Focus on Sustainable Cities and Communities

Focus on Sustainable Cities and Communities

Assumptions and objectives to make cities and communities sustainable

Cities have often been a vehicle for generating new ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity and social development, and up to the present they have also enabled people to improve their social and economic conditions. However, many challenges persist to keep city centers as places not dangerous for both lands and resources. Today half of humanity (about 4 billion people) lives in urban areas and almost 60% of the world population will inhabit urban areas by 2030; 95% of urban expansion in the coming decades will occur in developing countries; currently 30% of the world's urban population lives in slums or otherwise in conditions of housing discomfort and this rate is constantly increasing; cities occupy only 3% of the earth's surface but they are responsible for 60% -80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions; the rapid urbanization puts pressure on fresh water supplies, sewers, environment and public health. So it is priority to achieve the Objective 11 of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development called "Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable".

The Objective 11 works at global level and aims to guarantee everyone access to adequate, safe and convenient basic housing and services and the modernization of poor neighborhoods; to provide everyone with access to safe and sustainable transport systems, improving road safety; to increase inclusive and sustainable urbanization and the capacity for participatory and integrated planning and management of human settlement; to safeguard cultural and natural heritage; to reduce the negative environmental impact per capita of cities, especially related to air quality and waste management; to provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible public green spaces; to support positive economic, social and environmental relations between urban, peri-urban and rural areas; to significantly increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans for mitigation and adaptation to climate change, disaster resilience, development and implementation of interventions in line with risk of disasters; to support the developing countries on the construction of sustainable and resilient buildings.



Examples of sustainability for cities and communities

The sustainability of cities (and communities in general) will therefore play a strategic role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In the last decades many realities worked for that and many examples can be quoted. In public and private transport, compared to the past less and less impactful practices are being increasingly experimented and disseminated; car, bus, taxi, bike sharing and free floating, safe pedestrian routes and integrated public transport services are just examples of these actions, that thereby promote huge savings in terms of resources (temporal, economic and mineral).

For some years many cities are experimenting their plans of times and schedules in order to contribute to the decongestion of traffic and the reduction of atmospheric and acoustic pollution, to increase the liveability of cities with the reorganization of times and schedules services, to facilitate citizens' access to public services, to shorten the time needed to provide services and to develop greater efficiency of the entire urban system, particularly towards the most disadvantaged social categories.

Some of these practices used technologically innovative materials (such as carbon nanotubes). Others have resumed and repeated the use of traditional knowledge that had been almost completely abandoned over the centuries to encourage the industrial development; we can for example mention the cob and straw-bale constructions, the vertical gardens built on the buildings, the restyling of dwellings dug into the rock or placed underground to keep the landscape intact, the "trompe" walls of the Andean plateau able to accumulate the heat from the sun during the day and redistribute it inside the house during the night (when the temperatures drop considerably), or the systems of channeling and collecting rainwater in cisterns for domestic or agricultural consumption.

Also, the propagation of the traditional landscape eco-museums is helping to enhance the tangible and intangible heritage of the communities. As well as the birth of sustainable communities, such as those created in Italy in Monestevole, in Vorovoro in the Fiji Islands, in Sierra Leone, in Bali and in Papua New Guinea thanks to the support of the "Tribewanted" international cooperative (link); those communities were set up to establish and develop sustainable realities, but also to promote ecotourism and responsible tourism practices all over the world by re-evaluating communities belonging to depressed areas.

We can also mention Christiania in Denmark (capable of converting old abandoned military buildings into social houses based on the principle of self-determination and collective ownership), the ecological community of Peñalolen in Chile or the eco-villages created on the shores of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, where the focus has been placed on the recycling of materials otherwise destined for disposal, in order to build sustainable structures through the use of eco-bricks made of tires or plastic bottles. Anyway this trend should not come as a surprise if we think that in the past few centuries ideal cities and communities have been imagined (and in some cases realized), such as those of Pienza, Ivrea, Urbino, Palmanova, Terra del Sole, Sabbioneta and Acaya in Italy, New Lanark in England (link), the "Ciudad Lineal" in Spain, Auroville in India and Arcosanti in the United States.

