31/12/2013 - UN-Habitat Launches New Tool to Strengthen Urban Resilience
31/12/2013 - Parking-free Housing Developments on the Rise
30/12/2013 - China's mounting local government debt thwarts infrastructure investment
30/12/2013 - European Transport Conference - Call for Papers
29/12/2013 - New Green Infrastructure Plan Launches in Philadelphia
29/12/2013 - The Health Risks of Small Apartments
28/12/2013 - European Commission adopts air quality package
28/12/2013 - Making low-carbon cities a reality for China
27/12/2013 - Proximity to Light Rail Has Major Impact on Real Estate Values
27/12/2013 - Car drivers travel for free on public buses in Nysa (Poland)
26/12/2013 - Tokyo to speed up evacuation planning
26/12/2013 - Re-Wiring Cities for Democracy
24/12/2013 - Remarks of UN Secretary General at "Sustainable Cities Days"
24/12/2013 - Homelessness, hunger climbing in U.S. cities, mayors' survey says
24/12/2013 - China sets out urbanization plans to support economic growth
23/12/2013 - Real Estate Trend: Parking-Free Apartment Buildings
23/12/2013 - The role of media in disaster management
23/12/2013 - UN Secretary General receives support letters for a stand-alone urban goal
22/12/2013 - Shifting Gears To Make Bike-Sharing More Accessible
22/12/2013 - Do cities need Vertical Greenery?
22/12/2013 - Green social housing in Vienna
21/12/2013 - What Will Be Mandela’s Spatial Legacy?
21/12/2013 - Save the Date - 2014 Cities of Migration Conference
21/12/2013 - Future Urban Dronescape
20/12/2013 - The Global Taskforce stands for an inclusive and sustainable agenda at UN headquarters
20/12/2013 - New Sustainable Food Publication on Ways to Distribute, Share and Procure Local Food inside the City
20/12/2013 - Detroit Considers Replacing Freeway with Walkable Streets
19/12/2013 - Who will follow Suwon and be car free?
19/12/2013 - IREEN – ICT for Energy Efficient Neighbourhoods
19/12/2013 - Ways to Kill Your Community
18/12/2013 - HUD's Sustainable Community Grantees Celebrate Successes
18/12/2013 - Conference reaffirms RFSC as a key tool for the EU Urban Agenda
18/12/2013 - Largest Zero-Net Community Advances in Davis
17/12/2013 - Secret city design tricks manipulate your behaviour
17/12/2013 - Urban planners urged not to ignore city pedestrians
17/12/2013 - Meeting ECOSTARS: Cleaner Fleets – Authority meets Operator
16/12/2013 - The benefits and constraints of urbanization for gender equality
16/12/2013 - The Bike-Sharing Planning Guide for success
16/12/2013 - Resource efficiency and environment
15/12/2013 - EPA Green Infrastructure Projects Highlighted
15/12/2013 - Disaster dice loaded against poorest countries
15/12/2013 - We need a revolution in the concept of public health
14/12/2013 - 2013 Polis Conference calls for Greater Coordination of EU policies related to urban and regional transport
14/12/2013 - Is your city an innovative one? Apply to the Guangzhou Award 2014!
14/12/2013 - Report: More Kids Are Walking to School
13/12/2013 - Urbanites Expected to Double By 2050
13/12/2013 - MultiWalks: a smartphone App revealing Europe's neighbourhood stories, through walks made by artists
13/12/2013 - Resilient Cities. Disaster management and climate change: strengthening cities, reducing risks.
13/12/2013 - EPOMM awards 2014 now open
13/12/2013 - Cities selected to join 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge
12/12/2013 - This amazing 3-D tool might transform street planning
12/12/2013 - CEMR publishes new study on territorial reforms in Europe in times of crisis
12/12/2013 - UN-Habitat Partners with TomTom to ease urban congestion
12/12/2013 - Geneva tests ultra-quick charging electric bus
11/12/2013 - Sustainable Mobility in Metropolitan Regions
11/12/2013 - European Parliament TRAN committee vote on Clean Power for Transport Package
11/12/2013 - The UCLG Campaign for an Urban Goal in SDGs reaches more than 130 supports
11/12/2013 - OPTICITIES project starts in Lyon
10/12/2013 - Asian Development Bank predicts climate change could cost US$25.8 million per year
10/12/2013 - Communitas Coalition fuels efforts on sustainable development goals for cities
10/12/2013 - EUSEW 2014: Dates chosen, awards competition open!
10/12/2013 - Urbanisation: an emerging topic at European Development Days 2013
9/12/2013 - 10 Lessons From 'Un-Smart' Cities
9/12/2013 - The incredible mile-long floating CITY
9/12/2013 - Queensland Simplifies 14 Urban Planning Policies Into One
9/12/2013 - City of MADRID elected as Polis President
8/12/2013 - Winners of the 2013 EUROCITIES awards
8/12/2013 - Horizon 2020 to fund activities for smart, green and integrated transport
8/12/2013 - The International Award UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21 call for candidates now open
8/12/2013 - Cities Set Their Eyes on Light Rail
7/12/2013 - Visit the new website of JPI Urban Europe and learn about its recent projects: BOOST and SEiSMiC
7/12/2013 - National Drought Resilience Partnership Launched
7/12/2013 - Cities in action: ‘One contact’
7/12/2013 - When Climate Change and Property Rights Collide
6/12/2013 - Gothenburg mayor invites Chinese cities to look into congestion tax at EU-China urbanisation forum
6/12/2013 - Why Detroit's lights went out, and how the city plans to get them back on
6/12/2013 - EUROCITIES secretary general – position open
6/12/2013 - Amsterdam Gives Alcoholics Beer to Clean City
5/12/2013 - Crisis and decentralisation
5/12/2013 - Vancouver bags green building award
5/12/2013 - NYC DOT Shares Its Five Principles for Designing Safer Streets
5/12/2013 - BRICS meeting to focus on urbanisation
4/12/2013 - Call for Cities and Regions: Searching for 16 partners to work on multi-level governance in support of Europe 2020
4/12/2013 - Seattle's Northgate Neighborhood Embraces TOD Approach
4/12/2013 - URBACT Capacity Building: Promoting New Ways of Thinking
4/12/2013 - Understanding Active Travel promotion: PASTA project kick-off meeting
3/12/2013 - Portland's Testing a Greener Kind of P3
3/12/2013 - Town-twinning becomes green: Learning Covenant cities get support from experienced ones
3/12/2013 - Bold & Bizarre Visions for Cities
3/12/2013 - Leaders Around the World Move to Citizen-Based Services
2/12/2013 - Senior White House Officials Celebrate 100+ RC4A Signatories
2/12/2013 - Chronic urban vulnerabilities may soon become a humanitarian crisis
2/12/2013 - Climate change and Cities
2/12/2013 - Cities must lead the way into a sustainable future
1/12/2013 - The 10th European Urban and Regional Planning Awards
1/12/2013 - For Canada's remote towns, living with polar bears is growing more risky
1/12/2013 - Rio De Janeiro Mayor Paes Elected As New C40 Chair
1/12/2013 - Can sustainable community development impact crime reduction in urban areas?
UN-Habitat Launches New Tool to Strengthen Urban Resilience
UN-Habitat has launched a new initiative to help the growing number of urban dwellers cope with the rising costs and impacts of natural disasters and man made threats.
From earthquakes and climate- related crises, to political conflict and economic shocks, UN-Habitat’s City Resilience Profiling Tool (CRPT) will help city officials, urban managers, businesses, and investors, to identify a host of possible risks facing urban areas, and prioritize policies and action plans accordingly.
Parking-free Housing Developments on the Rise
A wave of new residential construction projects in places like Seattle, Boston, and Miami are showing that, yes, modern American cities can build housing without any car parking on site.
Officials in Boston gave their approval last week to what Curbed called the city’s “first big-time parking-less condo,” a 175-unit project named Lovejoy Wharf. The “plan was met with disbelief in some quarters,” according to Curbed, but the city’s redevelopment authority approved it unanimously.
China's mounting local government debt thwarts infrastructure investment
Infrastructure and real estate construction props up China's economy while the increasingly risks of local government debt are holding back investment in infrastructure, said a green-cover book released by the State Information Center on the Chinese and global economy.
Investment in China's primary and secondary sectors as a percentage of total investment has dropped 2% and 43% respectively, but the percentage for the tertiary sector has risen to 55%, up 1.7% year on year in Q1-Q3 2013, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Investment growth in manufacturing has shown a sharp slowdown as a result of excess capacity, pushing investment in infrastructure and property development as the mainstays of economic growth, the green-cover book noted.
