Measuring just accessibility within planetary boundaries

Glad to share this preprint of our study led by Elias Willberg, in collaboration with Henrikki Tenkanen, Harvey Miller and Tuuli Toivonen.

  • Willberg, E., Tenkanen, H., Miller, H. J., Pereira, R. H., & Toivonen, T. (2023). Measuring just accessibility within planetary boundaries. OSF Preprints.


Our societies are wrestling with the problem of how to provide a good life for all without overconsuming environmental resources. Consequently, the search for approaches that simultaneously inspect the environmental and social goals of sustainability have become increasingly popular in many disciplines. In transport research, accessibility is a key tool to characterize linkages between people, transport, and land use. In the current paper, we propose a conceptual framework for measuring just accessibility within planetary boundaries. We first carry out a review of transport studies and discover a substantial body of literature on accessibility and social disadvantage, much vaster compared to the body of literature around environmental and ecological impacts of accessibility. We also show a gap in approaches that have integrated these two perspectives. Building on the review, we move forward by suggesting a conceptual framework for incorporating environmental and social sustainability goals in accessibility research. We conclude the paper by pointing to some key challenges and research avenues related to the framework, including (i) dealing with uncertainty and complexity in socio-ecological thresholds, (ii) developing ways to measure accessibility through other metrics than travel time, and (iii) integrating both quantitative and qualitative data.

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