The sustainability assessment tools (SA) that are used to assess sustainable urban and regional planning, are characterized by high uncertainty (Morrison-Saunders et al. 2014), a gap between theory and practice (Pope et al. 2013) and the need for new frameworks (Leung et al. 2015). 
This research project examines the potential benefits of a paradigm shift from the existing forms of assessment, which primarily focus on quality parameters (e.g. water, air pollution), towards an overarching view of sustainable planning which includes the ratio between resource availability and human footprint in local and regional areas.

Acknowledging the complexity of the topic, current approaches to sustainable planning are analysed globally before narrowing the analysis to a couple of case studies. Focusing on the Australian and the Italian frameworks, stakeholders’ perspectives are acquired in order to identify current flaws in the procedures, exploring the different opinions about the design and the implementation of this the innovative paradigm proposed. Carrying capacity theories are then investigated, identifying appropriate techniques to measure the resource availability and their consumption at a regional and then at the local scale. In the end, the innovative protocols are experimentally applied to the current urban and regional plans, both in Queensland (Australia) and in Region Lombardia (Italy).

The expected results provide both procedural and technical advancements. The stakeholders involvement through the whole process of SEA design and implementation, joined with the institutionalization of carrying capacity techniques, will foster new thinking about not only ‘sustainable’, but also ‘responsible’ planning.

Funding: UQ PhD scholarship
Advisors: Prof Neil Sipe, Dr Karen Vella

Project members

Umberto Baresi

Umberto BARESI

PhD Candidate - Awarded 2018