Glossary of terms
|1 March 2023|
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- Adaptive reuse: refers to the process of repurposing an existing building or structure for a new function, while still preserving its historic, cultural, or architectural significance. This approach promotes sustainable development by reducing waste and preserving cultural heritage.
- Affordable/subsidised/low-cost/social housing: refers to housing that is affordable to people with low to moderate incomes. Affordable housing may be subsidised by the government or provided by private developers at below-market rates.
- Brownfield development: refers to the redevelopment of abandoned, derelict, or contaminated land for new uses. This can include the cleanup and reuse of former industrial sites, commercial properties, or other abandoned or underutilised parcels of land.
- Changing demographics: refers to shifts in the population characteristics of a city over time. This can include changes in the age, race, ethnicity, gender, income level, and education level of the population. Demographic changes can be driven by a variety of factors, including immigration patterns, birth rates, mortality rates, and migration within the country.
- Circular economy: refers to an economic system designed to minimise waste and maximise the use of resources by keeping materials in use and regenerating natural systems. It aims to create a closed-loop system where waste is minimised, resources are conserved, and sustainability is prioritised.
- City beautification: refers to the efforts and initiatives taken to improve the aesthetic appeal, functionality, and overall appearance of a city or urban area. Examples include cleaning up litter and graffiti, planting trees and flowers, installing public art, etc. Its goal is to make the urban environment more attractive, inviting, and enjoyable for residents and visitors alike, while also enhancing the quality of life and sense of community in the area.
- City manager: (in the context of a city’s governance structure) refers to a professional administrator appointed by the city council or other elected officials to manage the day-to-day operations of a city government. City managers are responsible for overseeing the implementation of policies and programs established by the city council, as well as managing the city’s budget, personnel, and resources.
- Climate change adaptation: refers to the actions and strategies taken to prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change, such as rising temperatures, sea level rise, and more frequent and severe weather events. Adaptation measures aim to reduce the vulnerability of individuals, communities, and ecosystems to the impacts of climate change and to build resilience to future changes.
- Climate neutrality: refers to the balance between greenhouse gas emissions and their removal or mitigation in the atmosphere, resulting in no net contribution to global warming. Achieving climate neutrality involves reducing emissions through sustainable practices, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and investing in carbon sequestration and other mitigation measures.
- Co-creation: (in the context of a city) refers to a collaborative process where citizens, businesses, and government work together to identify and solve urban challenges, design solutions, and create shared value for the community.
- Commission: (in the context of a city’s governance structure) refers to a body of individuals appointed or elected to oversee a specific area of city government or public service. Commissions can have a variety of responsibilities and powers, ranging from advisory roles to decision-making authority.
- Daily commute: refers to the regular travel that people undertake between their home and workplace or school. It is the journey that people make on a daily basis as part of their routine to reach their destination.
- Decarbonise: means to reduce or eliminate carbon emissions from various sources such as industries, transportation, and buildings by transitioning to cleaner energy sources and adopting sustainable practices to mitigate climate change and promote environmental sustainability. See also: low carbon
- Digital divide: refers to the gap between those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not. This can include access to the internet, ownership of digital devices, and proficiency in using them. Those without access or skills may face significant disadvantages in education, employment, and social participation.
- Disaster mitigation: refers to the actions and strategies taken to reduce or prevent the adverse impacts of natural or human-made disasters. This includes efforts to identify potential hazards and vulnerabilities, develop plans and protocols for responding to disasters, and implement measures to minimise their impact.
- Ecosystem services: refer to the benefits that humans derive from natural ecosystems, such as clean water, clean air, food, fiber, and recreational opportunities. They also include the regulation of climate, pollination, and pest control, among others.
- E-governance, or electronic governance: refers to the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve and streamline the delivery of government services and information to citizens.
- Energy efficiency: refers to the use of technologies, practices, and systems that reduce the amount of energy required to perform a given task or function. It involves optimising the use of energy resources by minimising waste, improving efficiency, and reducing environmental impacts.