European Transport Conference - Call for Papers
Abstract Submission Deadline: 5 February 2014
The European Transport Conference (ETC) connects the worlds of research, consultancy, policy and practice. Attendance at ETC allows different groups to pose questions to fellow professionals and to assess what is possible in terms of delivery. Researchers are challenged by policy-makers; practitioners need to deliver on the ground what the policy-makers want.
The Association for European Transport has identified for the 2014 Conference some major themes of interest to all working in transport planning.
The Call for Papers general brochure and the individual calls for papers produced by the Programme Committees can also be downloaded from the ETC website.
New Green Infrastructure Plan Launches in Philadelphia
Philadelphia's new green infrastructure plan provides a cutting-edge, low-cost approach for dealing with Philadelphia's stormwater run-off problems, according to a recent article in Sustainable Cities Collective. Once enacted, the plan could also help the city reduce its annual carbon dioxide production by 1.5 billion pounds, and could increase property values by almost $400 million over 45 years.
The Health Risks of Small Apartments
New York City has a housing problem. Currently, it has 1.8 million one- and two-person households, and only one million studios and one-bedroom apartments. The obvious solution seems to be to develop more small residential units.
But how small is too small? Should we allow couples to move into a space the size of a suburban closet? Can a parent and child share a place as big as a hotel room?
In January, Bloomberg’s office announced the winner of its 2012 competition to design and build a residential tower of micro-units—apartments between 250 and 370 square feet—on a city-owned site at East 27th street in Manhattan. According to the Mayor’s press release, the winning proposal, by the Brooklyn-based firm nARCHITECTS , was chosen for its innovative layout and building design, with nearly 10 foot ceilings and Juliet balconies that give residents “substantial light and air.”
European Commission adopts air quality package
The European Commission has presented a comprehensive air quality package, including new measures and objectives to reduce air pollution for the period up to 2030.
The direct costs to society from air pollution amount to about €23 billion per year, according to the Commission. The package adopted today is the culmination of a major review of air policy that began in early 2011.
"The air we breathe today is much cleaner than in past decades" said Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik. "But air pollution is still an 'invisible killer' and it prevents many people from living a fully active life. The actions we are proposing will halve the number of premature deaths from air pollution, increase protection for the vulnerable groups who need it most, and improve quality of life for all."
Making low-carbon cities a reality for China
Climate Change is a priority agenda for the Chinese government and in 2010, a pilot programme was launched for provinces and cities towards low-carbon, sustainable development. Peng Yan, East Asia Regional Director at C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, looks at the opportunities for Chinese cities to advance the green agenda
The “Low Carbon Pilot Cities” programme launched in 2010 is of great significance for Chinese cities in terms of climate action planning because it is the first attempt by the national government to expand the sectoral climate policies to the city level.
The Chinese government selected five provinces and eight cities as the first pilot group to explore and experiment on climate action planning and implementation. All the pilot provinces and cities have established task teams, formulated implementation schemes, and promulgated their respective goals for carbon intensity reduction in the 12th Five-Year Plan period towards 2020. They also have vigorously developed low- carbon industries to promote green and low-carbon development.
Proximity to Light Rail Has Major Impact on Real Estate Values
The Washington Post reported that offices within one-20th of a mile (264 feet) of Metro stops earn a rent premium of more than 30 percent over those offices that are a quarter of a mile from a station. "People don't like to walk more than 10 minutes," said Paula Munger, managing director of research for Cushman & Wakefield, "so being farther out just doesn't attract the [commercial] tenants that being near Metro does."
Car drivers travel for free on public buses in Nysa (Poland)
A scheme in the small Polish city of Nysa gives drivers free travel on public buses in exchange for showing their licence and vehicle registration.
The city of Nysa (Poland) has adopted a revolutionary programme where car owners can use the city’s public buses for free by showing their driving licence and car registration. Although Nysa is a fairly small city with around 48 000 inhabitants, use of cars is so widespread that the city council decided to strongly promote the use of public transport.
Tokyo to speed up evacuation planning
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is set to advance efforts to draw up evacuation plans for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, after a key panel last week pointed out a 70 percent likelihood of a large earthquake striking the capital “within 30 years.”
The report released last week by the Central Disaster Management Council apparently urged Tokyo to take steps. Some 10 million people are expected to flock to the capital to witness the sporting spectacle.
By contrast, the University of Tokyo warned in January 2012 that there is a 70 percent chance of a powerful earthquake striking the capital by 2016, and a 98 percent chance within 30 years.
Re-Wiring Cities for Democracy
Imagine Atlantic Canada’s city of Halifax denying its entire population of 400,000-odd residents the right to vote in its municipal election. Unreal, yes, but that’s about how many tax-paying residents and consumers in Toronto, the country’s largest city, do not get to vote and elect their local representatives because they are not yet citizens. As society becomes more diverse, this type of disenfranchisement has become an issue of growing concern for cities in Canada, Europe and elsewhere. It invites us to explore new perspectives on participatory democracy at the local level and the need to shift from a citizenship-based model to one based on residence.
Remarks of UN Secretary General at "Sustainable Cities Days"
"I am delighted to join you today. I thank you for your commitment to sustainable urbanization. By the middle of this century, 70 per cent of all people will be living in cities. Almost all urban growth will be in developing countries. The challenges are immense. But the opportunities are even greater. Cities can be the engine of social equity and economic opportunity. They can help us reduce our carbon footprint and protect the global environment. That is why it is so important that we work together to build the capacity of mayors and all those concerned in planning and running sustainable cities.
Homelessness, hunger climbing in U.S. cities, mayors' survey says
Although the jobless rate is at its lowest level in five years and the stock market has surpassed its pre-recession high, the economic gains have not reached many poor urban residents, and 2014 could be even worse, a new survey said Wednesday.
Homelessness and hunger have increased and are expected to keep rising in many cities next year, according to the latest U.S. Conference of Mayors survey of 25 large and midsized metro areas.
Last year's national poverty rate of 15% is still near the Great Recession’s high of 15.1%, according to U.S. Census figures.
"We anticipated that problems related to unemployment and the slow national recovery would be reflected in the survey cities, and they were," Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, a co-chair for the group's task force on hunger and homelessness, told reporters in a conference call.
China sets out urbanization plans to support economic growth
China will map out city clusters across the country’s central, western and north-eastern regions and develop them into engines for growth as part of its urbanization strategy, according to the nation’s leadership.
Diverse and sustainable funding mechanisms will be developed to finance policies, they pledged at an urbanization conference, according to a report of the meeting by the Xinhua News Agency on Saturday. Attention must also be paid to environmental impact of such development, they said.
China’s leaders pledged last month to speed up urbanization as part of a package of policies that represent the biggest expansion of economic freedoms since at least the 1990s. Premier Li Keqiang has championed the strategy as a huge engine for growth as he seeks to shift the world’s second-largest economy toward a model that relies on domestic consumption rather than investment and exports.
Real Estate Trend: Parking-Free Apartment Buildings
A wave of new residential construction projects in places like Seattle, Boston, and Miami are showing that, yes, modern American cities can build housing without any car parking on site.
Officials in Boston gave their approval last week to what Curbed called the city’s “first big-time parking-less condo,” a 175-unit project named Lovejoy Wharf. The “plan was met with disbelief in some quarters,” according to Curbed, but the city’s redevelopment authority approved it unanimously.
Portland developers have been building housing sans parking for a few years. Last summer, NPR reported that about 40 percent of Portland’s under-construction housing was parking-free. Portland’s zoning rules have allowed zero-parking developments since the aughts, but builders and lenders weren’t pursuing that type of project until recently, the Oregonian reports. Unfortunately, the city pulled the rug out from under parking-free housing this summer, responding to car owners who feared increased competition for curbside parking spots. Portland’s new rule requires some parking in apartment buildings with more than 30 units.
The role of media in disaster management
In the wake of sufferings caused by natural and man-made disasters in the last couple of decades, a new realisation is taking place in the contemporary world. There prevails a general comprehension to minimise the losses both to life and property to a maximum possible level through effective communication, utilising technology-based systems.
Social scientists and experts are of the view that through a system of devoted international cooperation, human sufferings caused by catastrophic impacts of disasters could be reduced significantly. This cooperation revolves around public information and education; improved warning systems; disaster preparedness; and mitigation.
These measures are aimed at ensuring improved public safety and lower economic losses. If we observe closely, communication is the most important means for achieving all of the above-stated objectives.
