Place branding and sustainable development: a scoping review [research paper info and full view link]

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Place branding is a multidisciplinary field of research and practice that plays an important role in sustainable development by stimulating economic growth, social prosperity and environmental sustainability.

Despite the significance of this intersection, research on place branding and sustainable development is limited. This article contributes to fill this gap by examining the main characteristics of this domain. Additionally, this study analyses the relationship between place branding and sustainable development literature and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A scoping review of research published from 2013 to 2023 indexed in Scopus and Web of Science is undertaken, involving the analysis of 33 articles. The results find literature is scattered across several journals and focused mainly on single-place case studies located in Europe.

While there is a growing interest in the topic of place branding and sustainable development, articles tend to address sustainable development in an abstract or generic way without explicitly incorporating the 2030 Agenda in their methodology or result outcomes.

This exploratory review contributes to existing literature on place branding by highlighting its linkages with sustainable development. It also underscores the need for further research on this topic and the importance of incorporating the SDGs in the place branding discussion.


Place branding · Destination branding · Sustainable development · Sustainability · Scoping review

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In recent years, sustainable development has emerged as a significant concern. It has become an integral part of political and media agendas, as well as of the academic realm and professional sector, underlining its importance and influence on contemporary debates and policies.

Since 2015, sustainable development has materialized as a global priority under the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This 15-year plan of action comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all through a universal partnership.

The 2030 Agenda is the result of numerous summits, meetings and agreements led by the UN over the last decades and builds on the previous framework: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which was envisioned to tackle “poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women” (World Health Organization 2018).

In comparison to the MDGs, the SDGs represent a shift towards a more comprehensive conceptualization of sustainability; both in terms of scope, which is now global, and in terms of addressing challenges, which extend beyond economic terms (Therkelsen et al. 2022). Moreover, the SDGs were developed through a thorough and participatory process, involving different stakeholders, moving away from the top-down approach in the formulation of the MDGs (Valencia et al. 2019).

References to sustainable development in this context, however, date back to 1987, specifically to the Our Common Future report (also known as the Brundtland Report), published by the UN’s Brundtland Commission.

The internationalization of the term has been frequently credited to the Commission (Purvis et al. 2018), and the conceptualization provided in the report is widely accepted as a characteristic definition of sustainable development (Glavič and Lukman 2007; Mori and Christodoulou 2012):

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UN 1987, p. 54).



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