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The Emerging Role of Mega-Urban Regions in the Sustainability of Global Production-Consumption Systems

E. Doran, J. Golden, K. Matus, L. Lebel, V. Timmer, M. van ‘t Zelfde, A. de Koning

npj Urban Sustainability, April 2023

Jay Golden

Jay Golden

Mega-urban regions (MURs) are important consumers or traders of resources from, or producers of wastes destined for, the global hinterlands. These roles, coupled with their concentration, clustering and centrality effects, mean MURs have a disproportionately large effect on the sustainability of global production-consumption systems (PCSs).

Actions taken within MURs influence the sustainability of global PCSs, and vice versa; but that influence is complicated by complex governance intersections. Three cases are used to illustrate governance innovation in MUR-PCS interactions: industrial symbiosis in Tianjin, China; electricity production in London, UK; and the adoption of standards and labels for seafood in Bangkok, Thailand.

In London and Tianjin, waste capture reduced consumption of hinterland resources, whereas in Bangkok, the aim was to improve the sustainability of resource use in coastal and marine hinterlands.

We suggest an agenda for research to evaluate the potential for transferrable MUR governance innovation to enable sustainable and equitable PCSs.