31/5/2012 - How Public Transportation is Failing the Disabled.
30/5/2012 - Cairo Subway an Oasis From the Chaos Above.
30/5/2012 - A Fall From Grace Leaves Chongqing's Urban Plans Unresolved.
29/5/2012 - European Transport Conference.
29/5/2012 - The Dangers of Walking While Poor.
29/5/2012 - Urban freight project Smartfusion kicked-off in London.
28/5/2012 - Ranking the Most Economically Powerful Cities in the World.
28/5/2012 - Social dialogue: Women and men should have equal power to shape society and own lives.
27/5/2012 - New York City Investing Billions for Green Infrastructure.
26/5/2012 - EUROCITIES publishes position on public procurement.
26/5/2012 - City of Oldenburg wins 2012 award for child-friendly neighbourhood planning.
25/5/2012 - Cities Fight Over Shrinking Convention Pie.
25/5/2012 - Urban Parks Thrive with Increased Population Density.
25/5/2012 - Climate change: how prepared is your city? .
24/5/2012 - Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Released.
24/5/2012 - Experts Meet in Barcelona on Regional Planning and Landscape Connectivity.
23/5/2012 - MIXITIES: new tools for cities on migrant integration.
23/5/2012 - This was Resilient Cities 2012! .
23/5/2012 - Promoting open standards and specifications in traffic systems and ITS for cities and regions in Europe.
22/5/2012 - Federal Bike/Pedestrian Pilot Project a Success.
22/5/2012 - ‘More Jobs – Better Cities’: Have your say.
22/5/2012 - Does England Need More Mayors? .
21/5/2012 - How Do Cities Foster Creativity? .
21/5/2012 - Berlin's Answer to Gentrification, Circa 1980.
20/5/2012 - New UN-Habitat projection sees Arab states population doubling by 2050.
20/5/2012 - Congestion Pricing: The Key to Better Transit? .
19/5/2012 - City councils meet to discuss how to make cities safer.
18/5/2012 - Colorado Confronts Senior Housing Crisis.
18/5/2012 - Where to Find the World's Best Parks.
18/5/2012 - Seoul City starts intensive energy saving drive.
17/5/2012 - Structural funds must support cities to deliver Europe 2020.
17/5/2012 - Creating Urban Life Out of Decay.
17/5/2012 - Houston Residents Want a More Walkable City.
16/5/2012 - The High-Tech Urban Experience, Now Standardized.
16/5/2012 - Retiring Baby Boomers Prefer Infill, Walkable Communities.
15/5/2012 - How Public Protest Kept the Car From Taking Over Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
15/5/2012 - 50 European cities commit to sustainable urban mobility.
15/5/2012 - Are Green Cities Sitting on a Golden Goose? .
14/5/2012 - Tallinn introduces free public transport from 2013 (Estonia) .
14/5/2012 - Parking Minimums Beleaguer a Car-Choked Brazil.
13/5/2012 - Meeting of Minds - for urban innovators.
13/5/2012 - Trading Trash For Tomatoes in Mexico City.
12/5/2012 - Cities and Flooding: A Guide to Integrated Urban Flood Risk Management for the 21st Century.
11/5/2012 - Georgia Plans City of the Future for Black Sea Swamp.
11/5/2012 - “Smart Cities” workshop in Instanbul on 4 June 2012.
11/5/2012 - City Deficits "Driven" by Suburban Patterns.
10/5/20121 - $1 billion 'ghost town' to be built in New Mexico.
10/5/2012 - Sustainable Urbanism Lecture by Michael Neuman on Youtube.
9/5/2012 - Commission launches survey on municipalities adapting to climate change.
9/5/2012 - Inclusive Local Economic Development in a Polarising Context.
8/5/2012 - MyCity+20: youth take over Rio+20.
8/5/2012 - World’s first EcoMobility Festival to showcase a new urban lifestyle.
7/5/2012 - Secretary-General to press urban agenda at Rio +20.
7/5/2012 - Social Mixing and neighbourhood effects.
7/5/2012 - New tools for cities on migrant integration.
6/5/2012 - How to Green Southern Cities Built in the Age of Cars and Air Conditioning.
6/5/2012 - Cities and Regions together towards Rio+20.
5/5/2012 - The UN Creative Cities Network: sharing ambitions and policies to their achievement.
4/5/2012 - The first vertical greenhouse in the city of Linkoping.
3/5/2012 - Collaborating on an energy efficient city: the INTERREG IVC project IMEA kicks-off.
3/5/2012 - Pre-order Free Copies of Sustainable Cities Publication.
2/5/2012 - UN-Habitat launches city changer dialogues.
2/5/2012 - How Much is a Tree Worth to a City? .
2/5/2012 - ICLEI SAMS launches new guide and distance learning course on solid waste management.
1/5/2012 - Committing to diversity: Neuchâtel's citizenship charter.
1/5/2012 - Workshop summary - The Governance of Urban Shrinkage in Europe: Challenges and Prospects.
1/5/2012 - Southern Cities that Built Around Cars are Now Building Towards Sustainability.
How Public Transportation is Failing the Disabled
With more than a quarter of disabled Americans who are unable to leave their homes prevented from doing so by transportation difficulties, Sarah Laskow argues it's time for cities to move beyond ADA.
While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has certainly improved accessibilty to America's built environment for the nation's disabled, its uneven implementation ("only 20 percent of Amtrak stations have complied with ADA standards") and minimal requirements ("Major subway systems are only required to make “key” stations accessible") have not gone far enough to make transit equitable.
"Part of the reason it’s so difficult for public transit system to serve people with disabilities is that they’re woefully underfunded. It’s important that cities make it possible for people to get around without cars in order to create dense neighborhoods and keep pollution down. But it’s also important that those systems don’t leave people with disabilities stranded in their homes or on a street corner, unable to get where they need to go," argues Laskow.
Cairo Subway an Oasis From the Chaos Above
Kareem Fahim explores the surprisingly reliable subway system beneath the Egyptian capital, as well as public sentiment that it's the last stronghold of order in a city still trying to regain its balance.
A year and a half after the dawn of the Arab Spring, Cairo still has a long way to come before life finds a new normal. But amidst the hustle and bustle of violent conflicts, government protests, bus strikes, and gas shortages, there remains one beacon of stability for city dwellers just trying to live their lives: the subway.
"In this often capricious city, the Metro is something of a miracle," writes Fahim. "Efficient and orderly, it is frequently referred to as the one thing that always works."
"If there was a crisis in the Metro," said Mohammed Ahmed, a 20-year-old commuter, "the people would have another revolution."
Even in spite of labor disputes, workers appreciate the importance of the Metro. While they've held regular sit-ins throughout the last week over unfulfilled promises of wage increases, the workers syndicate has stopped short of organizing a system halt.
"Not now," said Hossam el-Nabawy, vice president of the syndicate. "If the treatment is bad, the whole system will collapse."
A Fall From Grace Leaves Chongqing's Urban Plans Unresolved
Mostly unmentioned during the very public removal of Chinese leader Bo Xilai was the ambitious urban development program he led in Chongqing. Julia Zhou looks at those efforts and their uncertain future.
Following his masterful transformation of Dalian into a "into a clean, modern metropolis and financial hub" as the city's mayor, Bo Xilai remained vigilant in his efforts at urban transformation when he became Chongqing's leader in 2007. Xilai pushed forward signature environmental and construction projects like "Five Chongqings", "10 big cultural facilities" and efforts to provide social housing for lower income residents, notes Zhou.