Community urban gardens, green districts and sustainable communities that are now spreading like wildfire all over the world and where organic products are produced, where solar plants for the production of hot water, electricity and biomass are installed, where permaculture, green building, phytodepuration for water recycling are applied and where electric vehicles were introduced, are further examples of what we are trying to do to re-balance a collective system going toward the collapse.

Fortunately, for a few decades, civil society and public institutions also started working on disaster risk management. Bio-engineering works to cope with widespread hydro-geological instability are a classic example, having the dual function of mitigating the landslides risk and oxygenating heavily polluted areas. As well as the resettlement of communities located in highly vulnerable areas through the construction of new public and private facilities, designed for the adaptation to climate change and able to withstand tornadoes, earthquakes and floods, totally respecting the autochthonous traditions.

Many of these practices are being tested thanks to the use of increasingly participatory methodological approaches, inclusive and therefore sustainable, that involve all the stakeholders (citizens, associations, institutions and enterprises) in all phases of the their realization. For example, the NGO "Health Bridge" (link) in Hoi An in Vietnam has developed a process of community involvement to design and build gardens and playgrounds realized thanks to a fundraising and the community participation in the implementation phase of the new thematic spaces.

Also the digital transformation, the enhancement of cultural heritage and the management of natural resources are assuming an increasingly decisive role in the sustainable development of territories, becoming elements of competitiveness for startups, generating channels for circular economy and creating opportunities for the aggregation of citizens. As well as the transition from basic broadband infrastructures to the use of the open data, to the exchange of data and services, to the use of data to make decisions, is first of all cultural, as well as digital. Furthermore urban innovation increasingly produces shared spaces generating innovative ways of aggregation and social inclusion, such as working residential spaces, co-working, urban centers and containers for startups.

Source.

Author: Alessandro Zito / Materahub

Share this
The SDGs and Business: New Horizon or New Smokescreen? Global Targets & National Responsibility? German Sustainable Development Strategy
Related Posts:

SDG8: Economic growth for sustainable future

Although the number of workers living in extreme poverty is showing a substantial decline over the past 25 years, and the middle class now makes up more than 34 percent of total employment, the world economy is still facing serious challenges ahead.

Initiatives and obstacles to reaching SDG4

Every single country in the world is challenged to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. One of those goals, SDG4, is concerned with education policy issues which are not part of the international development agenda, but are of great value to the OECD member and partner countries.

Are bike lanes are as sustainable as they seem?

In the Strong Towns podcast, “Are Bike Lanes White Lanes,” speaker and author of the book “Bike Lanes are White Lanes,” Melody Hoffmann identifies a critical urban design problem in bike lane infrastructure—addressing in-depth how bike lanes are not as “sustainable” as they seem, and can often deepen issues of classism, racism, and displacement.

Thinking about flight shaming, ethical travel and consumption options

So it seems traveling by train for longer distances takes around 10x longer than flight but is around 10x less carbon intensive. So yes, traveling by train can be a good choice for activists like Greta Thunberg, but also for regular people. But in another article I read that Greta Thunberg wants to avoid flying to the US and travel by a boat.

How can complexity science improve education?

One frequent mistake in social innovations and education, is to assume one-fits-all approach to solving social problems. We need to realize that managing in complex systems requires radically different tools than managing in complicated systems or chaotic systems.

Millennials are driving interest in sustainable investment

Sustainable, socially responsible or ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing is on the rise. A recent survey from Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing has found that millennials are leading the way with nearly nine in ten (86%) of them being interested in sustainable investing.

How can Slovakia contribute to global prosperity after #AllForJan?

Slovakia is a relatively young country, still in its twenties. For most of our recent history since the late 1990s we prided ourselves in being a “Tatra Tiger”, a fast growing emerging economy with a strong manufacturing base (think Volkswagen) and highly skilled and productive workers at business process offshoring centers (think Accenture).

