31/8/2012 - EU-China Mayors Forum: European and Chinese mayors address urbanisation challenges.
31/8/2012 - Hiroshima Mayor urges Japan to reform its energy policy.
30/8/2012 - Copenhagen introduces a cultural centre for cycling.
30/8/2012 - Punjab govt reduces urban development budget by 45pc.
29/8/2012 - ICLEI joins Advisory Board for the Future of Urban Development Initiative .
28/8/2012 - Zurich's Parking Policy Evolution: Cap & Replace.
28/8/2012 - ICLEI World Congress 2012 - a success in showcasing local action! .
28/8/2012 - UN-Habitat and UNESCAP join hands in solid waste management project.
27/8/2012 - China's Rapidly Expanding Inland Cities.
27/8/2012 - Hyderabad is ready to host city biodiversity summit! .
26/8/2012 - Which American Cities are Leading the Economic Recovery? .
26/8/2012 - Look to China to Glimpse the Future of Cities.
26/8/2012 - London's Transit Network Wins the Gold .
25/8/2012 - Nominate a city for the Sustainable Transport Award 2013.
25/8/2012 - Is Sprawl to Blame for Municipal Bankruptcies? .
25/8/2012 - ICLEI and partners announces Global Initiative on Urban Resilience.
24/8/2012 - How an Award Winning Chinese Building Demeans Architecture.
24/8/2012 - World Mayors Council holds general assembly; elects Mayor Park Won Soon as chair .
24/8/2012 - NICE: Mediterranean's Epicenter of Energy, Environment and Economic Development? .
23/8/2012 - Sydney, Australia is the newest EcoMobility Alliance City.
23/8/2012 - India Encourages Monster Master Planning Effort.
23/8/2012 - Rio+20 Global Town Hall - largest gathering in urban sustainability.
22/8/2012 - What is the Secret to Washington's Success? .
22/8/2012 - Rio+20 outcomes: cities play a key role in sustainability .
21/8/2012 - What Montreal Has to Teach us About Great Urbanism.
21/8/2012 - ICLEI's Global Network of Young Municipal Leaders.
21/8/2012 - Sustainable Events Guide now available online! .
20/8/2012 - APA Planning Awards.
20/8/2012 - New Research Suggests Immersive Urban Parks Work Best.
19/8/2012 - Biking Brings $1 Billion in Revenue to Minnesota .
19/8/2012 - Paris to the People.
18/8/2012 - Urban Farmers Markets Surge .
18/8/2012 - Temporary Urbanism's Short Shelf Life.
18/8/2012 - Engineering Sustainability 2013: Innovation and the Triple Bottom Line.
17/8/2012 - Resilient cities 2012: congress report 2012.
17/8/2012 - Prescription for Shrinking Cities: Don't Demolish, Preserve.
16/8/2012 - Makati City gets award for city-to-city cooperation.
16/8/2012 - Cities celebrating culture.
16/8/2012 - Brussels Region invests in metro workshops.
15/8/2012 - Is Your City Involved in an URBACT II Project? Find That Out With Our Online Interactive Project Map.
15/8/2012 - Social dialogue: registration deadline for final conference extended until 27 August! .
14/8/2012 - Best Practice Guide European Mobility Week.
14/8/2012 - Young city leaders tackle sustainability online.
14/8/2012 - Melbourne : Open House, Open Port.
13/8/2012 - CEMR OPEN DAYS workshop on local development: places are limited so register fast! .
13/8/2012 - Buenos Aires: new public space.
12/8/2012 - Nominate your city for the Resilient Cities Award.
11/8/2012 - Lagos 'Cleans Up' Its Waterfront, Leaving Thousands Homeless.
11/8/2012 - Small Amenities Make Big Difference in Bike Commuting.
10/8/2012 - English Cities on the Rebound.
10/8/2012 - China's Housing Tries to Go Green, but Fails.
9/8/2012 - A Quarter of America's Gas Stations Have Closed.
9/8/2012 - Copenhagen Shames Aspiring Bike Cities, Again, With Opening of Superhighway.
8/8/2012 - IHS at the World Urban Forum VI in Naples, Italy.
8/8/2012 - UN-Habitat announces Scroll of Honour call for applications .
8/8/2012 - How NOT to Do Bus Rapid Transit.
7/8/2012 - New York City to Build "Micro-Units" for Singles.
7/8/2012 - California Bankruptcies May Increase Without Structural Changes.
7/8/2012 - 2nd Euro-Mediterranean Regional Conference: The City, Living Heritage.
6/8/2012 - Can Madrid's Bid for a Thrifty Olympics Succeed? .
6/8/2012 - "We need a new understanding of shrinking cities" .
6/8/2012 - Introducing: BAMBINI - Teaching the next generation to step away from the car.
5/8/2012 - Venice threatened by cruises ? .
5/8/2012 - Building smarter cities: apply now for IBM expertise.
4/8/2012 - Why London's Public Spaces Don't Measure Up.
3/8/2012 - CEMR General Assembly: Join us to discuss key sustainable development issues! .
3/8/2012 - Led by its 'Hyperactive' Mayor, Chicago Plots a Comeback.
2/8/2012 - "Rethinking Shanghai 2012" : the short list.
2/8/2012 - The city of Maribor: from shrinking city to Cultural Capital of the year 2012.
2/8/2012 - In the Shadow of the Olympics: Dickensian Squalor.
1/8/2012 - Funding opportunities to promote multimodal travel behaviour.
1/8/2012 - In one of Asia's Most Artificial Cities, a River Flows Free.
1/8/2012 - Nominate a city for the Sustainable Transport Awards.
1/8/2012 - Building an Eco City, building a Sustainable City .
EU-China Mayors Forum: European and Chinese mayors address urbanisation challenges
The first EU-China Mayors Forum will take place in Brussels on 19-20 September.
It will bring together mayors from both Europe and China, as well as city planners, business and NGOs, to share experiences on sustainable urban development.
EUROCITIES is involved in the organisation of the seminar entitled ‘Governing sustainable urban development’ taking place on 19 September from 14.30 to 17.30. During this seminar, the cities of Espoo, Hamburg and Birmingham will present best practices together with their counterparts from China. Major institutions from Europe and China will also be featured in this seminar: the European Parliament, the China Centre for Urban Development, the European Environment Agency and the European Commission will be speaking.
Several EUROCITIES members will be addressing the Mayors’ Forum itself, which takes place on 20 September. These include Antwerp, Barcelona, Brussels, Dublin, Helsinki and Milan. The Chinese delegation is headed by Beijing and will be composed of 15 cities. The Forum will conclude with the signing of a cooperation charter between European and Chinese mayors.
Click here for more information about the initiative and to register.
Hiroshima Mayor urges Japan to reform its energy policy
At the recent anniversary celebration of the Hiroshima bombing, Mayor Kazumi Matsui of Hiroshima, Japan urged the country to make headway on a clean energy policy, rid nuclear power.
In his Declaration for Peace address, Mayor Matsui spoke of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear power plant accident on 11 March 2011, saying that it bore semblance with Hiroshima's experience with being exposed to radiation 67 years ago.
He also quoted the late Ichiro Moritaki, an atomic bomb survivor that "Nuclear energy and humankind cannot coexist" and called on “the Japanese government to establish without delay an energy policy that guards the safety and security of the people."
"I ask the government of the only country to experience an atomic bombing to accept as its own the resolve of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mindful of the unstable situation surrounding us in Northeast Asia, please display bolder leadership in the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons”.
The nuclear accidents in Japan have been changing the Japanese energy policy significantly. A new energy policy is under intense deliberations, with a wide range of stakeholders contributing to the discussions.
The anniversary ceremony was also attended by Tamotsu Baba, Mayor of Namie, Fukushima, whose town is still designated as an evacuation area. He said “We are in common with Hiroshima and Nagasaki in terms of far-ranging leakage of radiation. We would like to go for our reconstruction learning lessons from that of Hiroshima”, Baba said.
Copenhagen introduces a cultural centre for cycling
A new initiative has been launched to further progress Copenhagen as the most bicycle-friendly city of the world. The Bicycle Innovation Lab allows Copenhagen’s citizens and tourists to test drive a wide variety of bicycles for free. The concept encourages the use of bicycles as a mode of transportation. The cycling laboratory is the first of its kind in Denmark and organises numerous activities to raise awareness about the potential of bicycle culture.
Punjab govt reduces urban development budget by 45pc
Instead of allocating more funds out of its annual development budget of Rs 250 billion for adequate urban services in the big cities Punjab government has reduced it by 45 percent.
In 2010-11 budget, Rs 9.160 billion were allocate for efficient urban facilities in cities, in 2011-12 8.5 billion and in 2012-13 FY budget Rs 5.3 billion have been earmarked, Rs 3.2 billion less than the last year.
It may be added that Urban Development Sector covers development projects sponsored by WASAs and Development Authorities (DA) of the densely populated cities of Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Multan having a population of around 28 million.
