Thriving Resilient places
What are Doughnut Cities?
What is Urban Acupuncture?
The Growth of Cities
By 2050, the UN estimates that 70% of all people will live in cities -up from 55% today. It is estimated that 90% of future urban population growth will occur in the cities of Asia, Africa and to some extent, South America.
As the urban populations grow, so poverty is also moving into the cities of the world, through the growth of slums attached to many of the world’s expanding cities – from Mumbai to Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town. They are better disguised in Europe, but this trend plays out through increasing pockets of urban poverty that contain groups of people with no hope, no chance, and no potential of participating in the wellness and wealth they should be able to attain.
The pace of this change present significant challenges, but also represents a unique opportunity. However difficult and however complex it may seem, now is the time to think about how we design new cities and how we re-design existing cities by re-designing the systems that underpin them. If we can do this now, the welfare of urban inhabitants – and the planet they live on – could be radically transformed for the better.
It’s not just about emissions.
After the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, in 2016 many of the world’s leading cities agreed to take action to respond to the climate crisis. To give us even a 50% change of staying within climate safe limits, the global C40 initiative states that cities need to collectively peak emissions by 2020 and reduce emission by at least half by 2040. Whilst reducing emissions is critical to our future sustainability, is it enough?
There is growing recognition that for cities to transition to a regenerative economy will require much more than tackling emissions. Emission reduction is part of an impact strategy that will also include moving to a full circular economy with not only zero emissions, but zero waste, zero-carbon buildings with a huge retrofit exercise in most cities.
It will also include the improving the human experience; improving citizens health, addressing urban liveability, as well as reducing the source of emissions that comes from unsustainable urban consumption, and redesign the relationship between urban and rural neighbours.
Sustainable food systems, addressing catastrophic biodiversity loss, addressing waste and use through circular strategies, and tackling the separation between urban inhabitants and their rural counterparts, is also essential.
We currently see these different approaches.
Implementing a circular economy is the first and most obvious step to take to ‘upgrade’ sustainability. Worldwide, many leading cities have embraced the circular economy – from Amsterdam to to Addis Ababa, and Quito to Quingdao – mainly through the C40 global programme. Zero-carbon buildings, zero emissions, zero waste strategies, all contribute a major step forward on material impact.
Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics model aims to help cities and towns re-imagine their strategies to create economies where people and planet can thrive in balance – in other words, it offers a compass for guiding 21st century prosperity. Adopted by Amsterda,, Portland, Copehagen and even the Irish government, The Doughnut is a model that is gaining traction. We support cities, region and communities to apply the Doughnut to economic strategy.
Urban acupuncture is a phrase first coined by the former mayor of Curitiba in Brazil, Jaime Lerner. Lerner served three times as mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, and has twice served as governor of Parana State. He presided over a city with significant social, economic and pollution problems, and set an approach to the future which included both developing a collective vision of the future whilst steadily improving parts of the city, step-by-step in a process now referred to as urban acupuncture. Really Regenerative supports cities, regions and towns with urban acupuncture strategies.
If we want to create healthy economies that regenerate rather than degenerate local ecosystems, we need to find ways to include the social and ecological costs of production and consumption as well as trade. We need to redesign our economies to incorporate externalities that have hitherto been hidden in the corporate growth machine.
Regenerative Culture – Communities
Revitalised and resilient community is at the heart of regenerative culture. Yet this is not easy to achieve in a polarised, divided world. Designing regenerative cultures is as much about learning to live, work, communicate together in harmony as it is about the phsycial design of our places. What new practices do we need?