Global Resources

Dolly Levi famously said “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.” I’d say “Ideas are like manure. They’re not worth a thing until they get spread around, and put into practice.”

I don’t know how much difference this little blog will have, but I am doing my part to spread around all the great ideas I come upon. If nothing else, it makes me happier just to witness all the great ideas people have and all the great work being done. Consider it an antidote to the Nightly News. Here is another one:

During the Rio+20 conference, the United Nations Environment Programme launched the Global Initiative for Resource Efficient Cities. Cities account for 60-80% of greenhouse emissions, and consume 75% of resources worldwide. But they only take up 3% of the earth’s surface. A more appropriate comparison might be that cities are home to only 50% of the human population. That last number is growing, though. 70% of the human population is expected to live in cities by 2050.

You can account for part of the outsized environmental impact by the affluence of urban populations. But, at the same time, urban dwellings and infrastructure can be quite a bit more efficient than those suburban and rural areas. Some of that efficiency is inherent, such as in transporting large numbers of people across short distances, rather than few people over long distances. And it takes way less energy to heat an apartment than a large house. However, there is so much more that can be done.

Maybe you can look at the Global Initiative for Resource Efficient Cities as an efficient way to tackle the problem of global climate change and dwindling resources. If you can make a change in cities, your efforts reap greater rewards. This outline of their plan lists the main objectives of the Initiative:

    • Integration: Cities need to move beyond merely conducting environmental impact assessments before implementing new developments. In addition to a conservation approach towards greening, the livability of cities and social equality measures should be taken into account.
    • Governance: Tackling climate change and advancing urban sustainability requires an integrated, consultative approach involving local communities and civil society groups, as well traditional decision-makers.
    • Smart Urban Design: Supporting low-footprint design that targets public transport, pedestrian zones and cycle lanes and promote compact, multi-use urban development.
    • Finance: Tax incentives and subsidies can be used to stimulate the up-take of green technologies.
    • Technology Transfer: Transfer of technology and skills to developing countries should be adapted to suit local context, not simply ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions from the developed world. Capacity building on management and maintenance is an important part of technology and skills transfer.
    • Innovation: Supporting and/or establishing educational and research bodies that can support the development of skills, capabilities and networks on urban sustainability

This is another one for the policy wonks, on the big scale. On the smaller scale they are just talking about everything I’ve been linking to here – coming up with the best ideas and putting them to work.

It really is an exciting world right now. Do you know of any Great Ideas and Practical Steps you’d like me to share? Leave me a comment and I’ll post them here!

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