Disruptions in strategic infrastructure planning: What do they mean for sustainable development?

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The vision of sustainable development remains difficult to realize in practice. Processes of strategic planning for public infrastructure represent a major challenge, as, in many cases, they return unsustainable investment solutions. Research offers certain planning methodologies to improve the prospects of sustainable investments. However, very little is understood about how planning processes are undertaken in practice, and what problems in the procedural aspects of planning –termed ‘‘planning disruptions’’ in this paper – lead to deviations from the vision of sustainable development in infrastructure investments. This study scrutinizes the current scope of planning methodologies through the empirical case of a water supply augmentation in Melbourne, Australia.We derive a typology of planning disruptions which offers initial ingredients for a diagnostic tool to explore planning problems in the context of sustainable development. We also suggest making the current scope of planning methodologies more robust, by developing interventions that explicate and prepare for potential disruptions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1285-1303
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • diagnosis
  • strategic planning
  • Sustainable development
  • urban infrastructure
  • water resources

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