- Energy transition: refers to the shift from traditional, fossil fuel-based energy systems to more sustainable and low-carbon alternatives. It involves a fundamental transformation of the energy sector, including the production, distribution, and consumption of energy.
- Green infrastructure: refers to the network of natural and semi-natural features such as parks, forests, wetlands, and green roofs that provide ecosystem services to urban areas. It helps to improve air and water quality, reduce urban heat island effects, and provide recreational opportunities while enhancing biodiversity and habitat.
- Green space: refers to publicly accesible areas of land that are covered by vegetation, such as trees, shrubs and grass, and typically includes parks, gardens, forests or other natural landscapes. Its intent is to positively impact physical, mental and psychological health and well-being of the community while also enhancing the environmental quality.
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP): refers to a measure of a country’s economic performance that represents the total value of all goods and services produced within a country’s borders during a specific period, usually a year, and is used to compare the economic performance of different countries.
- Gross Regional Product (GRP): refers to a measure of the economic output of a particular region, such as a state, province, or city, that represents the total value of all goods and services produced within that region during a specific period, and is used to compare the economic performance of different regions.
- Governance structure: refers to the framework of rules, policies, and institutions that define how a group or organisation makes decisions, sets priorities, and manages its resources. It encompasses the formal and informal mechanisms of decision-making, as well as the roles and responsibilities of individuals and groups within the organisation.
- Internet of Things (IoT): refers to the interconnected network of physical devices, vehicles, appliances, and other objects that are embedded with sensors, software, and network connectivity, allowing them to exchange data and communicate with each other and with humans.
- Key strategies/actions: (in the context of a city’s master plan/strategy or urban initiatives) refer to the specific actions, policies, and initiatives that are identified as essential for achieving the goals and objectives of a city’s master plan/strategy. These strategies are often developed through a comprehensive planning process that involves input from a wide range of stakeholders, including community members, elected officials, city staff, and other experts.
- Knowledge economy: refers to an economic system where the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services are based on knowledge-intensive activities that require high levels of expertise, creativity, and information technology, leading to innovation, competitiveness, and sustainable growth.
- Legalised housing: refers to housing that has been formally recognised and approved by relevant authorities, such as the government, as meeting the legal requirements for housing. This means that the housing meets specific standards and regulations regarding safety, health, and habitability.
- Liveability: refers to the quality of life and well-being of individuals and communities within a particular environment. Factors that contribute to liveability include access to essential services, amenities, and public spaces, as well as social, economic, and environmental conditions that support a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.
- Low carbon: refers to practices, technologies, or systems that produce a relatively low amount of carbon emissions, typically in the context of energy production and use. This includes the use of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency improvements, and the adoption of low-emission technologies and practices. See also: decarbonise
- Master plan/strategy: refers to a comprehensive and long-term plan that sets out a vision, goals, and policies for the future development and growth of a city or urban area. The master plan/strategy typically covers a range of topics, including land use, transportation, housing, public spaces, infrastructure, and environmental sustainability.
- Mayor-council: refers to a form of local government in which an elected mayor serves as the chief executive of the city and is responsible for implementing policy and managing city operations, while a council or board of aldermen serves as the legislative body, responsible for enacting laws, setting policy, and overseeing the mayor’s performance.
- Metropolitan area: refers to a large urban region that comprises a central city and its surrounding suburban and rural areas, interconnected by economic, social, and transportation networks, forming a functional economic and social unit.
- Modal split: refers to the distribution of passenger transportation demand among different modes of transport, such as cars, buses, trains, bicycles, or walking. It is the percentage of people who choose to use a particular mode of transportation for a given trip or purpose.
- Non-native population: refers to a group of people who have migrated to the city from a different region or country and may have different cultural, linguistic, or ethnic backgrounds from those who were born in the city. They may include immigrants, refugees and/or long- or short-term workers.
- Paris Agreement: refers to the legally binding international treaty adopted by 196 countries in 2015 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius, through country-specific mitigation and adaptation measures and financial support to developing countries.
