Cities & sustainability II

Written by  //  July 5, 2020  //  Cities, Sustainable Development  //  No comments

Sustainable Development Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
World Bank The Sustainable Cities blog
Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC)
The Guardian A history of cities in 50 buildings
The 25 Most High-Tech Cities in the World
(Fortune, August 2017)
Agenda 21
Cities & sustainability

7 May
“No Return to Business as Usual”: Mayors Pledge on COVID-19 Economic Recovery
C40 mayors issue call for a healthy, equitable and sustainable economic recovery to COVID-19 pandemic.
The C40 group of cities released a statement of principles to shape the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Mayors, representing millions of people worldwide, pledge “to build a better, more sustainable and fairer society out of the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.”
The principles were adopted in the first meeting of C40’s Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, supported by C40 Chair, Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, and have been endorsed by scores of city leaders from around the world.
SMALL HOUSE FLOOR PLAN DESIGNS for Nursing Homes

5 July
With Department Stores Disappearing, Malls Could Be Next
Brick-and-mortar retail was in the midst of seismic changes even before the pandemic. Analysts say as much as a quarter of America’s malls may close in the next five years.
Malls were already facing pressure from online shopping, but analysts now say that hundreds are at risk of closing in the next five years. That has the potential to reshape the suburbs, with many communities already debating whether abandoned malls can be turned into local markets or office space, even affordable housing.

29 June
How architecture in long-term care homes can help prevent infection and improve quality of life
‘We have a moral imperative to ensure the buildings we’re designing are not causing harm’: Diana Anderson
Dr. Diana Anderson, a physician and architect from Montreal, is currently the geriatric medicine fellow at the University of California’s San Francisco Medical Center. She also calls herself “The Dochitect.”
Here’s part of her conversation with Checkup host Duncan McCue.
What are some of the common design elements in long term care homes, in seniors homes, that contribute to the spread of a virus like COVID-19?
Although long-term care in nursing homes are not strangers to infectious outbreaks, it’s something that we deal with quite frequently in geriatric medicine.
As you can expect, in these types of long term care settings, older residents are living in close quarters. They often have high levels of chronic illness, and all of this leads to greater infectious outbreaks and possibly mortality.
See  The Hogeweyk Care Concept.

22 June
How Britain could become home to a new Hong Kong
As China threatens Hong Kong’s self-governance, millions are considering leaving – and one man plans to build a new city for them to move to
one maverick Hong Kong property developer is taking the vision of mass migration of Hong Kongers much further. There are now bold, experimental plans to create a new Hong Kong elsewhere in the world – and it could be built in Britain.
Ivan Ko, a real estate tycoon, wants to build a new version of Hong Kong somewhere else, complete with its own regulations and entrepreneurial spirit.
He plans to do this in the form of an international charter city – or possibly three of them.
A charter city is a metropolitan area that has a special jurisdiction and can determine its own system of municipal governance over the general law of the country it sits in. Effectively, a charter city has its own constitution, independent of the country that it exists in.
Versions of the concept are common enough – there are more than 120 in California, including San Francisco and Los Angeles.
But an international charter city would be different. Ko, who is chairman of developer RECAS, has no template to work on because the idea is entirely radical; this would be a brand new city, built from the ground up.

21 June
How architecture in long-term care homes can help prevent infection and improve quality of life
‘We have a moral imperative to ensure the buildings we’re designing are not causing harm’: Diana Anderson
Dr. Diana Anderson pointed to the ‘dementia village’ in Langley, B.C., as an example of architecture contributing directly to residents’ health and well-being. The is built to look like a village and lets residents wander as they please. (CBC)

17 June
From A Green Building Vision To Community Impact: A Sustainable Urban Biodiversity Museum In Hong Kong [with Video]
We need to get closer to nature and reconnect with what matters, explains Ellie Tang, Head of Sustainability at New World Development Company Limited and Director of Nature Discovery Park.
(Forbes) Nature Discovery Park at K11 Musea, the brainchild of the heir to New World Development and Founder of K11 Adrian Cheng, is the territory’s prime cultural retail destination – a “Silicon Valley of culture” that incubates talent and propagates culture through art, architecture, design and sustainability.
But at the centre, located at Hong Kong’s harbourfront, K11 Musea also embodies the “New World Sustainability Vision 2030” which adopts green building design and operation that complies with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. K11 MUSEA has achieved US LEED and Hong Kong BEAM Plus green building certification at Gold level, actively supports its tenants by promoting sustainable operation and wellness, and raises public sustainability awareness at Nature Discovery Park on its eighth floor, which hosts Hong Kong’s first urban biodiversity museum and sustainability-themed education attraction on the famous Victoria Harbour front.

