The SymbioCity Approach: Conceptual Framework for Sustainable Urban Development in Low and Middle Income Countries

With the increasing scale of urban growth – especially in transition and developing countries – there is an immense need for more holistic planning and governance of urban development, including environmental system solutions.

The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) has been commissioned by Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) to foster and develop the Symbio City Approach – a conceptual framework for sustainable urban development. The concept builds upon an integrated and holistic approach to urban development, with particular focus on the environmental aspects and with clear links to economic and socio-cultural dimensions within the physical and spatial environment.

The Symbio City Approach can be applied within a range of development processes, such as when conducting multi-disciplinary or sector reviews of the urban environment, or as support when formulating strategies for short, medium and long-term development on different urban scales – region, city, city-district. Further, the Symbio City Approach explores opportunities to strengthen local governments and local institutions and their capacity to sustain local development, by making use of existing resources more efficiently, while at the same time, identifying means to reduce poverty and the negative impact of urban areas on the environment. The concept illuminates methods and tools for an integrated approach on sustainable urban development with special focus on the promotion of interdisciplinary working procedures in the municipality and among other stakeholders.

The Growth and Community Development Division at SALAR has the overall responsibility for the project, while SKL International as a subsidiary to SALAR, is responsible for managing and driving the different project components. With this set up, the project has good access to various examples of sustainable urban development through its vast network of local governments.

The overall objective of the project is to position the Symbio City Approach as a tool for analysis, planning and implementation as well as disseminating the knowledge through projects, training and international and national networks. The project is based on some key components including:

  • Further research and development of the Symbio City Approach;
  • Development of thematic publications and annexes to the Approach;
  • Capacity building and development of training material based on the Approach ;
  • Identification of cities for practical application of the Approach;
  • Networking and collaboration with stakeholders and partners.

The Team

Mr Paul Dixelius, project manager

Mrs Annakarin Lindberg, project coordinator

Mr Klas Groth, urban advisor

Mr Ulf Ranhagen, senior advisor

On parental leave: Ms Lena Nilsson, project coordinator


The SymbioCity Approach: A Conceptual Framework for Sustainable Urban Development

The SymbioCity Approach: A Conceptual Framework for Sustainable Urban Development Summary

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Project details
Origin of founding
14 000 000 SEK
Partners / Consortium
n/a (or ICLD, UN-Habitat, local authorities etc)