Cities & sustainability II

Written by  //  August 5, 2019  //  Cities, Sustainable Development  //  No comments

Sustainable Development Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
World Bank The Sustainable Cities blog
The Guardian A history of cities in 50 buildings
Agenda 21
Cities & sustainability

5 August
Welcoming communities make for globally competitive city-regions
(Brookings) A new foreign resident in St. Louis with a specialty in accounting is connected with peers in the local industry. Immigrant entrepreneurs spanning high-tech industries and neighborhood businesses get resources to launch and scale. Mentoring and support groups help over 300 international spouses feel at home in the region.
These services are all part of the Mosaic Project, a seven year-old initiative of the St. Louis World Trade Center, aimed at ensuring that the region is equipped to fully leverage the potential of foreign talent and immigrants from around the world to fuel local jobs and growth. The effort is a building block of a broader regional strategy led by the World Trade Center (which is housed within the St. Louis Economic Partnership) to ensure St. Louis’s overall global competitiveness.
The Mosaic Project was initially sparked by a concern that, relative to peer cities, St. Louis had a lower share of the skilled foreign talent that can fuel innovation and make a region attractive to global firms. It has since evolved into a multi-pronged effort aimed at engaging and supporting foreign students, workers, and entrepreneurs. These programs and strategies address specific gaps identified in connecting talent to workforce opportunities and entrepreneurship resources, as well as more broadly marketing and telling the story of St. Louis as a welcoming beachhead for foreign and immigrant talent.

3 August
Trump says cities are ‘a mess.’ They’re actually enjoying a golden age.
(WaPo) You would never know it from reading the president’s Twitter feed, which unloaded anew on urban America last weekend with depictions of Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” But cities are enjoying a golden age, one that has made them safer, more prosperous and more attractive relative to suburban and rural America than at any time in recent decades. Instead of bleeding residents, much of urban America is growing. Rather than scaring away young, educated workers, cities have become a magnet for them. Once a turnoff for corporate investment and development, many urban neighborhoods have become the most coveted places to be.. … The reasons are complex and multifaceted — including a dramatic drop in urban crime rates — with causes sometimes difficult to disentangle from effects.
To [Susan] Wachter [co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research.], much of the transformation comes down to a profound structural shift in the American economy from manufacturing — in which wide open spaces for factories and housing were prized, giving suburbs an edge — to information, in which highly educated people flock to places where they can live, work and play in proximity to others like themselves.
… Demographic changes have been critical, as well. The high-income young workers of today are delaying both marriage and childbirth. Instead of seeking an expansive yard in which the kids can frolic, they want top-notch restaurants, bars and entertainment options. And they want it all within walking distance, because they are less likely to own a car..

30 July
Artificial intelligence in America’s digital city
(Brookings) Climate change and urban resilience
There is no greater existential threat to our communities—from the smallest farming villages to megacities—than climate-related impacts. As the natural environment continues to transform, every place must prepare for the impacts of climate insecurity. That includes managing the most extreme events, including the devastating flooding, property destruction, and human misery delivered by Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey. Places must also prepare for more consistent climate patterns that bring more sustained threats, whether they be rising sea levels in
Florida, flooding in the Midwest, or extreme heat and water scarcity in the Mountain West. Communities simply did not design their decades-old built environment systems, from wastewater infrastructure to land use controls, to manage these kinds of climate realities.
Communities will need a new agenda to prioritize environmental resilience across multiple dimensions. Physical designs will need to consider a broader range of climate scenarios. Financing models will need to explicitly recognize the costs climate change could inflict and the benefits of delivering long-term environmental resilience. Land use policies will need to be more forceful around what land is suitable for human development and what land should be left undisturbed. Communities will even need a modernized workforce to undertake resilience-focused activities.

3 May
As seas rise, Indonesia is moving its capital city. Other cities should take note.
(WaPo) Indonesia made a stunning announcement this week that it will relocate its capital from Jakarta. The decision validates decades of warnings about the city’s catastrophic flood risk due to sinking land and rising seas. While Jakarta is especially vulnerable to the threat of rising seas, it serves as a profound wake-up call for hundreds of major cities, Washington included.
In making his decision, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that the move is necessary, given that the city can no longer support its massive population in the face of environmental threats, as well as concerns of traffic congestion and water shortages. Surely at the top of his concerns is the fact that the city is sinking, a phenomenon known as subsidence. In the past 30 years, Jakarta sank more than 10 feet — a problem made only worse as the world’s great ice sheets melt.
Although Miami is often cited as the city most at risk, there are many highly vulnerable — and highly populous — cities around the world, including Mumbai and Calcutta, India; Shanghai; Lagos, Nigeria; Manila; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Bangkok; Copenhagen; Tokyo; London; Houston; and Tampa. In fact, thousands of coastal cities and rural communities globally are not only at risk, but already experience increased flooding during extreme high tides, often referred to as “king tides.