- Participatory budgeting: refers to a democratic process where community members decide how to allocate public funds to finance local projects and services by proposing, discussing, and voting on project ideas in a transparent and inclusive way that promotes civic engagement, accountability, and social justice.
- Participatory planning: refers to an approach in urban planning and development that emphasises the active involvement of community members, stakeholders, and other interested parties in the planning process. Its goal is to promote greater transparency, accountability, and democracy in decision-making, and to ensure that the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders are taken into account.
- Placemaking: refers to the process of creating and improving public spaces that enhance the community’s quality of life, social interactions, and cultural identity by involving stakeholders in designing and activating these spaces with art, landscaping, events, and amenities that reflect local values and needs.
- Public-private partnership (PPP): refers to a contractual agreement between a government or public entity and a private sector entity, in which the two parties collaborate to deliver a project or service that would traditionally be provided by the public sector alone. PPPs typically involve a private sector partner that designs, builds, finances, operates, and/or maintains a public infrastructure project or delivers a public service, while the public partner retains ownership and oversight of the project or service. PPPs are often used to deliver large-scale infrastructure projects, such as highways, airports, and water treatment plants, as well as social services, such as healthcare, education, and affordable housing.
- Quality of life: refers to the overall well-being of the city’s residents, taking into account various factors that contribute to their physical, emotional, social, and economic health and happiness within the urban environment.
- Renewables: (short for renewable energy sources) refer to energy sources that are replenished naturally and can be used to generate electricity or heat without depleting finite resources. These sources of energy include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, tidal, and biomass.
- Replicability: (in the context of Stage B demonstration projects) refers to the ability of a project, programme, or intervention to be successfully replicated or reproduced in other contexts or locations. In other words, if a project or programme is replicable, it can be adapted and implemented elsewhere with similar outcomes and impacts.
- Resiliency: refers to the ability of an individual, community, or system to cope, adapt, and bounce back from adversity, stress, or difficult situations. It is the capacity to recover from challenges and setbacks, and to maintain a positive outlook and sense of purpose despite obstacles.
- Rural-urban migration: refers to the movement of people from rural areas to urban areas in search of employment, better living conditions, and other opportunities. This process is driven by economic and social factors, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, and demographic changes, and can have significant impacts on both rural and urban communities.
- Slow urbanism: refers to an urban planning and design philosophy that emphasises the importance of creating cities that prioritise people, community, and the environment over the speed and efficiency of transportation and commerce.
- Smart city initiatives: refer to efforts by cities to use digital technology and data to improve the efficiency, sustainability, and livability of urban environments. Smart city initiatives can take many different forms, including the deployment of sensors and other connected devices to collect data on traffic, air quality, energy use, and other aspects of urban life.
- Social equity: refers to the concept of fairness and justice in the distribution of resources, opportunities, and benefits among individuals and groups within a society. It involves ensuring that everyone has equal access to the opportunities and resources needed to succeed and thrive, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, or other characteristics.
- Social integration strategies: refer to tactics or approaches that aim to promote social integration or the inclusion of individuals from diverse backgrounds into a society. Examples include education and awareness programmes, cross-cultural events, access to basic necessities, inclusive policies, community-based programmes, etc. These strategies aim to break down social barriers and create a more inclusive and cohesive society by promoting cross-cultural understanding, respect, and acceptance.
- Social stability: refers to the ability of a society to maintain order, security, and harmony among its members, even in the face of external or internal challenges. Social stability can be characterised by the absence of major social, political, or economic disruptions, and the presence of social cohesion, trust, and a sense of common purpose among the members of the society.
- Stakeholders: refer to individuals, groups, organisations, or entities that have a direct or indirect interest in, or are affected by, the development and management of the city. This can include various groups such as residents, business owners, non-profit organisations, local government officials, investors, developers, and advocacy groups.
- Stormwater management: refers to the systems and practices that are in place to manage the flow of rainwater and other forms of precipitation within the city’s boundaries. In urban areas, large amounts of impermeable surfaces such as roads, parking lots, and buildings can prevent rainwater from naturally infiltrating into the ground. This can cause water to collect and create flooding, erosion, and other problems.