UN Secretary General receives support letters for a stand-alone urban goal
The UN Secretary General received from UCLG Co-President Moustache Belle, 157 forms from Mayors, Governors and their Associations and civil society partners calling for an Urban SDG to be included in the new Development agenda during a special Session on 12 December.
Ban Ki moon Commended the work of the members of the Global Taskforce saying that: Cities can be the engine of social equity and economic opportunity. They can help us reduce our carbon footprint and protect the global environment. That is why it is so important that we work together to build the capacity of mayors and all those concerned in planning and running sustainable cities.
Shifting Gears To Make Bike-Sharing More Accessible
Millions of commuters across the country have a new way to get around. In the past few years, bike-sharing systems have popped up from Boston to Minnesota to Washington, D.C. They're supposed to make commuting easier, greener and cheaper. But the people who arguably need these bikes the most are often the least likely to access them.
These bike-sharing systems have a lot of different names: Divvy, Hubway, Nice Ride. But they all work roughly the same way: You pick up a bike at one docking station, ride it and then lock it up at another station. And these systems have something else in common: The users so far tend to be young, male and wealthier than the rest of the population.
"The rates of low-income ridership of all bike-share programs around the world is pitifully low. So we can only do better," says Caroline Samponaro, of Transportation Alternatives in New York. The Citi Bike system launched in New York earlier this year.
Do cities need Vertical Greenery?
Vertical greenery is increasingly used in cities to both raise quality of life and improve urban environments and eco-systems. As well as modifying temperatures, improving air quality and increasing biodiversity, exposure to urban greenery can improve peoples’ physiology and mental health. Yet, how effective is vertical greenery, what are its costs and benefits, and how sustainable is it in the long term?
Green social housing in Vienna
New Covenant of Mayors video case study looks at Vienna's green social housing policy
In Vienna, creating affordable living spaces that meet architectural and environmental standards is a top priority for the local administration.
The Covenant of Mayors recently visited the Austrian capital to produce a video about its green social housing policy.
Michael Ludwig, councillor for housing, said: “Green housing should be reflected in all forms of living and not become a luxury. That is why we have been promoting low-energy standards in subsidised houses for over ten years“.
What Will Be Mandela’s Spatial Legacy?
There are few systems of government that relied so heavily upon the delineations of space than the Apartheid government of South Africa (1948-1994). Aggressively wielding theories of Modernism and racial superiority, South Africa’s urban planners didn’t just enforce Apartheid, they embedded it into every city – making it a daily, degrading experience for South Africa’s marginalized citizens.
When Nelson Mandela and his party, the African National Congress, were democratically elected to power in 1994, they recognized that one of the most important ways of diminishing Apartheid’s legacy would be spatial: to integrate the white towns and the black townships, and revive those “shriveled twin[s].”
As we remember Mandela – undoubtedly the most important man in South Africa’s history – and ponder his legacy, we must also consider his spatial legacy. It is in the physical, spatial dimensions of South Africa’s towns and cities that we can truly see Apartheid’s endurance, and consider: to what extent have Mandela’s words of reconciliation and righteous integration, truly been given form?
Save the Date - 2014 Cities of Migration Conference
Migration, Diversity, Inclusion: An Agenda for Shared Prosperity
2014 Cities of Migration Conference, Berlin (Germany), June 4 - 6, 2014
Join local government and community leaders, practitioners, experts, activists and policy-makers for a dynamic 3-day event that explores the practical realities and opportunities created by today's hyper-diversity. Learn how we can work together to set a prosperity agenda for cities.
Future Urban Dronescape
It wouldn’t be the first time someone looked at Jeff Bezos as if to say, “There’s no way you can be serious, right?” The founder of Amazon had been met with aggressive skepticism before, with his implementation of massive distribution centers that somehow (few people really know how) make distribution twice as efficient, and his surprising move to buy the Washington Post, which raised a few eyebrows. Only this time, it happened on national television. And this time, Bezos wasn’t just changing his own company, he was potentially changing the cityscape of urban centers across the US, and perhaps one day, the rest of the world.
But Bezos’s plan won’t change the structures or layout of the cities themselves, it will change the skies above them. Bezos is proposing to build a fleet of small robotic eight-motored helicopters – drones – to carry individual packages under five pounds in weight within a 10 mile radius of delivery centers.
There’s no way he can be serious, right? After all, there has been no shortage of unworkable proposals regarding drone delivery systems, including the memorable tacocopter.com. But Bezos is bringing more to the table. On his appearance on 60 Minutes, he showed off a working prototype to host Charlie Rose, along with a convincing-ish demo video of the drone, decked out with the Amazon logo, scooping up a lunch box sized package from a warehouse and whisking it away to a massive house in the suburbs, where it is gratefully received by the well-groomed owner of the house. Maybe Bezos is serious after all.
The Global Taskforce stands for an inclusive and sustainable agenda at UN headquarters
The members of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Leaders gathered in New York on 13 December at the invitation of UN Habitat, the Group of Friends of sustainable cities and UCLG. This meeting aimed at contributing to the work of the Open Working Group on sustainable cities and human settlements and to engage on the on-going intergovernmental process on financing and preparing for the Habitat III, supporting definition and implementation of a new development agenda.
New Sustainable Food Publication on Ways to Distribute, Share and Procure Local Food inside the City
New thematic report “Delivering” within the framework of the URBACT project “Sustainable Food in Urban Communities” explores ways to distribute, share and procure local food inside the city. There are considered more sustainable and less carbon intensive delivery systems giving efficient opportunities to local production, enabling direct links between supply and demand for sustainable food, facilitating the transition of existing distribution market actors towards greater sustainability and lower carbon intensity, stimulating the emergence of new ones (e.g. food businesses, retail, etc.) and other local initiatives (e.g. markets, purchasing groups, network s, transparency in food chain, etc.)
Detroit Considers Replacing Freeway with Walkable Streets
The City of Detroit and the Michigan Department of Transportation are developing plans to turn Interstate 375 into a pedestrian-friendly parkway. If it's not replaced, the 50-year-old freeway and the bridges that cross it are likely to need significant repairs in the near future. The transformation to more walkable streets would make for easier connections between more central residential areas, and may spark an increase in retail, parkland and mixed-use development.
Who will follow Suwon and be car free?
Following the unprecedented success of Suwon's car-free experiment this September, residents of Haenggung-dong are now prompted with the question: should the neighborhood revert to its former state or should they embrace an ecomobile lifestyle for good?
ICLEI thanks all those whose efforts helped to convert Haenggung-dong into a model ecomobile neighborhood for the first EcoMobility World Festival in Suwon, South Korea.
Which city will boldly follow in Suwon's footsteps? Visit the newly updated website to learn how your city could be the next in line to show the world how EcoMobility translates into a real-life neighborhood.
IREEN – ICT for Energy Efficient Neighbourhoods
The vision of IREEN is one where neighbourhoods use smart, efficient, systems to distribute and manage energy in order to maximise the environmental and social benefits for all users. As cities struggle with climate change and energy demands as well as changes in population, demographics, congestion and pressure on key resources; sustainability is the ultimate goal. To succeed in the future, communities will need systems that maximise the opportunities offered by ICT and that can support energy-efficient neighbourhoods.
Ways to Kill Your Community
Not so long ago, fellow urban scribe and recently elected mayor of Concrete, Washington, Jason Miller, recommended the book, “13 Ways to Kill Your Community.” The timing was fortuitous. For a while, in an ongoing series of internal conversations, I’d been wrestling with a fundamental question of human nature: Are people basically good, with periodic displays of malice and pettiness or, are we born broken and then distinguish ourselves through virtuous acts that transcend our inherent limitations?
“13 Ways” would seem to suggest the latter, though I’ve likely drawn a conclusion unintended by its author, Doug Griffiths, who co-wrote the book with journalist Kelly Clemmer.
HUD's Sustainable Community Grantees Celebrate Successes
A celebration of the completion of community master plans for HUD Sustainable Community Grantees was recently held in Washington, DC. The 143 communities receiving grants over the past four years have developed plans that serve as community road maps to guide growth and development. A key factor in developing successful plans was the input from more than 50,000 residents and stakeholders over the course of more than 2,000 public meetings.
Conference reaffirms RFSC as a key tool for the EU Urban Agenda
The Reference Framework for European Sustainable Cities (RFSC), launched in January 2013, is a free tool to support municipalities working towards integrated and sustainable urban development. The Conference “Towards the European Model of a Sustainable City” concluded that the RFSC tool is a key element of the emerging EU Urban Agenda, allowing cities to find a common language to discuss the challenges they are facing and share the solutions. The event, held on 9 October 2013 in Brussels (Belgium), presented the free toolkit which helps cities on their way towards integrated and sustainable urban development. Watch here the Video of the Conference.
