Institutional and political constraints to planning sustainable settlements in suburban municipalities case of Tallinn, Estonia
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This thesis addresses the recent phenomenon of urban sprawl in Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia,and tries to find its institutional and political reasons. Urban sprawl is seen as a type ofsuburbanization which lacks sustainability. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore the EUformulatedsustainable spatial development policy implementation by local authorities in Tallinnsuburbs and to understand why an implementation gap exists. The two main research questions are:(1) To what extent does spatial planning related to housing development in suburban municipalitiesfollow the principles of sustainable development? (2) What factors do influence the policyimplementation by local governments?The case study strategy is selected with Tallinn conurbation as a single case and four selectedsuburban municipalities as separate units of analysis. In order to identify the tentative factors thataffect implementation of the EU policy, the model of policy implementation developed by Van Meterand Van Horn (1975) is applied. It frames the analysis of causal links between the dependent andindependent variables. The dependent variable is defined as the extent of sustainability in local spatialdevelopment policies. The independent variables are those local political and institutional factors thatmay vary across municipalities. They are divided into two groups: (1) factors pertaining to localgovernment itself, and (2) factors pertaining to local government’s horizontal communication inspatial planning. The two hypothesis set out in the thesis relate to the independent variables. Besidesthis, the study also considers such general factors as policy content, its vertical communication, andthe national institutional and socio-political framework.The research shows that there is a variation among local authorities in terms of how much their spatialdevelopment policies contribute to achievement of the sustainable development goals. The findingsdemonstrate that none of the investigated factors separately may contribute to implementation of thepolicy, but only a particular constellation of them. Most important factors appeared to be consensusamong politicians, knowledgeable and enthusiastic leadership, and most necessarily, good dispositionto the policy among local politicians and officials. Financial resources may play for or againstsustainability depending on a combination of other factors. Also good horizontal communication oflocal authority with civic society, business actors and other public institutions increases sustainability.The important finding is that the nature of the policy and the national framework in Estoniaconsiderably complicate policy implementation.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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