People & Sustainability


Two contrasting urban fabrics in Cairo, Egypt

People shape their cities in many ways and on many scales. Describe how socioeconomic factors can shaped the built environment from the entire city to the single public space.  Discuss the most relevant example from the class/reading material and bring your own example from your own experience and observations

(Sustainable Development in Cities, USP 514 Class Discussion)


Sustainability of the Natural & the Built Environment



Homogenous Environmental seb-Zones. Part of a land suitability exercise along the Red Sea coast

Sustainability in both the natural and built environment is a major issue facing policy-makers, planners, developers and designers. There is no project, neighborhood or city that have yet achieved the right sustainability balance (the 3 Es). The assessment and exploration of existing built forms allows us to learn more about weaknesses that can be enhanced and improved in future projects, plans and designs.

(1) Based on the lecture and discussions in class, please write a single page introducing the most significant environmental components influencing the area you live in. Give examples of how such factors interact with or influence people’s life.

(2) In one page, mention and explain two major elements of the built environment that are crucial to sustainable development but not implemented properly in your area and will impact people’s quality of life.

(Sustainable Development in Cities, USP 514 Class Discussion)

Evolution of Urbanization & Sustainable Development Concept


When: January 1, 1942, Who: representatives of 26 nations   |   Where:  Washington DC  |  Action: Signing the Declaration of the United Nations   |   Official Declaration: 24 October 1945

In the urbanization process through human history, sustainable development is a concept that was introduced recently. Write your own definition/understanding of the concept and why the current definition by the UN (our common future report) may be insufficient. And then mention the top milestones in the evolution of urbanization process and why do you think these are the ones that influenced the development process more.

(Sustainable Development in Cities, USP 514 Class Discussion)


Delineating the Coast of Salalah Using Remote Sensing | Oman

By: Amna Alruheili


This study focuses on quantifying shoreline change through the use of remote sensing techniques, multi-temporal Landsat images, on the southern region of Oman’s coast (Dhofar, Salalah). The coastal shoreline of Dhofar Governance witnessed a major cyclone in 2002. As a result, morphological changes including the accretion and erosion of the coastline along Salalah took place.

In this study, coastline changes were researched using radiometrically and geometrically corrected multitemporal and multi-spectral data from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) dated 1984 and 1998, Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) 2002, and Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) and Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) dated 2015. In the image processing steps, band rationing (B4/B2) and digitizing were used to carry out coastline extraction, and the Digital Shoreline Analysis System was used to calculate the rate of coastline changes. In some parts of the research area, remarkable coastline changes of more than 56.4 m withdrawal and -0.9 m/year erosion were observed in 2002.



Sustainability of Lower Lempa River (Bajo Lempa) Region | El Salvador

By: Jamie Pounds Stanton & Tom Stagg



This study in El Salvador aimed to determine the feasibility of strengthening and expanding a local resource management plan, the Plan Local de Aprovechamiento Sostenible (PLAS). The Bay of Jiquilisco and the surrounding mangrove ecosystem in the Bajo Lempa is a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve and a Ramsar wetland valued both for being a large carbon sequestering ecosystem and rich in ecological variety. Further, the nearby communities rely directly on resources from this ecosystem for their livelihood. However, degradation of this ecosystem is threatening both the sustainability of the environment and the livelihood of residents.

Aiming to assess the broader social characteristics of this region, we identified four variables as important to the implementation of local environmental resource conservation policy: effective communication structures, community ownership of the policy, relative economic stability in the region and access to alternative markets and resources.

We conducted 76 household surveys and held over 10 hours of semi-structured interviews, the community leaders and citizens alike stressed the importance of sustainable regulation of their ecosystem. They value the mangrove ecosystem and know intimately that without proper conservation efforts, they cannot continue to survive as communities. Unfortunately, we also found that over 80% of community members in communities where the PLAS has been implemented are unaware of the regulations dictated by it. Additionally, 92% reported that there were no locations where they could acquire alternate materials to sustain their livelihoods. In addition, it was widely reported that enforcement, as well as monitoring and evaluation, was insufficient. Both the community leaders and the forest rangers expressed a need for increased resources, such as technical assistance and funding to train and employ more rangers, and for supplies as simple as uniforms.

We recommend supporting the expansion of the PLAS, but have identified key areas that need improvement where PLAS has already been implemented; if these issues are not addressed, they will also limit conservation efforts in new communities. Community education and investment in monitoring and evaluation are two areas where we are focusing our recommendations. A third recommendation underscores the need for support of established cooperatives in fishing, shrimping, and dairy production, among others. Our survey confirmed a very low level of income in the Bajo Lempa, with 62% of households surveyed stating they did not have dependable work, and 34% reporting a monthly income of $0. Improving the economic conditions in the region can relieve some of the burden of the mangrove ecosystem system as a provider of food and building materials.

Protecting Paradise: Community Engagement in Sustainable Development | El Salvador


El Salvador is one of the most densely populated countries in the Western Hemisphere. It exhibits deforestation rates comparable to those of countries like Haiti. As with much of Latin America, historical land use patterns and ownership have favored large-scale, singular landholdings, for which regulations or management regimes were nearly nonexistent. Today, authorities are attempting to reform and implement a functioning environmental permitting system, even as new investments in sensitive coastal areas will substantially increase over the next five years. The discussion will outline the challenges facing countries like El Salvador with evolving institutions and rule of law concerns. It will consider the role civil society can play in forging real development compliance–no matter the country—and will highlight the work of a visionary Salvadoran community-based organization, La Coordinadora del Bajo Lempa, whose vision and practice of rural development stand in dramatic contrast to conventional ”know-how.”