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Positioning Vancouver through urban sustainability strategies? The Greenest City 2020 Action Plan

Affolderbach, Julia; Schulz, Christian


Julia Affolderbach

Christian Schulz


© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Cities around the world have launched greening initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint and to become more sustainable. At the same time, they have also sought to use these initiatives to position themselves as climate change leaders and green champions. This paper focuses on the City of Vancouver's Greenest City 2020 Action Plan as urban policy strategy to reduce carbon emissions. Based on interviews with actors and experts involved in the development and implementation of the plan, the paper evaluates the role green leadership aspirations play in shaping urban climate change policy and how policy makers and stakeholders use policy to position the city and its greening initiatives locally and globally. In particular, it analyzes the role of competitive positioning and green leadership in sustainability initiatives and change within and beyond urban boundaries. While leadership suggests increased buy-in of residents and those involved in the implementation of the strategy and multiplication effects through learning within the region and between (peer) cities, it can also pose challenges as the interest in meeting leadership claims can impede more radical change through specific targets and implementation strategies and challenge other sustainability objectives.


Affolderbach, J., & Schulz, C. (2017). Positioning Vancouver through urban sustainability strategies? The Greenest City 2020 Action Plan. Journal of cleaner production, 164, 676-685.

Acceptance Date Jun 28, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 29, 2017
Publication Date Oct 15, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 10, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2018
Journal Journal of cleaner production
Print ISSN 0959-6526
Electronic ISSN 1879-1786
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 164
Pages 676-685
Keywords Sustainable cities; Climate change leader; Urban policy; City boosterism; Place branding
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in Journal of Cleaner Production, 2017. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.


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