Largest Zero-Net Community Advances in Davis
The West Village at the University of California at Davis has made significant progress toward its goal of becoming the largest planned "zero-net energy" community in the United States. The development will ultimately house 3,000 students, 500 staff and faculty families, and a cluster of retail and commercial buildings. A comprehensive network of sidewalks and open space provides pedestrian access throughout the development to complement other low-carbon transit strategies.
Secret city design tricks manipulate your behaviour
When Selena Savic walks down a city street, she sees it differently to most people. Whereas other designers might admire the architecture, Savic sees a host of hidden tricks intended to manipulate our behaviour and choices without us realising – from benches that are deliberately uncomfortable to sculptures that keep certain citizens away.
Modern cities are rife with these “unpleasant designs”, says Savic, a PhD student at the Ecole Polytechnique Federerale de Lausanne in Switzerland, who co-authored a book on the subject this year. Once you know these secret tricks are there, it will transform how you see your surroundings. “We call this a silent agent,” says Savic. “These designs are hidden, or not apparent to people they don’t target.” Are you aware of how your city is manipulating you?
Meshing social engineering with civil engineering has a long history. Robert Moses, the “master builder” of 20th Century New York City,
Urban planners urged not to ignore city pedestrians
When most people think about urban transportation systems, they focus on infrastructure, including streets, subways and even sidewalks. University of Toronto researcher Paul Hess takes a much broader perspective "Transportation touches many issues," says the geography and planning professor. "It affects our quality of life. It affects energy use and the environment. And it affects social equity – that is, who has access to transportation and who doesn't?"
To that end, Hess studies how cities are designed and built to accommodate people's transportation needs. In particular, he is interested in neighbourhoods' suitability for walking as well as residents' access to cars and public transit. For instance, in one current project he is studying how immigrants who don't have driver's licenses or can't afford a car get by in the "car-dependent" outer suburbs of Brampton, Mississauga and Markham.
In another initiative, Hess is collaborating with the provincial transportation agency Metrolinx to investigate walkability in areas surrounding transit stations. Specifically, he is looking at whether pedestrians have access to safe, direct routes to public transportation hubs.
Meeting ECOSTARS: Cleaner Fleets – Authority meets Operator
The ECOSTARS fleet recognition scheme provides local governments a method to engage with operators of freight and passenger fleets. The latest newsletter (released at last week's Polis Conference) invites to the project's final event "Cleaner Fleets – Authority meets Operator”.
The benefits and constraints of urbanization for gender equality
"Urbanization is often associated with greater independence for women. This is the result of better opportunities than in rural areas to engage in paid employment outside the family. It is also the result of better access to services, lower fertility rates and some relaxation of the rigid social values and norms that define women as subordinate to their husbands and fathers, and to men generally. Yet, most urban women also experience profound disadvantages in their daily lives compared to men. [...] they face persistent inequalities in terms of access to decent work, physical and financial assets, mobility, personal safety and security, and representation in formal structures of urban governance."
The Bike-Sharing Planning Guide for success
It's not easy to set up a bike share system. Some have been wildly successful; others are disasters and more are disasters waiting to happen. Cities are willing to subsidize transit and fix roads on the taxpayers nickel, but baulk at the idea that bike share systems should be anything but self-supporting. People complain that the bike stands are ugly and that the bikes clog the road, and that all those tourists and novice riders are accidents waiting to happen.
In fact, in most cases the opposite is true. Colin Hughes, The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)'s Director of National Policy and Project Evaluation says:
Bike-sharing is a model of cost-effectiveness both for users and cities. Using bike share to commute is cheaper than public transit for system members. It is also relatively inexpensive for a city to implement; a well-run system can actually be cash-positive instead of requiring large subsidies. The bottom line is bike share can often move more people at a lower cost and with many more positive benefits to health and environment than other modes.
Resource efficiency and environment
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions calls for ambitious climate and energy policies for 2030
The European Union is rethinking a new framework for the “energy and climate” policies for 2030, which could lead to setting new, binding targets for energy efficiency, renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions.
The discussions, which are currently underway and should be completed in 2014 or 2015, are intensifying as some fear a Europe that imposes new climate constraints without considering their impact on the continent’s competitiveness.
It is in this context that we organised a meeting at the European Parliament between CEMR locally elected representatives and MEPs on 5 December. On this occasion, we expressed that ambitious energy and climate policies constitute real opportunities for local economy, among which are job creation, stimulation of the economy (ex. the building sector), promotion of innovative SMEs, local production of renewable energy, and reduction of fuel poverty.
For their part, MEPs expressed their interest in continuing a direct and regular dialogue with municipalities and regions on the priorities and goals of European climate and energy policies in view of 2030.
EPA Green Infrastructure Projects Highlighted
The many green infrastructure projects and initiatives supported by EPA were recently reviewed in an article by Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water. Over the past two years, EPA has provided $1.35 million to more than 20 communities for green infrastructure projects that help reduce water pollution and boost resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Disaster dice loaded against poorest countries
It is often said that people in the poorest countries suffer most from climate hazards and the effects of a warming world. Now we have the data to prove it.
Between January 1980 and July 2013, climate-related disasters caused 2.52 million deaths around the globe. Of the total, a disproportionately high number of deaths - 1.28 million or 51 percent - were recorded in the world’s 49 least developed countries (LDCs), according to a recent briefing paper from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
And the situation isn’t getting any better, warned the IIED ahead of last month’s U.N. climate talks.
We need a revolution in the concept of public health
How can we apply new technologies for the benefit of society? How can we improve public services which use procedures from the nineteenth century? These are questions that can be answered in Social Innovation, a new concept increasingly popular in Europe. But what is it exactly? In this interview, Peter Ramsden points out some of the answers.
2013 Polis Conference calls for Greater Coordination of EU policies related to urban and regional transport
PRESS RELEASE: 350 mobility professionals from across Europe came together to debate on urban and regional mobility at last week’s 2013 Annual Polis Conference in Brussels. Participants call for greater coordination of European policies that affect urban and regional transport.
Is your city an innovative one? Apply to the Guangzhou Award 2014!
If your city develops innovative initiatives in urban management then you might be interested in applying.
The Award aims to recognize innovation in improving social, economic and environmental sustainability in cities and regions and, in so doing, to advance the prosperity and life quality of their citizens.The Guangzhou Award is co-sponsored by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the World Association of the Major Metropolises (Metropolis), and the City of Guangzhou.
The Guangzhou Award will be discerned to five (5) cities for each award cycle. Each of the winning cities will receive a USD 20,000 cash prize, a trophy and a commemorative certificate.
Submissions must be made in accordance with the registration and application forms, which could be downloaded from the official website of the Guangzhou Award at http://www.guangzhouaward.org.
Report: More Kids Are Walking to School
The long-term decline of walking and biking to school has been linked to the childhood obesity epidemic, a big share of morning rush hour traffic, and even kids’ lack of attention in class. In 1969, 41 percent of children in grades K–8 lived within one mile of school, and of those kids, 89 percent usually walked or biked. By 2009, 31 percent lived within a mile of school — and only 35 percent of them walked or biked.
It’s too soon to say that downward spiral is over. But there are hopeful signs.
A new report released by the National Center for Safe Routes to School shows that more kids are walking. However, biking seems to be staying flat, and busing is down.
First, a disclaimer: The study is based on somewhat uneven data. The 2005 national transportation bill, which created the federal Safe Routes to School program and started disbursing money to states, also mandated the implementation of a data collection system. Compliance has been rising dramatically — 382 schools submitted information in 2007, while 8,119 did this year. So current data is more robust than past years, and you should take the year-over-year trend results with a grain of salt.
Urbanites Expected to Double By 2050
It took all of human history to accumulate 3.5 billion urban dwellers on Earth, but it'll only take another 30 years to double that number, a U.N. agency focusing on cities announced Monday.
Although the rate of population growth is decreasing, the U.N. projects that the global population will increase from 7 billion to 9 billion within the next 30 to 40 years, with urbanites growing exponentially. But don't expect to see that impact in your city. Developing countries are expected to represent 96 percent of the urban growth.
"This is why we are very worried, because the number of people living in slums is increasing," Joan Clos, executive director of the U.N. human settlement program UN-Habitat, told the Associated Press.
MultiWalks: a smartphone App revealing Europe's neighbourhood stories, through walks made by artists
The free MultiWalks App offers you alternative tours of European cities, with walks made by artists. It's available on iOS/iPhone from Friday 18th October and coming soon on Android. Created by a partnership between award-winning arts company motiroti (UK), Centro Interculturale Mondinsieme (Italy) and Oslo Intercultural Museum (Norway), with technology support from Do Tank Studios, MultiWalks finds new ways to reveal the different characters, voices and histories of lesser-known neighbourhoods in London, Oslo and Reggio Emilia.