"As one of his “Five Chongqings,” a set of programs intended to improve residents’ lives, Bo notably spent over $7 billion to turn the municipality – a heavily industrialized, mountainous region comprised of over 30,000 square miles and around 30 million people – into a “green Chongqing.”
One of Bo Xilai's most ambitious efforts may have been his plan for "social housing." In 2010, "Bo planned to put up 800,000 apartments to be rented to low-income individuals, with construction handled by state-owned developers." Zhou adds, "With these buildings located in remote areas and largely devoid of tenants and commerce, the project’s success is questionable."
Xilai was ousted from his party seat in March due to malfeasance. His industrious projects remain works-in-progress as Chongqing moves forward without his commanding presence.
European Transport Conference
8-10 October 2012 - Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
Early Booking Discounts
Attracting around 400 transport practitioners and researchers, the European Transport Conference is the forum for the presentation of, and discussion on, robust and affordable responses to these challenges.
Delegates are now invited to book their place a the Conference to benefit from an Early Booking Discount. The Early Booking Discount applies to delegates booking 3-day attendance only, with payment received by 4 June 2012.
For a complete list of the conference themes and to download the Early Booking Form, please visit our website www.aetransport.org.
The Dangers of Walking While Poor
Low income people are more likely to get hit by cars. Kate Hinds reports on the social and infrastructural factors responsible for the disparity.
In Newark, New Jersey, about 500 pedestrians collide with vehicles each year. Dr. David Livingston, chief trauma surgeon at the University Hospital in Newark, sees about 300 of them. Due to this high accident rate, Newark, along with several other cities, has been dubbed a "pedestrian safety focus city" by the federal government.
Research from Rutgers University has shown a strong correlation between low income neighborhoods and high pedestrian crash totals. Daniel Kravetz, who conducted the research as a graduate student, says “The higher the income level, the lower the likelihood for crashes to occur in an area." It may seem logical to conclude that the wealthier residents are equipped with cars and simply don't walk the streets of Newark as often. But Kate Hinds points out that pedestrian infrastructure is a major factor in the Newark accident rates. Intersections in many low income neighborhoods are lacking crosswalks, pedestrian signals, curb cuts and sidewalks.
Newark officials say they are committed to making improvements, however. They've dedicated $27 million dollars this year to bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, an unprecedented amount according to the city's traffic manager. Educational outreach programs and red light traffic cameras to calm traffic are also in the plans to reduce pedestrian accidents.
Urban freight project Smartfusion kicked-off in London
Smartfusion: Smart Urban Freight Solutions is a public-private partnership (PPP) which will build upon the existing urban freight development strategies of three demonstration city-regions: Newcastle, Berlin and the Lombardy region. It will demonstrate smart urban freight solutions in urban-interurban supply chains.
Ranking the Most Economically Powerful Cities in the World
Kicking off The Atlantic's special report on the past and future of the world's global capitals, Richard Florida has ranked the world's most economically powerful cities.
Florida compiles the rankings of five major indexes which gauge the relative economic strengths of global cities and metro areas based on different factors, including his own Global Economic Power Index, to determine his definitive list.
"New York stands atop the crowd, finishing first on three of these lists, second on two, and the only city to finish gold or silver in each survey. London is second overall, with one first place finish, two seconds, a third, and a fourth. Tokyo is third. This stands in contrast to my own earlier estimates that had Tokyo placing first, mainly because of the size and diversity of its regional economy, which includes a vast array of manufacturing as well as R&D. Still, both New York and London have considerably more global economic and financial influence," notes Florida.
"There are several reasons to believe New York's position atop the global urban hierarchy is secure, at least for the medium-run. For one, it is the world's most open and diverse large city. With the possible exception of Hong Kong, Asia's cities still lack this level of openness and attractiveness. And they face considerable competition with each other for regional, never mind, global dominance."
Social dialogue: Women and men should have equal power to shape society and own lives
Women and men working in the local and regional government sector, as well as in general, should have equal power to shape society and their own lives.
Such was the main message coming out of a workshop on equality, diversity and non-discrimination, which allowed participants to exchange on policies for the improvement of gender imbalance in local and regional governments. Indeed, figures from some of the larger European countries show that the percentage of women working in the sector varies from 46.6% in Spain to 75.1% in the United Kingdom.
New York City Investing Billions for Green Infrastructure
New York City's Department of Environmental Protection has committed to investing $2.5 billion in green infrastructure over the next two decades, including "blue roofs" that hold rainwater, parking lots paved with porous concrete, and vacant paved lots turned into gardens. Close to $7.0 billion will be saved that would otherwise be required for "bricks and mortar" infrastructure like underground storage tanks and tunnels.
EUROCITIES publishes position on public procurement
New EUROCITIES position on public procurement
We recently published our position on the Commission’s legislative proposals for the modernisation of public procurement. The proposed draft procurement directives, published in December 2011, aim to simplify tender procedures, facilit access for SMEs to public procurement, promote green, social and innovative procurement, and achieve better governance in public procurement.
A summary of the main points covered by our position:
• cities should have the necessary discretion in the choice and shape of the procurement procedures they use
• cities should have flexibility to introduce ‘public good’ objectives within their procurement procedures under an enabling approach
• higher thresholds should be applied to reduce the administrative and financial burden on contracting authorities and make cross border competition viable for both the supplier and the contracting authority
• a wider definition of public-public cooperation/shared services exemption should be introduced to enable public bodies to use both their in-house services and create new shared services that have mutual benefits and economic impacts
• the current distinction between A/B services should be maintained as it is essential that cities retain the option to choose appropriate procedures for B services
• the review of the directive should involve local authorities to avoid discrepancies between procurement rules and their use on the ground
The Parliament is expected to vote on the legislative proposals in December 2012. The proposals will also need to be adopted by the Council.
City of Oldenburg wins 2012 award for child-friendly neighbourhood planning
The City of Oldenburg, in Germany, has received the European Cities for Children Award of Excellence for its project “Donnerschwee becomes fit for leisure”, which aimed at revitalising the vacant city district of Donnerschwee.
The award ceremony, which took place on 14 May 2012, revolved around the theme of child-friendly neighbourhood planning and saw 22 cities from ten countries submit entries.
“The winning initiative is very forward-looking as it is not only about a single project but rather about a whole process stretching over a long period of time,” explains Wolfgang Schuster, mayor of Stuttgart and president of both the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and the Cities for Children network. Indeed, the rehabilitation of Donnerschwee has also had a positive impact on the other districts of Oldenburg, which have based forthcoming initiatives on the results of the project.
Cities Fight Over Shrinking Convention Pie
Despite a dramatic decline in the number of, and attendance at, conventions nationwide, cities across America are investing their limited resources in building and upgrading convention centers. Fred A. Bernstein explores the irony.
It seems as though cities across America, large and small, haven't received the message about the precipitous decline in the nation's convention business. According to Bernstein, "In the last year alone, Indianapolis and Philadelphia have opened sprawling new centers, while plans for such facilities are being floated in Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston...It’s much the same in smaller cities: Spokane’s convention center, enlarged only six years ago, is being readied for a new, $60 million expansion."
So what gives? "Loren G. Edelstein, editor of Meetings and Conventions magazine, says that 'while a convention center itself might not be making money,' it may be paying for itself with revenue the facility brings to the city in other ways."
