Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
Cities & sustainability II
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)
Cities & sustainability
28 April 2922
More affordable housing with less homelessness is possible – if only Australia would learn from Nordic nations
There is almost a universal consensus among economists, for example, that negative gearing favours the interests of investors to the detriment of others, but both major parties are scared to change the policy.
One way to break the policy stalemate is to consider policies shown to have worked in other countries. To facilitate this, the Nordic Policy Centre – a collaboration between The Australia Institute and Deakin University – has published an overview of housing and homelessness policies in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.
Of particular note among the wide range of housing policies in these nations is the prominence of housing co-operatives, which assist both renters and those wanting to own a secure, high-quality home. …
We identified who’s most at risk of homelessness and where they are. Now we must act, before it’s too late (25 November 2021)
Where the Rapid Rise of Megacities Is Unsustainable
The populations of Kinshasa, Nairobi and Lagos will grow at least 80% in the coming decades, according to a new report.
(Bloomberg CityLab) With 10 billion people expected to cram into urban areas by mid-century, the world will add at least 14 new megacities — many of which are at risk of threats including food and water insecurity, conflict and high crime rates, as well as climate-change related disasters like flooding and drought.
These growing cities, each with populations surpassing 10 million by 2050, add to 33 existing megacities. But ecological threats and lack of societal resilience make their rise — and the rapid pace of urban expansion more generally — unsustainable, warns a report published Wednesday by the global think tank Institute for Economics and Peace.
The Ecological Threat Report 2022 analyses ecological risk, societal resilience and peace for 228 countries and territories, 3,638 administrative districts and 250 cities, assessing their ability to manage their challenges between now and 2050
CityLab, the preeminent meeting of city leaders and the top minds in urbanism and city planning, economics, education, art, architecture, public- sector innovation, community development, and business. Its goal: is to find solutions to the most pressing challenges facing cities around the world.
Climate Change Means All Cities Are in the Water-Rescue Business Now
Floods are growing more frequent and intense due to global warming. Experts say rising to the challenge won’t be easy.
October 9 – 11, 2022
Bloomberg CityLab 2022
Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Aspen Institute Announce New Speakers and Programming at Bloomberg CityLab 2022
New speakers include UN Special Envoy for Water, Henk Ovink and Chief Heat Officers from Athens, Freetown, and Los Angeles. Participants include Mayors of Kyiv, Bogotá, Athens, and Washington, D.C.
Global gathering of mayors, urban innovators, business leaders, and artists will address solutions to pressing urban challenges, including pandemic recovery, migration, global conflict, and extreme heat.
Topics will include governing with uncertainty brought on by the pandemic; why cities are racing to become crypto-hubs; digital safety and equity; how we help our communities process painful histories; the urgent need to rethink city infrastructure and buildings in order to adapt to climate change and flooding; how cities can respond to global issues like migration and war; and the importance of green space for mental health.
How to Recycle a 14-Story Office Tower
Buildings are responsible for nearly 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. In Amsterdam, they are trying to create a blueprint to do something about it.
(NYT) In recent years, concern about waste and the climate has led cities like Portland, Ore., and Milwaukee to pass ordinances requiring certain houses to be deconstructed rather than demolished. Private companies in Japan have spearheaded new ways of taking high-rises down from the inside, floor by floor. China promised to repurpose 60 percent of construction waste in its recent five-year plan. But perhaps no country has committed itself as deeply to circular policies as the Netherlands. In 2016, the national government announced that it would have a waste-free economy by 2050. At the same time, the country held the rotating Council of the European Union presidency, and it made circularity one of the main concepts driving the industrial sector across the bloc. Amsterdam’s city government has set its own goals, announcing plans to start building a fifth of new housing with wood or bio-based material by 2025 and halve the use of raw materials by 2030. Cities like Brussels, Copenhagen and Barcelona, Spain, have followed suit.
Residential green spaces protect growing cities against climate change
What cities do to fight climate change
(The Conversation) By early 2022, over 600 Canadian municipalities had declared a climate emergency. Some of them are taking action by conserving natural ecosystems and better integrating them into their operations. Others are beginning to use green development standards to guide developers in building more sustainable communities.
Even so, 78 per cent of large Canadian cities have continued to lose tree canopy over the past 20 years. This may be because green space conservation and creation are not well incentivized in the planning and development process.
How E-Scooters Are Transforming Tel Aviv
“Tel Aviv is like the city of the future,” says Bird’s regional general manager in Israel, [Sauvé Scholar alumnus] Yaniv Rivlin. “It is a microcosm of how micromobility will look in years to come — a perfect way to get around a city.”
