Linking the Sustainable City Globe Award Winner and the Circle Resort Challenge

In light of undeniable and largely irreversible urbanisation and demographic trends cities are becoming more and more prominent. Cities are a melting pot and an innovation hub for different conceptions of sustainability. The city of the future needs to take a holistic, collaborative approach. The point was raised by the Head of the Globe Award Jury that cities are the site of ‘the’ new Capitalism. But perhaps we need to move beyond the ideological baggage and the ultimate focus on individuality of capitalism. Surely we can do better and I think that open approaches to innovation are the start of something new and better and we don’t need to label it, just go with it.

The key to understanding the role of cities is to recognise that cities are the ultimate social-ecological systems and their inherent complexity means that you cannot only address environmental issues within an urban context, The challenges being faced by the 48 Hour Circle Resort challenge is an example of this [Have a suggestion? [Email it to: challenge@globeforum.com ]. Curitiba is a worthy winner of the Sustainable City Globe Award for 2010 given its focus on a holistic integrated view which does not neglect the underlying ecosystems upon which the future survival of cities depends.

Curitiba really took things to the next level with its bio city programme. Before embarking on this initiative, Curitiba focused on having an urban planning system that was not held hostage to, but in fact driven by, environmental considerations. The learning was that sustainability must permeate and be part of the DNA of every level of the municipality. The Biocity program went to the next step and focused on restoration and preservation of the local environment and an extensive reuse/recycling program. Further, Biodiversity was nurtured by re-introducing native species in various parts of the city leading to revitalisation of the parks and natural areas.

They have also gone so far as to link economic value to environmental program by introducing a program where private land owners receive a credit in exchange for converting their properties into natural areas. All of this has been underpinned by an interactive and engaging education programme. I think this is a really clear example of how a city can embrace complexity and actually come up with solutions that can address interacting dynamics and be fundamentally integrated.

What lessons can the sustainability journey of a city of 1.8million people in Brazil and its focus on biodiversity and ecosystems teach the kommun of Oskarshamn and the people involved, as they navigate their own journey towards sustainability, starting with the new Circle Resort?

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