- Strategic land sales: refer to the sale of large parcels of land typically by government agencies for the purpose of generating revenue or advancing specific policy objectives. Strategic land sales can include the sale of land for residential, commercial, industrial, or mixed-use development, as well as the sale of surplus government-owned land or assets.
- Sustainable transport: refers to transportation systems and modes of travel that are designed to minimise their negative impact on the environment and support social and economic well-being. It involves the use of more efficient, cleaner, and greener transportation options that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and congestion, while improving mobility and accessibility for people and goods.
- Sustainability: refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This involves balancing social, economic, and environmental factors to ensure that resources are used in a responsible and equitable manner for the long-term.
- Tactical/guerilla/pop-up urbanism: refers to a grassroots approach to urban planning and design that involves citizens in temporary, low-cost, and scalable interventions, such as parklets, pop-up markets, and bike lanes, to transform public spaces and test new ideas for urban improvements that are quick, flexible, and responsive to local needs.
- Transit-oriented development (TOD): refers to a planning approach that prioritises mixed-use development around public transportation infrastructure, such as train or bus stations. The aim is to create walkable, bike-friendly neighborhoods that reduce automobile dependency and increase access to affordable housing, employment, and amenities.
- Transparency: (in the context of city governance) refers to the accessibility and availability of information and decision-making processes to the public. This includes open and accountable governance, clear communication channels, and easy access to public data and records.
- Universal design: (in the context of a city) refers to the application of universal design principles to the design and planning of public spaces, buildings, transportation systems, and other urban infrastructure. Its goal is to create an inclusive and accessible environment that accommodates the needs of all individuals, including those with disabilities and seniors.
- Urban acupuncture: refers to an urban planning and design approach that uses small-scale interventions to revitalise neglected or underutilised areas of a city. These interventions are strategically placed to stimulate positive social and economic change and improve the overall health of the community.
- Urban agriculture: refers to the practice of growing, processing, and distributing food in or near urban areas. This can include traditional farming practices such as cultivating crops, raising livestock, and harvesting fish, as well as newer techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and rooftop gardening.
- Urban initiatives: refer to specific projects, programmes, or policies that are implemented to address the unique challenges and opportunities faced by the city. These initiatives are designed to promote sustainable and equitable development, improve quality of life for residents, and enhance the economic, social, and environmental vitality of the city.
- Urban logistics: refers to the management of goods and services within a city or urban area. It involves the planning, coordination, and execution of delivery and transportation activities, as well as the management of associated infrastructure, such as warehouses and distribution centres. The aim is to ensure efficient and sustainable movement of goods while minimising negative impacts on urban environments and residents.
- Urban resilience: refers to the ability of a city or urban area to prepare for, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses, such as natural disasters, economic crises, or social upheavals, while maintaining essential functions and services for its residents.
- Urban transformation: refers to the process of significant change and redevelopment that occurs in urban areas over time. This can include physical, economic, social, and environmental changes that result in the transformation of a city’s built environment, economy, and social fabric.
- Vibrancy: (in the context of a city) refers to the energy, liveliness, and activity that makes it an attractive and engaging place to live, work, and visit. It is characterised by a diverse mix of people, cultures, and activities, and an abundance of social, cultural, and economic opportunities.
- Vulnerable groups: refer to populations that are at greater risk of harm or disadvantage due to their social, economic, or physical circumstances. These groups may face discrimination, exclusion, or marginalisation in society, and may have limited access to resources, opportunities, and services that are necessary for their well-being.
- Waste management: refers to the processes and systems that are in place to collect, transport, treat, and dispose of waste generated within the city’s boundaries. This includes household waste, commercial and industrial waste, and hazardous waste.
- Water-sensitive urban design (WSUD): refers to an approach to urban planning and design that seeks to manage water sustainably and enhance the liveability of cities. The approach is based on the principles of the water cycle, which involves the movement, storage, and use of water within a given area. Examples include rain gardens, green roofs, and wetlands.
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