Energy transition and circular economy
In 2015, the city of Amsterdam ordered a study to assess the impact of a transition to a circular economy. The findings confirmed the significant potential in terms of reducing pollution, creating jobs and promoting economic growth. Discussions with residents and the business community resulted in a strategy plan for the period 2020 to 2025. The Port will have a key role to play in the strategy, as we reported in our news on 16 April. For the City, the goal is to create a completely circular economy by 2050. With that in mind, a fourth phase was launched recently, and over 200 projects are in the pipeline for the year ahead.
➜ Cities Today ; Amsterdam Circular Economy Policy
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 Verge
Culture and identity
At the turn of the 20th century, a wealth of possibilities opened up for urban development both in and around the port of Oslo. A global plan was put together, to ensure the various facilities concerned were aesthetically coherent, whether in terms of signage, roads, the colour of cranes or silos, etc. The plan, created under the aegis of the city of Oslo, brought together the main stakeholders, including the Port itself, local businesses, and others. The aesthetic guidelines ensured a consistent appearance for the port promenade, which now runs along a 9 kilometre stretch of waterfront, while also helping to better integrate the active port.
➜ Port of Oslo
Sharing and exchanging practical experience: this platform created by the Metropolis network brings together a number of initiatives of this kind, adopted by various international networks and organisations, including those we brought to your attention in our previous newsletters. Meanwhile, the UIA – International Union of Architects has launched an information hub that not only highlights the impact of the pandemic and measures to mitigate them, but also looks at the its implications for future city planning. The approach is similar to the online forum “Et demain on fait quoi?” (“What will we do in the future?”), which is being expanded and now includes around sixty contributions from planners, architects, sociologists, and others. The current crisis is focusing minds on issues that were already present, but it could provide an opportunity to renew them or explore new avenues, whether in terms of the economy and the balance between North and South, as highlighted by the IIED – International Institute for Environment and Development- , in terms of inequalities, or of course the choices possible for moving towards a fairer, more sustainable world, as hoped by Gaetan Siew (UN Habitat Special Envoy), Zaheer Allam and Carlos Moreno…
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.
AIMF, the International Association of Francophone Mayors, continues to add to its online platform with new initiatives and solutions that could be adopted not just by the organisation’s members, but across the world more generally. Other networks, like IAGF (Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers), are sharing their assessments of the situation for certain countries (Africa, Argentina, etc.) and the challenge posed by climate change in the post-Covid world. UN-Habitat has also unveiled its city resilience action planning programme, which covers 64 countries and draws on practical experience to aid national and local governments, especially the most vulnerable. The action plan mirrors the appeal launched by the World Urban Forum, with its emphasis on cooperation and sharing experience and solutions.
Sharing, partnerships, experience pooling are also keywords for initiatives looking ahead to the post-Covid world and the future of our cities, as with the forum “What will we do tomorrow?” or the appeal for contributions launched by PUCA, an urban planning, construction and architecture body that is part of the French Ministries of Ecology and Territorial Cohesion.
These keywords are naturally hugely important to AIVP also, having always been part of our organisation’s DNA and our raison d’être for the members of our international network!
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.
➜ Smart Grid (1/2) ; Smart Grid (2/2) ; Smart Kalasatama
Initiatives to share practical experiences and measures that have proved successful in tackling the Covid-19 crisis are continuing. Some take the form of webinars organised by the Global Resilient Cities Network (GRCN) and the World Bank, while others involve the use of online databases, like the one published by a research centre at New York University.
However, we are also keen to share with you some of the ideas being floated, about what the post-COVID world should look like. In the wake of the current pandemic, we will need to re-think and reshape our cities, as living metropolises designed around relations and local services and communities, as argued by Carlos Moreno, a member of AIVP’s network of experts. The ICLEI believes nature will need to regain its place in our urban environments, while others are calling for more resilient cities. Will the crisis have a positive impact on our economic, social, environmental and public health policies, as this panel of experts called for during their debate? While experience from previous crises leaves some sceptical, it may be the case that some far-reaching changes were already in motion even before the current crisis began…
Port city interface
Parkipelago was designed by Australian architect Marshall Blecher and Danish firm Studio Fokstrot. A first small island was created in 2018, and proved successful. Plans for three more will be put forward in 2020. They will be built using sustainable and recyclable materials, and will be mobile, capable of being shifted to various port sites. This flexible solution has already won an award, and could potentially be reproduced in numerous other port cities.
➜ Archdaily (+ images)
In our special Covid-19 newsletter on 1 April, we informed you about several international networks of cities that have published online resources to share the measures and solutions adopted by their members in response to the pandemic: Cities for Global Health, EUROCITIES, and the AIMF – the International Association of Francophone Mayors. Others have followed their example, including 150 urban decision-makers who share best practices via the platform UrbanLeague.
Architects and urban planners have also responded, suggesting solutions for building field hospitals from recycled containers, creating clinics, masks, and converting existing buildings into hospitals.
However, the pandemic has also generated a raft of different views about what the future should look like for our cities and our planet. As such, it could be an opportunity to rethink our approach to mobility and modes of travel within cities, taking a fresh look in order to consider issues of health and well-being, or to help us better understand climate change, and even tackle it more effectively.
Is this overly optimistic? Are these new approaches essential or inevitable? The debate is open.