Plans to invest €233 have been announced for seven projects in various districts of the city. The aim is to make the city not just greener, but also more resilient to major outbreaks like the Covid-19 pandemic. Districts covered by the plan include the former port sectors of Rijnhaven and Masshaven.
We have previously mentioned, on a number of occasions, the strategy adopted by the city of Boston to tackle the issues of climate change and rising sea levels: instead of just building levees and seawalls, the city is focused on building with the natural environment, by creating parks, wetland areas, and so on, to mitigate the impact of flooding. However, urban development projects at these sites will also make them much more expensive, ensuring only wealthier people are able to live there – a fairly standard type of gentrification. But what of the existing communities in these places? Will they be forced to move? And will their new homes also be protected against the risks of flooding? It is this “climate-driven” gentrification that Boston’s chief of environment, energy and open space is keen to avoid.
What can be done to resist the devastating power of tidal waves that can strike coastline and homes? According to a group of scientific experts, waterfront parks could offer a better solution than protective breakwaters. These landscaped parks are a more cost-efficient solution that will no doubt be of particular interest to less wealthy countries. They also help to preserve the natural environment, or at the very least to create a planned landscape that can also be turned into a promenade area.
The World Economic Forum has its own platform providing information about the Covid-19 pandemic, but as reported in our previous newsletter, increasingly thoughts are turning to the post-Covid world and the future of our cities. For example, some are calling for city streets to be redesigned to create more space for cyclists and pedestrians. There were projects of this kind in place before the pandemic struck, and they could now be fast-tracked, as in Paris or San Diego. Others want to see a rethink of our offices and working environments. But looking ahead to the world after Covid also means assessing the different approaches that would enable our cities to generate new jobs, while refocusing on the issues posed by climate change. This is the target set by the task force of 11 mayors from the international network C40 Cities. The mayors represent 11 cities, almost of all which are major port cities! Finally, although there are fears surrounding the possible use of personal information to prevent a second pandemic wave. But new technologies and artificial intelligence also offer some exciting prospects. This leads into the debate about the challenges of the smart city, as raised by Gaetan Siew (UN Habitat special envoy) and Zaheer Allam, two experts whom you will have heard at our world conferences. For them, the current situation is an opportunity to redefine what we see as a better, smarter city, one built on more complex networks that are not just technology-based but human-centric.
Helsinki is aiming to establish its smart city credentials and has identified two key priorities: achieving carbon neutrality by 2035, and becoming the most functional city in the world for the well-being of its residents. As part of this strategy, the former port precinct of Kalasatama is being transformed into an eco-district. Nearly 25,000 residents and 10,000 workers are expected to settle in this area of north-eastern Helsinki by 2030. While the project entails a range of different environmental solutions, the aim is to create a brand new district in full consultation with the population. A sustainable city, designed both for and with citizens, in the words of the deputy director of urban planning.