Sustainable Environmental Strategies for Shrinking Cities Based on Processing Successful Case Studies Facing Decline Using a Decision-Support System

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Oct 3;16(19):3727. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16193727.


Since the middle of the last century post-industrial cities around the world have been losing population and shrinking due to the decline of their structural growth models, showing important socioeconomic transformations. This is a negative phenomenon but one that cities can benefit from. The aim of this work is to verify what type of measures against urban decline would be most suitable if applied to a specific case study. To do this, international cases of shrinking cities where successful measures were already carried out facing decline: (i) are collected, (ii) are classified based on several influencing criteria, and (iii) are grouped under similar alternatives against the decline. Measures and criteria focused on achieving sustainability are emphasized. Alternatives are then prioritised using an Analytic Hierarchy Process designed at several hierarchical levels. The results are discussed based on the construction of sustainable future scenarios according to the optimal alternatives regarding the case study, improving the model validity. The work evidences that environmental and low-cost measures encouraging the economy and increasing the quality of life, regardless of the city size-population range where they were performed, may be the most replicable. Future research lines on the integration of the method together with other decision-support systems and techniques are provided.

Keywords: analytic hierarchy process; decision-support systems; environmental planning; shrinking cities; territorial sustainability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Conservation of Natural Resources* / trends
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Humans
  • Population Density
  • Urbanization / trends*