Interview with Andrea Casadio, the creator of AllerGenio

How to help people who are affected by allergies and food intolerance?
A search engine can identify allergens in a database of more than eighteen thousand ingredients, scientifically validated by the laboratory of Human Health Sciences, University of Florence: this is AllerGenio , online platform which is a great help for allergic and intolerant people , since it recognizes the substances to be avoided in food.

You are What You Eat and Why Do You Eat?

The idea that you are what you eat has been a prevailing belief in many cultures throughout the history. For example, the ancient Aztecs would eat the brain of their rivals because they believed it gave them the wisdom and knowledge of the enemy.

Assuming global responsibility by closing all the loops

Closing all the loops is a very similar idea of assuming global responsibility – for the whole of our actions but also for people in faraway places. Closing all the loops thus shall be also an integral part of Agenda 2030 and applies to various Sustainable Development Goals, beyond the SDG12 of Responsible Consumption.

ASSOCIAZIONE RiSvolta – The Colors of Rights

The RiSvolta Association is a non profit social promotion association that aims to build a society in which human and civil rights are recognized, promoted and guaranteed for all citizens, without discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other personal and social condition, in line with what is established by Article 3 of the Italian Constitution.

Sustainable modes of city

Creating an intelligent human society enables the development of sustainable cities in terms of environmental protection and economic and technological development. Sustainable cities rely on the digital city infrastructure to build intelligent buildings, transport systems, schools, and businesses.

Risk less as you go sustainable

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has gained a growing importance, during the last years, among academics, managers and citizens and its impact on firm’s performance is the center of several debates worldwide. As a matter of fact, according to the majority of CEOs worldwide, CSR is considered an “important” or “very important” task for their firms (UN Global Compact-Accenture).

Towards Sharing Economy: Joy of a shared toy

With each passing day, the world is more and more convinced that the economy system we are used to living in, is not sustainable. Climate change and resource depletion, followed by enormous consumption are some of the main problems that the world is facing nowadays. But now, more than ever, there is an emergence of companies that are moving further away from this way of doing business and might have a solution for these problems. Those companies are the main representatives of sharing economy.

7 CSR Trends that will dominate 2019

2019 will be a promising year of corporate citizenry and impact. Reporting, Community engagement, employee training, betterment campaigns and market feedback are all aligning to support a higher level of CSR activity than ever before.

The Collettivo Donne Matera

The goal of the Collettivo is to contribute to the creation of a society that is as fair and inclusive as possible where social support, public health and education services, economic resources and employment opportunities can be guaranteed and adequate to a dignified life for all.

There are results in SDG action!

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 provides insight of the progress in the third year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Slovak SDG Priorities

On 13 November we at the Pontis Foundation organized our annual CEE CSR Summit in Bratislava and also held a discussion roundtable on SDGs.

Getting to know “Il Sicomoro”, a Social Cooperative in Matera

“Il Sicomoro” is the Italian translation of the sycamore, which looks like a fig tree and it is very popular in the Middle East. It is a common “character” along the streets in Palestine, where it leaves splashes of colour on those biblical landscapes, apparently very similar to the ones in our Lucania.

Sustainable Cooking

When talking about SDG2, we always talk about how to prevent world hunger and what can be done to save people from it. We talk about ways of helping people who don't have enough to eat and improving the access of all people to a healthy diet, but we rarely speak about one way that can also have a positive impact on ending hunger – sustainable cooking.

That’s Absurd! The “Assurd” risto-pub experience with sustainability

On average, income inequality increased by 11 per cent in developing countries between 1990 and 2010.
Disability is referenced in various parts of the SDGs and specifically in those related to growth and employment, education, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs.

The Conad sustainability challenge

Conad, the colossal of large retailers, has joined the Ecologistico2 program, devised by ECR Italia, the association that regroups the main production and distribution companies to improve the processes and efficiency of the supply chain, from the producer to the consumer.

