10/15/2010

Can Ecological Urbanism be a planning tool for an ecologically sustainable and liveable world?


A guest post by Annick Labeca, contributing to the second Ecological Urbanism discussion hosted by Annick LabecaTaneha Bacchindpr-barcelona and UrbanTick.
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Numerous studies have pointed out that massive urbanisations [urban agglomerations and density, industrial processes, urban systems for transport, waste dispersal, heating and cooling] have created global ecological conditions that cities are facing today, and will face in the future. As far as we are challenging critical issues such as global warming [water shortages, climate change, environmental disasters, ozone, sanitation issues, etc.], cities size will pursue their growth if we don’t call for new ways of building cities. If we don’t find any solutions to improve living conditions of population inside and outside cities, not only will it be more and more difficult to live in the cities but also migrations to cities will increase rapidly, with the risk of serving to worsen urbanity. A growing number of research, among others Ecological Urbanism or else OMA’s project Roadmap 2050, Europe,Urban Age/LSE, also younger architectural think tanks such as InfraNet Lab, argue that it is urgent to draw clear objectives which will be to transform the built environment into a more liveable, sustainable, climate-friendly environment with positive outcomes.
The core elements that are derived from these studies can be summarized in one important point: the need for a planning tool that will allow the reinvention of opportunities and mechanisms to build existing cities and future cities. To a large extent, the question, I would like to ask, is whether or not Ecological Urbanism can be this planning tool. My opinion will be that it can, but, if, and only if, it has the capacity to respond to a certain number of criteria that I will expose briefly in this paper. This text will attempt to explain the reason of this urgency. Precisely, it aims at explaining why Ecological Urbanism must be considered as a planning tool, that is to say, as a conduct, a transmitter and a receiver in order to transform cities into sustainable, liveable and accessible [to all] cities. In this context, Ecological Urbanism will not only function as a planning tool, but also as a political and social tool as well as it needs a frame to be operational, that is to say, a global governance.
Even though this paper will only laid down the first guidelines of a discussion on the need for the creation of a global governance for cities, needless to say that without a clear and global governance that will take in charge all the aspects we need for a best living condition, that is to say, an access to the city, an improvement of mobility [which supposes, we will see, an improvement of urban system of transport], and zero carbon emission environment, etc. More than local impacts, this global governance must take in charge cities from North to South, from advanced cities to developing cities with same objectives. Without the setup of this governance as a global scale, our efforts for an improvement of living conditions in cities as well as the transformation into ecologically sustainable cities will fail. What I want to say is that cities need, indeed, a frame that can make the transformation into ecologically sustainable cities easier and accessible to the whole population of the world. It supposes that we change our ways of using urban environment. This is probably [and the Kyoto and Copenhagen Protocols have proved it] the most difficult to do.

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