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Exploring the viability of community-based sustainability initiatives in Perth with a lens of social capital

Dhakal, S.P. and Lilith, M. (2011) Exploring the viability of community-based sustainability initiatives in Perth with a lens of social capital. In: 3rd World Planning Schools Congress (Track 16: Environment, Sustainability, Social Justice and Resource Management), 4 - 8 July, Perth, Western Australia



The contributions of community-based initiatives towards achieving various sustainability aspirations have been increasingly acknowledged in recent decades. Several national and state level environmental strategies in Australia have extensively promoted such initiatives in order to further sustainability agenda. For example, community gardens are community groups run and managed by local residents as a response to global issues such as climate change, peak oil or concerns over pesticide residues in food produce. Similarly, Friends groups in general are established by local residents in order to care for the degraded or threatened bushlands and wetlands. However, little attention has been paid to the viability of community-based sustainability initiatives (CBSI) themselves. This paper responds to this gap and explores the viability of two different CBSI in Perth with a lens of social capital. In one case study, the majority of the respondents in Hilton, WA considered that a community garden would not only enhance the suburb by adding a “community feel” to the neighbourhood but also foster intra-group social capital by promoting additional activities in green spaces and become more resilient to global environmental issues. The other case study relates to one of the local environmental groups known as Friends group in Kenwick, WA which not only relied on intra-group social capital towards organising activism against a plan to develop nationally significant wetlands but also utilised inter-group social capital towards restoration and ongoing management of the wetlands. Based on above case studies, this paper contends that government strategies that promote on-the-ground sustainability work may benefit by taking into account the significance of intra-group and inter-group social capital for the viability of CBSI.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
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