Pagpag

Have you ever wondered whatever happened to the left-over food you did not finish in fast food restaurants? You may think they would have been thrown away and discarded for good. But what happens next is something you ought to know.

Community of people to share ideas and projects

Among the trends related to sustainability that have been proliferating in the last years, certainly the shared creative spaces stand out. One of these is “Casa Netural”, a house in Matera in southern Italy, hosting people from all around the world...

SDGs Integration: How to Do It Right?

Current tendency towards sustainability promotes versatile ways for responsibility and integration of SDGs into business models, organizational culture, policy making, urban planning and spatial development...

The Decades Long Quest for a Digital Aristotle

Aristotle was probably the best tutor in the world and the most knowledgeable person of his times. But still his student, Alexander the Great, went on to conquer half of the world. Being smart it seems, doesn’t automatically translate into being...

SDG 2: Sustainable Food Production

Agriculture’s enormous energy consumption is related not only to food production, but also in large part to food distribution. The environmental benefits of organic food production can be lost if the food is constantly being transported thousands of miles to reach consumers. Buying local seasonal food can be an...

Collaboration for the SDGs

Monitoring and encouragement of SDG practices at European level is a challenge, as it is both international and national level activity. The alliance SDG Watch Europe has a goal to hold governments and the EU to account for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. It consists of...

The Sustainable Economy Is a Donut!

The objective number 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to ensure sustainable patterns of consumption and production. Why is this an indispensable requirement for sustainable development? Because it is estimated that the world population will reach 9.6 billion by 2050, with this figure we would need the...

Closing the Loop: A Key Business Model for SDG 12

"Unless we go to Circular it's game over for the planet; it's game over for society." These are the opening words of the world’s first feature-length documentary film on the circular economy, called Closing the Loop, due for public release on Earth...

'Microcredit' to Serve the Sustainable Development

Since 2001, the Italian Banking Association has undertaken an in-depth study on the subject of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and its strategic importance within the modern banking business model. Consequently, in recent years an...

The Need to Innovate Beauty Industry

Have you ever thought of the highly underestimated cost we pay for everything we consume? And I am not talking here about the price we pay for solely acquiring goods. What I have in mind is slightly more overlooked and all-encompassing, which is each product's afterlife cost, e.g. the amount of resources it takes to...

The Future of Sustainable Finance

Last week I attended the London meeting of the The Future of Sustainable Finance at the G7. The panel of knowledgeable experts provided a fascinating discussion. It touched on many of the areas raised in the detailed 2018 report by the EU’s High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. For financial institutions, the report...

Are Sustainable Development Goals Material?

The SDGs already achieved the significant work of creating a common platform of targets and indicators shared across governments, institutions, academia, investors, media, and business. And this is not rhetoric. In the past few months, I’ve been in several conversations with business, academia, and investors concerning...

Can We Make Zero Poverty World or Not?

Despite the on-trend rhetoric and optimism, the chances of (all but) ending absolute poverty in our generation are slim. The chances of ending poverty altogether are zero. The closer we get to ending extreme poverty, the harder it is going to be to do it. We're going to have to pretty much end violent conflict...

SDGs for the Generation Z

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in 2015 as the universal call to action to end poverty and hunger, protect the planet and ensure inclusion, peace and prosperity for all by 2030. Agenda 2030 is playing a very important role in shaping tomorrow’s living conditions. However, without active individual...

Changing Mobility Habits for a Healthier Life

Contributing to the third Sustainable Development Goal capital city of Lithuania is creating a sustainable urban mobility plan (SUMP) for its inhabitants. SUMP has to encompass various mobility modes and variations and one of the themes of the city strategy is to plan how to change people’s behaviour in mobility...

Food and the Sustainable Development Goals

Food and agriculture feature prominently in many of the Sustainable Development Goals, because they are interconnected with almost all aspects of economy, environment and society, from hunger, malnutrition, desertification, sustainable water use, loss of biodiversity, to overconsumption, obesity and...