The Path to Development of Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans Among Norwegian Local Authorities

The Path to Development of Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans Among Norwegian Local Authorities


Karin Fossheim, Institute of Transport Economics, Jardar Andersen, Institute of Transport Economics, Olav Eidhammer, Institute of Transport Economics


This paper inductively identifies the causal mechanisms explaining how information exchange and support for urban logistics in Norwegian cities translate into development of sustainable urban logistics plans.


The interest of urban logistics is increasing in Europe due to the fact that urban logistics affects people’s lives when it comes to accessibility to the work place, services, social and recreational activities (European Commission, 2013a). Different actors such as local authorities, regions and logistics operators have a common interest to optimise the exchange of goods and information, increasing the social and economic benefits of urban living (Rode, 2015). From a local authority perspective one way of achieving this is to provide a planning framework where private business can operate. Increasing the understanding freight within the urban system (Cui, Dodson, & Hall, 2015). However, research indicates that planning for urban logistics is often neglected as it does not get the same attention as public transport, car usage and other modes of transporting persons (Lindholm & Blinge, 2014). To better urban logistics planning the European Commission (European Commission, 2013b) defined urban logistics as part of their mobility concept, Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), essential for cities to function successfully. Integrated transport planning using existing land-use and/or mobility plans is one approach which could increase urban freight planning (Lindholm & Blinge, 2014). Alternatively, local authorities could develop urban logistics strategies or plans often referred to as Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans (SULP) (ENCLOSE, 2015).

The use of SULP today is limited and information is needed to increase knowledge of urban freight issues necessary to develop urban logistics plans (Fossheim & Andersen, 2016; Sund, Seter, & Kristensen, 2016). Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to inductively identify facilitators for urban logistics planning by capturing the mechanisms explaining how information exchange and support for urban logistics in Norwegian cities translate into the development of sustainable urban logistics plans. The paper contributes to a better understanding of the mechanisms crucial to improve the logistics planning which are: i) knowledge and awareness raising, ii) networking, iii) local authority initiative, iv) private stakeholder involvement and v) decision-making. Increased awareness of planning for urban logistics in the public sector can facilitate a viable and competitive business community in urban centres.

The empirical foundation is textual analysis, interview transcripts, participant observations and survey data from an ongoing SULP development initiative covering nine of the largest Norwegian cities. Applying this theory-building process tracing methodology in these Norwegian cities allows for within-case comparison. The scope of this work, and, the boundary to which the developed causal model and suggested theory applies, is Norwegian urban planning extended to a topic with limited existing knowledge, where urban logistics is the case under study. The experiences will be summarised as a basis for permanent guidelines for logistics planning in Norwegian cities.

This work is undertaken as part of the research project NORSULP (Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans in Norway), financed by the Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. Further information is available from (in Norwegian only).

Cui, J., Dodson, J., & Hall, P. V. (2015). Planning for Urban Freight Transport: An Overview. Transport Reviews, 35(5), 583–598.

ENCLOSE. (2015). Guidelines. Developing and implementing a sustainable urban logistics plans.

European Commission. (2013a). A call to action on urban logistics. Together towards competitive and resource-efficient urban mobility. (Commission Staff Working Document SWD (2013) 524 final.). Brussels: European Commission.

European Commission. (2013b). A concept for sustainable urban mobility plans, Annex to the ‘Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee of the Regions’. (COM(2013) 913 final).

Fossheim, K., & Andersen, J. (2016). Bærekraftige bylogistikkplaner i Europa - En litteraturstudie TØI-rapport 51063/2016. Oslo, Norway: Transportøkonomisk institutt.

Lindholm, M., & Blinge, M. (2014). Assessing knowledge and awareness of the sustainable urban freight transport among Swedish local authority policy planners. Transport Policy, 32, 124–131.

Rode, P. (2015, November 26). How connected is your city? Urban transport trends around the world. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Sund, A. B., Seter, H., & Kristensen, T. (2016). Bylogistikk og brukerbehov. SINTEF-rapport A27896/2016 Trondheim: SINTEF.


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