Planning and Development department sources told Business Recorder that the government has earmarked Rs 2.176 billion for the on going scheme in the five big cities of the province and Rs 3.183 billion for the new schemes including Rs 2.2 billion for block projects.
They said of the on-going schemes, Rs 313 million have been given to WASA Lahore projects, Rs 511 million to Faisalabad Development Authority. Rs 528 million to WASA Faisalabad, Rs 135 million to WASA Rawalpindi, Rs 101 to Gujranwala Development Authority, Rs 40.291 million to Multan D.A. and Rs 121 million to WASA Multan. Only Rs 977 million have been allocated for new schemes of these five big cities.
ICLEI joins Advisory Board for the Future of Urban Development Initiative
ICLEI Secretary General Konrad Otto-Zimmermann has been invited to join the Advisory Board for the World Economic Forum’s Future of Urban Development Initiative.
According to the World Economic Forum, “pre-eminent, multi-stakeholder thinking should be available to cities and private sector leaders as they strive to convert seemingly monumental challenges into opportunities.”
The Forum has therefore initiated a Future of Urban Development initiative, which will “leverage the leadership platform of the World Economic Forum to provide a neutral setting for mayors, ministers, the private sector, and experts to jointly think through the major urban challenges of the 21st century, and accelerate the transition towards innovative urban models. The initiative calls on thought leaders to develop a new multi-stakeholder model for interaction between cities, the private sector and experts; advance new models for
infrastructure, urban design, mobility and energy; and generate foresight so that cities and the private sector can position themselves for changing demographics.”
Advisory Board Members are thought leaders (including executives or strategy, research, sector or regional heads) from the private sector, the non-profit sector, academia, and multilateral organizations. These Members will support the goals of the initiative by providing provide ideas, knowledge, and strategic advice from the perspective of their industries and sectors in the Partner City engagement process.
Zurich's Parking Policy Evolution: Cap & Replace
Zurich underwent a major parking policy change for its downtown - from 'predict and provide' (i.e. parking minimums) to 'cap and replace'. When a new parking space is provided, a surface parking space is designated toward public plazas.
Zurich's parking policy evolved from 'conventional' parking minimums in the 1960s to parking maximums in 1989. An 'historic compromise' was reached in 1996, and the final policy was put to a public vote in 2010.
Visiting Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and board member of the Congress for the New Urbanism, Norman Garrick teamed-up with Eno Fellow Chris McCahill, both from the University of Connecticut, to describe how the parking policy changed, and the results - how the city's tallest building provided parking at a ratio of just 0.35 spaces/1000 sq. feet. By contrast, most U.S. cities require 3-4 spaces/1000 sq/ft.
Conventional parking policy:
Zurich's parking policy, even with its excellent public transit system, began like most American cities, taking "the path of least resistance - facilitating a relentless increase in parking. Ironically, complaints that there is never enough parking seems to grow in direct proportion to the amount of parking supplied."
"The essence of Zurich's historic compromise of 1996 was that parking in the core of the city would be capped at the 1990 level, and that any new parking to be built would, on a one-to-one basis, replace the surface parking that blighted most squares in the city at the time. Today, almost all these squares are free of parking and have been converted to tranquil or convivial places for people to enjoy."
Current parking policy was determined by a 2010 public referendum that "showed that 55 percent of the city's population were in favor of strict parking maximums. The new policy maintains the structure of the 1989 policy in specifying maximums and minimums. But under this new system, there is a default parking level for the whole city, which is then reduced depending on whether or not a particular location is well served by transit."
ICLEI World Congress 2012 - a success in showcasing local action!
Over 1600 participants convened at the largest ICLEI World Congress to tackle urban challenges and innovate smart and sustainable solutions. The congress sent a strong message to Rio+20 urging for the strengthened role of local governments in paving the path for a more sustainable future. Discover a plethora of materials - presentations, pictures, blogs, media articles and ICLEI Message to Rio - available on www.iclei.org/worldcongress2012
UN-Habitat and UNESCAP join hands in solid waste management project
UN-Habitat and UNESCAP have launched a pilot project for Solid Waste Management in the cities of Karachi, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Mardan.
The pilot project will be initiated through the establishment of Integrated Resource Recovery Centers (IRRC), a decentralized community-based recycling and composting facility. The IRRCs can be built and operated at low costs by using limited mechanical technology, ensuring low operational costs with minimal equipment breakdowns, while creating job opportunities.
In Pakistan, it is reported that an average of 54,888 tons of solid waste is generated each day. Most of the cities are not properly planned and upgraded with the ever increasing population. None of the cities have a proper solid waste management system. There is a void of a planned procedure from the collection of wastes to its disposal. This results in clogged drains and polluted ponds that are breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies. These wastes are a serious threat to public health and have spread life threatening diseases such as malaria and cholera especially among the children. Cities also lack solid waste disposal units; the uncollected waste-water is channeled through open grounds, settlements, agricultural land and eventually flows in open clean water. Most of the solid wastes is composed of poisonous and acidic materials such as plastic, rubber, metal, textile waster, animal waste, grass and is mixed with water sources which are being used for drinking by informal settlements and poor communities. These people do not have the financial resources, hence not being able to afford medical facilities.
Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Mardan are better planned than most of the cities in the country. They have adequate municipal committees but still lack the resources for proper waste disposal systems. There are not enough collection points, transportation facilities and units for disposal despite the size of the cities. Only half of the waste is properly disposed off. Since there are no disposal sites, the wastes are simply burned including non-degradable materials such as plastic bags, resulting in air pollution. The inorganic wastes are traded in and a recycling industry and market has developed in the informal sector. In some places, waste from vegetable markets are collected/purchased and composted.
Environmental waste management will support respective Municipal committees in an effort to build a clean and healthy urban areas and settlements. The project aims to develop an efficient waste collection and transfer system that will be associated with the Resource Recovery Centre. Thorough developing a proper solid waste management system, UN-Habitat aims towards waste minimization, recycle and reuse of waste materials and income generation resulting in environmental protection. Officials from the Ministry of Climate Change, City District Government-Rawalpindi and Capital Development Authority-Islamabad are involved in the planning as well as implementation phase of the project.
China's Rapidly Expanding Inland Cities
The mostly unfamiliar cities of China's vast inland territories are growing at an exponential rate, attracting global businesses, infrastructure investment, and residents in search of opportunities.
It has a population larger than that of New York City, and its GDP is expected to double in five years. With business booming, China's city of Wuhan, located about 750 miles deep into China's hinterland, is seeing explosive growth, putting a strain on its infrastructure and environment. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, "A variety of factors are driving that growth, everything from cheap land prices and low-cost labor to the tremendous demand for infrastructure...These days, the city feels like an open construction site as the local government tries to put in its first three subway lines. Many citizens can't wait."
Wuhan's evolution into a metropolis is similar to that of many other inland Chinese cities. Seen as a place for business to escape the increasingly expensive east coast cities, like Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong, inland cities are attracting both rural Chinese, who continue to flock to cities, and, increasingly, foreigners. Lower costs for business are giving incentives to foreign firms to move to inland China. "U.S. companies in Wuhan include the giant engine manufacturer Cummins, General Electric and TRW Automotive. According to Corum, they will soon be joined by General Motors," says Langfitt. "The French automaker Peugeot-Citroen has two factories in Wuhan. Pfizer has a research and development facility here as well."
Still, the rapid development hasn't been without problems. With a single light rail line, Wuhan's traffic is horrendous. Also, "[e]arlier this summer, a yellow, post-apocalyptic smog enveloped the city," reports Langfitt, "sparking fears that there had been an industrial accident." And for some residents, says Langfitt, Wuhan still cannot match the high life in the more cosmopolitan and developed east coast.
Hyderabad is ready to host city biodiversity summit!
Hyderabad, India is ready to host Cities for Life, a city and sub-national biodiversity Summit to be held on 15-16 October, in parallel to the 11th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP11). Biodiversity plays an indispensable role in sustainable development efforts as our existing ecosystems are becoming increasingly threatened by the over-consumption of natural resources, the generation of waste and pollution, the displacement of agricultural land and other such factors, said the Commissioner of Hyderabad.
Which American Cities are Leading the Economic Recovery?
While California's cities continue to be a drag on the country's job growth, cities in the Northeast and the South are doing better than average, says a new report from the Urban Institute.
Conor Dougherty discusses the findings contained in a new report released this week by the Urban Institute. "Despite a nascent real-estate recovery, cities that were hard hit by the bust remain worst off while southern cities, buoyed by faster population growth and industries like manufacturing and energy exploration, remain the most insulated by the recession," writes Dougherty, summarizing the report's results. "Most of the rest of the nation remains a hodgepodge of conflicting trends that are emblematic of the jagged national recovery."
The reason for the wide variation in job growth can be attributed the industry composition of local job markets. For instance, according to the report, "Metros with large Education and Health and, in some cases Government, sectors were generally resistant to the worst negative employment effects during the recession and remain relatively strong in the recovery. Other areas were hit harder but are recovering well -these include metros with focal Manufacturing, Professional and Business Services, and to a lesser extent Leisure and Hospitality and Trade, Transport, Utilities industries."