Resilient Cities. Disaster management and climate change: strengthening cities, reducing risks.
"By adopting an integrated approach to disaster management, GIZ aims to prevent disasters from taking place in urban areas, and to minimise the number of lives lost and the amount of damage caused as a result of unavoidable disasters. We support municipalities in optimising the way their administrations are organised, develop local capacity and strengthen institutions in order to improve urban quality of life and the resilience of cities. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR, 2012), cities can be called resilient when they are in a position to cope with or adapt to the impacts of certain hazards. Even during a crisis situation, they should be able to continue to function, which means maintaining the basic integrity of the natural environment, financial system, social structure, infrastructure and public services. They should also be capable of recovering from a catastrophic event and, where possible, restoring the city to its original state. The best way of counteracting climate change, avoiding future disasters and reducing the need for adaptation is to be proactive and to create environmentally compatible and climate-smart cities. Following these principles, we work together with our partners to develop innovative concepts for strengthening the resilience of cities.
We see disaster management as an element of good governance. This understanding gives rise to the term risk governance. Effective disaster management in cities requires the commitment and cooperation of all actors, i.e. state, private sector and civil society, at municipal and city district level."
EPOMM awards 2014 now open
Apply for the 2014 best practice transfer awards.
It is one of the central aims of EPOMM (European Platform on Mobility Management) to support exchange and learning on mobility management between European countries. For this reason, EPOMM has introduced the 'Best International Policy Transfer Award'. It rewards the best policy transfer between different entities from different countries.
Applicants for the 2014 award should have an exporting and an importing entity. The winners of the award (exporter and importer) will be invited to the European Conference on Mobility Management in Florence, 7-9 May 2014. Travel, accommodation and ECOMM delegate fee will be paid for up to a maximum of €1000 per person. The award will be handed over in a ceremony at the ECOMM, and this includes a short presentation on the actual transfer to the full ECOMM audience.
Aplication form available on EPOMM website: www.epomm.eu
Cities selected to join 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge
Out of 33 cities selected, 21 ICLEI members to receive support from the Rockefeller Foundation for their urban resilience work.
ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability is proud to congratulate 21 ICLEI member cities on their success in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities challenge: Durban (South Africa), Mexico City (Mexico), Porto-Alegre (Brazil), Quito (Ecuador), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Bristol (UK), Glasgow (UK), Rome (Italy), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Alameda, CA (United States), Berkeley, CA (United States), El Paso, TX (United States), Los Angeles, CA (United States), New York, NY (United States), New Orleans (United States), Norfolk, VA (United States), Oakland, CA (United States), Melbourne (Australia), Surat (India), Bangkok (Thailand) and Semarang (Indonesia).
These 21 ICLEI members are among 33 cities selected from nearly 400 entries. They have emerged as global leaders by demonstrating significant progress and a commitment to do even more to make their cities more resilient in the face of the growing threats posed by climate change and other stressors.
The award will provide 100 cities globally with a Chief Resiliency Officer and support services to develop or implement a city-wide resilience plan that will help their community better address the shocks and stresses of the 21st century.
This amazing 3-D tool might transform street planning
For street projects across the country, one of the enduring obstacles to change is simple: decision-makers and community members just aren't able to imagine what a dramatically better street would look like.
And when people can't understand something, the status quo usually wins.
A Portland-based video designer with a yen for better streets is setting out to solve this problem. He thinks it'll take the tools he learned in another industry: video game design.
The result is a three-dimensional, pannable, zoomable, animated customizable simulation of how a street would look and feel it were laid out differently. If you're on a desktop browser, take a moment to download and install the Unity Web Player plugin required to explore the visualization below. It's worth it.
CEMR publishes new study on territorial reforms in Europe in times of crisis
How have local and regional authorities been affected by the economic crisis? Which reforms have been made concerning the practices of these governments? What is the role of the local and regional level within the inner workings of states? These are the main issues addressed in CEMR’s new study, entitled Decentralisation at a crossroads: territorial reforms in Europe in times of crisis. The purpose of this publication is to provide a picture as complete as possible of the reforms that have been put in place since the beginning of the crisis. The study also aims to present an overview of the consequences of the crisis on local and regional autonomy in Europe. An opening analysis offers explanations as well as conclusions regarding decentralisation reforms. The study also includes country sheets that provide specific information on the situation and reforms in 41 countries.
UN-Habitat Partners with TomTom to ease urban congestion
Navigation provider TomTom (Tom2) has announced a partnership with UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in which TomTom’s global Traffic Index data will be used by UN-Habitat and its stakeholders around the world to make strategic decisions when tackling urban congestion.
“Urban areas are growing fast; they are now home to half of the world’s population and are predicted to reach 6 billion by 2050,” said Dr. Joan Clos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, speaking at the partnership announcement.“How we plan and manage our cities in terms of basic services, mobility or connectivity is going to be essential to ensure better cities. TomTom’s data will give us vital insight, providing a more accurate analysis of urban traffic congestion. This will help policy makers and local governments develop sustainable, workable and lasting urban solutions.”
Geneva tests ultra-quick charging electric bus
In Geneva, an all-electric articulated bus that charges within 15 seconds by ‘flash charging’ at bus stops is currently in operation.
The bus, which requires no overhead wires, is charged by energy from hydropower, making the bus a zero-carbon-emission solution.
At certain stops, the bus gets a boost of 400 kilowatt while passengers are getting on and off. At the end of the bus line, the battery is then fully recharged within 3-4 minutes. Alternatively, the bus may also be charged at the depot within half an hour.
Sustainable Mobility in Metropolitan Regions
All over the world, metropolitan regions and their transport systems are facing numerous challenges of sustainable development and are dealing with the economic, social and environmental impacts of mobility and transport.
Decision makers in metropolitan regions need more information about the benefits and costs of sustainable mobility strategies as well as suitable assessment tools and governance instruments for their successful implementation.
The annual mobil.TUM conference serves as an opportunity for international and interdisciplinary dialogue on the current challenges and achievements in the field of mobility and transport. It aims to draw connections between the latest research results and best practice experiences.
The mobil.TUM 2014 conference especially welcomes contributions reporting on the impacts of sustainable mobility strategies in metropolitan regions as well as the instruments and tools necessary for their implementation.
Please consider the upcoming abstract submission deadline on January 7, 2014. Detailed submission guidelines are available at:
European Parliament TRAN committee vote on Clean Power for Transport Package
Polis, as a member in the Platform for the Electrification of Surface Transport, closely followed the vote of the European Parliament's Transport Committee on Tuesday, 26 November on measures to build-up alternative fuel stations across Europe to break the oil dependency of transport.
The UCLG Campaign for an Urban Goal in SDGs reaches more than 130 supports
UCLG has launched an Awareness Campaign for a Stand-Alone Urban Goal which aims at influencing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) process to acknowledge local and regional governments as a specific sphere of government and as key actors of development, building on their proven contribution to innovative solutions addressing global and local challenges.
With this in mind, UCLG will show the wide support from local and regional authorities and their partners to sustainable urbanization before States and the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon. With this aim in mind, more than 140 signatures have been gathered from local and regional leaders, local government associations and their working partners from over 40 countries, with more joining every day.
OPTICITIES project starts in Lyon
The new Optimise Citizen Mobility and Freight Management in Urban Environments (OPTICITIES) project led by Lyon launched on 2 December 2013
OPTICITIES is a three year Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) project which aims to help European cities tackle complex urban mobility challenges through focusing on the optimisation of transport networks, experimentation of innovative intelligent transport system (ITS) services and strong public-private partnerships.
OPTICITIES will deliver significant breakthroughs for six EUROCITIES members: Lyon, Birmingham, Gothenburg, Madrid, Turin and Wroclaw. The project addresses both passenger and freight transport issues through a user-centred approach.
Asian Development Bank predicts climate change could cost US$25.8 million per year
Regional bank estimates of WST$60 million (US$25.8 million) annual costs from climate change damage are too low, according to a response from the region’s main environmental programme.
“I think probably more than that,” said Espen Ronneberg Climate Change Advisor from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
He was responding to questions about estimates released this week by the Asian Development Bank.
The ADB estimates climate costs at almost $60 million tala a year by 2100 if countries contributing to the problem fail to reduce global warming.
That figure was among a range of estimate for the Pacific region.
