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Information for 10540IIED

Ecological Urbanization


Briefing, 6 pages

Amidst all the debates and disagreements on urban environmental and ecological issues, some consensus is emerging:

• Although there is little agreement on whether urbanization can be more “ecological”, the need to explore how it might be so, is increasingly acknowledged.

• Proponents of the green agenda focusing on ecological sustainability vie for influence with proponents of the brown agenda focusing on environmental health - but there is some agreement that the well-being of future generations needs to be married to a concern for that of current generations.

• Within the disagreements on the relative importance of local, regional and global action, there is recognition of the need for multi-scalar analysis and action. There is also recognition of how large impacts often stem from changes in people’s everyday small decisions - how they decide to travel to work and to the shops, how they choose to organize their neighbourhoods and buildings, what they choose to recycle, how they use water. The combination of these small, everyday decisions, with large, planned decisions, is shaping how environmental benefits, burdens and risks, are differentially experienced by different social groups and in different areas.

• There are debates on whether solutions are mainly technical or social and political, and whether the main means for implementing them are through the state, the market or community action. There is also a growing consensus that politics is central to addressing urban environmental issues. This is not to downplay the importance of the ecological, since every function and every part of each city’s physical fabric is developed around accommodations with the natural environment. Every city draws on environmental resources, continuously remaking the built environment, working around nature, obliterating it, transforming it and replacing it - and yet in a more fundamental sense remaining very much a part of it.

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