Facing the Environmental Challenge
Urban regions are the world's dominant population centers and the main growth engines of the global economy. For effective governance, citizenship, urban planning, and economic strategy in metropolitan areas, every level of government and the private and civic sectors must collaborate across jurisdictional boundaries. Public policy and urban management today generally do not correspond to the reality of metropolitan regions as fundamental units of market activity, social interaction, culture, transportation systems, land-use planning, and environmental protection. Many people across the globe are now economic "citizens" of metropolitan regions, but in most cases they are politically disenfranchised within these dynamic and rapidly growing urban agglomerations. Even stable public institutions are increasingly unable to cope with the vast array of problems confronting the entire urban region, and metropolitan residents are generally disconnected at the regional level from governmental decision-making, democratic participation, and citizenship rights and responsibilities. Global Urban Development directly addresses this 21st century challenge by developing cooperative partnerships among the public, private, and civic sectors in urban regions. These partnerships design and implement metropolitan economic strategies to generate increased prosperity; metropolitan land-use and transportation strategies to invest in infrastructure, manage growth, and enhance the urban environment; and metropolitan community development strategies that promote livable neighborhoods with improved housing, education, health, safety, and quality of life. Through effective and inclusive metropolitan strategic partnerships, urban regions can become more economically productive, technologically innovative, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable.
Thanks to GUD Vice Chair Peter Hall, Global Urban Development was included in a European Commission-funded research consortium, headed by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, to analyze the urban development impacts of the enlargement of the European Union to include eight new countries from central and eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, where GUD’s Prague headquarters was located. During June 2003, GUD hosted one of the first meetings of this multinational research consortium. This memorable three-day meeting included a public lecture by Sir Peter Hall attended by more than 100 invited guests (his speech/report was published in the 2005 inaugural issue of GUD Magazine as “The World’s Urban Systems: A European Perspective”), and a delightful celebratory dinner on the night that the Czech Republic officially voted to join the European Union.
GUD actively participated in the Coalition for Sustainable Urbanization together with the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), UN Development Program (UNDP), UN Advisory Committee on Local Authorities, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, World Bank, Cities Alliance, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Metropolis, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), and numerous other organizations. This Coalition organized the highly successful five-day Local Government Session, attended by more than 1,000 local officials from many different countries, at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (“Earth Summit”) in Johannesburg, South Africa during August 2002. Two GUD Board members, Kaarin Taipale and Nicholas You, were key leaders of the Coalition for Sustainable Urbanization, with Kaarin representing ICLEI and Nick representing UN-Habitat.
This GUD committee completed a major action-oriented research project funded by the Mistra Foundation (the Government of Sweden’s Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research). The project identified the key issues, challenges, institutional capacity, innovative policies, best practices, and other major trends related to successfully improving the future of environmentally and economically sustainable urban development throughout the world, including climate change and additional vital environmental concerns. Global Urban Development was deeply involved in this collaborative effort. Henrik Nolmark served as the overall project coordinator, Marc Weiss and Nola-Kate Seymoar as the coordinators for the US and Canada, Belinda Yuen as the coordinator for Asia, and Wendy Sarkissian as the coordinator for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. Members of the committee on Facing the Environmental Challenge along with other members of GUD’s global network were involved in this project on the global future of sustainable urban development.
The committee completed a second project which was a spin-off from the Mistra Foundation research. This project involved working with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to organize a meeting on “The Economic Benefits of Climate Action” held at Pocantico Hills, NY during November 26-28, 2007. The meeting brought together US leaders from state and local government, economic development professionals, business executives, environmental leaders, and scholars to discuss connecting actions to prevent climate change and promote urban environmental sustainability directly to strategies for generating economic prosperity and enhancing quality of life. Marc Weiss collaborated with Michael Northrop of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Karl Ulrich of the University of Pennsylvania to plan this event.