"But such claims are difficult to prove. Critics like Professor Sanders believe the convention center boosters are making a buyer’s market—in which supply now far outstrips demand—even more unbalanced. Though the decline in attendance began before 2008, he says, 'the recession worsened an already bad situation.'”
Urban Parks Thrive with Increased Population Density
Urban park environments are improved with increased density and diverse activity and use, according to a recent article on the Trust for Public Lands blog. In addition to creating demand for urban parks, density also provides opportunities for parks to sustain themselves financially. Park advocates and philanthropists, many of whom live or work near their parks, contribute funding and volunteer hours.
Climate change: how prepared is your city?
European Commission survey will collect information on climate adaptation preparations in cities
Cities are invited to respond by 29 May 2012 to a European Commission survey on ‘adaptation strategies for cities’.
The survey is part of a Commission project aiming to raise awareness of the likely impacts of climate change on cities and the need to prepare, as well as to facilitate the exchange of ideas between cities on how this can be achieved.
Developing adaptation strategies is important for cities. It will make them for resilient to the threats of climate change and also offer an opportunity for them to justify investment in improved infrastructure and quality of life for citizens, as well as attracting innovative industries and jobs.
The survey will collect information on the current state of play: how well prepared cities are for adaptation and what remains to be achieved through the project.
You can find more information on the survey (deadline 29 May 2012) and the project here.
Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Released
C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, together with international partners launched a pilot version of the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions (also called the “community protocol”) at a side event, today, during the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Conference.
This landmark effort represents a significant steps forward in harmonizing emissions measurement and reporting processes for cities of all sizes and geographies: the community protocol will be piloted in selected cities to establish a single minimum global standard for community-scale greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions measurement. A transparent, consistent and common approach provides cities with a much-needed tool for effective climate action planning and financing.
Experts Meet in Barcelona on Regional Planning and Landscape Connectivity
UN-Habitat and the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD) organized an international expert group meeting on 9-11 May in Barcelona. Inaugurated by the Secretary of Environment and Sustainability of the Catalonian Government, the meeting focused on landscape connectivity and city-region planning. Bringing together policy makers, practitioners and researchers from 10 city-regions on all continents, 7 international institutions, the meeting also featured several renowned experts including Harvard University's Richard Forman, the world's foremost scholar on landscape ecology. Participants discussed drivers, catalogued needs and committed to actions toward reducing landscape fragmentation. Participating regions are expected to present a plan of action at the upcoming World Summit of Regions in June, immediately preceding the high-level Rio+20 Summit.
MIXITIES: new tools for cities on migrant integration
MIXITIES project releases toolkits on migrant integration
We recently published our Integrating Cities toolkits, which guide and offer inspiration to city administrators in achieving European city standards in migrant integration.
Developed under the Making integration work in Europe's cities (MIXITIES) project, the toolkits cover the following areas:
• introductory and language courses
• anti-discrimination policies
• promoting cultural diversity.
The toolkits guide cities in implementing our Integrating Cities Charter. This charter sets out the responsibilities of European cities to embrace the diversity of their population and to ensure equal opportunities for all citizens.
MIXITIES promotes mutual learning between cities in the field of integration. It is co-financed by the European Commission’s DG home affairs, through the European Integration Fund, EUROCITIES and the project partners.
The project produced other tools, including a video on migrant youth views on integration, showing young people’s attitudes to diversity and integration in their cities. The young people are from project partners Barcelona, Ghent and Stockholm. There is also a video demonstrating the peer review process behind the MIXITIES project.
Toolkits and videos: www.integratingcities.eu
This was Resilient Cities 2012!
More than 400 participants gathered in Bonn for the 3rd edition of the global forum on urban resilience and adaptation.
Read the BLOG to find out more about the hot topics and discussions that took place at the congress.
Take a look at Twitter @ICLEI_ResCities and #resilientcities - bite size pieces that captured the congress at it happened.
Our press release will give you a flavour of key aspects and developments that marked the 2012 event.
Watch some interviews shot at Resilient Cities 2012! Our media partner RTCC has done some exciting and inspiring interviews at the congress.
The congress photo gallery gives you the congress in pictures. Take a look!
Promoting open standards and specifications in traffic systems and ITS for cities and regions in Europe
A new European project, targeted at cities and regions, dealing with open standards and specifications in multimodal network management systems and traveller information systems has started recently.
Federal Bike/Pedestrian Pilot Project a Success
A recent audit of the Federal Highway Administration Bike/Walk pilot program shows conclusively that infrastructure investments increase the share of trips taken by bicycle and on foot. Approximately $100 million was invested nationwide in bike and pedestrian infrastructure in the 2005 pilot program. The program was designed to determine if people would bike and ride more and drive less if the proper infrastructure were put in place.
‘More Jobs – Better Cities’: Have your say
“In an economic crisis, how can cities help their citizens find jobs and stay in work?” If you have experience in this area, and ideas to share, URBACT would like to hear from you!
URBACT is calling on urban and economic development professionals to send in evidence that will – along with results from hundreds of cities in URBACT projects – contribute to the programme’s efforts to develop practical ideas, advice and recommendations to support Europe’s cities in their quest for ‘More Jobs – Better Cities’.
Does England Need More Mayors?
On the occasion of recent elections in England that saw the defeat eight of the nine referendums seeking approval for directly elected mayors, Peter Hetherington laments the state of local governance in the country.
Hetherington argues that cities across England would benefit from having directly elected mayors with powers over transportation, strategic planning, housing, policing and the economy, similar to those enjoyed by Boris Johnson, current (and recently re-elected) mayor of London.
So why did recent referendums seeking to accomplish this fail so miserably? According to Hetherington, "The problem, acknowledged by Liberal Democrat peer Lord [John] Shipley, former Newcastle city council leader and cities adviser to the government, is that voters were unconvinced by the case for an elected mayor – because no one had explained what problem needed solving."
Hetherington looks across the Channel, to France, for an example of the benefits of strong local governance. "In France today – with strong mayors or city regions, often both – the national economy is proving more balanced than in Britain, with wealth and power spread more evenly across the country, rather than concentrated in one capital."
How Do Cities Foster Creativity?
Jonah Lehrer, author of a best-selling new book on how creativity works, is interviewed by the perfect figure to discuss the intersection of creativity and cities -- Richard Florida.
Lehrer's new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, looks at the new science of creativity, with a chapter dedicated to "the nexus of creativity and cities," a chapter which is sure to resonate with interviewer Richard Florida. Below are some interesting nuggets from the interview.
On the ways in which cities enhance creativity, Lehrer borrows from the concept of "knowledge spillovers" from Jane Jacobs:
"As Jacobs once wrote, 'By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.' Cities force us to interact with strangers and with the strange. They pry the mind open. And that is why they are the idea that has unleashed so many of our new ideas."
Lehrer on the irony that Silicon Valley, a hotbed for creativity and innovation, exhibits a largely suburban model of development:
"It's true that Silicon Valley looks like the West Coast antithesis of Jane Jacob's Greenwich Village. And yet, I'd argue that culture of Silicon Valley manages to replicate the essential function of a dense city, which is to foster a diversity of interactions and knowledge spillovers. As Annalee Saxenian points out in her wonderful book, Regional Advantage Silicon Valley has managed for decades to foster the sort of cross-cutting connections that are essential for innovation."
Berlin's Answer to Gentrification, Circa 1980
Christine McLaren considers the history of urban housing in Berlin, and reveals a long-defunct program designed to address a problem faced by countless communities today.
