Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

194 E Diversity of landscapes and ecosystems

E 3.8.6

Models and concepts for sustainable urban


In order to reverse the urban development trends

described above, new models have been developed

and gained currency in the German-speaking world,

known variously as ‘ecological urban redesign’, ‘the

compact city’ or ‘the ecology of time’. AGENDA 21

expressly calls for sustainable development which

respects economic and social development as well as

incorporating the environment. Chapter 28 emphasizes

the importance of towns to sustainable development.

Associated with this is a call to local authorities

to draft LOCAL AGENDA 21 processes together

with all groups in society (UNCED, 1992). This procedure

is different from the conventional planning

methods because all relevant groups in society are


Another important principle of sustainability is

formulated in the Aalborg Charter. According to

this, town may not temporally or spatially export

their ecological, economic or social problems.

Instead, attempts should first of all be made to solve

these at local level. Only when this has proved to be

impossible should temporal or spatial balancing

mechanisms be sought (ESCTC, 1994; Kuhn and

Zimmermann, 1996).

The Conference on Human Settlements HABI-

TAT II was held in Istanbul in 1996 (WBGU, 2000a).

The difficulty of establishing the term of ‘sustainable

development’, anchored in AGENDA 21 in 1992, as a

basic principle for the development of human settlements

was overcome by the compromise wording:

Sustainable development equal to economic development,

social compensation and ecological compatibility’

(BMBau, 1997). This is motivated by the concern

of developing countries to exercise their right to

‘catch-up’ in development terms. At national and

local authority level the HABITAT II process has

taken some effect, especially as a result of the comprehensive

involvement of local authorities, scientists,

business and NGOs (Sibum, 1997). In Germany,

a national report on the HABITAT II Conference

has been compiled (BMBau, 1996) as well as a

national plan of action based on the Global Action

Plan of HABITAT II (ARL, 1996). Although the

declaration of intent for sustainable urban development

signed by the governments is not legally binding,

it can be invoked politically.

At the URBAN 21 international conference to be

held in Berlin in 2000, the aim is to work towards concrete

solutions tying in with the results of Rio de

Janeiro and Istanbul. The focus will be on the problems

of the growth of megacities in the developing

countries and non-sustainable urban development in

the industrialized countries.The URBAN 21 international

commission will submit the ‘World Report on

the Urban Future’ to the Conference. Finally, the

Conference is to adopt a declaration that will outline

the cornerstones of future worldwide urban policy

and point out the way for urban development in the

21st century (BBR, 1999).

Recommendations for action to promote

sustainable urban development

In terms of urban planning, ecological concerns are

at the forefront with respect to biosphere conservation

– however, without the integration of social and

ecological concerns, the positive effects of purely

ecological urban planning will remain marginal. An

adequate foundation for evaluation is initially of central

importance for the protection of the urban biosphere.

In order to ensure a fair assessment of the

conservation and use requirements of the biosphere,

it is necessary to make a comprehensive inventory

and valuation of existing biotopes. This requirement

is accommodated in Germany by the nationwide

mapping of biotopes, which now comprises over 200

maps, especially in small and medium-sized towns

(Schulte et al, 1993). Since 1990 there has been international

cooperation with Brazil to see whether the

methods developed in Germany can be transferred

to other countries and preliminary results have

already been achieved (Schulte et al, 1994).

For sustainable urban development geared towards

the protection of the biosphere, the following points

of departure for town planning also emerge: (Becker,

1992; Loske, 1996; Birzer at al., 1997):

• Creation of structures for supply and disposal

(energy and waste) that allow the efficient

exploitation of resources used and the introduction

of biogeochemical cycles (Section E 3.2).

• Prevention of urban sprawl in urban peripheral

zones. However, subsequent population concentrations

should not take place to the detriment of

open spaces. Soil sealing should be reduced and

ecological building should be promoted.

• Drawing up concepts for inner city open spaces in

order to increase the proportion of open spaces

and to interlink them, for example, as habitat-type

compounds (Fachdienst Natur und Umwelt der

Stadt Neumünster, 1999). The aim should be to

secure biological diversity and its functions in

towns. Special significance is given to fallow land,

gaps in building and green spaces.With fallow land

in particular, there is usually special pressure for

economic use, for which land use plans have frequently

already made provision although this is in

conflict with existing, often informal, uses.

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