However, "The areas of highest concern are metros that are the 'Vulnerable' metros, which have experienced both steep recessions and slower than average recoveries, include many metros dominated by Retail Trade, Leisure and Hospitality, or Trade, Transportation, and Utilities."
Look to China to Glimpse the Future of Cities
The era of American cities such as Chicago and New York leading the way in urban innovation went out with the close of the 20th century, says Dustin Roasa. Its China's turn to show the world what the city of the future will look like.
Although his colleague at Foreign Policy, Peter Calthorpe, cautions against China's urban future mirroring America's sprawling past, Roasa sees China as the world's new leader in urban technology. Exploring ideas that run the gamut from pie-in-the-sky to already implemented, Roasa looks at examples of urban innovations such as modular skyscrapers, traffic-jumping buses, and cutting-edge recycling.
One area in which the Chinese are already aggressive is the expansion the country's share of electric vehicles:
"Hoping to become the global leader in electric vehicles, the Chinese government wants 500,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on China's roads by 2015, and more than 5 million by 2020. It is already backing these aspirations with a range of subsidies, including up to $8,800 for every electric vehicle purchased by taxi companies and local governments."
"As a result, China has more electric taxis in operation than anywhere in the world and is likely to extend its lead."
London's Transit Network Wins the Gold
Dogged in advance of the Olympics by fears of transit paralysis, Lauren Collins discusses how London's public transportation network has been the surprise hit of the Games.
It seems as though London's much maligned temperamental transit system has been a surprising hit of the games, not just with spectators, but with the athletes themselves, who have been spotted on trains showcasing their newly earned Olympic hardware.
According to Collins, "The trendlet got off to a start last week when the Venezuelan fencer Rubén Limardo beat the Norwegian Bartosz Piasecki to win the individual épée contest. After the match, still wearing his gold medal around his neck, he proceeded directly to the Docklands Light Railway."
"Lashinda Demus, the Team U.S.A. hurdler (she won silver on Wednesday night in the four-hundred metres), has been commuting each day from her rental apartment to Olympic Park on the 257 bus," notes Collins. 'I simply like riding on public transport,' she said, according the the Evening Standard, explaining why she’d chosen to forgo the chauffeured BMWs and empty lanes on offer to members of what is being called 'the Olympic family.' She continued, 'It’s only a couple of stops to where I am staying.'”
Even the superstar USA Men's Basketball team were caught taking the high-speed Javelin train from the Olympic Park into town.
Nominate a city for the Sustainable Transport Award 2013
The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and the Sustainable Transport Award (STA) Committee, of which ICLEI-EcoMobility is a member, invite you to nominate your city for the 9th Annual Sustainable Transport Award. Nominations are now open and will be accepted online until 15 September. More.
Is Sprawl to Blame for Municipal Bankruptcies?
As the fear of more local government bankruptcies rises, William Fulton argues that sprawling development patterns play a key role in leading cities to run in the red.
It's become unquestionable that sprawl is unsustainable from an environmental point of view. But what about fiscal sustainability? Former Ventura, California Mayor William Fulton, and current Vice President for the policy and programs at Smart Growth America, opines on sprawl's role in the increasing financial woes facing many U.S. cities. "When sprawling new development happens, it’s easy to mistake that for prosperity," he says. "New buildings and wide roads look great when they first meet the eye. But over time, distant development costs more, gradually bleeding taxpayers and putting the hurt on municipal budgets."
In California, especially, where sprawl ran rampant in places such as the now-bankrupt cities of San Bernardino and Stockton, revenue strategies focused that are focused on perpetual low-density development put a strain on municipal budgets once the tap runs dry. For example, "[w]hen a real estate bust hits – as it did starting in 2008 – there’s no more new development to subsidize sprawling development, and cities start to run in the red," says Fulton, calling such development strategies a "Ponzi scheme."
To solve this problem, Fulton advocates for denser development, "[w]here businesses go, where houses go, where roads go, where sidewalks go, where farms and natural spaces go – all of these things collectively affect a community’s economic performance and the cost of providing services there. Put things closer together, the services cost less."
"What seems cheap on the one hand isn’t always when you look at it over the long haul," writes Fulton.
ICLEI and partners announces Global Initiative on Urban Resilience
ICLEI and partners announce the Global Initiative on Urban Resilience (GIUR), an effort designed to spur building and infrastructure development, create new investment opportunities and foster community action
around the world.
How an Award Winning Chinese Building Demeans Architecture
The Guangzhou Opera House was recently recognized by Architectural Record with its "Best Public Project: Honor Award." Larry Speck argues why recognizing this poorly designed and executed building reflects poorly on the Architecture profession.
The Guangzhou Opera House, designed by world-renowned Zaha Hadid Architects, is a stunning building - at least from afar. But using his own close-up photographs of the building's poor detailing as evidence, Speck, a principal in the architectural firm of PageSoutherlandPage and a professor, as well as the former dean, in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, wonders if any of the members of the awards jury (which "included editors from Architectural Record and respected Chinese architects and experts") actually visited the building in person.
Arguing that the building's problems result from poor design, rather than the typical "arrogant" explanation of a "Chinese building industry not yet up to the visionary imagination of the designer," Speck points out the design flaws evident on the exterior and interior of the building.
"Promoting clearly flawed design as the 'best' we have to offer is demeaning and makes us look ridiculous to people outside the architecture subculture," concludes Speck. "This is how we lose power in the larger society and become marginalized as a discipline. Elevating 'stars' and 'signature design' at the expense of deeply rooted and rigorous standards of excellence does a disservice to our field."
World Mayors Council holds general assembly; elects Mayor Park Won Soon as chair
Members of the World Mayors Council on Climate Change unanimously elected Park Won Soon, Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government as the next Chair of the Council during their General Assembly on 17 June in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Mayor Park becomes the 3rd Chair of the World Mayors Council and will assume the role from current Chair Marcelo Ebrard (Mexico City) in October at a special meeting in Seoul. Mayor Park also showed his commitment to local action by signing the Mexico City Pact.
NICE: Mediterranean's Epicenter of Energy, Environment and Economic Development?
The city of Nice and it's game changing Eco Vallée project have become Europe's epicenter of 'Smart' development. Uniting innovative practices in urbanism and mobility as well as eco-compatible technical and agricultural production with incentives for advanced R&D, Nice is rapidly becoming 'the' metropol for Green business tourism.
Nice is banking on the fact that the valley will provide an unequaled model for leadership and practice with regard to aligning its development strategy to align with the European Commission’s 20/2020 goals. But how far can this valley project its smart & green credentials? Aren't valley's by definition, isolated micro-environments?
Major of Nice, National Deputy, and Chairman of Nice Côte d'Azur Metropole, Christian Estrosi believes that the “Green City on the Mediterranean will set an ecological example on a European Scale.” Judging by the industry firepower the project has attracted so far, the critics will be hard pressed to prove Estrosi wrong.
The magnetic appeal of the 'Green City' has attracted the attention of municipal and industry leaders from across the continent since it's inception. March 20-22, Nice many of the same leaders will join Mayor Estrosi in force to discuss integrating 'Green Development and Smart Grid' at 3rd Annual Smart Grid Smart Cities.
Municipalities with advanced Smart Grid and Green Development projects presenting at the event include: City of Amsterdam (Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), City of Helsinki (Finland), the City of Santander (Spain), City of Genova (Italy), City of Almere (Netherlands), and the City of Malaga (Spain).
France's largest project, NICEGRID, falling under the umbrella of the GRID4EU program, has attracted some serious players, which hope to refine their own Smart Grid and Renewable Energy offerings. On a technical level NICEGRID is very ambitious, some of its goals are to optimize use of a medium and low voltage networks with variable insertion into the renewable energy network, as well as more standard aspects such as research on the behavior of customers in independent consumption zones.
NICEGRID, managed by ERDF, is not alone. IBM Forum at La Gaude on the Côte d'Azur, has been a major center of innovation for over 50 years and is now contributing to IBM's "Smarter Cities" global challenge, which addresses a wide range of financial and infrastructure challenges such as transportation, energy, clean water and economic development. Finally there is Sofia Antipolis, home to smart grid projects by CSTB, and Mines Paris Tech which is running a Master's Degree Course in Smart Grids.
These centers of innovation are paying direct benefits by helping to realize Eco Vallée's Green and Smart goals. However, they are also attracting talent and investment to further cement Nice's long term contribution to re-imagined urban sustainability.
For more information:
Sydney, Australia is the newest EcoMobility Alliance City
Sydney, Australia as the newest Alliance City! Sydney has developed a strategic vision that is both responsive and proactive in dealing with accessibility challenges. Leading Australia in cycling, Sydney has delivered significant infrastructure, research and social programs to enable and encourage cycling. The city
has been working to provide pedestrian priority on key corridors and encourages the use of car share.
