Urban metabolism and sustainability: Precedents, genesis and research perspectives

Urban metabolism represents an area of study that is considered promising in interdisciplinary research of cities and sustainability. The term urban metabolism is a concept in which the city is analysed using the biological notion referring to the internal processes by which living organisms maintain a continuous exchange of matter and energy with their environment to enable operation, growth and reproduction. However, as a basis for understanding the deeper aspects of urban metabolism and its scope with regard to the analysis of cities in the context of sustainability, it is necessary to review the historical evolution of the concept and the theoretical foundations that structure it. This literature review discusses the origin and evolution of urban metabolism and its theoretical scope, including its relationship with the sustainability of cities in light of the technical-material paradigm proposed by urban ecology. Finally, the limitations of urban metabolism are analysed in relation to the concept of urban sustainability to address gaps and research needs in the metabolism of cities.