Communitas Coalition fuels efforts on sustainable development goals for cities
In collaboration with UN-Habitat, nrg4sd, Tellus Institute and Ford Foundation, ICLEI embarked in a project-based partnership entitled "Communitas Coalition for Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements in the New Un Development Agenda."
Aligning efforts of experts and local and regional practitioners in developing solid proposals for sustainable development goals for cities, the project will host its first Experts Workshop on 5-6 December in New York, USA.
The project complements ICLEI´s other partnerships on the post2015 agenda that includes membership to Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments Towards HABITATIII Agenda and UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
For more information, visit Communitas Coalition website
EUSEW 2014: Dates chosen, awards competition open!
From 23 to 27 June 2014, the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will take place in Brussels and across Europe. In the coming weeks and months, the EUSEW website will be updated with useful information for both events’ organisers (Energy Days) and participants.
Meanwhile, EUSEW 2014 has already kicked off with the opening of the Sustainable Energy Europe and ManagEnergy awards.
The Covenant of Mayors Office and the EUSEW Secretariat invite signatory cities to submit the projects they are the most proud of. The awards are a unique opportunity to share results in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources or clean mobility. Successful experiences in implementing sustainable energy actions plans can thus receive EU-wide recognition and communication support.
Visit the Awards competition page to find out how to take part or contact David Crous for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org - +32 2 (0) 340 30 68.
Urbanisation: an emerging topic at European Development Days 2013
Concluding two days of dialogue and exchange on possible options for the post-2015 development framework, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson exhorted European Development Days participants to "adapt to the new global landscape", including communication and information, migration, urbanisation and youth unemployment.
The role of urbanisation as a driver for socio-economic transformation has been increasingly recognised over the last year by European institutions dealing with territorial cohesion, environment and foreign policy. The importance of urbanisation has also started to be acknowledged by the European development and cooperation community, as demonstrated by this year's European Development Days, the European Commission's platform on international cooperation issues.
10 Lessons From 'Un-Smart' Cities
It isn't just the "smartest" cities that have the smartest ideas.
Technology company Ericsson has published the 2013 edition of its "Networked Society City Index" report, which ranks 31 cities around the world in terms of their ICT maturity. The actual rankings are what I would expect, with Stockholm, London, and Singapore at the top, and you can read the full list on page 17 of the report if you're interested.
What I found most interesting is the information in the supporting document "Appendix 3," which lists examples of "smart" technology projects in all 31 cities in the report. I was intrigued to find out about how the cities with the least-developed ICT networks are using technology to help solve their urban problems.
The incredible mile-long floating CITY
Floating around the globe, drifting from country to country, never staying in one place long enough to get bored …
If you like travelling, life on the Freedom Ship, the world’s first floating city, sounds perfect.
There’s only a couple of hitches – it’s not built yet, and it’s going to look an awful lot like a multi-storey carpark when it is.
Its designers have released computer-generated photographs of what they hope the mile-long vessel will look like.
It would have enough room for 50,000 permanent residents within its 25 storeys and boasts schools, hospitals, art galleries, shops, parks, an aquarium and a casino. It would even have its own airport on the roof, with a runway serving small private and commercial aircraft carrying up to 40 passengers each.
Queensland Simplifies 14 Urban Planning Policies Into One
In a move it says will cut red tape and simplify development approval processes, the Queensland state government of Australia has consolidated 14 state-based policies for urban planning and land use into a single document.
Announced by Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Jeff Seeney last week at the Urban Development Institute Association lunch in Brisbane and released publicly on Monday, the State Planning Policy aims to provide a comprehensive view of the state’s interest in land use planning and development in a singular policy.
It arranges 16 separate state interests – matters in which the state government is involved to meet economic or environmental objectives – into five broad themes: liveable communities and housing, economic growth, infrastructure, hazards and safety, and environment and heritage, and outlines critical considerations relevant to these areas from a state point of view.
City of MADRID elected as Polis President
At the Annual General Assembly, the city of Madrid was unanimously elected to be the president of the Polis network in 2014. Madrid is taking over the presidency from the city of Perugia and opened this year's Polis Conference with the launch of the network's latest initiative "Thinking Cities".
"With other Polis members, we share the opinion that improving local transport is crucial to guarantee the sustainability of our cities and region", said Javier Rubio de Urquía, coordinator of sustainability and mobility at Madrid City Council. "Time has come for Madrid to take a step forward and assume more responsibility in this process. We will do our best to support the Polis network and to work together towards deploying innovative urban transport technologies and policies for a more sustainable Europe."
Madrid has been promoting sustainable transport for many years, both locally and through cooperation across borders. Outstanding initiatives in the Spanish capital include the city's ambitious Air Quality Plan, the promotion of cycling and walking, the upcoming intelligent on-street parking scheme, its multimodal interchanges, and urban freight electromobility initiatives.
At the General Assembly, the cities of Budapest, Perugia, Rotterdam and Stuttgart were also elected to join the Management Committee of Polis.
Following the Polis elections, Thinking Cities magazine was launched yesterday, a joint print publication of Polis and H3B Media. "Thinking Cities gives cities and regions a central platform for European and international exchange. It will allow them to move towards the centre of the debate, and to engage in discussions on new and sustainable transport solutions in cities and regions," says Polis Secretary General Sylvain Haon. Thinking Cities will help stakeholders to understand the central role that local and regional authorities play in achieving transport innovation.
Winners of the 2013 EUROCITIES awards
The cities of Gijon, Brighton & Hove and Ljubljana were last night revealed as the winners of this year’s EUROCITIES awards. The winners were announced at an awards ceremony held to mark the opening of this year’s annual conference, EUROCITIES 2013 Ghent – smart citizens taking place from 27-30 November. The awards recognise outstanding efforts by cities to engage with smart citizens to develop smart cities.
Horizon 2020 to fund activities for smart, green and integrated transport
The new Horizon 2020 Framework Programme is intended to be one of the primary drivers to create new jobs and growth in Europe Smart, green and integrated transport is one of the areas that the funding will go to.
The International Award UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21 call for candidates now open
UCLG and its Committee on Culture are fully engaged in the pursuit of sustainable cultural development at local, national and global levels. In this objective and with the collaboration of the City of Mexico, the Committee on Culture has launched the “International Award UCLG – MEXICO City – Culture 21”. The award will be received by leading cities and figures, distinguished through their contribution to culture as a dimension of sustainable development.
The Award will contribute to the dissemination and implementation of Agenda 21 for culture and demonstrates the leadership of Mexico City in the area of culture and sustainable development. The deadline for submission of projects is 31st March 2014
Cities Set Their Eyes on Light Rail
Tucson has built four-mile-long streetcar tracks that will run between the University of Arizona campus and downtown. Only two of the eight cars that will be used to ferry passengers every 10 minutes have arrived, and operations will not start until next year.
But local business leaders say the streetcar has already revived the center of this sprawling, artsy city of 524,000. Roughly 150 businesses have opened their doors along the route in the last five years, and the once-dormant area is in the middle of a $230 million construction boom, according to the Downtown Tucson Partnership. The group estimates that 2,000 jobs have been created or relocated to the area.
Visit the new website of JPI Urban Europe and learn about its recent projects: BOOST and SEiSMiC
Through JPI Urban Europe, Member States can generate European solutions by means of coordinated research. The aim is to create attractive, sustainable and economically viable urban areas, in which European citizens, communities and their surroundings can thrive.
JPI Urban Europe is an initiative of European Member States. The currently participating Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Turkey. For more information on JPI and its activities, please visit the JPI-website . You can also subscribe to the JPI-newsletter which is send out once every 3 months.
National Drought Resilience Partnership Launched
As part of the President's Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration recently launched a National Drought Resilience Partnership. The Partnership will align federal drought policies and help communities manage the impact of drought. During its first year the Partnership will undertake a pilot project in a western area hard hit by drought to create a local-scale drought resilience plan that could be applied in other areas.
Cities in action: ‘One contact’
The city of Vilnius created ‘One contact’ in a move to simplify citizens’ services and improve transparency. Launched in 2003, the service brings together relevant city departments that were previously located in different sites across the city. Now they are all based in one place, the ‘visitors services division’, making it a one-stop-shop for citizens’ services.
The move by the city represents a change in service culture and an effort to bring local government closer to the citizens. As well as creating a single site for services, the city began using a specialised document management system (@vilys) to allow it to process requests more efficiently and monitor the progress of individual cases. This was a challenge in itself, as many of the city staff had not previously worked with such software and lacked computer literacy. The city provided training courses and simplified the system to deal with this. Now up and running, this system has helped make the city administration greener: emails are no longer printed but transferred electronically to the relevant department.