Often the central controversy surrounding modern revitalization projects, gentrification can sometimes appear to be a contemporary problem. But, as McLaren notes, the basic dilemma of displacement has its roots in historic trends from throughout the 20th century.
Berlin saw the construction of working class housing in droves at the turn of the 20th century. In the post-World War II era, however, conditions in these workers' quarters had declined well below modern standards of basic livability, McLaren explains. "No central heating, no showers, several apartments sharing one toilet. In the winter the pipes and the toilets would freeze and burst. And on top of all this, the apartments were cramped; it was not unusual for five people to share one room."
But when the state government pushed to demolish and rebuild these neighborhoods beginning in the 1950s, some communities protested, hoping to renovate rather than build from scratch. And so, in the 1970s, the government initiated programs to help fund that renovation. "But there was a catch: in order to receive the money to rebuild, property owners had a contractual obligation with the government to ensure that the apartments would remain open to and affordable for the previous tenants after the renovations."
And so communities hired mieterberateren, or rental advisors, to liaise between stakeholders to ensure that as the communities improved, they would remain affordable for their historical constituency.
"The most important thing for us was that, in principle, anyone who wanted to remain living there should have the opportunity to do so. It wasn't that no one from outside could come in, but it should be that the people who lived there had the opportunity to stay," said Hans-Günter Kleff, a former mieterberater.
"Kleff’s job no longer exists," writes McLaren. "As the programs to retrofit the buildings slowly petered out, so too did the positions for the people in charge of managing them. That means that if prices go up in these buildings more than they are supposed to, there are fewer people poking around to find out about it."
New UN-Habitat projection sees Arab states population doubling by 2050
The urban population of the Arab States, which already quadrupled between 1970 and 2010, will more than double to 438.6 million by 2050, warns UN-Habitat’s new report, The State of Arab Cities 2012: Challenges of Urban Transition.
Congestion Pricing: The Key to Better Transit?
Noah Kazis describes the explosive success of transit systems in London, Stockholm, and Singapore, and suggests that charging motorists for road use is the secret ingredient that keeps ridership high and public support strong.
Transportation officials from around the world came together on Friday for a transit panel at the annual conference of the Regional Plan Association, an independent planning organization for the Tri-State Area. Some of the most exciting developments came out of London, Stockholm, and Singapore – each with major investments underway for their passenger rail systems.
Kazis notes that a common thread running through all three of these cities is their use of congestion pricing – that is, adaptive tolls that rise and fall with the intensity of traffic, levied on motorists for the use of busy streets.
"London's phenomenal growth in bus ridership, for example, can be significantly attributed to the fact that surface transit doesn’t have to sit in gridlocked traffic, thanks to the city's congestion charge," writes Kazis. "Analyst Kenneth Small estimates that in the typical American city, bus ridership would jump 31 percent due to the introduction of congestion pricing, without bus service even receiving any of the revenues."
Officials in New York, however, are skeptical of the political viability of such measures in the States. "It is a tough political row to hoe," said former MTA chief Lee Sander, who moderated the panel.
City councils meet to discuss how to make cities safer
Municipal authorities from eight cities around the world meet in Nairobi this week to learn about successful experiences in making cities a safer and a friendly place for all, with a special focus on women and children.
Colorado Confronts Senior Housing Crisis
Reflecting trends likely to effect many cities in the coming years and decades, Magdalena Wegrzyn reports on the growing need for affordable housing for seniors in the City of Longmont, 30 miles outside of Denver.
With the deep recession effecting the retirement accounts of most Americans, and hitting those Baby Boomers approaching retirement especially hard, some will likely find themselves in a similar position to the residents Wegrzyn interviews at The Lodge at Hover Crossing, a 50-unit building for low-income seniors in Longmont.
"Right now, The Lodge has 54 tenants, including four couples. The average age of tenants is 62, and most are former professionals, said Lodge manager Jennivee Lawrence. 'These are people who had savings and lost them in the economy,' Lawrence said. 'They're not here because they planned to be here. They're here because of the economy.'"
"The Lodge has a waiting list of 220 seniors, some dating back to 2009, waiting for an affordable housing unit to open up. 'Almost every day, I get a new application,' Lawrence said. And that number is only going to increase as baby boomers retire, many with far fewer dollars in savings than they'd like."
With the types of grants from the federal Housing and Urban Development Section 202 program that funded the construction of The Lodge being cut drastically, the prognosis for cities across the country hoping to provide decent affordable housing for their seniors grows ever more dim.
Where to Find the World's Best Parks
Writing for Frommer's, Charis Atlas Heelan identifies the "The World's 10 Best Cities for Parks."
Planning a trip this Summer? Frommer's helps you find the best places in the world's big cities to stop and smell the roses.
Picks include Barcelona and its Parc Guell, "a visually stunning combination of park and innovative architectural and sculptural forms, courtesy of Barcelona native and design genius Antoní Gaudí" and Melbourne, where Heelan suggests readers, "Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens for its 12,000-plus species of plants, trees and flowers, the romantic Treasury Gardens, the greenhouses of the Fitzroy Gardens, Birrarung Mar along the Yarra River, and Flagstaff Gardens. Spy black swans, and breathe in the scent of eucalyptus trees."
Seoul City starts intensive energy saving drive
ICLEI Member Seoul Metropolitan City announced its plans to save electricity by cutting back on power use and relying more on renewable energy. Seoul has a population of over 10 million. These measures will ensure that the city saves electricity equivalent to the amount of energy generated from one nuclear power plant. The policy aims to reduce the use of fossil fuels and generate more green energy. It also supports the aim of slashing energy demand by 2 million tons of oil equivalents (TOE) by 2014.
“Seoul’s electric power self-sufficiency is only 2.8 percent while the demand for electricity is increasing. General anxiety has grown over the safety of nuclear power plants after the Fukushima incident and citizens call for safe and sustainable energy,” Mayor Park Won-soon said in a media briefing at City Hall.
Under this new scheme, the city will set up solar photovoltaic power generating facilities on the rooftops of 10,000 public and private buildings. This will generate enough electric power to prevent blackouts. Buildings that use large amounts of energy will be encouraged to improve their facilities, while lighting at public facilities will be replaced with energy-efficient LED lights.
The city will also encourage its citizens to more participate actively in carpooling and leave their cars at home at least once a week. Through those measures, the city expects to boost electric power self-sufficiency to 20 percent by 2020, reduce carbon dioxide produced by 7.3 million tons every year and to save 2 million TOE of energy by 2014.
Structural funds must support cities to deliver Europe 2020
Paul Tilsley, deputy leader of Birmingham city council, represented EUROCITIES today at a hearing of the European Parliament's regional development committee
Representing EUROCITIES at the European Parliament’s regional development committee hearing on the next round of EU structural funds, Paul Tilsley, deputy leader of Birmingham, UK, said:
“The speed of change in Europe is rapid - economically, socially and politically. Europe’s new seven-year funding perspective needs to recognise that cities will be at the centre of these changes.
Creating Urban Life Out of Decay
Peter Aspden celebrates the symbolism communicated in the transformation of the detritus of industry into loci for cultural regeneration, as represented by the Tate Modern and its planned expansion.
Aspden uses the transformation of London's Bankside power station into the Tate Modern art museum, and the coming debut of first stage of the gallery’s expansion into the former power station’s two giant oil tanks, to make a larger point about artists' "use the debris of a fallen age as props with which to sketch out new tomorrows."