India Encourages Monster Master Planning Effort
Planners in search of work might want to consider looking in India. As Nate Berg reports, the Indian government is hoping a new technology initiative will catalyze master planning efforts in 7,935 cities and towns across the country.
Facing a surge of nearly 1 billion urban residents by 2050, the Indian government is hoping that satellite imagery and geographic information systems can provide the necessary impetus to get the estimated 75% of the country's major cities and towns that have no master plans to start preparing for a vastly different future.
"As Post Noon reports, the government is for the first time making available satellite imagery to the planners and development officials in these nearly 8,000 towns and cities," writes Berg. "It's part of a National Urban Information System that is aiming to give municipalities access to the imagery and to help develop geographic information system databases that will be able to inform the needs of these areas as they develop over the next few decades."
"According to The Hindu, satellite imagery has been used in recent master planning efforts in the city of Khammam, about 120 miles east of Hyderabad. Government officials are using this city's plan as a model for how other cities and towns can use the newly available imagery to inform the future direction of these places as they prepare to undergo massive demographic changes," notes Berg.
Rio+20 Global Town Hall - largest gathering in urban sustainability
Bringing home the point that local development is key to achieving national and global development, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, spoke at the Rio+20 Global Town Hall. He joined more than 5000 delegates and speakers, including Mayors, business heads, and key officials who discussed urban sustainability efforts and pledged further action to tackle the challenges ahead. Get a glimpse of the happenings at the Global Town Hall by visiting our website where you can access presentations, photos, reports and daily newsletters.
What is the Secret to Washington's Success?
With the healthiest economy of any major metropolitan area in the country and a winning baseball team, D.C. is doing quite well for itself these days. David Leonhardt looks at what economic lessons the city has to offer the rest of the country.
With unemployment at 5.7 percent in June, compared with 9.3 percent in Chicago, 9.6 percent in New York and 10.3 percent in Los Angeles, and soaring housing prices, D.C.'s economy is the envy of a country still struggling to overcome the Great Recession. And the city's prosperity is visible in the ongoing redevelopment that kicked off towards the end of the 1990s, and has been remaking neighborhoods across the city at a brisk pace ever since.
Leonhardt identifies two key elements driving D.C.'s winning ways - government spending and education.
"In the worldwide experiment on fiscal policy that’s been run during the past few years, Washington has joined China firmly in the stimulus camp. Much of the rest of the United States, where almost two million state and local government jobs have disappeared, looks more like austerity-hobbled Europe." Yet D.C. has received "more stimulus dollars per capita than any state, according to an analysis by ProPublica."
"Washington’s second lesson is arguably even more important. If you wanted to imagine what the economy might look like if the country were much better educated, you can look at Washington."
"In an economy ever more organized around knowledge, Washington’s employers — from biotechnology and Internet companies to retail and health care — have an easier time finding workers who fit their needs. Especially in bad times, employers can have more confidence they are hiring someone they will want to keep."
Rio+20 outcomes: cities play a key role in sustainability
It is questionable whether the 50-page official Rio+20 outcome document, entitled “The future we want”, will actually set the planet and humanity on a sustainable path. Yet ICLEI is encouraged by the recognition given to the importance of sustainable cities and local action, both in the official outcome and in numerous side events. Read an annotated version of the outcome document highlighting key urban and local government segments. Check out ICLEI's Evaluations of the Outcomes from Rio+20
What Montreal Has to Teach us About Great Urbanism
Old urbanism holds countless lessons on satisfying livability. Montréal shares some of its insights in this photo blog by Hazel Borys.
"Ever had a teacher who was so amazing at storytelling that difficult subjects become clear – and riveting? The last few days, I’ve spent some time in la belle province, and I’ve felt that the Ville de Montréal is such a teacher. Many of the design and legal issues we often discuss Montréal makes quick work of with some telling images."
Borys goes on to talk about cycling, repurposing, permanent and temporary pedestrian streets, the power of simplicity in public spaces, terminated vistas, and architectural durability using photos from Montréal to exemplify exquisite urban design solutions.
"As tempting as over-programming public space may be, simplicity makes a strong case for livability. Montréal plazas and squares satisfy basic needs for shade and rest, then save their investment for one central iconic feature, like a fountain or a small café. The results are timeless and so pleasing that the grass doesn’t always have to be perfect."
ICLEI's Global Network of Young Municipal Leaders
ICLEI's FutureCityLeaders Initiative's mission is to empower future leaders by connecting them in a global network and further build their capacity on sustainability issues through knowledge-sharing, mentoring program, participation at international events and web-based training.
Last June, the first batch of FutureCityLeaders met at the ICLEI World Congress in Brazil and got the chance to interact with peers and sustainability experts worldwide!
Interested in being part of a global network and capacity-building program of motivated and committed Mayors, Chairs of City Councils and Councilors? We invite you to send in this ‘Expression of Interest Form’ also available on the Initiative’s website: www.iclei.org/futurecityleaders
Feel free to spread the word within your networks. Get updates and like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/futurecityleaders
Sustainable Events Guide now available online!
The online publication is an informative and useful tool aimed at providing valuable information on how to keep large scale meetings as green as possible. It is addressed at those responsible for the planning and conduct of large-scale conferences and other events.
APA Planning Awards
The American Planning Association is accepting nominations for the 2012 Transportation Planning and Environmental Planning Awards. The Transportation Planning Award honors efforts to increase transportation choices, reduce dependence on private automobiles, help ease congestion and reduce climate change impacts. The Environmental Planning Award honors efforts to create greener communities that reduce the impact of development on the natural environment and improve environmental quality. Nominations due by August 28, 2012.
New Research Suggests Immersive Urban Parks Work Best
Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in your neighborhood park? For a true mental vacation, head for the park with the densest vegetation, writes Eric Jaffe.
Following up on a recent piece on the restorative powers of parks, Jaffe revisits the topic with new research in hand that gets at the question of "precisely how many trees it takes to recover the cognitive strains of urban life."
According to an article appearing in an upcoming issue of the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, a group of Finnish researchers found that, "perceived restorativeness in urban forests was strongly affected by closure of view to the urban matrix through the forest vegetation. This means that perceived restorativeness was higher inside the forest with a closed (i.e. no) view to the urban matrix as compared to semi-closed and open views."
"The most intriguing conclusion to be drawn here is that the size of an urban park isn't nearly as important as the density of its vegetatio," writes Jaffe. "Even when a nature site borders an urban road or housing development, it can function as a restorative place so long as it offers easy access to a dense interior. In other words, the ultimate goal is not to see the city for the trees," he concludes.
Biking Brings $1 Billion in Revenue to Minnesota
Minnesota generates over $1 billion in bike-related revenue annually, more than from hunting and snowmobiling combined. To help promote more bicycling in Minnesota, a new interagency campaign labeling Minnesota as "The Bike Friendly State" is being launched, complete with a website of state biking resources, that includes advice on commuting with kids and a searchable calendar of events and group rides.
Paris to the People
Angelique Chrisafis delivers the fantastic news that, after more than four decades of auto dominance, Paris is returning its riverfront to its people in a "pedestrian 'reconquest' of the banks of the Seine."
After being blocked by former right-wing prime minister François Fillon, the French capital's Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë "has won his quest to break up the two-lane urban motorway that has run along the edge of the Seine since the 1960s, and return Paris's riverside world heritage sites to walkers and cyclists," writes Chrisafis.
Opened in 1967 by Georges Pompidou, the Seine's riverside expressways will be turned over to pedestrians, bars and cafes beginning next month. By next spring, the centerpiece of the €40m project will be unveiled: "a 2.5km car-free zone on the left bank, between the Musée d'Orsay and the Pont de l'Alma, with a riverside park, pedestrian promenades, floating botanic gardens, flower-market barges, sports courts, restaurants and even perhaps an archipelago of artificial islands."
According to Chrisafis, "Delanoë promised his new scheme would 'give Parisians back their river', 'profoundly change' the city and provide 'an opportunity for happiness' for residents. But the mayor, who will not stand for re-election in 2014, also has an eye on his legacy, seeking to be remembered as the man who finally ended Parisian reverence to the car. He has expanded cycle routes and introduced the city's famous short-term bike-hire and car-hire schemes."
Urban Farmers Markets Surge
As demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables has increased, so too has the number of urban farmers markets sprouting up across the nation. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan recently announced a 9.6 percent increase over 2011 listings in the National Farmers Market Directory, which tracks farmers markets throughout the United States.
Temporary Urbanism's Short Shelf Life
London's Olympics are just the most recent example of the growing trend in building temporary architecture and urbanism in response to financial and practical considerations. Christopher Hawthorne asks whether this trend is too short sighted.
With cities from Los Angeles to London embracing lighter, quicker, cheaper ways to implement improvements to their environments in a wobbly world economy, "individual clients and institutions will continue to turn to expedient architecture as the only way to get their buildings or parks financed," writes Hawthorne. In the rush to embrace expediency, however, are officials and designers ignoring the larger implication of such projects on planning, preservation, and urban design?