(Bloomberg) The congested streets of Tel Aviv may are changing to accommodate the boom of electric scooters and battery-powered bikes that, according to the city, have replaced close to 1 million automobile rides each month. The surge comes as tech workers increasingly move into the Israeli city, and opt for two-wheelers over cars — both out of convenience and for environmental reasons.
Officials are now planning to build the infrastructure needed to accommodate the ubiquity of so-called micromobility, including doubling its bike paths to cover 350 kilometers (about 218 miles) and implementing a congestion charge for cars. It’s all part of Mayor Ron Huldai’s ambition to transform the city — with air quality currently worse than New York’s — into a car-free, pollution-free metropolis of the future….
7 May 2020
“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
Killer Heat Forces Cities to Adapt Now or Suffer
(Bloomberg CityLab) The question of which cities and regions will be able to adapt to new extreme heat is part of the hard math of climate change. Heat researchers see this process defined by two drivers: income and climate. It’s wealth that determines which cities have the resources to defend themselves, and future heat mortality that determines if those efforts succeed.
Local and regional governments trying to understand who is vulnerable and how to protect them increasingly need specific research into heat effects. This is true whether cities, rich or poor, are cool places facing triple-digit heat for the first time or hot places experiencing new heat records. Until recently, much economic research was limited to simple global analyses.
“Only in the last few years have we had the local-level information on climate risk that we now do,” [Tamma Carleton, an environmental economist at University of California, Santa Barbara] said. “It opens the door to really important local-level policy action.”
Bloomberg CityLab: While the challenges differ between cities, there are some universal tactics for conserving water and managing its use. They include recycling non-drinkable water and restructuring how utility companies charge people for water usage. Cities will also have to get creative to find new sources as the existing water supply runs dry. Contributor Chris Malloy lays out a potential blueprint,
How to Build a Water-Smart City
As water shortages and drought become increasingly common, cities will need to invest in infrastructure and find ways to recycle their supply.
A recent United Nations report on drought says climate change is increasing the frequency, severity and duration of droughts, which contribute to food insecurity, poverty and inequality.
By 2050, the world’s population is projected to near 10 billion, increasing water demand by 55%. And by then, two-thirds of people will live in cities.
Cities can employ a range of solutions to tackle water scarcity, but climate change remains the root cause of many looming water issues. It drives supply-side water problems — lowering rivers, increasing evapotranspiration and disrupting precipitation patterns. If greenhouse gas emissions can be curbed, supply-side problems might be mitigated, according to water experts. (Demand, however, will continue to rise with population.)
Even so, some warming is already a certainty, and cities will need to become far more water efficient and invest in related education. Outdated pipes and water infrastructure must be updated.
See also The Future of the City is Thirsty
A new WRI report on 15 cities across the Global South [Unaffordable and Undrinkable: Rethinking Urban Water Access in the Global South] reveals that access to safe drinking water is often underestimated—and the challenge will only get worse. (14 August 2019)
Save the trees: Never-ending construction in cities threatens the urban forest
(The Conversation) City trees are important: they purify the air, reduce heat islands, help regulate the water cycle and provide immense health benefits. Yet unbridled development threatens the survival of the urban forest and the full range of ecosystem services it provides.
The magnitude of these services is closely linked to the importance of the canopy, which is the area covered by treetops. It is generally characterized by an index that relates the sector covered by the tops to the total size of an area.
A recent study of the natural canopy in the areas covering Québec City, Beaupré, l’Île d’Orléans, Lévis and other communities along the St. Lawrence River found it generates more than $1.1 billion in annual benefits.
The city of sustainable skyscrapers
Hong Kong, the world’s capital of tall buildings, is turning up the dial on high-rise sustainable design, as the city aims for net-zero emissions by 2050.
(BBC) ICC, which at 484m (1,590ft) is the city’s tallest skyscraper and also its tallest green building.
Making use of the latest smart technologies to be more energy efficient, the ICC is recognised in the top 3% of green buildings around the globe. Inside the 118-storey building, a network of sensors is installed, often wirelessly, across different facilities and equipment, including lighting, elevators, escalators and air-conditioning units. This network provides large quantities of data that enable real-time energy consumption monitoring. Informed by the data, the property management team is able to shut down certain facilities, including lights, lifts and escalators when they are not needed, in order to save energy.
How cities can lead the green recovery
Cities across the globe pledged to use their post-pandemic recovery plans to bolster ways to adapt to the growing risks posed by climate change.
The 1000 Cities Adapt Now initiative, launched by several non-governmental organizations and a U.N. agency, will initially start operating in 100 urban areas but eventually expand to 1,000, organizers said at the opening of the two-day virtual Climate Adaptation Summit.
The project was developed amid concern that adaptation had received relatively weaker attention in the international climate discussion, and it will now use the issue to drive an inclusive and resilient post-pandemic recovery, according to a joint statement on the initiative.
