From Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro,
wandering around the globe
wondering how cities are about to reshape the future… of all of us
Century of the City
We live in the century of the city. More than half of all people live in cities. Cities consume 75% of the global primary energy, and emit up to 60% of the world’s greenhouse gases (UNHabitat). By 2050 two thirds of the people will live in cities. Consumption and pollution will increase accordingly.
As a consequence, cities are the key in the development of our planet, in shaping and reshaping the Earth. Cities are determining the sustainability of humans on Earth.
The Good and the Bad
Cities are the good and the bad. They attract the unemployed, the homeless, the poor; and they contribute to contamination, consumption and depletion of nature and resources. Nevertheless, they also attract intellectual, economic, and social capital, which are crucial in the transition towards sustainable, liveable, and resilient cities.
In sustainable cities, economic, ecologic, and social interests are no longer considered as opposites, but as necessary co-existing and cooperating elements of the future; of our future.
Rio, the Beginning and the End
When writing this, I am in Rio de Janeiro, once the capital of Brazil, and nowadays especially known as the capital of carnival.
Rio is the beginning and the ending.
Rio 1992, Rio 2012, Rio 2014, Rio 2016, Rio nowadays … Almost all municipalities around the world which I interviewed, referred to Rio 1992 as starting point of their sustainability initiatives.
Rio 1992 was the beginning; it was the first global convention putting the environment on the international agenda, opening the door for all the environmental related agreements that would follow. It was the first time that such an enormous amount of people and institutions, governmental and non-governmental, gathered together and expressed, confessed maybe, that we are wasting our planet, that our resources, from the water we waste, until the air we pollute, are not infinite.
Consumption outpaces Production
When I am writing this, only for 2018, worldwide consumption already outpaced the natural annually production of the planet, according to a study of the Global Footprint Network. Everything we consume after the date of August 1st , creates a deficit of the natural resources for 2018.
The natural production of the Earth cannot keep up with human consumption.
When I am writing this, I am in Rio de Janeiro, but we have to go back in the time, not only to 1992, but to all the cities I’ve visited last year.
Wondering what is already out there in terms of sustainable city development.
There is a lot, however, not enough.
Nevertheless, every idea begins with a first word, every road with a first step, every (r)evolution with a first change.
So, we have to start walking, and fast!