On Sustainability International Award for Excellence

The On Sustainability Journal Collection offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the On Sustainability Research Network.

Award Winner for Volume 14

Interpreting the Social Dimension of Sustainability: Connecting Theory and Community Planning Practice with a Social Determinants of Health Framework

The concept of sustainability has been widely adopted in urban planning practice and theory. The social dimension of sustainability (SDS) remains the most underdeveloped and overlooked dimension of sustainability, both conceptually and practically, though social aspects of sustainability offer great potential to address urban social problems. This article reports on findings from research involving case studies of neighborhood-scale sustainability planning projects in Portland, Oregon; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Nagoya, Japan to describe the ways in which the SDS has been conceptualized and implemented in recent planning practice. The social determinants of health (SDH) framework is applied to these conceptualizations to identify the utility of this framework in further developing the SDS. Findings suggest commonalities across contexts and differences in their emphasis on structural and contextual determinants. This SDH framework contributes structure to theory on the SDS and provides a useful tool for planners to address complex urban social problems through neighborhood-scale sustainability planning practice.


This research bridges the gaps between social sustainability theory and actual urban sustainability planning practice in an international sample of three case studies while connecting the social determinants of health framework (SDH) as a path forward for guiding social sustainability practice. Bridging the gap between theory and practice with the SDH framework, which is built on a social justice foundation, supports reduction of structural and contextual inequalities in urban neighborhoods.

Jacklyn Kohon

Past Award Winners

Volume 13

Operationalising the Ideas of Justice in Forest Governance: An Analysis of Community Forestry and REDD+ Processes in Nepal

Poshendra Satyal, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability: Annual Review, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp. 1-19


Volume 12

Implementing Bioremediation Technologies to Degrade Chemical Warfare Agents and Explosives from War Affected Regions in Sri Lanka.

Sithamparanathan, Elackiya, The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp. 1-20


Volume 11

Sustaining African Cities: Urban Hunger and Sustainable Development in East Africa

Andrea M. Brown, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability: Annual Review, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp.1-12



Volume 9

A Systematic Search of Trends in Rural Development Research: Type of Research, Originating Regions, and Engagement with Sustainability

Neus (Snowy) Evans, Michelle Lasen, and Komla Tsey, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability: Annual Review, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.1-17


Volume 8

Avenue J: Lessons from the Past and from Nature to Heal Lubbock’s Future

David A. Driskill, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability: Annual Review, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.11-27


Volume 7

Incorporating Community Governance: Planning Sustainable Energy Security

Diane Costello, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.349-366


Volume 6

Social Sustainability and Ecotourism: Rethinking Development for Social and Environmental well-being in the Caribbean

Veronica Dujon, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.181-192


Volume 5

Community Sustainability and Social Justice: Whose Vision?

Diane Costello and Brian Bishop, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.141-160