Hawthorne looks at several temporary projects in Los Angeles to poke at the question. Ultimately, he seems to believe that building something is better than nothing, and in a city like Los Angeles, which over time has been reluctant to significantly invest in its purely public spaces, "even on-the-cheap solutions like Sunset Triangle Plaza represent a sea change."
In the end, Hawthorne is merely starting the conversation over the long-term value of expediency, rather than providing an answer to his probing questions.
Engineering Sustainability 2013: Innovation and the Triple Bottom Line
David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Sponsored by: The Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh and The Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research at Carnegie Mellon University
Engineering Sustainability 2013 will bring together engineers and scientists from academia, government, industry, and non-profits to share results of cutting edge research and practice directed at development of environmentally sustainable buildings and infrastructure.
Check the ES13 website for the call for papers and other conference details http://www.mascarocenter.pitt.edu/conference/
Abstracts are due October 26, 2013.
Resilient cities 2012: congress report 2012
This document reports on the 3rd edition of the Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change (Resilient Cities 2012) which brought together local governments, international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), researchers, and the private sector, to exchange ideas on how to make cities more resilient and adaptive to climate change. The report presents: (i) the key messages of the congress; (ii) its rationale; (iii) the developments from 2011 to 2012; (iv) a summary of the key forums and sessions; (v) a review of congress themes, including some good practices from Italy, Mexico, Denmark and the Philippines; (vi) the side events and launches that took place at Resilient Cities 2012; and (vii) an outlook for 2013.
Prescription for Shrinking Cities: Don't Demolish, Preserve
For cities across the U.S. facing mass foreclosures and shrinking populations, demolition of abandoned homes is an attractive avenue (see Detroit and Cleveland). Roberta Brandes Gratz argues that the value of preservation deserves to be considered.
Inspired by Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory's speech at last month’s Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference in New Orleans, Gratz argues that historic preservation deserves to be considered by so-called "shrinking cities" as they consider ways to stabilize population losses and encourage new investment. According to Gratz, Mallory "prefers working with community-based groups that renovate empty properties and put people back in homes," rather than tearing down abandoned buildings. “When you keep clearing land," said Mallory, "it makes it difficult to get new investment and kill the chance to repopulate.”
And, apparently, the findings of a new report, “Historic Preservation and Rightsizing” [PDF], commissioned by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, back Mallory up.
In the cities losing population studied by Don Rypkema and Cara Bertron of Place Economics, "they found the least shrinkage in places where preservation is made a priority over demolition; sometimes renewed population growth occurred. They compared the rate of population change between 2000 and 2010 in the 20 cities with the highest proportional population loss. By overlaying historic district maps on census tracts, they found that historic districts either 'lost less or grew more when the larger city lost population,' Rypkema said."
"Preservation is one of the most potent tools for city revitalization," concludes Gratz. "That message should not get lost amid worries about city shrinkage."
Makati City gets award for city-to-city cooperation
ICLEI Member Makati City in the Philippines has scooped an award for an innovative city-to-city learning partnership between Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.
Kathmandu and Quito, both ICLEI Members, benchmarked Makati City on emergency management systems and community-based disaster management.
In turn, Quito's 'Atlas of Natural Hazards and Risks' was benchmarked by Makati and Kathmandu, while Quito and Makati learnt from Kathmandu's experience with private sector organizations in disaster risk management and public awareness campaigns.
The City-to-City Cooperation award was presented this week during the 25th anniversary meeting of CITYNET, the Asia-Pacific local authority network, in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Accepting the award on behalf of Makati City, senior adviser and ICLEI Resilient Cities programme committee member Violeta Seva, said, "We are honoured to be recognised along with Quito and Kathmandu for raising awareness for strategies to reduce disaster risks. We are now ready to share this model with cities around the world."
The aim of the City-to-City Cooperation Awards is to highlight the best examples of cooperation amongst cities and local government.
Visit www.unisdr.org/archive/27604 for more
Cities celebrating culture
New report compares the cultural offerings of 12 world cities
The ‘World Cities Culture Report’, the first ever global survey of cities’ cultural offerings, was launched at the World Cities Culture Summit in London on 1 August 2012.
The report, which was commissioned by mayor of London Boris Johnson, compares the cultural provisions of 12 world cities, including EUROCITIES members Berlin, Istanbul, London and Paris, according to 60 indicators. Examples include number of museums – London comes out on top with 173
EUROCITIES member Paris has the most art galleries (1,046) out of the 12 cities surveyed, followed by London (857), New York (721) and Tokyo (688). London comes top for comedy performances with 11,388 compared to 11,076 in New York and 10,348 in Paris. The city also has a strikingly large number of restaurants with 37,450 or 478 for every 100,000 people.
The report confirms that world cities are best placed to support the widest range of cultural activity. With a broad audience of residents and tourists, a diverse population and the financial capacity to support costly cultural infrastructure, world cities are able to play a crucial role in global culture.
The cultural leaders and policy makers from ten of the surveyed cities met in London on 1 August 2012 to share the results of their research, as well as knowledge and experience of providing and promoting culture in cities.
Find out more about the report and findings here: www.worldcitiesculturereport.com
Brussels Region invests in metro workshops
The Brussels Regional decision to migrate towards automated metro systems, has consequences for the depots and workshops. The Region will invest over 85 million euros to enable proper maintenance of the trains.
Is Your City Involved in an URBACT II Project? Find That Out With Our Online Interactive Project Map
Did you know that you could identify and locate projects and the cities working together?
The answer is yes: It is possible to visualize all URBACT II projects on our online website interactive project map!
Social dialogue: registration deadline for final conference extended until 27 August!
Good news for those who have not yet registered to the final conference of the European social dialogue project “Future of the workplace”, the deadline is now extended until 27 August.
This conference is to be held on 15 October 2012 in Prague, the Czech Republic, with the aim of finding sustainable solutions to anticipate change and modernising the local and regional government sector as a workplace.
For further information on the content of the conference, please consult our news about it.
Best Practice Guide European Mobility Week
The European Mobility Week (EMW) best practice guide has been released. The publication demonstrates case studies from nine European municipalities participating in last year’s EMW. In 2011, the principal theme was ‘Alternative Mobility’, promoting the importance of sustainable modes of transport and raising awareness among European urban citizens.
Young city leaders tackle sustainability online
ICLEI’s FutureCityLeaders Initiative has partnered with Wiggio to launch an online communications platform that could define the future of sustainable development.
Developed by Wiggio, the online platform connects ICLEI’s FutureCityLeaders – a group of promising municipal leaders from across the globe committed to sustainable development.
“The FutureCityLeaders Initiative aims to empower future leaders by connecting them in a global network and by building their capacity on sustainability issues through knowledge-sharing, mentoring, participation in international events and web-based training”, said Mona Ludigkeit, Project Officer of FutureCityLeaders.
“Our ultimate goal is to realize tangible action for local sustainability”, she added.
The online platform provides FutureCityLeaders with a custom branded workspace where they can share and archive information, as well as organize communications. The tools provided within the private workspace include
sharing and storing files, hosting virtual meetings, sending mass emails and text messages, posting comments on a newsfeed and creating events on a shared calendar.
The Young Consultants Network (YCN) of Detecon International assumed the responsibility for the assessment, selection, and training of the communications platform, within the framework of a pro bono project.
Melbourne : Open House, Open Port
"Open House", celebrated in numerous cities all over the world, enables an often little known cultural and building heritage to be promoted towards the public. Port of Melbourne (member of AIVP) this year associated itself with "Open House Melbourne". End July, over 1300 persons thus visited the port by boat testifying to a real interest for a port badly known in spite of its proximity to the city. Extremely satisfied, Stephen Bradford, CEO of the port, saw in this operation a wonderful opportunity to explain how the port has shaped the form and the economy of the city, and what role it plays in the daily life of the inhabitants.
CEMR OPEN DAYS workshop on local development: places are limited so register fast!
In the framework of the 2012 Open Days, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) is co-organising a workshop on local development as a key pillar of the 2014-2020 EU territorial development policies. CEMR invites all those interested in participating to register as soon as possible as places are limited.
The workshop, to be held on 9 October 2012 in Brussels, Belgium, will bring together EU decision makers, elected representatives from member states and experts. Participants will examine how public authorities can apply the principle of local development in their partnership agreements and operational programmes. However, the aim is also to help EU institutions to better understand how the local level assesses its value and role in EU territorial development policies and how it intends to make the most out of the new proposed multi-fund approach.
Finally, participants will take stock of the state of negotiations at EU and national levels on the matter, as detailed provisions on local development have been introduced for the first time in the Commission’s regulation, published in October 2011.
Buenos Aires: new public space
A public enquiry has been launched for the landscaping of 2 hectares of green spaces reclaimed from the river in the Costanera Sur sector. The project will be based on the reutilisation of waste refuse generated by the city. It could become a first step towards the 20 hectare ecological peninsular which had been initially announced.
