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Showcasing (un)sustainable cities: Representations and contestations of Colombo Port City
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

An entire urban district is being built in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 269 hectares of reclaimed land:

Colombo International Financial City, Colombo Port City, or simply Port City. Though represented as

a showcase for sustainable urban design by Sweco and a future world-class city built on sustainable

values by China Harbour Engineering Company, the project’s contribution to sustainable development

can be highly contested: the preparatory dredging has reportedly impacted local marine biodiversity

and caused coastal erosion; the volume of infrastructure and a projected construction time of twenty

years implies vast usage of cement and steel, both highly polluting industries; a future completed city

implies a high energy need for maintenance. This research aims at challenging the corporate

representations of Port City with accounts on local environmental impacts, while highlighting the

construction industry as a driver of human-induced climate change, to underline the tension between

conceptualizing and implementing Port City. References to research on climate change, environmental

impacts of the construction industry and the vagueness of ’sustainable development’ provides a

baseline for argumentation. The research combines qualitative and quantitative data from secondary

sources, textual analyzes and from interviewing a consultant. The results indicate that although Port

City incorporates some level of sustainable design, dredging has reportedly caused coastal erosion and

loss of marine biodiversity. The construction process, materials, and the future maintenance of the city

implies vast emissions of greenhouse gases; the sum implications means Port City engages in those

activities that underpin human-induced climate change, thus can rather be represented as a showcase

of un-sustainable cities. Via political ecology, the research engages in a critique of mainstream

sustainable development, using Port City as an example. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 35
Keywords [en]
Construction, dredging, sustainable development, Sri Lanka, China, Sweden, empty and floating signifiers, political ecology
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178147OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178147DiVA, id: diva2:1386952
Available from: 2020-02-14 Created: 2020-01-20 Last updated: 2020-02-14Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • en-US
  • fi-FI
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  • Other locale
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Output format
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