A $6 million floating home that can withstand Category 4 hurricanes is now a reality.
After years of development, the housing startup Arkup has debuted a floating home that can withstand rising sea levels and Category 4 hurricanes.
The home contains a hydraulic system that lifts it above water and anchors it during heavy winds.
Arkup envisions a future where entire communities in Miami and other major cities are designed to float.

23 April
The Best Way to Rejuvenate Rural America? Invest in Cities
There is already clear evidence that the economic prosperity of urban areas benefits small towns.
Proximity to cities does not solely explain rural prosperity. And some direct investments, such as broadband and rural entrepreneurship, can improve rural fortunes. Yet in an economy where private investment flows to places with dense clusters of prized assets, the best rural policy may be supporting the development of small and midsize cities across the country, improving rural residents’ access to jobs, customers, training programs and small-business financing.

12 April
Chongqing 2035: Shifting away from quantity to quality to build sustainable cities in China
Submitted by Xueman Wang; co-author: Peter Calthorpe
(World Bank) As China transitions from pursuing high-speed growth at any cost to a growth model that focuses on sustainability, inclusivity, and efficiency, cities like Chongqing are a critical part of this new urbanization strategy.
A new World Bank report titled Chongqing 2035: Spatial and Economic Transformation for a Global City provides a framework of five strategic pillars for the city’s transformation: spatial structure, connectivity, innovation, inclusivity, and green growth.
Chongqing faces many challenges in pursuing the new growth model, one of which is its increasingly inefficient spatial structure and urban form. The excessively land-intensive urbanization in the past 20 years has depleted Chongqing’s strategic asset – its land reserve, and reduced economic density and efficiency.
The report uses 30 indicators to benchmark Chongqing against global cities in four dimensions: 1) spatial structure and urban fabrics, 2) economic competitiveness, 3) environmental sustainability, and 4) social inclusiveness. Urban Growth Scenarios were conducted to foresee the consequences of the continuation of the current policies in comparison with the adoption of a compact and transit-oriented development (TOD) model.
According to the analysis, if Chongqing continues with the same pattern of urban expansion, its valuable land reserve of almost 800KM2 could be depleted in the next 20 years. However, a new model of spatial development, if adopted, could save significant amount of land, infrastructure cost, energy use, and carbon emissions.

9 April
Well written, with lots of historical background.
Montreal Tried to Close a Popular Park to Drivers. Why Didn’t It Work?
(CityLab) Thanks in large part to the authoritarian administration of Drapeau—who rarely consulted with his own city councilors, let alone the public at large—public consultations have since become an important part of local city life.
Whether the findings of these consultations result in action is another matter. In 2018, a publicly funded automated light-rail system of dubious necessity and value was green-lit despite opposition from urban planners, environmentalists, transit lobbyists, the public consultation office, and the environmental assessment bureau. The latter two were told they had exceeded their mandate when they recommended sending that plan back to the drawing board. In another case, plans to extend a subway line by five stations have been “under study” by various agencies and levels of government for nearly 40 years.

29 March
How can we use analytical approaches to generate urban climate investments in Africa?
(World Bank)  As the world rushes to reduce the negative impacts of climate change, ambitious sub-national actors are rising to the fore. The recent One Planet Summit exemplifies this trend. Earlier this month, urban leaders joined CEOs, financial institutions, researchers, Heads of State, and more in the adoption of the Africa Pledge, calling for immediate voluntary actions and a specific commitment to invest in sustainable infrastructure across the continent. After all, the infrastructure investments we make today set the agenda for how cities will grow in the future.
For example, Sub-Saharan Africa is largely rural, but is also the region with the fastest urbanization rates. Currently, almost 40 percent of the people live in cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, but this is expected to grow to 60 percent or more by 2050. So while urbanization provides economic and social opportunity, it can overburden traditional municipal resource and service delivery approaches.
Fortunately, challenge also brings opportunity. And a recent IFC analysis found that cities in Sub-Saharan Africa have the potential to attract more than $1.5 trillion in climate-related investments by 2030. But the key question remains, how can cities ensure sustainable development while reducing the GHG impacts of their future growth? Or in short, how do cities become climate-smart?

