Accelerating sustainable mobility and land-use transitions in rapidly growing cities: Identifying common patterns and enabling factors


Clemence Cavoli

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, land use - urban density, land use - urban sprawl, organisation - governance, policy - equity, policy - sustainable, place - africa, place - asia, place - europe, place - urban


Sustainable urban development, Mobility, Transport, Urban planning, Urban transition


Urban growth has been increasing rapidly across the globe, in particular in low and middle-income developing countries. As city populations and GDP per capita rise exponentially, cities tend to experience similar challenges related to urban development and transport/mobility.

One of the most problematic issues emerges when urban growth drives car-oriented urban development. This is characterised by a range of unsustainable patterns such as low-density development, urban sprawl, lack of plans and infrastructure to accommodate collective transport and active travel, and significant efforts and investments to meet the demand for private motorised vehicle use. For emergent cities, the risk is that these developments lead to highly inefficient, unhealthy and unsustainable urban systems that are difficult to remedy.

This paper aims to identify recurrent governance and policy factors across sectors, as well as macro factors, that tend to contribute to car-dependent urban mobility systems in rapidly growing cities. It draws on qualitative and quantitative research findings from five under-researched Eastern European and Middle Eastern cities: Tallinn, Bucharest, Skopje, Adana and Amman. Data examining the evolution of urban mobility in these cities were collected as part of the Horizon2020 EU funded project CREATE.

The paper investigates the extent to which car-dependent urban development processes can be avoided in rapidly growing cities, to support transitions towards liveable and sustainable cities. Finally, it provides policy recommendations targeting growing cities with low levels of car-use, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa. It highlights the importance of acting swiftly to achieve targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda or the Paris Agreement, by supporting policies fostering efficient, sustainable and inclusive urban mobility and land-use across sectors and levels of governance.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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