Nominate your city for the Resilient Cities Award
The first ever Resilient Cities Award will recognize excellence in the adoption and implementation of the Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient, a 10-point checklist designed to help local governments assess their risks and initiate plans to improve their cities’ resilience.
The award, which will be presented at a ceremony in Beijing, China on 29-31 October during the Second Mayors' Summit on Disaster Risk Reduction, comes at a time when cities across the world are facing more extreme weather events and feeling the pressure of rapid urbanization and population growth.
"The Resilient Cities Award aims to raise awareness of the importance of good planning in the face of urbanization and climate change, and advance the exchange of ideas, innovation, and investment in disaster risk reduction," said Helena Molin Valdes, Chief of the United Nations' Making Cities Resilient Campaign.
Lagos 'Cleans Up' Its Waterfront, Leaving Thousands Homeless
Continuing a practice long decried by international rights groups, Nigerian authorities gave the residents of the waterfront shantytown of Makoko a scant 72 hours to vacate their homes before demolishing them en masse, reports Robyn Dixon.
It sounds as if authorities in what recently became the largest city in Africa won't let the city's slum dwellers stand in the way of progress. In what Dixon calls, "just the latest of many evictions of poor and marginalized communities in shantytowns as slum dwellers come under increasing pressure from property developers," authorities in Lagos began demolishing the Makoko shantytown a week ago.
According to Dixon, "This is not the first attempt to wipe out Makoko. Similar demolitions and evictions took place in 2005. In a notice of eviction earlier this month, Lagos authorities called the shantytown 'unwholesome' and out of keeping with Lagos’ 'megacity status.' Lagos Gov. Babatunde Fashola said there were plans to build something much grander."
"'We have a plan to turn that place into the Venice of Africa. I am committed to the idea,' he told protesters from Makoko on Monday, ruling out any reversal of the demolition order, Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper reported."
"The latest demolitions have left thousands homeless, many with nowhere to sleep but in their canoes, resident Peter Hunsa told the Nation newspaper."
"'I am more than 60 years old,' he said. 'I was born in this community. The Egun people have been living here for more than 100 years.'
'Where do they want me to go now?' he said. 'We are fishermen. We did not go to school.'"
Small Amenities Make Big Difference in Bike Commuting
Trip-end facilities at work appear to be significant determinants of cycling to work. Recent research conducted by Ralph Buehler of Virginia Tech found that commuters with cyclist showers, clothes lockers, and bike parking at work are five times more likely to commute by bicycle than those without trip-end facilities.
English Cities on the Rebound
Census results released last week offered some astonishing findings - each of England's big cities is growing, after shedding people only a decade ago. The Economist looks at the phenomenon and the factors that have contributed to the resurgence.
After the preceeding decade, in which all but one of England's eight core cities shed residents, new census data indicates that all eight grew between 2001-2011. "For years, as manufacturing jobs ebbed from the Midlands and the north and city centres decayed, big conurbations like Liverpool and Manchester tended to pull down their region’s performance, points out John Salt of University College London. No longer," notes The Economist.
In the article, three key factors are credited with contributing to England's urban comeback: investment ("inspired partly by Lord [Richard] Rogers, an architect and urban booster"), jobs (and the attraction of improving cities to skilled labor forces and their employers), and immigration.
China's Housing Tries to Go Green, but Fails
A so-called "eco-friendly" apartment complex complete with solar panels that derives more than 90% of its energy needs from coal? China struggles to take sustainable development seriously.
As one of the world's most polluted nations, with its fast-expanding cities filling with polluting factories and ports, and clogged with automobiles, China is struggling to find the balance between cost-effective affordable development and expensive, but much needed, environmentally and health-friendly construction. As Calum MacLeod, of USA Today reports, "China is building more eco-cities designed to be low-carbon and energy-saving than any other country, according to a survey by the University of Westminster in London. The USA ranked second."
Still, "China's buyers don't appear to be motivated by environmentalism," notes MacLeod. Instead, basic needs trump sustainability.
Many projects appear stalled and are nothing more than "promotional gimmicks by commercial developers," says MacLeod. "Housing Vice Minister Qiu Baoxing said the eco-city concept has been overused in China, and some projects actually damaged the environment, reported the state-run Xinhua News Agency."
A Quarter of America's Gas Stations Have Closed
More than 50,000 gas stations have shut down since 1991, when stations in the US numbered nearly 200,000. The New York Times recently reported that the closings have saddled many communities with conspicuous, vacant properties—but also created opportunities to make the sites better-looking and more socially engaging through redevelopment.
Copenhagen Shames Aspiring Bike Cities, Again, With Opening of Superhighway
From Portland to Minneapolis, cities across the America have been trying to catch up to Copenhagen's world-renowned bicycling infrastructure. With the recent opening of a bike superhighway, the Danish capital is leaving other cities in the dust.
The opening in April of the 11-mile-long cycle superhighway connecting Copenhagen to its western suburb of Albertslund, is the first of 26 routes intended to encourage long-distance bicycle commuting in the region around the Danish capital, reports Sally McGrane. In a city where half of the residents already bike to work or to school every day, the construction of the network of superhighways targets an area ripe for growth in bicycle use - suburban commuters, "most of whom use cars or public transportation to reach the city."
"While there is a good existing network of bicycle pathways around Copenhagen," notes McGrane, "standards across municipalities can be inconsistent, with some stretches having inadequate pavement, lighting or winter maintenance, as well as unsafe intersections and gaps." Hence, "For the superhighway project, Copenhagen and 21 local governments teamed up to ensure that there were contiguous, standardized bike routes into the capital across distances of up to 14 miles."
Although environmental and health benefits are stressed as key advantages of traveling by bike, "[Danish] commuters choose bicycles because they are the fastest and most convenient transportation option," writes McGrane. “'It’s not because the Danes are more environmentally friendly,' said Gil Penalosa, executive director of 8-80 Cities, a Canadian organization that works to make cities healthier. 'It’s not because they eat something different at breakfast.'”
IHS at the World Urban Forum VI in Naples, Italy
The Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) is pleased to announce that it will be present at the World Urban Forum VI on 1-6 September 2012 in Naples, Italy. The World Urban Forum (WUF), which is organized by UN-Habitat, is the most prestigious and important professional gathering in the field of urban management.
The theme of the 6th World Urban Forum is The Urban Future focusing on four main areas of discussion: Urban Planning: Institutions and Regulations, Including the Improvement of Quality of Life; Equity and Prosperity: Distribution of Wealth and Opportunities; Productive Cities: Competitive and Innovative Cities and Urban Mobility, Energy & Environment. For more information, please visit the official World Urban Forum website: http://www.unhabitat.org/categories.asp?catid=672.
IHS training events during WUF
IHS staff will coordinate several trainings and participate in several networking events. The IHS delegation will also be delighted to meet you at the IHS booth at the WUF exhibition.
Below you can find an overview of the training events organized by IHS in collaboration with its partner institutes.
1. "Achieving City Prosperity through Land and Housing Policies that Prevent Slum Formation"
Thematic focus: producitve cities, housing, slum upgrading, land
Training by IHS, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and UN-Habitat (Lecturers: Carlos Morales Schechinger, Claudio Acioly, Martin O. Smolka)
Tuesday, 4 September 2012, at 9.00 - 12.00 a.m
Pavilion 5, Room 16
2. “Engaging with Women’s Leadership for Positive Change: Avoiding Evictions and Gaining Secure Tenure for the Urban Poor”
Thematic focus: equity, gender, housing
Training by IHS and the Huairou Commission (Lecturers: Maartje van Eerd, Huairou Commission)
Tuesday, 4 September 2012, at 9.00 - 12.00 a.m.
Pavilion 5, Room 16
3. "How to Simulate the Impacts of Urban Policy Decision and Projects. Transforming Visions and Plans into Reality - A User Centered Participatory Approach"
Thematic focus: urban planning, a 3D urban information model using Strategis Urban Developer
Training by IHS (Lecturers: Aloysius Bongwa, Anne T. Dullemond Marco van Hoek)
Tuesday, 4 September 2012, at 9.00 - 12.00 a.m.
Pavilion 4, Room 21
4. "How to Prioritize Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Actions: A System to Guide Urban Policy Makers and Planners Decisions in Planning for Climate Change"
Thematic focus: sustainable cities/environment
Training by IHS (Lecturers: Stelios Grafakos, Veronica Olivotto)
Wednesday, 5 September 2012, at 9.00 - 12.00 a.m
Pavilion 5, Room 18
The World Urban Forum VI as well as all the training events will take place at Mostra d'Oltremare s.p.a, Viale Kennedy 54 – 80125, Naples. Registration for the training events can be done online: http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?typeid=19&catid=672&cid=11338.
UN-Habitat announces Scroll of Honour call for applications
UN-Habitat on Tuesday announced a call for applications for this year's Scroll of Honour Awards.