2018

9 November
Qorner, the Jenga-like skyscraper in Ecuador that will champion a cool environmental trend
(All Homes, Australia) Built in a city famed for its volcanoes, this unorthodox South American highrise defies conventions of symmetry and lineal design, and lets nature play a starring role with lush greenery spilling over its terraces.
Qorner, by respected Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, will be unlike any other tower in Ecuador’s capital, Quito. Two of its four sides appear jagged from top to bottom, as if levels have been haphazardly stacked on each other.
The Jenga-esque tower was set to be one of Quito’s tallest at 24 storeys. But, in recent weeks, notable Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) have announced a tower that has 33 levels. BIG’s skyscraper, IQON, has striking similarities with planted terraces and staggered walls.
Qorner’s jagged terraces on the east and west sides are spacious and perfectly positioned to capture maximum light to keep plants thriving. The north and south sides remain structurally vertical, yet the north facade will support a green living wall up the entire height of the tower. Hanging native plants will appear like a textured ribbon of green when seen from ground level.
While they are nothing new – Italian architect Stefano Boeri designed the Bosco Verticale in Milan in 2014 – “plantscrapers” or “vertical forests” are becoming increasingly popular. As more of these green towers rise on the skylines of major cities, developers and urban authorities alike acknowledge they are not just for decorative purposes.
These innovative buildings are contemporary architecture’s call to arms in the fight against climate change. Nanjing Towers in China, due to be completed this year, is capable of absorbing 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and producing some 60 kilograms of oxygen daily.
Take skyscraper sustainability one step further and you have buildings designed to feed thousands. Swedish tech firm Plantagon is building the World Food Building in Linkoping, Sweden, that will grow enough hydroponic fruit and vegetables to feed 5000 people for a year.
Sydney’s One Central Park has set a high bar for “living” towers in Australia. Designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc, the two Broadway towers are covered with 38,000 indigenous and exotic plants.

2 November
2018 Annual Session of Global Forum on Human Settlements Calls for Urban Innovation

8 March
The circular economy could save life on Earth – starting with our cities
(WEF) Imagine a future where human prosperity does not translate into sacrificing nature.
A world with no wastes, no pollution, where animals and plants on land and in the oceans prosper from the existence of humans as much as we do from the biology and geophysics of the Earth.
Is this impossible? Or must life on Earth be a zero-sum game between humanity and other species?
I’m always surprised by how many people jump to this negative view. They imagine the future as either a bleak scenario in which humanity spirals out of control in an otherwise lifeless world, or one in which human populations and consumption must be drastically curtailed, even at the cost of most human dignity. You’ve seen the movies…
Assuming that these are our only choices is a fundamental failure of the imagination. There is another, better way: it’s called the circular economy.
A new World Economic Forum report showcases many emerging models for making the economy more circular – especially in cities – and points the way forward for how to evolve current economic systems into a comprehensive logic of sustainability.
The rub with the circular economy is that it does not exist today: it needs to be invented and grown. Fast; over the next few decades.
The key is decoupling economic growth and human development from resource extraction and waste generation.

14 February
the World Urban Forum brought together governments and grassroots – what next?
(iied Q&A) These big global conferences can seem a long way removed from the everyday lives of people living in low-income and informal settlements in cities around the world. But they have become more inclusive over the years: more than 80 representatives of slum-dwellers federations, supported by our partners at SDI (formerly Slum/Shack Dwellers International) played an active role in the World Urban Forum.
But while the needs and priorities of people living in poverty are better represented in these global policy discussions, this talk needs to be turned into commitments and to be followed by actions on the ground.
If grassroots and civil society groups have a say in what these commitments are and follow this up by holding their local and national governments to account, there is a better opportunity for meaningful change to take place.

7-13 February
The Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) — World Bank Participation
February 7-13, 2018
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

31 January
3 Big Ideas to Achieve Sustainable Cities and Communities
(World Bank) Today, over four billion people around the world – more than 50% of the global population – live in cities. In East Asia and the Pacific alone, for example, cities house 1.2 billion people – almost rivaling the population of India. … By 2050, with the urban population doubling its current size, nearly 70 out 100 people in the world will live in cities.
Widening income gaps, worsening pollution, and aging buildings and bridges are all telltale signs that today’s cities are struggling to keep up with city dwellers’ growing dreams for a sustainable, prosperous future.
In October 2016, at the once-in-20-year Habitat III conference, countries around the world endorsed the historic New Urban Agenda, which sets a new global standard for sustainable urban development and guides global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the era of climate change.
Three big ideas, countless solutions
At the World Urban Forum, the World Bank will offer three big ideas that are essential for successfully implementing the New Urban Agenda:

  1. Financing the New Urban Agenda [Download report: East Asia and Pacific Cities: Expanding Opportunities for the Urban Poor]
  2. Promoting territorial development [Download report: Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World]
  3. Enhancing urban resilience to climate change and disaster risks [Download report: Investing in Urban Resilience]

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