The 1000 CITIES Initiative for Carbon Freedom is based on the idea that if 1000 cities around the world develop and implement ambitious climate action plans, we will achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement and beyond. We support cities in developing and implementing ambitious climate action plans.
1000 Cities is developing a global network advocating for a renewable world while connecting cities to leading Best Practices and innovative financing mechanisms. Our annual concert in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and 350.org highlight cities that are leading the way into a renewable future.
A new initiative could make cities more biodiverse: Here’s how
(WEF) The need to transform the relationship between cities and nature has become ever more urgent. Over half of the world’s population lives in cities, with an estimated 1.5 million additional people per week expected to migrate to cities until 2030. While cities make up to 80% of global GDP, they are also responsible for 75% of carbon dioxide emissions and are among the main drivers of air and water pollution.
New global initiative, BiodiverCities by 2030, aims to address this imbalance and design sustainable cities of the future.
1000 Cities Adapt Now global programme launched
Today [25 January], at the Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) 2021, a 10-year global programme was launched to accelerate and scale climate adaptation in 1000 cities worldwide, called 1000 Cities Adapt Now (1000 CAN).
The Future of Offices When Workers Have a Choice
Some work spaces in central employment districts may become housing, and some housing in residential areas may become work spaces.
Coronavirus will not kill the office. If anything, it figures to be more dynamic than ever. The ability to work remotely will not drive most people away from cities and offices, but it will enable many to live and work in new ways and places — while causing its fair share of disruption.
The defining characteristic of this new version of the creative class may not be where it lives, but its ability to live anywhere it wants. Put differently, people move to certain cities in search of better-paying jobs, but it’s now possible to earn high (if not the highest) salaries from almost anywhere. That has been true in certain smaller cities in recent years (Austin and Denver in the United States, for example, and Manchester and Leeds in Britain). To a lesser extent, it has also been true for people who chose not to live in cities at all.
Smart trees hold climate clues
Researchers study urban trees to better understand environmental impacts
Portland State University graduate and postdoctoral researcher Hannah Prather is part of a team of researchers from Portland State, Reed College, Washington State University, and The Nature Conservancy studying the impact of climate change on urban trees. Todd Rosenstiel, biology professor and dean of PSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, helps lead the work known informally as the Smart Trees Collaborative.
The Smart Trees team uses a range of technologies to monitor the health of the urban tree canopy, a key resource for reducing the social and environmental impacts of our warming climate. The work continues to branch out in interesting ways to include multiple institutions. Portland State, along with its Digital City Testbed Center, is helping to lead the way.
Akon just unveiled his $6 billion ‘futuristic’ city in Senegal. The reviews are mixed.
(WaPo) Akon City will run on cryptocurrency called Akoin, the performer said. It will be self-powered and environmentally friendly.
It will feature luxury condos, a beachfront resort, office parks, a university and a hospital — all of which, he told TMZ in August, “may be an hour flight, two-hour flight from anywhere in Africa.” (A typical flight from Nairobi to Dakar takes more than 10 hours.)
U.S. Flood Strategy Shifts to ‘Unavoidable’ Relocation of Entire Neighborhoods
Using tax dollars to move whole communities out of flood zones, an idea long dismissed as radical, is swiftly becoming policy, marking a new and more disruptive phase of climate change.
(NYT) This week’s one-two punch of Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Marco may be extraordinary, but the storms are just two of nine to strike Texas and Louisiana since 2017 alone, helping to drive a major federal change in how the nation handles floods.
For years, even as seas rose and flooding worsened nationwide, policymakers stuck to the belief that relocating entire communities away from vulnerable areas was simply too extreme to consider — an attack on Americans’ love of home and private property as well as a costly use of taxpayer dollars. Now, however, that is rapidly changing amid acceptance that rebuilding over and over after successive floods makes little sense.
The shift threatens to uproot people not only on the coasts but in flood-prone areas nationwide, while making the consequences of climate change even more painful for cities and towns already squeezed financially.
Coronavirus Will Kill Lots of Malls
Department stores, on a long decline because of the shift toward online retail, could be replaced by Amazon fulfillment centers, delivering products to customers who don’t go to the mall much anymore.
… the conversation reflects the increasingly challenging position of mall operators, who see the slow decline of mall retail accelerating into a crash, and will need to find something else to do with a lot of their real estate.
“Look for failed anchor stores and failed specialty stores to morph into mixed-use developments, whether office, residential, and/or hospitality,” [An executive at Macerich] said. “This inventory will also provide opportunities for large-format categories such as sporting goods, off-price, value, fitness, co-working, health care, and grocery.”