In an announcement made in Nairobi, the agency said that candidates for this year's Scroll of Honour Award should submit details of their achievements by 6 August 2012. Submissions should not exceed 10 pages but there is no limitation on supporting material that can be attached as annexes, the announcement further explained.
The Habitat Scroll of Honour award was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 1989. It is currently the most prestigious human settlements award in the world. Its aim is to acknowledge initiatives which have made outstanding contributions in various fields such as shelter provision, highlighting the plight of the homeless, leadership in post conflict reconstruction, and developing and improving the human settlements and the quality of urban life.
The award, a plaque engraved with the name of the winner and their achievement will be presented to the winners during the Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum to be held in Naples, Italy in early September.
Individuals, organizations, projects and any Habitat Agenda partner can be nominated for the Habitat Scroll of Honour.
According to the announcement, the prescribed format for the submissions should include background information; description of the initiative or project; main partners; impact as well as how the project has created lasting change.
For the complete guidelines, please click here
How NOT to Do Bus Rapid Transit
As Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) gains popularity, Annie Weinstock describes new standards for BRT, taking a lesson from some failing systems.
Cities looking to implement BRT could benefit from examining BRT failures as well as successes. The BRT Standard: Version 1.0, released earlier this year by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, employs a metric scoring system which is set for widespread distribution in 2013. Among the lowest scoring systems: Dehli, India's BRT and Virginia's Shirley Highway Busway.
Both systems are on the brink of failure as officials consider opening the underutilized bus lanes to car traffic. Weinstock identifies some of the missing pieces with these troubled BRT's:
•"No permanent stations and no off-board fare collection"
•"Frequency of buses was too low"
•"Stations, placed at intersections, leave insufficient space for free left turns (the equivalent of free right turns in the U.S.)"
•"No consistency in at-level boarding — which doesn’t require passengers to step up to board and is a critical element to a smooth BRT experience."
New York City to Build "Micro-Units" for Singles
New York City has invited developers to propose ways to build "micro-units" — dwellings complete with a bathroom, built-in kitchenette and an area with a fold-out bed that doubles as both sleeping space and living room. If the pilot program is successful, officials could ultimately overturn a requirement established in 1987 that new apartments be at least 400 square feet. Almost 50% of households in Manhattan consist of one person, and they would be a prime market for scaled-down housing.
California Bankruptcies May Increase Without Structural Changes
Chris McKenzie, Executive Director of the California League of Cities, discusses the specter of bankruptcy and the structural difficulties cities face in addressing their fiscal deficits. The San Bernardino bankruptcy does not mean the worst is over.
As the City of San Bernardino joins the ranks of Stockton and Mammoth Lakes as yet another California city seeking bankruptcy this year, are we witnessing a budding trend? Unable to meet its $45 million budget shortfall and nearly out of cash, leaders of the City of San Bernardino in July chose to seek bankruptcy. A complicated host of reasons lie behind what drove San Bernardino to that point, from the mortgage crisis to rising pension costs, and it's evident that these recently bankrupt cities are not unique.
The Planning Report interviewed Chris McKenzie, Executive Director of the California League of Cities, to discuss the long run fiscal challenges tied to mandatory spending that so many cities are grappling with across the country. McKenzie implies that without drastic changes, cities are so strapped that conditions may only continue to get worse for those teetering on the edge. As the state government in Sacramento seeks to contain its own deficits by tapping into revenue streams once held by local government, the California League of Cities argues that the state is handicapping important tools for sparking economic growth and stability.
2nd Euro-Mediterranean Regional Conference: The City, Living Heritage.
Salé, Morocco on 11 and 12 October 2012.
The aim of this meeting is to encourage the exchange of ideas, experiences and knowledge on the theme of heritage as an identitary resource for social, cultural and economic cohesion that promotes sustainable development at local level. The main objective is to share experiences, create Euro-Mediterranean synergies and promote interregional dialogue.
If you are interested in participating in this event, please fill in and send the registration form that you could find in the website. The registration period ends September 15th.
Can Madrid's Bid for a Thrifty Olympics Succeed?
As the start of London's summer games grows near, the competition to host the 2020 Olympics is heating up. Paul Sonne looks at whether the "shoestring" bid of Madrid, formed amidst Spain's austerity drive, can beat out the other finalists.
Since China poured an estimated $40 billion into Beijing's lavish 2008 coming out party, Olympic bids have generally headed in two distinct directions: cities with established infrastructure proposing more sustainable events that utilize existing facilities, and cities in emerging markets that can afford to spend more extravagantly.
Now Madrid, a finalist to host the 2020 Summer Games along with Istanbul and Tokyo, is formulating a final bid to win an event it hopes, "would help bring 'economic and social recovery' to Spain and boost employment, particularly for young Spaniards facing a 52% jobless rate."
According to Sonne, "The city's [Madrid's] bid committee is marketing the proposal as a shoestring Olympics—a model designed to show how to organize the event on a tight budget. Madrid's initial application says 78% of the sports venues already exist in the city and only about nine structures need to be built."
With Spain's government pushing through a €65 billion austerity program, critics are questioning if leaders should "pour public funds into a risky financial bet."
"This is not the moment to be thinking about this kind of event," says José García Montalvo, an economics professor at Barcelona's Universitat Pompeu Fabra, pointing to a contradiction: "If you claim that most of the infrastructure is already built and you're not going to use a lot of public money, then…you're not going to [create] a lot of jobs."
"We need a new understanding of shrinking cities"
“Politicians and economists have tried to counteract the phenomena of shrinking cities for a long time now but up to date this has rarely resulted in a turnaround. I think that we should respect people’s wishes to move elsewhere. To create policy in order to “combat” this problem will not work as there is no proper policy that will stop people from moving from one place to another.” Being interviewed is German architect, Philipp Oswalt. He was involved in the project ‘Shrinking Cities’ which was initiated by the German government as an exhibition project which started in 2002 and ran through 2008. It was funded with over € 4,5 million Euros and it focused on understanding the phenomena of shrinking cities in the US, Great Britain, Russia, Japan and Germany. Oswalt argues that we need a new understanding of shrinking cities.
Introducing: BAMBINI - Teaching the next generation to step away from the car
Many national and EU-wide projects have worked with children and young people to teach them about the personal, economic and ecological advantages of sustainable mobility modes. In particular active modes, like walking and cycling have many positive implications for individuals, including improved health, fitness, as well as financial savings. However, projects that targeted children so far have focused on children of primary school age or older. But today, many children lead an increasingly sedentary life, being driven everywhere by car, including to kindergarten.
In addition children learn from their parents’ example; so it is important to start ‘planting the seeds’ for the enjoyment and the skills required for an active life style early; even as early as in pre-birth classes.
The BAMBINI project (www.mobile-bambini.eu) has recognised that how children behave in early childhood is likely to affect their behavior as adults. BAMBINI is the first Europe-wide project that targets the mobility behaviour of very young children (0 – 6 years), their parents, as well as the attitudes of decision makers, to challenge the car culture prevalent in Europe in order to get children active.
Venice threatened by cruises ?
Felice Casson, Senator for Venice, presented on 9 July last a project for a law in order to give the Mayor full powers for the management of Venice and its lagoon. In the background : the banning of cruise liners berthing as close as possible to the city. The debate has been raging for several months and the Mayor had centred his 2010 campaign on this subject. 1.6 million passengers were recorded in 2010, and ever larger liners would be a threat for the lagoon and the foundations of the city, for only a relatively small economic impact. The State has issued a banning decree, but this will only be applicable when an alternative solution has been implemented : in the port of Marghera, that of Malamocco, or in an offshore port.
Building smarter cities: apply now for IBM expertise
Apply now for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge and the chance to gain expertise and advice on making your city smarter
The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a $50 million (€38 million) initiative which funds engagements by IBM experts to study and make detailed recommendations to selected cities on important urban issues.
The programme, which began in 2011 and runs for three years, has already completed ‘challenge engagements’ in 45 cities worldwide, on topics ranging from fuel poverty and public safety to transport and economic development.
Each city participating in the challenge receives a team of 5-6 IBM experts for a three week period. They produce a strategic roadmap to deal with a challenge identified by the city leaders. Following a number of stakeholder consultations in the city, the team delivers a set of recommendations drawing upon IBM’s technical expertise, strategic insight and the engagements carried out in the city.
So far, eight out of the ten winning challenges so far in Europe have been awarded to EUROCITIES members (Birmingham, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Glasgow, Helsinki, Katowice, Nice and Malaga).
Experts from IBM helped Glasgow city council to address the widespread issues of fuel poverty, with the resulting recommendations leading to the city subsidising energy bills for some of its elderly residents. For an idea of what your city could achieve in collaboration with the IBM team, a short video clip of Glasgow’s experience is available here.
Cities wishing to join the challenge can apply by 7 September 2012 for the next round. Please visit the Smarter Cities Challenge website for more details and to apply.
Why London's Public Spaces Don't Measure Up
The Economist looks at the improvements made to London's public spaces over the last decade, as the city's first elected mayors strove to improve the capital city's environs. So why has the city failed to keep up with its global competitors?
