A multi-spatial scale approach to urban sustainability – An illustration of the domestic and global hinterlands of the city of Beer-Sheva

Journal Article

Cities have always been dependent on ecological services from their local and regional hinterlands. In recent decades, however, urban population growth and rising material standards of living, in conjunction with technological development and globalization, have compelled cities to become reliant on global hinterlands. It follows that urban sustainability measures should target not only city and regional lands, but also the sustainability of global hinterlands. In this paper we disaggregate the urban hinterland into domestic and global hinterlands, using the city of Beer-Sheva, Israel as an example. We use a slightly revised ecological footprint analysis to separate the domestic and global hinterlands associated with various urban activities such as food, materials and water consumption, electricity use and transportation. We found that 94% of the Beer-Sheva footprint is ascribed to the global hinterland and only 6% to the domestic hinterland. We also found that the city's footprint is more than double that of a sustainable carrying capacity at the global scale and nine times more at the domestic level. After analyzing each component of the city's footprint, we identify some potential administrative measures at various scales – from local to global, which can help to minimize the size of the urban hinterland, reduce urban pressure on that hinterland, and thus promote urban sustainability.