11 months ago

Climate Action 2012-2013


THE THREE PILLARS IN PLANNED URBANISATION When it takes place in a planned and sustainable manner, urbanisation can provide one of the key unifying forces to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, environmental and social. Efforts to reduce our environmental footprint should not be seen in contradiction to policies for job creation or improvement in standards of living but, on the contrary, are more achievable when addressed in tandem. Prioritising sustainable urbanisation can also help to streamline policies on service provision, further lowering the cost of implementation and encouraging public-private sector partnerships. It is vital that this emerging opportunity be recognised and endorsed. Most importantly, planners need to re-embrace the mixed-use city. Cities and their component neighbourhoods need to be compact, integrated and connected. Compact cities minimise transport and service costs, reducing the cost of production and encouraging private investment. Sustainable urban development requires a shift away from the mono-functional city of low density and long distances, which is poorly connected, socially divided and economically inefficient. In addition, compact cities are better able to provide affordable housing for lower income workers, helping to avoid the emergence and proliferation of slums. Good urban planning and design should establish minimum densities, optimised street connectivity and social mix with a variety of housing prices within an area. In order to do this successfully, spatial planning should be done at national, regional and local levels to ensure a comprehensive approach that takes into account each city’s needs but at the same time looks at the overall country’s assets and progress. Greater emphasis should be placed on local authorities and planners to enable them to implement city plans that are relevant to their citizens while also feeding into the country’s socioeconomic growth. National Urban Policies are important instruments to achieve balanced territorial development and to take advantage of the benefits of urbanisation while avoiding negative externalities. URBAN OPPORTUNITIES The good news is that in many developing countries where urbanisation is greatest there is a distinct opportunity to harness the growth of cities for positive socio-economic development. Compact cities, with well designed services and infrastructure, reduce the transaction costs of production and take advantage of the economies of agglomeration. Housing and transport are more affordable and the impact on the environment, in terms of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions per capita, is reduced. A smart efficient city is more likely to attract private investment, further reducing the burden on state resources. “Good urban planning and design should establish minimum densities, optimised street connectivity and social mix.” UN-Habitat stands prepared to support member states and local government organisations to develop targets, indicators, policies, plans and strategies related to sustainable cities, in collaboration with other UN agencies. The proposed Sustainable Development Goals and the Habitat III Conference scheduled for 2016 would provide concrete mechanisms to strengthen co-operation, partnership arrangements and other implementation tools which will help implement the sustainable urbanisation agenda. Dr Joan Clos is Executive Director of UN-Habitat. Before taking office in 2010 he served two terms as Mayor of Barcelona, during which time he was widely credited with inspiring far-reaching investment programmes, such as Barcelona@22. He has also served as President of Metropolis, the international network of cities, President of the World Association of Cities and Local Authorities (WACLAC), and Chairman of the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA). UN-Habitat is the United Nations Programme for Human Settlements tasked with promoting the sustainable development of cities and towns through comprehensive urban planning. 94

SPECIAL FEATURE VTT’S ECOCITY CONCEPT AIMS FOR SUSTAINABLE NEIGHBOURHOOD DEVELOPMENT VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is the biggest multi-technological applied research organisation in Northern Europe. VTT provides high-end technology solutions and innovation services for companies and public sector globally. In addition to 100 experts specialised in sustainable buildings and districts, VTT is actively engaged for example in the research of waste management, transport, and energy. The focus of our solutions is increasingly stretched towards sustainable neighbourhoods and communities. EOCITIES SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE URBANISATION AND CLIMATE ADAPTATION VTT’s EcoCity concept aims for a modern lowcarbon city. The City will produce its own energy via renewable sources. In construction, only sustainable methods and materials are utilized. Energy use in the homes and facilities is energy efficient with zero or low energy buildings. The broad city plan comprises safe walking and cycling, green areas and parks for relaxation and recreation, and all around Internet access. Digital technologies integrate the city with its services. The EcoCity concept looks for the best possible solution for the local context, culture and economic realities. VTT and local partners bring the technologies and integrates them to form a locally suitable, tailored solution. The know-how can be applied locally, and the EcoCity can be built locally. SUSTAINABLE AND MODERN URBAN LIVING IN CHINA VTT has recently produced a concept of an EcoCity to be built in Miaofeng, a town in the Mentougou District of Beijing City. The scenic mountain area covers 17 villages of varying sizes and it has been declared an ecological area. This restricts the use of natural environments to a minimum. The feasibility study suggests that new villages are to be developed to improve the economic structure of the area, and that new technological and functional ways and means are implemented to reduce the environmental impacts of the whole settlement. The Mentougou EcoCity concept includes innovative and ecological town planning, © Kimmo Lylykangas energy-efficient housing and low-waste living, a safe water system, integrated telecommunications, low-emission passenger traffic, efficient waste management and recycling, and emission-free local power production based on solar, wind and bio-energy. In 20 years, the life cycle costs of the EcoCity are more beneficial to typical town construction. In addition, a carbon footprint analysis proves that an EcoCity can reduce carbon emissions by more than 90 per cent compared to Mentougou’s present emissions. The economic structure of the Mentougou EcoCity area lays on new services, education, enhanced local culture, agriculture, and tourism. The architecture and positions of buildings will conform to the site’s natural topography and characteristics, and will be situated around small bodies of water. Modular homes will climb the mountain sides, blending into the landscape. The city will be energy and cost efficient and, above all, enjoyable to live and work in. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Jyri Nieminen Key Account Manager Tel: +358 50 517 4610 Email: Web: 95