Sustainable, Resilient Cities
Cities are home to about 50 percent of the world’s population. They generate 80 percent of our planet’s greenhouse gases – the primary human contributor to climate change. Many communities are bracing for the increasing threats of fires, droughts, floods, severe weather, population displacement, and others. Many other cities already are on the front lines of the battle. Community leaders and citizens around the world must be informed, motivated and empowered to become part of the solution.
Unfortunately, few local communities have the ability to engage their citizens in developing a common vision around this issue. Some need guidance on a collaborative process to achieve consensus. Others need help outlining the spectrum of actions that they can take to cut pollution, save energy, conserve water and promote health and sustainability. Other communities around the world already are in contingency mode and need help mitigating the impacts of climate change on their homes and businesses.
Many community leaders need coaching to bring all stakeholder groups to the table to discuss opportunities, threats, resources, and priorities. As communities begin planning, they need comprehensive guidance regarding the full range of possible actions to consider in their plans. Many communities are limiting their sustainability visions to the energy efficiency of city buildings and vehicle fleets. They need to learn from other cities that have embraced a broader spectrum of possible actions such as investments, tax policies, water use, tree management, open space, expanded recycling efforts, and many others.
The concept of sustainable living is not new, but it is experiencing growing interest again because of rising energy costs, depleted natural resources, polluted natural resources, population growth, and concerns about climate change and diminishing resources. At the local level, comprehensive and collaborative visioning and planning efforts, followed by immediate actions, will be a key to success. Civic leaders need guidance and resources to engage all stakeholders. They need role models, case studies, networks, mentors, financial assistance, and incentives to help them exchange experiences and resources. These resources and processes can help minimize civic gridlock and promote rapid progress in our race for sustainability for future generations.