability.

• Cynthia Selin, Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes /CNS.

• Riley Smith, School of Sustainability.

• Lauren Withycombe, School of Sustainability.

Community Partners:

• Carol Johnson, City of Phoenix.

• Jim McPherson, Flinn Foundation.

• Jacob Zonn, City of Phoenix.