15 June
The High Cost of Panic-Moving
Fleeing a big city because of the pandemic is a bigger gamble than it might seem.
(The Atlantic) People whose employers are amenable to fully remote work might still see consequences if they stay out of the office. Some employers could use remote work as an opportunity to tighten budgets beyond just their office leases, especially if the economy stays in a recession for a while. Facebook, among the first big companies to make working from home a permanent option, has already made clear that it will cut workers’ pay if they relocate from the Bay Area to less expensive places—a cost-cutting tactic common among employers whose workers retain their jobs when they move to less expensive areas.

8 June
In fighting climate change, an opportunity to create a vibrant network of neighbourhoods
(Globe & Mail) Urban planner Andy Yan senses an opportunity for cities to consistently decrease greenhouse-gas emissions, intrigued by the pandemic’s impact on a wide range of employees who no longer have to commute to work.
In his neighbourhood on Vancouver’s east side, as he works from home, he ponders the implications for fighting climate change.
While many downtown condo dwellers already live close to their offices, his community vision is to position work, home and shopping much closer together, with clusters of vibrant neighbourhoods.
“We have hope for flattening the curve against COVID-19, and I have this idea of crushing the commute and also creating a network of neighbourhoods,” said Mr. Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s city program.
The urban planner and demographer thinks flexible zoning for mixed-use buildings is crucial to a sustainable recovery, notably for Vancouver and Toronto. Major Canadian cities heavily favour zoning for commercial development (such as office space) and retail along busy arteries while preventing encroachment into the heart of residential areas.
It’s understandable that provinces and cities focus on transit systems in their strategy to reduce congestion while also combatting climate change, Mr. Yan said.
“But the twist is that public transit is only half the picture,” he said. “The other half of the picture is land-use reform. We’re talking not only about transit-oriented development but also talking about mixed land use in terms of commercial, retail and maybe a bit of light industrial in some neighbourhoods.”

30 May
In the new downtown future, devoid of office workers, every day could be Sunday
The crisis may provide a short window for our unaffordable, hypergentrified cities to reset
The old landmarks of city life are newly diminished, squares empty, shops closed. Some have even predicted the death of the department store, the original anchor tenant for landmark city intersections, noting the bankruptcy of Neiman Marcus, and the 125,000 U.S. workers furloughed by Macy’s.
It might not apply to everyone, certainly not the service industry, but also some financial services workers who need a level of high-speed data capability that they do not have at home. Some kinds of work in advertising and media similarly cannot be done over domestic internet access. …
In Foreign Policy, the Toronto urban theorist Richard Florida argued that urbanization is a greater force than infectious disease, and cities will weather this pandemic as they have in past.
“The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed as many as 50 million people worldwide, and yet New York, London, and Paris all boomed in its wake. In fact, history shows that people often moved to cities after pandemics because of the better job opportunities and the higher wages they offered after the sudden drop in population,” he wrote. “Ambitious young people will continue to flock to cities in search of personal and professional opportunities. Artists and musicians may be drawn back by lower rents, thanks to the economic fallout from the virus. The crisis may provide a short window for our unaffordable, hypergentrified cities to reset and to reenergize their creative scenes.”
But he did not mention the shift to working from home, and how well it has caught on, with so little incentive to go back. The pandemic is making history for cities, but it is unfamiliar and without obvious precedent. It is a history of a different future.

