vendredi 17 février 2012

Sustaining cities

Sustaining cities in the face of change

The future form of cities and the strategies that they should adopt
in a global economy and information age is still being debated
(Graham and Marvin, 1996; Borja and Castells, 1997). 

A highly attractive alternative for cities to the current unregulated, indiscriminate change taking place is urban sustainability (Wackernagel and Rees, 1996), based on the principles of allowing present generations to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs (WCED, 1987).
Within the present economic framework there is no incentive for cities to take responsibility for the externalized damage of their activities. 
Redevelopments that only address a superficial image do not provide any socio-economic or environmental solutions.
In contrast to the strategy of city-image enhancement, sustainable development offers a very different approach.
A foundation to urban sustainability is the overriding objective to achieve a high quality of life for the whole community within a socio-economic framework that minimizes the impact of the city on the local and global environment. 
For it to be successfully realized, the city must tackle the dimensions of sustainability:
social, ecological, as well as economic. Sustainable cities ensure well-being and a good quality of life for citizens, are environmentally friendly, and socially integrated and just.
There is no shortage of ideas for how environmental sustainability can be achieved:  

  • use of renewable energy and a dramatic increase in energy efficiency
  • recycling and reuse of materials
  • food production within cities
  • an end to edge-of-town retail, leisure and business development to protect the countryside and retaining jobs in cities

Urban density is cited as a potential proponent of sustainability, offering opportunities for increased energy savings and reducing the need for travel. 
What is missing is the political question of how such a strategy could be implemented (assuming that
sustainability as a strategy will be imposed on the city). 
In this context there has been much less consideration of the social, economic, political and cultural policies that underlie the process by which urban sustainability could be attained.


Future Forms and Design for
Sustainable Cities 

Mike Jenks and Nicola Dempsey

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