Aspden celebrates the project's symbolic connection to Britain's wider post-industrial shift, and the ability of artists to see opportunities for regrowth, "Where we see decay and disorder."
"If Britain’s past was based on the muscular manufacture of things, its future seems increasingly entwined with the ethereal flow of ideas. While that may understandably provoke a feeling of insecurity, it is no bad thing. The future belongs to supple minds, not stretched sinews. Britain did well as an industrial powerhouse. But we are in a different place now. To be a world leader in culture is to promote openness, tolerance, fresh thinking."
Houston Residents Want a More Walkable City
A recent survey of Houston-area residents found that most Houstonians want a more walkable city with better transit access. To pay for such improvements, a majority of citizens surveyed voiced preference for reverting the currently diverted transit taxes back to transit projects. These preferences reflect what survey founder Stephen Klineberg predicts will become a 'fundamental shift in one of the nation's most car-centric cities.'
The High-Tech Urban Experience, Now Standardized
The seven largest metros in the nation are teaming up to unify the technologies that are revolutionizing life in the city, Steve Towns reports.
Now more than ever, cities recognize the potential that technology has to transform the experience of daily life. From geographic analyses of crime to smartphone apps that show you where to park, these technologies are evolving at a rapid clip – thanks in large part to governments making data available to the public and letting them run with it.
But as with any new innovation, bleeding-edge developers splinter off into different directions, setting the stage for a sort of VHS-vs.-Betamax divide. But an alliance of the nation's seven largest cities, branded the G7, have been meeting since 2009 to make sense of the revolution. Now, they're preparing a formal project to bring their technological worlds into alignment.
"The unified database means applications developed for one G7 city should work for all," Towns writes. "The group also intends to hold multi-city hackathons that will target common problems and produce shared results" for all cities involved: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Jon Walton, Chief Information Officer of the City of San Francisco, notes the potential of making these tools widely available, and leaving the legwork to enterprising developers: "One of the things that surprised some of us was the number of applications that people rush to build once you make this data public. That's a real boon to the city because I don't have to spend taxpayer dollars to create them."
Retiring Baby Boomers Prefer Infill, Walkable Communities
By 2020, an estimated one-fifth of the U.S. population will be 65 or over. America's aging population is placing different demands on the housing market. Instead of a rush to golf courses and retirement villages, the focus for retirees today is on more infill housing, as well as walkable, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods with high levels of services and amenities.
How Public Protest Kept the Car From Taking Over Copenhagen and Amsterdam
Sarah Goodyear offers a brief history of urban development in postwar Europe, and tells of just how close the bicycle capitals of the West came to putting cars before people.
Like all Western cities, Copenhagen and Amsterdam faced tremendous economic and cultural pressure to modernize throughout the 20th century, and to reshape themselves in the image of the automobile. How, then, did these European capitals manage to skirt the trend and emerge as 21st century beacons of hope for human-scale streets?
The key, Goodyear suggests, lies in public protest.
Much of the bicycle- and pedestrian-oriented character seen in the two cities today is not some leftover from a bygone, pre-motorized era, but a recent reclaiming of city space from the automobile. Planners "[ripped] out cycle tracks and [started] to design streets for cars as Europe modernized in the wake of World War II," writes Goodyear. "By the early 1960s, much of the cycling infrastructure that had existed in the pre-war era was gone, and the percentage of the population using bicycles for transportation fell to an all-time low of 10 percent."
It wasn't until the '70s and '80s that the citizens of Copenhagen and Amsterdam came together in protest against rising pedestrian fatalities – many of them children – and the threat of an energy crisis. Danes painted white crosses in the road to mark accident sites where cyclists had been killed. Dutch schools and parents led the charge to bring demonstrators to the streets. The wave of public disapproval steered government planning in a more human-conscious direction.
"What happened was that urban planners started thinking bicycles first and cars second," writes Colville-Andersen. "Building infrastructure to keep cyclists safe and save lives. We haven't looked back since."
50 European cities commit to sustainable urban mobility
Fifty mid-sized cities from 17 European countries are developing action plans to substantially improve urban transport. They will then evaluate the city's urban mobility policies. Based on the results, a tailor made improvement program will be recommended to each city – all as part of the QUEST project.
Are Green Cities Sitting on a Golden Goose?
Copenhagen's leadership in urban sustainability gives them more than just a shining reputation. Bruce Katz considers how cities can cash in on environmental innovation.
Quick – what's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Copenhagen? If you answered "bicycles," you're not alone. But the Danish capital is about more than just two-wheelers; it's blazing trails in every aspect of urban sustainability, from energy efficiency to environmental governance.
And it's not just about Mother Earth. "Growing green is obviously an environmental imperative," writes Katz. "Yet the Copenhagen experience shows that it can be a market proposition as well, with a diverse set of economic and fiscal benefits."
That is to say, Copenhagen's red-blooded green economy has been a real boon for the city, according to a recent report from Scandinavian thinktank Monday Morning. "Copenhagen's clean sector has been a critical contributor to the region's economy in the past decade, with green exports outpacing all other sectors by growing at an astounding 77% between 2004 and 2009" – not to mention the $380 million in annual healthcare savings brought on by the city's countless bicycle commuters.
And there are ample opportunities for American cities to follow suit. Perhaps not surprisingly, Portland already has, with "business formation, firm expansion, job growth, and private investment" in the green sector.
Katz concludes that leading the charge in providing these services is critical to developed nations finding a place in an evolving global economy. Nations like China and India "will demand products and services that enable development that is economically supportive, environmentally sensitive and spatially efficient. And those products and services may disproportionately emerge from firms located in cities... which are first movers on sustainable development."
Tallinn introduces free public transport from 2013 (Estonia)
Tallinn will be the first capital city in Europe to introduce free public transport to its residents. A week-long referendum on the topic ended on Sunday with 75.5 percent of participants voting in favour of the idea.
Parking Minimums Beleaguer a Car-Choked Brazil
Stephen Smith takes a look at land use regulations in Brazil, where developers are still required to make room for cars that its growing cities can't support.
Brazil is no stranger to the challenges facing global cities today. Simultaneously hailed for innovations like bus rapid transit and lamented for its squalid favelas, the country sits at the bleeding edge of urban policy.
And so it comes as a surprise that throughout the nation, Brazil's traffic woes are worsened by seemingly anachronistic minimum parking requirements. As Smith explains, "A few decades ago Brazil joined a number of developing nations in adopting American-style minimum parking requirements for new developments... While planners seek to make sure everyone who has a car has some place to park it, critics contend that rather than simply making room for those who will inevitably drive, the policies are actively encouraging motorization."
Brazil owes its auto-oriented policy in part to the legacy of modernist urban design, beginning in the middle of the last century. Planned in that tradition, the capital city of Brasília "eschewed the pedestrian-and-transit-oriented trappings of other cities. The city was originally envisioned... without sidewalks or stoplights on the main boulevards, and the abundance of cloverleaf intersections testifies to the city's original planners favoring of motor traffic over all else."
But the requirements do not reflect the reality of already-overtaxed streets in cities throughout Brazil, where critics argue that the needless parking takes away precious space and constrains better forms of growth. One commercial developer in São Paulo said, of developers' feelings about the requirements, "No, they are not happy, but it is what it is. It's the status quo, and no one questions it anymore."