23 May
Canada’s new normal begins in our cities
By Jennifer Keesmaat, CEO of the Keesmaat Group and the former chief planner of Toronto; Kwame McKenzie, CEO of the Wellesley Institute and Richard Florida, School of Cities professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
(Globe & Mail) The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about how we live. We know this every time we put on a mask to go outside, monitor for six feet of physical distance between ourselves and others, eschew retail for online purchases, log in to work remotely, and have conversations with friends and family over online teleconferencing, instead of in person. We know this because we have seen the social divide widen, and there are increasing numbers of people who can’t make ends meet, have lost income or don’t have access to the internet.
In a way, though, it has also changed nothing. What feels urgent now is just a more keenly felt version of what modern urban societies had already been drawn to: we want affordable housing, more proximate workplaces, walkable streets with large sidewalks, neighbourly and inclusive communities, high-quality transit options and lively, accessible retail. These are quality-of-life issues, plain and simple – before, during and after this pandemic.

20 May

2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities
Over the past several weeks, momentum has been building. It has led to a rallying cry, a movement of Canadians from coast to coast who know that our cities must change, and who see that our post COVID-19 recovery presents us with a window to act.
This Declaration is that cry for change. It is rooted in concrete actions that will kickstart our journey toward more accessible, equitable, sustainable, and resilient cities. Across Canada, we have the passion and the expertise to deliver on this change.

Major Cities Urge Green, Resilient Recovery with ‘No Return to Business as Usual’
(The Energy Mix) The statement calls for a recovery guided by public health and scientific expertise, built on “excellent public services, public investment, and increased community resilience,” that addresses “issues of equity that have been laid bare by the impact of the crisis—for example, workers who are now recognized as essential should be celebrated and compensated accordingly, and policies must support people living in informal settlements.”
It calls for recovery investments that boost the resilience of cities and communities, stressing that “climate action can help accelerate economic recovery and enhance social equity, through the use of new technologies and the creation of new industries and new jobs. These will drive wider benefits for our residents, workers, students, businesses, and visitors.”
The statement was endorsed by mayors or city leaders from Athens, Austin, Barcelona, Bogotá, Boston, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Copenhagen, Curitiba, Durban, Freetown, Hong Kong, Houston, Lima, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Medellín, Melbourne, Mexico City, Milan, Montréal, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Paris, Portland, Quezon City, Rotterdam, Salvador, São Paulo, San Francisco, Santiago, Seattle, Seoul, Sydney, Tel Aviv-Yafo, and Vancouver.”

9 February
Next generation urban planning: Enabling sustainable development at the local level through voluntary local reviews (VLRs)
(Brookings) Around the world, cities are evolving at an unprecedented pace, grappling with profound challenges driven by urbanization, demographics, and climate change. City leaders face extraordinary pressures to manage this growth and implement sustainable development strategies. As United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently remarked, “With more than half the world’s population, cities are on the frontlines of sustainable and … inclusive development.”
Global trends of rapid urbanization exacerbate the local urgency for sustainable development. Climate change and migration have very localized effects that require localized solutions. The risk to physical and civic infrastructures, and social cohesion and safety, creates new complexity for local governments. Cities are also where inequality takes on a visible human face, with rich and poor physically intermingling, bound together by place and economic and social relationships.
Increasingly, city leaders see their priorities for local progress linked to solving global challenges. Cities are finding value in “globalizing their local agenda,” situating their priorities within global policy frameworks and engaging in problem-solving with their global counterparts. … When national governments leave a vacuum of cooperation, cities are often filling the gaps, collaborating and seeking to influence the global policy agenda.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are gaining traction as an organizing principle and policy framework for cities.  A grassroots movement is emerging as city governments worldwide are adopting the SDGs as a holistic framework for their local planning and execution.

30 January
The ‘SDG Effect’: The emerging Pittsburgh platform to deliver the global goals locally
By Ambassador Sarah E. Mendelson, US Representative to the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations until January 20, 2017.
(Brookings) While national and international political narratives are full of doom and gloom these days, a counternarrative is emerging through a growing movement of cities around the world—such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—that have committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sparked by the priorities laid out in a new city strategy, a best practice is emerging, a living lab on the SDGs, with different constituencies and stakeholders mobilizing to take on this ambitious, aspirational agenda. Across sectors, people are finding value in this framework to tackle tough issues that have long plagued postindustrial cities like Pittsburgh. This unfolding story is worthy of attention and holds lessons for others.