When Climate Change and Property Rights Collide
As coastal cities continue to face the potentially expensive threat of increasingly volatile weather, storm surge and sea level rise associated with climate change, building resilience has become a top planning priority.
But resilience has multiple dimensions. It means not only building things, like flood gates and hardened infrastructure, but also keeping natural systems such as wetlands free of development - and, in many cases, deciding not to rebuild in the most vulnerable places. Therein lies an evolving and complex issue affecting private property rights.
Gothenburg mayor invites Chinese cities to look into congestion tax at EU-China urbanisation forum
Mrs. Lena Malm, lord mayor of Gothenburg, was on of the key speakers at the EU-China urbanisation forum and its sub-forum on urban mobility that took place in Beijing on the 21st of November. The events were milestones in a dialogue to bring EU and Chinese cities closer together. The EU launches a series of activities to make this happen.
Why Detroit's lights went out, and how the city plans to get them back on
One morning last month, 6-year-old DeShaun White walked in the predawn darkness to his school bus stop at the intersection of St. Clair and East Warren on Detroit’s east side. Before he could reach it, the youngster was struck by a hit-and-run driver who nearly killed him.
DeShaun was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Michigan for emergency surgery as his family and Detroiters citywide prayed for his life. Quickly and furiously, Detroiters blamed the tragedy on the city’s enduring streetlighting crisis: The lights near the boy’s bus stop were out that morning and hadn’t been working for months.
A crew from Detroit’s Public Lighting Department was out the next day after hearing the news to fix the lights. But across the city’s 139 square miles, tens of thousands of other people are still living in the dark and with all the problems that brings — more crime and traffic accidents and a heightened sense of vulnerability that forces many to plan their lives around the setting sun for fear of getting mugged on their own streets.
EUROCITIES secretary general – position open
EUROCITIES is looking for a successor to Paul Bevan, our current secretary general, who is stepping down after five years of leading the organisation.
We are looking for a leader with presence, vision and drive, a clear and confident advocate and communicator with proven management capabilities.
The post becomes free at the end of January. For more information, please access the job ad here.
Amsterdam Gives Alcoholics Beer to Clean City
Should you pay alcoholics in beer? This is the ethical dilemma thrown up by a city project in the famously liberal -- but not always -- city of Amsterdam.
In Amsterdam, the Rainbow Group Foundation is running a pilot project where it will pay 20 chronic alcoholics to help clean up the city.
The idea is to reduce antisocial behaviour caused by alcoholics in public park Oosterpark, and it is being funded by public money and donations. The element that has attracted most interest is that the daily pay is five cans of beer, half a pack of rolling tobacco, and €10 (US$13).
Crisis and decentralisation
CEMR publishes new study on territorial reforms in Europe in times of crisis
How have local and regional authorities been affected by the economic crisis? Which reforms have been made concerning the practices of these governments? What is the role of the local and regional level within the inner workings of states? These are the main issues addressed in CEMR’s new study, entitled Decentralisation at a crossroads: territorial reforms in Europe in times of crisis.
The purpose of this publication is to provide a picture as complete as possible of the reforms that have been put in place since the beginning of the crisis. The study also aims to present an overview of the consequences of the crisis on local and regional autonomy in Europe. An opening analysis offers explanations as well as conclusions regarding decentralisation reforms. The study also includes country sheets that provide specific information on the situation and reforms in 41 countries.
Vancouver bags green building award
Vancouver City was named the overall winner of 'Best Green Building Policy' at the World Green Building Council's (WorldGBC's) Government Leadership Awards.
Cities working to transform the built environment and realize the vision of a sustainable future were among the winners of the World Green Building Council's (WorldGBC's) Government Leadership Awards, announced Thursday in Warsaw.
Vancouver was feted for its Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, an example of excellence in sustainable city policies. The award recognizes the City's leadership on green buildings, and its ambitious targets for all new buildings constructed from 2020 onward to be carbon neutral and to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in existing buildings by 20 per cent over 2007 levels by 2020.
NYC DOT Shares Its Five Principles for Designing Safer Streets
Earlier this month, NYC DOT put out a major new report, Making Safer Streets [PDF], that collects before-and-after data from dozens of street redesigns and distills five key principles to reduce traffic injuries. The excitement of election week overshadowed the release, but this is an important document that livable streets supporters will want to bookmark. It’s an accessible guide to how DOT approaches the task of re-engineering streets for greater safety.
Under Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, DOT has elevated safety as a departmental priority, and it often follows up a redesign by reporting on the change in traffic injuries after six months or a year. After six years of implementing these projects, the department now has an especially compelling data set – multiple years of before-and-after safety records from dozens of redesigns. Reviewing these projects and what has worked best, the report authors distilled DOT’s approach to safety improvements into a design philosophy.
BRICS meeting to focus on urbanisation
Urbanisation will come under the spotlight when mayors from cities in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries gather to deliberate on strategies to deal with service delivery in fast growing cities.
The second BRICS Urbanisation Forum and the third Friendship Cities and Local Government Co-operation Forum will start on Wednesday. The meeting is being held under the theme "Towards Sustainable Development".
The aim is to create a platform for member countries to explore areas of exchanging ideas and co-operation on issues relating to rapid urbanisation.KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-operative Governance Nomusa Dube-Ncube says South Africa can learn a lot from its partners in BRICS.
“Urbanisation has been a huge challenge especially for emerging countries like Brazil, India and China. We need to learn from each other in terms of how to deal with rural migration to urban areas. We also need to look at issues of development, infrastructure and job creation.”
Call for Cities and Regions: Searching for 16 partners to work on multi-level governance in support of Europe 2020
A call is now open to select 16 regions or cities interested in partnering with 8 case study regions on improving multi-level governance: deadline 22 January 2014.
The study, funded by DG REGIO and carried out by a consortium led by Spatial Foresight, aims to generate lessons from policy experiences and to stimulate learning and exchange between regions. The study focuses on two policy fields linked to the Europe 2020 Strategy; energy efficiency measures with a special focus on the existing building stock and social inclusion in urban areas.The partnering over 12 months is accompanied by the consortium, which will provide technical assistance, facilitation support and analysis of the cases and networking.
More details on the call and application process: www.spatialforesight.eu/2020.html
Seattle's Northgate Neighborhood Embraces TOD Approach
One of the country's oldest shopping malls is undergoing a dramatic smart growth transition. An article in AIArchitect reports that the Northgate mall and neighborhood in Seattle is being retrofitted as a transit-oriented development (TOD). Northgate's light rail station is expected to open in 2021 and stimulate significant private investment in walkable, mixed-use redevelopment. Urban designers for the neighborhood have established a civic infrastructure of new parks, a new library and community center, shared underground parking facilities, and proposed new bike and walking trails to anchor redevelopment and connect with existing neighborhoods.
URBACT Capacity Building: Promoting New Ways of Thinking
The overall success of URBACT will in large part be determined by its ability to disseminate its messages to urban practitioners throughout Europe and create a community which shares new ways of thinking when it comes to solving the problems facing the cities of today. But there is no single means of communication or single type of practitioner who should be included in the community...
Understanding Active Travel promotion: PASTA project kick-off meeting
New FP7 research project "PASTA-Physical Activity Through Sustainable Transport Approaches" kicked-off on 20-21 November in Vienna. PASTA focuses on the promotion and factors enabling active travel (i.e. walking and cycling including the combination with public transport use) in urban environments as an innovative approach to integrate physical activity into individuals’ everyday lives.
Portland's Testing a Greener Kind of P3
Portlanders want a world-class off-road bicycling park. As it happens, there’s an ideal, unused 38-acre parcel of partially wooded land on the east side of the Oregon city. Portland doesn’t have the cash to develop such a park, but that’s not stopping the state. It’s testing a new kind of public-private partnership to move the project, known as Gateway Green, forward. If it’s successful, it could drastically change how environmental projects are funded by states and localities.
In September, via a governor-appointed body called Oregon Solutions, the state partnered with crowdfunding site Indiegogo—similar to Kickstarter—to raise $100,000 for Gateway Green. The money will turn the master plan into the schematic designs needed to obtain building permits and construction financing. More than money, the campaign is about building momentum for the project. It’s an opportunity for backers to show that Gateway Green is worth putting real money behind. As Oregon Solutions Project Manager Jim Jacks told Bike Portland, officials need to “build a reservoir of support to get the thing built over time.”
