Urban Chances, City Growth and the Sustainability Challenge - Chance2Sustain

This research programme examines how governments and citizens in cities with differing patterns of urban economic growth make use of participatory (or integrated) spatial knowledge management to direct urban governance towards more sustainable development. Participatory spatial knowledge management is the main concept we use to study this issue, as it reflects a strategic resource, which all stakeholders can contribute to urban governance processes towards sustainable development.


It includes both expert knowledge and several forms of non-expert knowledge, such as knowledge from (working) experience (tacit), embedded sectoral knowledge, and social (or community-based) knowledge at the neighbourhood and city-wide level. Participatory processes of urban planning and management are strategic in eliciting these forms of spatially disaggregated (of specific) knowledge, which are usually not acknowledged in top-down, expert-driven models of urban governance and planning. Utilizing participatory spatial knowledge can make urban governance and planning more effective and gain wider acceptance, by incorporating both expert and local community knowledge. Although participatory spatial knowledge management is increasingly used in urban planning processes, its success depends on external political and economic conditions.


A legal framework providing for fiscal decentralisation and funding, for instance, is a strategic support. The influence of various external conditions has not yet been analysed much locally, and certainly not comparatively across different socio-political contexts, although it is a strategic question, given the inherent trade-offs and potential political conflicts in combining environmental, social and economic goals (within sustainable development). Therefore, the programme focuses on ten cities with contrasting economic and political conditions, with the main scientific objective of developing a model on participatory spatial knowledge management to direct urban governance to sustainable development.

The Cities are:

  • India: Dehli, Chennai, Kalyan
  • South Africa: Durban, Cape Town
  • Peru: Lima Metropolitana, Arequipa
  • Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Guarulhos

The four-year project is funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Union and organised around five major topics

Large-scale economic and infrastructure projects in fast-growing cities and alternative economic strategies

Analysing policies and politics to address urban inequality: CSO networks and campaigns on sub-standard settlements in metropolitan areas

Environmental risk assessment and inclusive scenario building for reducing costs: reconciling the green and brown agenda

Developing participatory ‘spatial’ knowledge models in metropolitan governance networks for sustainable development and an integrated model of urban sustainable development

Combining fiscal decentralization, participatory budgeting, and inclusive development: supporting sustainable development policies, monitoring and implementation

The Chance2Sustain project combines both research and communication aspects. Its aim is to encourage close collaboration between researchers and policy makers and therefore enhances the co-operation with reputable global development research institutes.


The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Nairobi, Kenya is a dissemination partner. The project is coordinated by the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), Germany.


Chance2Sustain is funded by FP7 under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities theme

Project duration: 48 months, 1 April 2010 - 31 March 2014. Funding limit: 2.6 million euro