Meeting of Minds - for urban innovators
The Meeting of the Minds 2012 will convene in San Francisco from October 9-11 — where we’ll gather in one place some of the very best urban innovators from around the globe.
“Early bird” registration <http://www.meetingminds2012.org> is now open.
Working closely with our partners at Toyota, Philips Lighting, Schneider Electric, Qualcomm (among others), we’re finalizing some exciting announcements, all of which will be directly relevant to you, to city leaders and to those who’re partnered with cities (at companies, NGOs, government agencies and universities).
A partnership linking Meeting 2012 with SF Mayor Ed Lee ensures that this two day program will be particularly exciting. This will be much more than a forum for discussion; it’s a platform on which new initiatives are being launched and existing innovations are being replicated, scaled, transferred.
Meeting 2012 is just now finalizing some exciting announcements, all of which will be directly relevant to you, to city leaders and to those who’re partnered with cities (at companies, NGOs, government agencies and universities).
Our initial speaker line-up, posted on the website, features innovators working at the cutting edge of urban systems; economic, environmental and energy sustainability; advanced technology; and transformational design/planning. Check back regularly to the website for updates, or sign up for email updates.
Meeting 2012 will convene more than 250 leaders in San Francisco from more than a dozen countries. We’ll explore a rich variety of strategic investments, smart policies and breakthrough technology innovations — all designed to enable cities/regions to better respond to increasingly complex urban planning and development challenges.
Space is especially limited this year, and seats at this Meeting 2012 will fill up quickly. We encourage you to register early while there’s still room.
Trading Trash For Tomatoes in Mexico City
Michael J. Coren reports on a new program in Mexico City that lets residents trade their recyclable trash for credits with nearby farms.
While connecting waste to fresh food may seem anathema to many readers, that's exactly what a new program being launched in Mexico's capital city intends to do. According to Coren, in an effort to eliminate landfills and encourage local agriculture, the "government’s environmental agency recently launched the Mercado de Trueque, a barter market where recyclable materials are exchanged for fresh food to support the city’s farmlands."
"The market accepts glass, paper and cardboard, aluminum beverage cans, PET plastic bottles, and returns 'green points' redeemable for agricultural products grown in and around Mexico City, including lettuce, prickly pears, spinach, tomatoes, plants, and flowers."
The program is already proving popular with local residents. "The first market, held on one Sunday this March, sold out, exchanging nearly three tons of 60 agricultural products for trash."
Cities and Flooding: A Guide to Integrated Urban Flood Risk Management for the 21st Century
This report provides forward-looking operational assistance to policy makers and technical specialists in the rapidly expanding cities and towns of the developing world on how best to manage the risk of floods.
Georgia Plans City of the Future for Black Sea Swamp
Ellen Barry reports on the Georgian government's plans for Lazika, "its grandiose city of the future", which will be based on the Chinese concept of the instant city.
Intended to house half a million residents in ten years on what is now a stretch of marshy land near the Black Sea, the hastily started plans for the new city, which were rolled out only four months ago, have drawn mixed reactions in the country, but little real debate.
"Government officials have little time to engage with skeptics. The headlong pace of new construction in Georgia has not allowed for public debate over the projects’ financing, environmental impact or merit. Despite queries raised on all of these scores, Lazika’s first building — a futuristic Public Service Hall for the new city — is already under construction, and due to open in September. Ten years from now, President Mikheil Saakashvili has said, Lazika will be Georgia’s second-largest city after Tbilisi, which has a population of about 1.5 million, and a leading Black Sea trading hub."
"There are so many things that need to be done,” says Eka Gigauri of Transparency International. “Why build a totally new city? What stands behind that? There was nothing, no explanation. Just the president said, ‘We are building a new city there.’ ”
“Smart Cities” workshop in Instanbul on 4 June 2012
TURKEY is THE emerging economic power at the interface between Europe and Asia. The country has experienced a surge in infrastructure development for some years, which will grow even further in the years to come. Particularly Turkey‘s cities and city regions are faced with enormous challenges in the fields of housing and transport infrastructure development, combined with the future sustainable use of different sources of energy. On 4 June 2012, a workshop on the issue of “Smart City” will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Istanbul.
City Deficits "Driven" by Suburban Patterns
As San Diego is paralyzed by the cost to maintain its infrastructure, Howard Blackson revels in a eureka moment, provided by Chuck Marohn, in recognizing the city's explicitly suburban pattern of development is a well-documented financial blunder.
Much of the projected city deficits these days are due to "upgrades" to existing infrastructure that require wider, faster roads, and other auto-centric design and programming. Blackson reviews last week's analysis of San Diego by Strong Town's Chuck Marohn, and suggests the first step to solving urban woes is to understand the root problem:
"I contend that we also need to reassess how we calculate for our current infrastructure deficits. Our deficit numbers include retrofitting older urban streets into wider, faster, more suburban thoroughfares in order to achieve the mythical Level of Service C, which in fact creates more congestion. We also calculate for conventional storm drains that move water as fast as possible from point A to Point Sea; rather than promoting a more economical and ecological Light Imprint network approach. And, our new park standards require large acreage, more expensively programmed, because it’s easier to maintain with fewer city workers. These improvements are assumed to be built in a suburban pattern, which is impossible to build in existing neighborhoods… where the deficits exist. According to Dr. Einstein, my city is clinically insane for using conventional suburban development patterns and regulations over and over again and expecting different urban outcomes."
$1 billion 'ghost town' to be built in New Mexico
A $1 billion (£620 million) 'ghost town' is to be built in the United States in the name of scientific research.
The town, which will be modelled on a town of 35,000 people, will have roads, houses and commercial buildings, but will have no residents.
It will be built in New Mexico about 15 miles west of the nearest town, Hobbs, which has a population of about 40,000.
Scientists hope to use the new 'town' to research innovations in renewable energy as well as intelligent traffic systems and next generation wireless networks.
The investors developing the Centre for Innovation, Technology and Testing (Cite) say they wanted to test the effects of such innovations on a town but without inconveniencing any residents.
The project, which will create 350 jobs initially, will see an entire town built. The houses will even have working lavatories and washing machines.
Sustainable Urbanism Lecture by Michael Neuman on Youtube
The Annual Paul Reid Lecture at the University of New South Wales was delivered by Dr. Michael Neuman, Professor of Sustainable Urbanism of the Faculty of the Built Environment.
Commission launches survey on municipalities adapting to climate change
Municipalities have until 29 May 2012 to complete the European Commission’s survey on “Preparing for Climate Change in Cities” which aims at identifying where cities in the EU stand with regard to adapting to climate change.
The survey is to inform on the exposure of cities to natural climate-related hazards, on existing adaptation strategies as well as on current or required support.
The survey is a part of the European project "Adaptation strategies for European cities", which aims to better understand the impacts of climate change at the local level. It also aims at raising awareness of the risks of climate change and at ensuring an exchange between municipalities of best practices and tools developed during the project.
Through this project, the Commission emphasises the key role played my municipalities in the economy and that it is therefore essential that they adapt to climate change so as to ensure the sustainability of European growth.
Inclusive Local Economic Development in a Polarising Context
In the local urban fabric, social, political, cultural and economic aspects of daily life converge, and each of these spheres plays its part in achieving Inclusive Local Economic Development. Each city has experienced the economic and financial crises in a different way, but even in relatively positive circumstances supporting a vibrant and inclusive local economy requires dedicated policy. Especially so in the current service-based knowledge economy, in which the contrasts between a well-paid class of knowledge workers and an underclass of low skilled individuals tend to aggravate.