Town-twinning becomes green: Learning Covenant cities get support from experienced ones
Twinning partnerships are an efficient way for ‘learning’ municipalities to gain knowledge from experienced ones. This is also true in the field of sustainable energy as shown by the IEE-funded project “Green Twinning” which seeks to strengthen the capacity of local authorities from the EU-12 “in institutionalising sustainable energy policies into their operations and in committing and fulfilling their Covenant of Mayors obligations.”
The twinning agreements struck between Spanish frontrunner municipalities and local authorities from Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Slovenia foresee activities like study visits, staff exchange and mentoring. In addition, the aim of the project is to identify and respond to training gaps through a detailed capacity-building strategy. Two courses have already been held, respectively on the development and implementation of Sustainable Energy Action Plans. Another aspect of the project will involve helping learning local authorities to identify financial mechanisms that would make their sustainable energy projects bankable.
The project, which started in April 2012, will reach completion in March 2014 with the twinnings expected to last beyond that.
Two Covenant of Mayors Supporters are involved in the project: the Greek association PEDA, as coordinator, and the Polish network PNEC. The Slovenian signatory city of Vrhnika also features among the project partners.
Bold & Bizarre Visions for Cities
When it comes to planning our cities' futures, the ideas and plans set forth tend to range from the very basic to the extremely bizarre. We gave a quick rundown of some of the more basic concepts earlier this week in our slideshow of the 10 Ways Cities Are Turning Back Time. Now, we'd like to take a deeper look at some of the more bold and bizarre visions for our increasingly urban future.
These are ideas with good intentions: getting people from one place to another as quickly and efficiently as possible; solving the water crisis; finding new, off-the-ground places to develop; and more. But are any of these feasible? How futuristic will our cities be, really?
That's what we're looking to explore here. So please have a click through the following pages to explore 12 ideas that are truly bold and bizarre -- and may or may not change the future for good.
Leaders Around the World Move to Citizen-Based Services
From Michael Dixon, General Manager, IBM Smarter Cities
Cities have never been more attractive, with people all over the world migrating to them from near and far. However, with them comes a range of significant challenges that city leaders must tackle. A new report from Frost and Sullivan looks at smart cities as a mega trend set to drive urban development for the next decade. It predicts that 26 global cities will be considered smart cities in 2025, more than 50 percent of which will be in Europe and North America.
More than ever, forward-thinking city leaders are embracing the opportunities that technology can create. The application of Big Data and analytics, for example, can lead to better management and new partnerships that ultimately benefit citizens. And according to Frost and Sullivan, partnerships are a critical way for cities to address the rising challenges.
Senior White House Officials Celebrate 100+ RC4A Signatories
Amidst a week of extreme weather across the globe, the Resilient Communities for America Campaign, led by ICLEI USA, hosted a celebratory breakfast briefing to celebrate more than 115 city and county signatories at the recent National League of Cities (NLC) Congress of Cities Conference in Seattle, Wash.
The need for community resilience and preparedness could not have come at a more crucial time; with the devastation in the Philippines caused by typhoon Haiyan and the recent tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest putting more than 53 million people at risk, communities everywhere must be better equipped to deal with extreme weather challenges.
"There's a clear need for better preparedness in the face of the increasing number and severity of storms and natural disasters. The City of Chicago has been proactively taking steps to mitigate these risks through our Climate Action Plan, including implementing emergency services such as Alert Chicago,” said Chicago Council Member Joe Moore, one of the newest local elected leaders to sign the agreement. "I support the Resilient Communities for America Campaign because it plays a crucial role in spreading extreme weather awareness and preparedness among local elected officials."
Chronic urban vulnerabilities may soon become a humanitarian crisis
By 2015, three billion people will be living in urban slums according to UN Habitat . As the number of vulnerable people living in urban slums rises, aid agencies are struggling to identify the tipping point at which chronic urban vulnerability turns into a humanitarian crisis. IRIN spoke to aid staff to find out what they are doing about it.
Accurately tracking vulnerability is more complex in densely populated towns and cities, particularly in informal neighbourhoods such as slums, than it is in rural areas. Aid agencies and donors have therefore been slow to take on the challenge, inadvertently creating a rural-urban divide.
"Because we do not have the information, we do not intervene, and we allow people to live in conditions that we would consider unacceptable in rural settings," said Marie Sardier, Action against Hunger (ACF)'s food security and livelihoods adviser in Paris.
Oxfam's deputy humanitarian director Graham Mackay agrees: "In a rural area, we won't intervene until a community has reached the point where it cannot cope anymore. I do not think we have enough understanding to apply this same method in an urban context."
Climate change and Cities
For the first time, a day focused on cities and regions at UN climate conference
How can we, at the local level, better adapt to climate change? How can our municipalities and regions contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases? These two questions were addressed at the historical first “Cities Day”, organised during the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw* (Poland) on 21 November 2013.
Our municipalities and regions contribute to around 50% of CO2 emissions linked to daily life of inhabitants. As the closest level of government to the citizens, they have competences to act on diverse issues, such as urban planning, consumption, transportation, and quality of the habitat. As this role has already been recognised in international climate negotiations, efforts must now be focused on reinforcing a dialogue with national governments, so that our municipalities and regions have more resources to be able to better protect the climate.
Cities must lead the way into a sustainable future
Tacloban in the Philippines has now joined the growing list of cities – including New Orleans, Bangkok, Moscow, New York, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro and Port-au-Prince, to name just a few – pummelled in recent years by climate catastrophes. Many of the world’s largest cities, built on seacoasts and rivers, face the threat of rising sea levels and intensifying storms.
So the new global development agenda now taking shape should empower cities to help lead the way to sustainable development in the twenty-first century.
The importance of cities in today’s world economy is unprecedented. Until the Industrial Revolution, human history was overwhelmingly rural. Only around 10% of people lived in cities. Today, the share of urbanites is around 53% and is likely to rise to around 67% by 2050.
The 10th European Urban and Regional Planning Awards
ECTP-CEU, with the support of the Committee of Regions is proud to organise the 10th European Urban and Regional Planning Awards in partnership with SPECIAL project and Intelligent Energy Europe in collaboration with the TCPA (Town and Country Planning Association).
This partnership enhances the integration of sustainable energy and spatial planning.
The ECTP-CEU’s European Urban and Regional Planning Awards give recognition to planning strategies, schemes or developments which make an outstanding contribution to the quality of life in urban and rural regions of Europe.
This is also a particular opportunity now that we have refreshed the European Charter of Spatial Planning stressing the emergency for strategy, participation processes and sustainable development in all processes of spatial planning.
The Award will be open to spatial planners and municipalities from the 47 European Countries of the Council of Europe.
For Canada's remote towns, living with polar bears is growing more risky
It was just a few days after a polar bear had mauled two people in the centre of town that the patrol officer pulled up by the school and scanned his binoculars along the rocky shoreline of Hudson Bay looking for any signs of a telltale white lump.
"There could be a bear, or several bears, right there hiding in the willows and you wouldn't even know it," said Bob Windsor, the officer for Manitoba Conservation. He had received three reported sightings in town that morning; there could be up to 20 on a typical November day.
Such is life in Churchill, a town with about as many polar bears as people.
But living with polar bears is growing more risky, for both species, in a future being written by climate change. The loss of sea ice has already caused a precipitous drop in the bear population around Hudson Bay, forcing bears off their platform for hunting seals – their main source of food.
Rio De Janeiro Mayor Paes Elected As New C40 Chair
The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) has announced that Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes has been elected to succeed New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as the new Chair of the C40 Steering Committee.
Mayor Bloomberg will stay on as President of the C40 Board.The Steering Committee is made up of Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, New York City, Seoul, and Tokyo. As C40 Chair, Mayor Paes will lead the strategic direction of the organisation and build upon Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy of establishing the C40 as the world’s leading climate action organisation. As President of the Board, Mayor Bloomberg will oversee day-to-day operations of the organisation’s professional staff and serve as a key counselor to both the new chair and the organisation.
Can sustainable community development impact crime reduction in urban areas?
The impacts of the revitalization of the neighborhood surrounding East Oakland’s Tassafaronga Village go beyond making the area more aesthetically appealing and more energy efficient. Comprehensive green urban planning which leads to increased sustainability and improved sense of psychological well-being may also put a dent in crime.
Prior to the opening of the Acta Non Verba community farm in 2011, Executive Director Kelly Carlisle recalls the grounds being littered with used condoms and Swisher Sweet wrappers. At initial meetings, she says, “community leaders were skeptical we could turn this around. Now those leaders are our biggest supporters.”
As the New York Times reported in 2012, the Oakland Police Department recorded a 25 percent reduction in crime in the Tassafaronga neighborhood over a five-year period, which speaks to the ripple effects of blight reduction.