2019

18 December
Cities using the SDGs to reduce urban violence
(Brookings) SDG target 16.1 sets a global ambition to significantly reduce all forms of violence and related deaths by 2030 and recognizes the centrality of peace to development. For this target, leadership at the city level is particularly relevant because of what we know about how violence concentrates. In Latin America, 80 percent of homicides concentrate around just 2 percent of street addresses. In the United States, less than 1 percent of a city’s population is typically driving over 50 percent of its serious violence.
While overarching public safety policies are necessary at the national level, the operationalization of law enforcement, community engagement, reduced inequality in the provision of public services, and nuanced analysis of violence trends can and should be taking place within cities. In order to be done effectively, it is crucial to advance and localize the range of evidence-informed practice on what works to address urban violence.

29 November
Africa’s first futuristic Green City worth $5 billion set to finally break ground in Rwanda
The Green City will be located on 620 hectares in Kinyinya, Gasabo District, Kigali City.
The city will have environmentally-clean mini-factories, all-electric vehicles, environmentally sustainable affordable housing, and integrated craft production centres.
An estimated 30,000 housing units will be developed to benefit around 150,000 people.
On Saturday, Rwanda will break ground of Africa’s first futuristic city.
The city named Green City will be located on 620 hectares in Kinyinya, Gasabo District, Kigali City. The Green City Kigali project is expected to cost between $4-5 billion.
According to those behind the project, the futuristic city “… will integrate green building and design, efficient and renewable energy, recycling and inclusive living, homegrown solutions and local construction materials”.

18 September
(This statement was announced at the “Catalyzing Sustainable Urban Futures” conference in São Paulo on September 18, 2019.
São Paulo Statement on Urban Sustainability
A Call to Integrate Our Responses to Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss, and Social Inequality
Integrated solutions to urban development and social inequality that mitigate climate change and avoid biodiversity loss can create opportunities for cities to deliver growth that is green, low carbon and competitive; and to build societies that are resilient, inclusive, and livable.

20 August
7 simple landscape designs that make cities better for everyone
(Fast Company) the American Society of Landscape Architects, a professional organization for 15,000 landscape architects in the United States, has just published a guide to applying universal design principles—or designing for everyone—in parks, streets, and other public spaces. Better still, the guide is rich with examples of cities that have done things right. …the changes aren’t even always that hard to make. Sometimes you just need wider paths, some well-placed plants, and a softer touch with light and color. Such updates aren’t necessarily that costly, they just require the intent and concern of city planners to do things right.

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.

15 July
What can we learn from Singapore to reshape the future of sustainable cities
By Xiao Wu
(GPSC) Singapore is a story of transformation – from a small trading post to a thriving cosmopolitan city. A densely populated small island with extremely limited resources, how did Singapore manage to evolve into a green, vibrant, and livable city?
… A holistic sustainable approach and a human-centered development strategy
One example is the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, a flagship project of the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) program, which was launched in April 2006 to transform Singapore’s waterways and waterbodies beyond their utilitarian functions into beautiful and vibrant streams, rivers, and lakes, creating new community focal points that bring people closer to water.
Ang Mo Kio is a large neighborhood in Singapore where 145,000 residents live in public housing. Walking through the Ang Mo Kio neighborhood, I was impressed by the government’s efforts to create vibrant and recreational green space for local communities.

8 July
Xueman Wang: Chongqing’s long-term pathway to sustainability
Chongqing – one of the world’s largest cities, with 30 million people and land mass almost equivalent to Austria. In 1996, Chongqing’s per capita GDP was US$550. Twenty years later, it has grown 14 times to almost US$9,000, and the city has transitioned out of heavy industry: one in three laptops worldwide are produced in Chongqing.
This growth mirrors China’s. As the country transitions from a high-GDP-growth-model to quality and sustainable growth, Chinese cities, such as Chongqing, have a critical role in achieving this transformation.
China’s remarkable urban and economic transformation will have significant impact on the sustainability of our shared urban future. Following the report Urban China – Toward Efficient, Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization, the World Bank started working with Chongqing and other megacities such as Shanghai to identify unique urban challenges and opportunities.

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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