عنوان مقاله [English]
Current cities all around the world are considered to be places for creating challenges as well as environmental opportunities. On the one hand, cities possess considerable potential to offer environmental sustainability solutions while providing the residents with increasing life quality. On the other hand, urbanization has added to the environmental threats. Therefore, to alleviate the adverse effects of cities on the environment, the concept of sustainable development has been proposed. According to forecasts, over the upcoming decades, the importance of sustainable development will become more significant for the world’s cities. Accordingly, having enough knowledge about forthcoming urban sustainability challenges can be an important step in planning processes. In this regard, the study is conducted with the goal of investigating social, institutional and economic sustainability challenges in 9 metropolitan areas with a population of more than 20 million that constitute 25% of the country’s population and 33% of total urban population of the country. Consequently, main sustainability challenges for developing cities are derived from authentic sources and delivered as mutual interaction matrix to 54 managers and planners of the studied metropolises. In order to select suitable indicators for understanding the challenges ahead of sustainable development of Iran’s metropolitan areas, extensive studies have been conducted in credible resources. In this research, in order to identify probable challenges in developing countries, the United Nations reports of different periods as well as other international organizations including UNESCO, the World Bank and Agenda21 are employed. The result of these studies is identifying 19 main challenges related to social and institutional sustainability and 18 challenges related to economics. The obtained results are analyzed in MICMAC. The results show that the system of the country’s metropolises suffer from instability in social, institutional and economic areas. "Rules updating" and "public and social infrastructure improvement" in social and institutional sustainability, and "increasing competitiveness", "income gap reduction" and "business prosperity" in economic sustainability, are the key variables and regulators of sustainable development of metropolitan areas.
Today, Cities around the world are now considered places for environmental threats as well as opportunities. (Jucker, Mathar, 2015, 5-10). The concept of ‘sustainable development’ has therefore been introduced to try to mitigate the adverse effects of urbanization on the environment.(Hoornweg & Freire, 2013, 10). Generally, urban sustainable development is studied within a number of frameworks. Given the concept, a city should be environmentally livable, economically viable and socially integrative. In addition, from a physical point of view, changes in either density levels or land use are highlighted to meet city residents' needs and to improve social cohesion and their feeling of being part of the city heritage (Mukomo,1996).
Iran’s cities are no exception to what was just mentioned about urban sustainable development in developing countries. The country has a population of 80 million, 70% of which are city residents. Of the country’s whole population, around 25% live in cities with a population of more than one million. Such population density in the country’s metropolises has not only created numerous problems in the present condition, but it has also posed serious challenges for future sustainable development in the country in general and the cities in particular. Given all these, this study aims at acquiring knowledge of the most important challenges that the country’s metropolises are likely to encounter in 20 years’ prospect, and developing plans to successfully overcome them.
This study is a mixed one in terms of methodology. The obtained data are all qualitative; however, a quantitative method (cross impact analysis) was used for data analysis, which was due to the large amount of the gathered data.In order to acquire knowledge of potential sustainable development challenges in Iran's metropolises, the required data were collected using official and valid documents. Such documents included the "comprehensive plan",land use plans in a particular province, other scientific documents and reports (e.g.,Agenda 21) issued by international institutions such as UNESCO and World Bank. The results led to determining 19 Social, Institutional challenges, and 18 Economic challenges. After that, they were all analyzed, using cross impact analysis method through MicMac Software. The questionnaires were distributed among 54 managers and professors with more than ten years of sustainable-development-related experience in the metropolises in question.Finally, the cross impact analysis of the challenges was conducted, using MicMac Software.
- Results and Discussion
Social and Institutional Sustainability Challenges
To analyze the future Social, Institutional and Economic sustainability challenges, findings can be divided into five areas. The first area includes variables on which the sustainability of the system heavily relies, and which determine the system's behavior. In this area, there are the two variables, namely "renewing rules" and "improving public infrastructure". The second area indicates variables that have both great influence and great dependence. The findings show that most of the variables in this study are found in this area. In other words, of the 19 variables analyzed in this study, 12 were found in the second area. There is only one variable in the third area of the intermediate variables, which is “improving waste and recycling management”. The results show that in the fourth area of the figure on future cultural and institutional challenges of the country's metropolises, the two variables “changing overconsumption patterns of high-income households” and “encouraging childbirth” have shown independent behavior. The fifth area includes clustered variables which are regarded as variables about which the system cannot make any final decision. The researchers in this study have identified the variables “increasing marriage and reducing divorce statistics” and “creating productive employment for older people” as clustered variables which are found in the fifth area. These two variables are close to third and fourth areas; however, no final decision can be made in this regard.
Economic Sustainability Challenges
The economic aspect is another important sustainable development indicator which needs to be given close attention. Result shows that the most influential variables in economi sustainability are “reducing income gap” and “increasing competiveness”. Also shows that , intermediate variables, which have both great influence and great dependence include eight of the entire 18 economic variables. This indicates that the system is hosting a great number of mutually influential challenges due to the system’s unsustainability, which makes coming up with a final decision difficult.
This study aimed at identifying different economic and social challenges that are likely to be met in the sustainable development of Iran’s metropolises. Generally, the results have indicated that the systems of the metropolises under study are unsustainable and in disorder in all social and institutional and economic aspects. This has been supported by various factors which play a part in the sustainable development of the metropolises under study. The findings have demonstrated that there is more unsustainability in social and institutional challenges than in economic ones. Such social and institutional unsustainability can be considered to have stemmed from inadequate attention to humanities and human development indices and indicators in the country.
With regard to the economic aspect, the most important matter in the country is the monopoly, lack of competitive economy and the great influence of political economy. In the past years, various measures have been taken and different rules have been introduced to reduce the strong reliance of the urban economy on the government, but most in vain. In addition urban economy, especially the metropolises, have not been able to set a healthy trend in national and international markets. Heavy economic sanctions against Iran imposed by the USA is perceived as one of the important reasons for the lack of success in this regard. This, together with other factors, has led to the fact that the economic policies adopted for the future of the country’s metropolises are not proportional to the appropriate distribution of resources among the majority in the society.