These strategies — many of them involving demolishing part of the mall to build an entirely new structure, like an office building — have driven a lot of successful mall redevelopments over the last two decades. In particular, mixed-use developments can be symbiotic: The remaining piece of the mall is an attractive amenity for residents or workers, while the new development creates an additional customer base for retailers in the mall. But there are significant challenges with pursuing them right now because they involve significant construction expense at a time of weak demand, or they involve trying to find a new tenant in an industry that is struggling.
The future of cities?
Retail Chains Abandon Manhattan: ‘It’s Unsustainable’
Some national chains, both retail and restaurants, are closing outlets in New York City, which are struggling more than their branches elsewhere.
(NYT) The tourists are gone, the [surrounding] office towers are largely empty.
Five months into the pandemic, the drastic turn of events at businesses … that are part of national chains shows how the economic damage in New York has in many cases been far worse than elsewhere in the country.
Even as the city has contained the virus and slowly reopens, there are ominous signs that some national brands are starting to abandon New York. The city is home to many flagship stores, chains and high-profile restaurants that tolerated astronomical rents and other costs because of New York’s global cachet and the reliable onslaught of tourists and commuters.
In Manhattan’s major retail corridors, from SoHo to Fifth Avenue to Madison Avenue, once packed sidewalks are now nearly empty. A fraction of the usual army of office workers goes into work every day, and many wealthy residents have left the city for second homes.
The Pandemic Has Pushed Aside City Planning Rules. But to Whose Benefit?
As bike lanes and cafes sprout on streets, marginalized residents wonder when their priorities will get attention.
(NYT) It’s not just that cities have been fast to make the changes wealthy white residents value, or that they have allowed cafes on top of streets before fixing drainage under them in poor neighborhoods, say Ms. Thomas and other people of color who are planners. It’s that the process itself has seldom been designed to include marginalized residents, many of whom don’t feel safe on city streets from police violence or community surveillance.
The neighborhoods where these residents live also frequently lack better infrastructure, or were pushed into flood plains, because planners neglected them years ago, too. Stripe a bike lane over that damage now, Ms. Thomas said, and that can signal that officials don’t intend to repair what’s underneath.
[See also: Density Is Normally Good for Us. That Will Be True After Coronavirus, Too.]
“Metropolis Now” is a project about how technology is transforming this built environment, for better and for worse.
Ian Bogost: A lot has changed since I first started working on this project, in January 2018. When we covered how restaurants got so loud, we couldn’t have guessed that they’d become quiet again due to contagion rather than redesign. Malls and retail stores were already shifting purpose, even before COVID-19 kept people away. We explored why engineering sank New Orleans before climate change did, and how Cape Town’s drought became an omen for future political turmoil.
We kicked off a new phase of “Metropolis Now” this week, with the audiology expert Kate Wagner writing about how the urban soundscape is a proxy in fights for power and control. Stay-at-home orders made cities quiet, and Black Lives Matter protests made them loud again. Stories in this series will look beyond pandemic and protest to other challenges facing towns and cities, including the changing role of police in television fictions, how global cities started to look so similar to one another, how urban foresters design for the long life span of trees, and how friendship and intimacy are getting redesigned online. Wherever you reside, I hope “Metropolis Now” will help you notice again, or for the first time, how the places you occupy help construct the life you live.
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.
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.
Pioneering Biourbanism Using Design Tools
(Next City) Adrian McGregor of McGregor Coxall, a Sydney based global landscape architecture, urbanism and environmental firm, is writing a book about Biourbanism, and defines the concept simply as cities = nature. … Cities are anthromes, which can be defined as human engineered biomes, and they function as a discrete system of ecosystems. Fundamental to Biourbanism is the idea of the circular economy whereby city inputs and waste are minimized to mimic natures processes and reduce carbon footprint.
The example of heat mapping illustrates how design tools contribute to iterative design with collaborators. One might use the heat map to start a conversation with the client about how the design stacks up to the city’s standards — if you’re seeing particularly high heat in an area on a layout, you might propose adding more trees to create shade and mitigate the expected surface temperature and better align the area’s desired temperature with the rest of the map.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
Density Is Normally Good for Us. That Will Be True After Coronavirus, Too.
The very thing that has made cities vulnerable in a pandemic has protected them in other disasters.
(NYT) Density makes mass transit possible. It allows for more affordable housing. It creates environments where people can walk and where children can find playgrounds. It enables us to pool risks. It supports big public hospitals and stronger safety nets. It allows us to curb climate emissions, which present a public health problem of an entirely different kind.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
(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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
The Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) — World Bank Participation
February 7-13, 2018
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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:
- Financing the New Urban Agenda [Download report: East Asia and Pacific Cities: Expanding Opportunities for the Urban Poor]
- Promoting territorial development [Download report: Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World]
- Enhancing urban resilience to climate change and disaster risks [Download report: Investing in Urban Resilience]