Green public spaces and sustainable cities in South and Southeast Asia: Integrating needs and societal wellbeing
Research Question:

How do green public spaces meet the human needs and contribute to the societal wellbeing in urban settings and according to cultural context and across social groups?

The significance of green public spaces towards sustainability is well documented in relation to both social inclusiveness and environmental promotion. Yet the relation between green public spaces, societal wellbeing, and sustainable city development is less understood. This research assumes that green public spaces can act as synergic satisfiers towards human wellbeing, in that they provide satisfaction for a diversity of needs, but how this plays out in practice may differ according to the cultural context and across social groups. With a focus on four coastal mega-cities of South and Southeast Asia, this proposal seeks to understand human needs in relation to green public spaces as a satisfier towards societal wellbeing in relation to three main questions:

  • How do people practice green public spaces in daily life, in relation to material arrangements, dispositions, and social norms?

  • Towards what needs and for whom do green public spaces act as satisfiers? 
  • What are the implications for the management of green public spaces and urban planning, at the local and cross-regional level?

Inter- and trans-disciplinary methods will be applied to field research in: Chennai (Republic of India), Metro Manila (Republic of the Philippines), Shanghai (People’s Republic of China) and Singapore (Republic of Singapore). The timing is critical: in emerging economies, green public spaces are increasingly being encroached upon by commercial and state interests, posing direct threats to sustainability. By uncovering opportunities for promoting more sustainable urban development and societal flourishing, this research proposal is relevant to cities in the region and beyond.


Project Members

Name Role Department/Institute Institution
Marlyne Sahakian Coordinator Department of Sociology University of Geneva
Antonietta Di Giulio Co-Coordinator Department of Environmental Sciences Universität Basel
Manisha Anantharaman Principal Member School of Liberal Arts Saint Mary's College of California
Srikanth Narasimalu Principal Member Energy Research Institute Nanyang Technological University
Czarina Saloma Akpedonu Principal Member Department of Sociology and Anthropology Ateneo de Manila University - Quezon City
Dunfu Zhang Principal Member School of Sociology and Political Science Shanghai University
Garrette Clark Associated Member Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch; Division of Industry, Technology and Economics. UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
Janet Salem Associated Member Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Consumption and Production (Asia Pacific Region) UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
Regula Von Büren Associated Member Energy Research Institute Nanyang Technological University