It's the Environment, Stupid.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cities - integrated long term planning

Have you heard of Jeremy Harris? he's the former mayor of Honolulu, Hawaii. I hadn't until I saw him speak yesterday as aprt of a panel called "How to Integrate Environmental Aspects in City Long Term Strategic Planning." After his dynamic power point presentation, I'm surprised I hadn't heard about him before (or Honolulu for that matter - they've got some cool things going on.)

Harris is a self-proclaimed politician who gets it. Not only does he "get" the need for cities to be looked at as systems, and that investing in the environment makes perfect economic sense, he gets that politicians are politicians and city planning, budgeting and actions are as much based on political whim and special interest as they are on a grand master plan. I was sold on nealy all of what Harris said (with the exception of some of the sweeping declarations in his presentation that cities need to be built for high density and mixed use - it's easier said than done to make sure this is successful; plus there was something he glossed over in mentioning public transportation that included a reliance on hydrogen).

Also speaking were Osman Asmal of South Africa, who talked about how South Africa is approaching energy solutions and climate change based on how those issues affect people's every day lives (and it's working.); and there was a representative from Hyderabad, India who spoke of a very successful public/private partnership in solid waste management.

This particular presentation was sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, prounounced u-nep - and to think I've been calling it U-N-E-P for all this time), in conjunction with ICLEI, a city entwork organization, and The Cities Alliance. The Cities Alliance shared a bit of their CDS, city development strategy with the crowd.

The CDS includes what seems like a lot of common sense stuff, but apparently is fairly new in the city planning world. Elements of the strategy include, long term planning with short term goals; integrated resource use, changes in production and consumption; consideration for lcoal conditions (I could continue but this internet connection is slow, and the line behind me is long).

The session was very encouraging, especially seeing that there are organizations that are aiming to help cities with long term integrated planning solutions (Harris is also a professor for a certification course in Stockholm, Sweden for mayors and city officials on the things he talked about.)

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