The ‘eco-city,’ and related concepts and practices of ‘sustainable urbanism,’ have since the early 2000s gained growing international popularity and entered mainstream policy as a consequence of the forceful combination of global climate change concerns and a rapidly urbanizing world population. Sustainable urbanism engages with various aspects of environmental, economic, and social sustainability concerning the urban context. Eco-cities are initiatives that variably promote and pursue sustainable development in relation to urban infrastructure, services, and community at district, town, or metropolitan levels. Governance challenges involved include effective coordination of innovation, planning, and development across policy sectors; integration across urban scales; and engagement with stakeholders and communities. The need for global sustainable city frameworks and standards becomes more apparent as both the number of practical initiatives and international cooperation increase.
This encyclopedia article provides an overview of the history of the eco-city and outlines some of the key challenges for the future.