The global population is expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050. The ‘second wave of urbanization’ indicates that developing world cities are growing much faster than their developed world counterparts, and most of these people will live in African and Asian cities where city growth rates are the highest.

This, ‘second wave of urbanization’ is a core driver of change in the 21st century and follows the first wave of urbanization that took place in developed countries from 1750, lasted 200 years and resulted in the urbanization of 400 million people. By contrast, the second wave of urbanization is projected to see over 3 billion additional people living in cities in a time-span of just 80 years, bringing unprecedented challenges to city doorsteps.

In the current era of development, urban sustainability is threatened by heightened global uncertainty and change. In broad terms, these changes consist of the following global factors: economic change, scarcity of resources, rapid technological and social change, environmental and climate change effects. These drivers of change have broad reach, and threaten multiple sectors — such as food, water, energy, transport and waste — that are critical for urban sustainability.

In response, this paper discusses cities’ transition to urban energy sustainability and the role of infrastructures, with focus on transportation planning. The paper highlights the case of Egypt as an example of developing countries.

The objectives of the paper are; firstly to identify the different factors affecting Egyptian cities’ transition to sustainability, and secondly to analyze the strategic urban planning process in Egypt which is a bottom-up participatory approach leading to urban sustainability.

The paper presents a case study from Egypt, illustrating the preparation of a future urban strategic plan for a small Egyptian city. The case study shows how participatory approach can result in innovative solutions leading to sustainable urban energy planning with focus on transportation.

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