MyCity+20: youth take over Rio+20
Simulated negotiations will take place for young people in cities across the world to coincide with Rio+20
MyCity+20 is an initiative designed to engage young people in the political negotiations that will shape their future. The inspiration comes from a series of simulations of the Copenhagen climate change negotiations, organised in 2011 by students at Sciences Po in Paris.
Giving young people a taste of the UN negotiations proved to be an effective way of stimulating their interest in politics, so this year MyCity+20 is calling for cities across the globe to hold simulated negotiations between young people, to coincide with the Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development, taking place on 20-22 June 2012.
UNESCO is partnering the project and a research team will develop a hypothesis for the conference. Regardless of the outcomes, the objective is to mobilise young people to think about the political decisions that affect them, especially in the field of sustainability.
A conference, Paris+20, will take place in Paris on 4-8 June 2012, where a Rio+20 simulation will take place. It will offer support, ideas and contacts to cities interested in hosting their own simulated negotiations. As well as Paris, Europe will be represented by the cities of Amsterdam, Rome, while Colombo, Kampala, Kinshasa, Mumbai, Mexico City and New York City will also host simulated negotiations.
Cities interested in participating in the conference, or hosting their own simulation, should contact the MyCity+20 team, below.
More information: mycityplus20.blogspot.com
World’s first EcoMobility Festival to showcase a new urban lifestyle
The City of Suwon and ICLEI, together with UN-HABITAT officially signed a partnership today to host the world’s first EcoMobility Festival to take place in Suwon, Korea in 2013.
The four-week long Festival will present a real-life vision of car-free urban living in the future. It will see a neighborhood in Suwon turn into an ‘ecomobile’ neighborhood, with Suwon’s residents playing an active role in the actual implementation of the project.
“With this Festival, we will work together to show what an ecomobile city looks like and deliver the message that this new urban lifestyle is possible”, says Mayor Yeom, Tae-young of Suwon City.
“Being able to commute in an affordable and environmentally friendly way, while at the same time feeling healthy, enjoying urban public space and being more socially included – this is what EcoMobility means and this is what the Festival will showcase”, explains Mr. Andre Dzikus, coordinator of UN-HABITAT’s Urban Basic Services Branch, an EcoMobility Festival partner.
The Festival will also serve as a cultural and educational event for citizens, NGOs, cyclists and pedestrian associations as well as businesses, educational institutions and universities worldwide.
Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, Secretary General of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, as initiator and Creative Director of the Festival project, says that “the EcoMobility Festival will be exciting for all: the Suwon citizens will demonstrate healthy and environmentally-friendly mobility; the EcoMobility industry can promote their vehicles and test innovative products; city decision makers and urban planners from all over the world will visit Suwon and gain an impression of 'urban EcoMobility in action’”.
Last but not least, Mr. Otto-Zimmermann adds that “the Festival project will produce report and film documentaries that will be used by city councils, pedestrians and cyclists associations, environmental organizations, and in the education of town and transport planners”.
Preparations for the Festival are well under way, kicking off with a workshop in January and follow up workshop in May this year. Mr. Gil Peñalosa, former Director of Parks and Recreation of Bogotà, Colombia and Executive Director of 8-80 Cities, mentioned during the workshop that “EcoMobility is not just about improving transportation. We also end up with cleaner air and a better environment, improved public health, and a more vibrant economic development”.
As the Festival is being prepared, a diverse and exciting program is being developed ranging from exhibitions, EcoMobility parades and races, cultural activities, seminars, workshops, to training courses. The program will highlight ecomobile visions, products and services in a unique, international and real-life setting. Ecomobile products will be linked to a policy environment, connecting leaders and international experts as well as city residents to share EcoMobility ideas and experiences.
Visit www.ecomobility.org for more information.
Secretary-General to press urban agenda at Rio +20
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday told a high-level delegation of mayors, local and regional authorities that he would ensure rapid urbanisation around the world takes high priority on the Rio +20 agenda because the battle for sustainability would be won or lost in cities.
Social Mixing and neighbourhood effects
Over the last two decades many theoretical analyses have been developed to study the concept of neighbourhood effects. Frequently, these studies propose social mixing and area based strategies to tackle supposed negative neighbourhood effects. However, living in a poorer neighbourhood does not necessarily have negative effects on residents.
New tools for cities on migrant integration
EUROCITIES recently published the Integrating Cities toolkits, which guide and offer inspiration to city administrators in reaching European standards in migrant integration
The toolkits guide cities in implementing the EUROCITIES Integrating Cities Charter. This charter sets out the duties and responsibilities of European cities to embrace the diversity of their population and to provide equal opportunities for all citizens.
MIXITIES promotes mutual learning between cities in the field of integration. It is co-financed by the European Commission’s DG Home Affairs, through the European Integration Fund.
How to Green Southern Cities Built in the Age of Cars and Air Conditioning
Poor Atlanta often stands in as the model for how cities ought not to grow. The place is sprawling and congested and weirdly linear. Its skyline has, from afar, what looks like three disconnected focal points, which rise from the neighborhoods of Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead, nearly eight miles apart. Just about all of the most important Interstates in the South converge on the city, bisecting many of its communities. And the local metro system – with four lines covering roughly two routes – looks on a map like the toenail clippings from the London Underground.
Today, leaders in the city are about as enthusiastic as their counterparts in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest to embrace sustainability. But they have all of this to contend with.
Cities and Regions together towards Rio+20
A high-level local and regional authorities’ delegation presented eight recommendations to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to achieve sustainable cities and regions on 23 April.
The document "Joint Messages of Local and Sub-national Governments" puts forward eight recommendations to reach a sustainable urbanisation, metropolisation and regionalisation. It was presented in the context of the Rio+20, the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to take place in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.
In the opening speech of the meeting, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the local and regional authorities, saying "your support has never been more crucial to delivering practical results that will defeat poverty, protect the natural environment and improve disaster risk reduction".
Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) President, underlined that local and regional governance should be clearly included in the international institutional framework of Rio+20.
The Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Joan Clos, stressed that "nowadays, more than half of the population is living in urban areas and we are living a unique phenomenon of urban population increase. We call to prioritise sustainable urban development through good urban design, urban legislation, economy and governance to face the challenges of the 21st Century".
Antonio Costa, Mayor of Lisbon and UCLG Co-President and Executive-President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), put forward the important role that decentralised cooperation has played in the development agenda and in the innovation of governance. Local democracy and governance are important basis for national and global democratisation and for the sustainability of our planet, he said.
More information is available on UCLG website
The UN Creative Cities Network: sharing ambitions and policies to their achievement
The Creative Cities Network aims to enhance the creative, social and economic potential of cultural industries held by local actors and therefore promote UNESCO’s goals of cultural diversity. For creative cities with common interests, there are clear advantages to sharing their experience and their ambitions.
The first vertical greenhouse in the city of Linkoping
Swedish firm Plantagon has proven to be a pioneer in the first week of February 2012 when they presented the first vertical greenhouse in the city of Linköping. The slanting structure was designed by Sweco, and is hoped to be the first in a series of similar volumes across the world. The Plantagon Greenhouse project is an initiative to provide sustainable solutions to farming in urban environments and offers a viable alternative for the use of excess heating and CO2 from nearby industries.