In addition, GUD signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Chinese Government in October 2009 to give strategic advice for the US-China Mayors Sustainable Cities Program, particularly with respect to Sustainable Economic Development Strategies. Thanks to C. S. Kiang, Jiang Mingjun, and Lawrence Bloom for connecting us.
GUD has actively participated in the Partnership for Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT), a stakeholder coalition of NGOs such as ITDP and EMBARQ, private corporations, UN agencies, and development finance institutions. The SLoCat Partnership’s Rio + 20 Campaign recently secured commitments from the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and six other multilateral development banks to invest $175 billion (USD) in sustainable urban transportation systems in developing countries over the next decade, with 16 additional resource commitments from other organizations.
GUD Vice Chair Nicky Gavron is working with Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, Phillipp Rode, Dimitri Zenghelis, Karl Baker, and their faculty and senior research colleagues at the London School of Economics on The Economics of Green Cities Program, a collaborative global research project analyzing the economics of sustainable urban development, with an initial focus on Copenhagen, Portland, and Stockholm.
Also, GUD serves on the Steering Committee of the United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Partnership, established by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
GUD's program committees on Facing the Environmental Challenge is actively collaborating with GUD’s program committee on Generating Sustainable Economic Development. GUD will work with sub-national governments and local authorities worldwide – states, provinces, regions, districts, counties, cities, towns, villages, and neighborhoods – to strengthen their economies by improving their environments. By actively promoting innovation, efficiency, and conservation in the use and reuse of all natural and human resources, places can increase jobs, raise incomes, grow businesses, and enhance their overall productivity and competitiveness. This approach serves as the basic framework for Sustainable Economic Development Strategies. James Nixon and Marc Weiss recently co-authored a two-page article, The Global Future of Green Capitalism, and a 32-page manual, published by GUD, entitled Sustainable Economic Development Strategies, explaining in detail how places can engage in such environmentally friendly initiatives to generate economic, business, employment, and community development.
GUD has worked with places including San Antonio, San Jose/Silicon Valley, Southwest Florida, Metropolitan Portland, Metropolitan Denver, and the State of Delaware, using our four-part framework for Sustainable Economic Development Strategies to save money, create jobs, raise incomes, grow businesses, and improve the environment. Recently GUD completed a Sustainable Economic Development Strategy for Sarasota County, Florida. This initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is a strategic plan for Sarasota County to become a “Center for Innovation in Energy and Sustainability.” During June 7-8, 2011 in Curitiba, Brazil, the Brazil and U.S. Governments and the Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas held a conference on “Planning for Sustainable Economic Development Across the Americas.” GUD worked with the American Planning Association, the City of Curitiba, and the U.S. State Department to organize this historic international meeting exploring the potential benefits of state/provincial, regional, and local Sustainable Economic Development Strategies from Argentina to Canada. The GUD team advising, supporting, and collaborating on Sustainable Economic Development include Rosa Alegria, Jobeda Ali, Edward Blakely, Lawrence Bloom, Ian Bromley, John Cleveland, Aser Cortines, Sarah Dimson, Daniely Votto Fontoura, Nicky Gavron, Emilio Haddad, Peter Hall, Ken Heatherington, Paul Krutko, Jaime Lerner, Rodrigo Loures, Richard Lindberg, Tony Manwaring, Andreia Marin Martins, James Nixon, Marta Nunes da Costa, Emilia Queiroga, Elaine Yamashita Rodriguez, Tom Roper, Nathan Sandwick, Nancy Sedmak-Weiss, Al Victors, Ramiro Wahrhaftig, Marc Weiss, David Wilmoth, Cynthia Wilson, and Larry Zinn.
Environmental Challenge Committee
Co-Chairs: Habiba Al Marashi, Mary Jane Ortega, and Tom Roper
Sergio Besserman Vianna
C. S. Kiang
L. Hunter Lovins
Andreia Marin Martins
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander
Christina Carvalho Pinto
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
W. Cecil Steward
Lisa Van Well
Eva Willmann de Donlea
Darcy Stallings Winslow