The Economist recites an impressive list of public space improvements inaugurated since 2000 by the administrations of the city's first elected mayors - Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson. Public led projects include Granary Square, the city's free cycle bank, and the pedestrianization of Trafalgar Square. The private sector and arts institutions have led other successful initiatives, as they recognized that "decent public space" is "an economic necessity."
So why would the eminent planner Jan Gehl, who in 2004 produced a report calling London a city “where car is king," continue to give the city low grades?
"Despite the improvements, Mr Gehl is not hugely impressed with London’s progress. Trafalgar Square, he points out, still has traffic on three sides. Compared with other cities, he says, 'I don’t think much has been done.' Progress in New York, by contrast—the pedestrianisation of Times and Madison Squares and the creation of a citywide cycling network—is 'amazing'."
"The problem comes down to governance," concludes The Economist. "While New York’s mayor is all-powerful, London’s shares power with 32 boroughs, which often have conflicting agendas. Visions are hard to realise without real power."
CEMR General Assembly: Join us to discuss key sustainable development issues!
During its General Assembly in Cadiz, Spain, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) is notably organising an interactive roundtable on local sustainable development exclusively open to local and regional elected representatives.
This session, entitled “Sustainable development: new models for a more resource-efficient society”, will take place on Thursday 27 September between 14:30 and 16:15. Divided up into several different roundtables, the session will focus on three major issues affecting local and regional authorities.
Participants will be able to discuss the added value of “eco-neighbourhoods” which are already in place in several European towns and cities. Furthermore, representatives will exchange views on the local dimension of the Local Agenda 21 and the possibilities it gives to municipalities in order to prepare a long-term sustainable development strategy. CEMR will also present and promote the reference framework for sustainable cities, a new measure which is directed at improving sustainable and integrated urban development. Finally, the impacts as well as political dimension of the Covenant of Mayors will be explored at a fourth roundtable.
This session will be moderated by Ronan Dantec, French senator, chair of the environment committee of CEMR’s French section (AFCCRE) and advisor to the Nantes Métropole Urban Community, who will present the main results of the UN conference on sustainable development, Rio +20.
Among the session speakers is also Ronan Uhel, chair of the European Environment Agency (EEA) , who will explain the agency’s latest findings on the state of the environment and climate in European cities.
Local and regional representatives who wish to participate can register on the Congress website.
Led by its 'Hyperactive' Mayor, Chicago Plots a Comeback
When he took office last year, Rahm Emmanuel inherited a city in which a sheen of new projects hid a crumbling infrastructure. With a laundry list of initiatives, the mayor is intent on retaining the city's place amongst the world's great cities.
The capital of the Midwest for over a century, Chicago has been showing signs of its age for decades now. A much-needed face-lift is in order. Fortunately, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has made modernizing the city a priority. As Ed Pilkington of The Guardian reports, "[o]ver the next three years Emanuel will pump $7bn to bring the ageing city up to scratch."
The mayor's list of improvements include, "a massive upgrading of the underground water infrastructure, two new runways at O'Hare airport, an overhaul of subway stations, $660m investment in public schools, a rapid-transit bus system in the centre of the city and the first steps towards making Chicago the most bike-friendly city in the world." Perhaps most interesting is the plan to make all of downtown Chicago completely wireless, giving the city, already as the "broadband backbone of America..., a huge strategic advantage."
As cities increasingly face international competition, Emmanuel centers much of his ambition on rejuvenating what he calls "the most American of American cities."
"Should Emanuel succeed in implementing even a portion of his ambitions," writes Pilkington, "he will have written himself into the history books as one of a new generation of activist mayors grabbing American cities by the lapels and giving them a good shake."
"Rethinking Shanghai 2012" : the short list
An international ideas competition had been launched for a sustainable development along Suzhou Creek which passes through the city centre of Shanghai. The first prize was won by a team from the Czech Republic. Rather than a "classic" European approach with promenades and green areas along the river, they have made wide recourse to various floating urban installations (housing accommodation, market, hotel, sporting and cultural installations, etc…) including making them evolve according to the day or hours of the day. An approach which could be a source of inspiration for other port cities.
The city of Maribor: from shrinking city to Cultural Capital of the year 2012
The city of Maribor (Slovenia) is this year’s European capital of culture. A few years ago, however, it was the fastest shrinking city in the EU. Maribor shows that investing in the city’s cultural profile can be an effective way to revive the city and once again make its inhabitants proud.
In the Shadow of the Olympics: Dickensian Squalor
Simon Clark and Chris Spillane document the illegal, and often squalid, housing that can be found only three miles from the gleaming Olympic Stadium.
Clark and Spillane accompany Christine Lyons, the chief planning enforcer of the London borough of Newham, host of the Olympics, on a search for unlawful “sheds with beds” that dot the borough.
"There are as many as 10,000 outbuildings where people may live illegally in the 14-square- mile East End district, she says. Raids have found as many as four people sleeping in a single backyard shed and sharing a filthy shower and toilet that aren’t always properly connected to the sewage system."
Such conditions reflect the desperate situation caused by simultaneous cuts to welfare benefits, rising household indebtedness, declining supplies of publicly subsidized housing, and an "overheating" rental market.
With Britain "more polarized over inequality in housing wealth than at any time during the mortgage financing era, which began in the Victorian period of the 19th century," write Clark and Spillane, "The lack of affordable housing is the biggest problem facing [London], according to London Citizens, a community organizing group that has successfully campaigned for a higher minimum wage in the British capital and has challenged excesses of the finance industry. London has the world’s second-most expensive residential real estate after Hong Kong, according to broker Savills Plc."
“London councils are reluctant to set aside land for cheap housing because they can earn so much money by selling it to developers,” says Neil Jameson, director of London Citizens. “Without cheap housing, people have to move away from their families.”
Funding opportunities to promote multimodal travel behaviour
From June 2012 to March 2015, ‘Do the Right Mix’ will reinforce existing European Mobility Week campaign initiatives at a European, national and local level. Although the new campaign will organise activities throughout the year, European Mobility Week will remain the culmination of the awareness raising activities for sustainable urban transport. The campaign will also recognise Europe's best sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs) through an annual award.
In one of Asia's Most Artificial Cities, a River Flows Free
Singapore de-channelizes an urban river as part of a plan to preserve more of its rainwater, creating a park in the process.
Heavily paved and densely populated, Singapore loses most of its often-substantial rainfall to runoff and evaporation. As a result, the southeast Asian city-state is heavily dependent on Malaysia for its drinking water. As part of a master plan to hold onto more of its rainwater, the government agreed to let German landscape architect Herbert Dreiseitl liberate 2.7 kilometers of the Kallang River from a concrete channel and let it meander freely through the 62-acre Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.
The goal of the project, and the master plan, is to collect, slow down, and store more of Singapore's natural rainfall. To get approval for the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio project, Dreiseitl had to overcome the government's concerns that a natural river would be a flood risk -- and invest some of his own money. However, since the project was completed, Dreiseitl found the river's capacity to hold water has increased. Other benefits include increased biodiversity and offering a natural landscape to entice people outside in a city where most of life takes place in air conditioning.
Nominate a city for the Sustainable Transport Awards
ITDP and the STA Committee invite you to nominate a city for the 9th Annual Sustainable Transport Award. Nominations are now open and will be accepted online until September 15, 2012. The Sustainable Transport Award is given to a city or major jurisdiction that has had a profound, mitigating impact on climate change by enhancing the sustainability and liveability of its community using innovative transportation strategies. These strategies should increase mobility for all residents, reduce greenhouse and air pollution emissions, and improve safety and access for cyclists and pedestrians.
Building an Eco City, building a Sustainable City
Melbourne is the capital city of the State of Victoria and Australia’s second largest city. The City of Melbourne municipality is the economic and administrative hub of the much larger Melbourne metropolitan region which has a population of 4 million.
Melbourne’s Eco-City vision is part of an overall vision of reinvention as outlined in the Future Melbourne Strategic Plan, the primary aim of which is to establish
Melbourne as one of the top ten most livable and sustainable cities in the world by 2020. The Eco-City vision incorporates five themes:
• To become a zero net greenhouse gas emissions city;
• To be proactively adapting to climate change impacts;
• To be a resource efficient city;
• To increase urban density;
• To treat the city as a water catchment area.
In the 1980's the City of Melbourne experienced rapid urban decline and inner city decay. At the same time, similar to all local governments, the city has the challenging role of assessing and addressing the impacts of climate change.
Melbourne has reversed the trend of urban decline and made the city one of the world’s most livable cities. Now the city is building on such success to become one of the most sustainable cities in the world by 2020 as it simultaneously answers the challenges of assessing and addressing the impacts of climate change.
The Eco-City program is a cornerstone to this transformation and provides the long term vision, supported by comprehensive plans and sustainable policies to ensure that significant steps can be built over time to achieve this goal.
Find out more about Melbourne's eco-city vision by downloading this case study.