National sustainable transport planning: concepts and practices

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Henrik Gudmundsson
Steen Leleur

Sustainability has become a significant ambition for transport planners and policy-makers around the world. However, a transition to sustainable transport is a challenging, long term process, which raises important questions concerning how national, planning processes could support the integration of sustainability. This is the topic of the research project SUSTAIN. Internationally, research on national transport planning is limited, and not well established as a coherent field of research.

This paper presents preliminary results within SUSTAIN. The aim of the paper is to discuss how to conceive and define the concept of ‘national sustainable transport planning’. This is done via selected literature within this and associated areas. A definition is provided and it is suggested that three interlinked dimensions are of importance for transitions, thus a normative, an analytic and a governance dimension.

The definition of national sustainable transport planning is confronted with current national transport planning practices in Sweden and Norway, which are somewhat advanced and have long traditions of recurrent, comprehensive, cross modal planning processes and integrated documents. Nevertheless, it is found that the Swedish and Norwegian planning efforts do not qualify to the label of ‘national sustainable transport planning.

Finally three research topics for future research in national sustainable transport planning are proposed, which all link to the above mentioned dimensions and their interlinkages.

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