Collaborating on an energy efficient city: the INTERREG IVC project IMEA kicks-off
The implementation of energy efficiency measures is a European key challenge in the transition towards sustainable communities, especially in Eastern Europe and in deprived urban areas where a high percentage of the housing stock has a very poor energy performance. Over the next 3 years, the partners in IMEA will cooperate to support local and regional authorities in taking a pro-active role in improving the energy efficiency of the built environment.
Pre-order Free Copies of Sustainable Cities Publication
Sustainable Cities, published by Climate Action, will bring together key figures leading the sustainable urban development debate. The publication will focus on both the key policy decisions that need to be taken, plus the immediate solutions and actions cities can take to progress towards greater sustainability.
It is being published in partnership with ICLEI, the World Green Building Council, UNEP-SBCI and C40 Cities and will be launched at the Rio+20 conference in June.
Authors include and the Secretary-General for the Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) Sha Zukang, Executive Director of UN Habitat Joan Clos, the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. More details can be found on the website www.sustainablecities2012.com
Should you wish to pre-order your free copy of the book or request multiple copies, please email email@example.com
UN-Habitat launches city changer dialogues
In countdown to the Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum to be held in Naples, Italy between 1-7 September 2012, UN-Habitat is launching an online dialgoues platform to reach as many people as possible.
Known as 'city changer dialogues' the interactions are aimed at the global audience and the inputs expected to contribute to debates at the WUF6.
"Recognizing that relatively few partners and members of the public are able to physically participate in the World Urban Forum, this online forum will provide an opportunity to engage a much wider audience. As part of the campaign, the city changer dialogues will be a permanent and flexible platform to promote discussion and innovative ideas and will provide special attention to different events such as World Urban Forum, World Habitat Day, the Governing Council, other campaign events and of course Habitat III," said the coordinator John Hogan.
According to Mr. Hogan, for the agency's immediate purposes there was a need to concentrate to get as many people online and participating from 7 -25 May 2012. He called on the chosen moderators to analyse the discussions and make recommendations for shaping the WUF dialogues and the final version of the background paper.
"However the discussion will continue in the run-up to WUF and this will no doubt be an invaluable tool to shape the direction of the dialogues and get panelists engaged and reacting to emerging ideas. We will discuss arrangements for moderation beyond the three-week time frame with you in the near future, but the plan would be to share responsibility between branches and key partners," he said.
Mr. Hogan said the development of the online platform was proceeding as planned and on schedule. He added that Naples will feature four dialogues- which are reflected on the platform. However, the forum will have six topics; five of which are viewable for all visitors and the sixth will be for internal use only.
How Much is a Tree Worth to a City?
Nate Berg reports on several recent pilot studies that have quantified the economic, aesthetic and energy saving benefits of urban trees and why the costs for replacing them can be formidable.
While the aesthetic value of street trees may be easy to appreciate, a recent study of Tennessee’s urban trees aimed to monetize the much wider range of benefits that such trees can provide to their communities, demonstrating that such benefits can amount to millions in savings.
According to the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who released the results of their pilot study earlier this year, "through energy savings, air and water filtering and carbon storage, the urban trees of Tennessee account for more than $638 million in benefits," without considering aesthetic values.
"The method used for estimating tree values is commonly used and was developed by the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers." Indiana, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Colorado have also started to appraise the value of trees by conducting similar pilot studies, notes Berg.
The Tennessee report also calls attention to the cost of threats to trees from various invasive species and diseases. "If every urban tree in the state were to die, the cost of replacing them is estimated at $79.5 billion." The astronomical price tag highlights the importance of doing more work to counteract these dangers.
ICLEI SAMS launches new guide and distance learning course on solid waste management
ICLEI SAMS, in partnership with the Brazilian Environmental Ministry, launched a guide and distance learning course about solid waste management.
Within the context of Project GeRes (solid waste management), the Brazilian Environmental Ministry, in partnership with ICLEI SAMS and sponsored by the British Embassy, launched the guide: “Solid Waste Management Plans: Orientation Guide” (in Portuguese) and a distance learning course to support Brazilian municipalities in preparing their solid waste management plans.
The launch took place during the 1st Meeting of Municipalities with Sustainable Development organized by the National Front of Mayors of Brazil at the end of March.
In an effort to support local governments regionally, ICLEI SAMS has also recently launched a website on the topic, which offers relevant information for policy makers and implementers: www.iclei.org.br/residuos
Committing to diversity: Neuchâtel's citizenship charter
With 170 000 inhabitants spanning some 140 nationalities, the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel lies in north-western Switzerland in the Jura mountains. Neuchâtel is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland and, like Geneva, Vaud, Fribourg and Jura, is French-speaking. Neuchâtel canton is a member of the "Intercultural Cities" network. Ever since the pilot phase of the programme in 2008, the city has proved remarkably adept and innovative when it comes to intercultural integration policies. This success is due, inter alia, to the pioneering role played by Neuchâtel canton in Swiss policy for integrating foreign nationals.
Not only, for example, was Neuchâtel the first Swiss canton to appoint a cantonal commissioner for foreign nationals, in 1990, but in 1996 it also passed the first cantonal law on the integration of foreigners. Neuchâtel grants foreign nationals more civil rights than any other canton in Switzerland.
Workshop summary - The Governance of Urban Shrinkage in Europe: Challenges and Prospects
On Monday, 26 March 2012, took place a Policy Informing Workshop of the EU 7 FP project Shrink Smart titled: The Governance of Urban Shrinkage in Europe: Challenges and Prospects. The workshop dealing with governance challenges in shrinking European cities and urban regions gathered some 40 participants including representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Eurocities network as well as urban researchers and planners from different European countries. During the workshop, the Shrink Smart project researchers presented key findings of their project and policy recommendations elaborated on base of these results. The presentations were completed by impulse statements from urban planners, representatives of the Eurocities network and the EC FP scientific coordination.
Southern Cities that Built Around Cars are Now Building Towards Sustainability
Cities like Atlanta, that have grown up in the age of the automobile and air conditioning, are making efforts to green their environmentally unfriendly buildings and spaces, explains Emily Badger.
Badger points to the dual curses of the car and the air conditioner, as causing Southern cities to evolve into places with congested and sprawling interstates and centralized air enclosed buildings with small windows and no natural air flow.
“It’s the difference between a city that has grown up in the automobile age and a city that has grown up before the automobile age,” says Paula Vaughan, the co-director in Atlanta of the Sustainable Design Initiative at the architecture firm Perkins+Will. Older cities are inherently compact and walkable (and further on their way to sustainability) because no one was driving anywhere when they were built."
Atlanta and its younger Southern counterparts are looking to change their unsustainable ways, however. "The downtown business district has launched a Better Buildings Challenge in which property owners are pledging to reduce their energy and water consumption by 20 percent by 2020." And as of this spring, "Midtown now has a 'greenprint' – a kind of sustainability blueprint that civic leaders hope will lead the neighborhood to become the 'South’s first eco-district' (following a model of existing neighborhood-scale plans in Portland and Seattle)." The proposal lays out inclusion of higher-performance buildings, more green spaces and better-connected streets with Zipcar stations and walkable sidewalks.
According to Badger, the city has already made steps to rebuild their urban form and have retrofitted numerous buildings for energy efficiency, but the Big Peach still a ways to go. “People still have that notion of sitting in the highway in your car in the 90-degree heat to get to work,” Vaughan says. “We’re really changing that. I think it’s going to take a while before people in other cities start recognizing that. But yeah, word is getting out.”