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What is a sustainable city? (by Ilgvars Jansons)

Publicēja 2010. gada 23. dec. 04:53Reinis Bērziņš

Curitiba (Brazil) - the Globe Sustainable City Award 2010
(Image from Wikipedia.org)
Cities cover only 3% of the world's land mass, but they house 50% of the world's population and consume 75% of the world's resources. As a result of increasing consumption of resources, and growing dependencies on trade, the ecological impact of cities extends far beyond their geographic locations.

In order to make them more sustainable, building design and practice, as well as perception and lifestyle must adopt sustainability thinking. Sustainability includes the principles of futurity, equity and participation. It is also about fairness. A sustainable outlook concentrates on quality of life and meeting needs rather than simply producing commodities.

According to Urban 21 conference in Berlin on July 2000, being sustaible city means "improving the quality of life in a city, including ecological, cultural, political, institutional, social and economic components without leaving a burden on future generations". It also means that a sustainable city can feed itself with minimal reliance on the surrounding countryside, and power itself with renewable sources of energy.

Actually sustainable city looks similar to old European cities that proffer ideas like building around central structure (church, market place, city hall); zoning for residential and commercial in single buildings allowing people to live closer to the workspace and increasing density; creating housing that allowed rich and poor, old and young to live comfortably side by side supporting diversity; and improving public transport systems to encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic to reduce car emissions.

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