The next few years are likely to witness numerous environmental initiatives around the globe. For starters, the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference is expected to update the Kyoto Protocol. Additionally, several countries are looking to green policy stimulus packages to pull them out of the current recession.
To maximize the benefits from these investments, local governments must successfully engage their citizens to influence their thinking and behaviors. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the most significant innovations occur within distinct cities or communities, as local governments can more easily interact with citizens, soliciting their feedback on key initiatives and working with them to execute policy.
The greenest communities share some common characteristics – energy-efficient buildings, renewable energy sources, widespread recycling, efficient and comprehensive mass transit, and substantive nature trails/green space. But that’s just the cost of being green!
Watch Brazilian urban planning guru, Jaime Lerner explain his philosophy of how to make life better for people by making cities more livable.
- Curitiba’s Cambio Verde program enables low-income citizens to exchange their metal and glass waste for fresh produce and bus tickets. Due to this program and widespread recycling of all residents, the city has emerged as Brazil’s number one recycler, reusing 70% of its waste.
- Curitiba used existing roadways to develop a rapid transit bus system that links all areas of the city. Investments in a high-speed, high-capacity bus network increased ridership by 400% in over 20 years; now 60% of urban travel occurs by bus. While citizens are more likely to own cars than other Brazilians, they use 25% less fuel per capita. Furthermore, 41 cities, ranging from Los Angeles to Bogotá to Seoul, are in the process of replicating Curitiba’s transit system.
- The city’s Technology Street showcases 24 different homes, each built to spotlight sustainable construction materials, such as bamboo, or homes operating with renewable energy. The city encourages prospective homeowners to meet with the architects of these residents prior to starting any new construction.
- Mandates for dedicated green space have encouraged residents to independently plant more than 1.5 million trees on city streets. A city-appointed shepherd and his flock of 30 sheep trim the grass in many of the nation’s parks!
Malmö, Sweden, an industrial city in which the economy crashed
and burned in the 1990s, has reinvented itself as a pioneer in
sustainable development as an Ekostaden, or eco-city. Currently,
Scandinavia receives more recognition than any other region for its
sustainable living practices, with Sweden alone supporting more than 60
“eco-cities.” How have they done it? A combination of bold politics,
experimentation, and community empowerment.
Several key initiatives have enabled the city to achieve the following:
solicitation and implementation of citizens’ unique ideas. One
resident developed a plan for a new storm water system that captures
70% of rain water in one area of the city.
community (Western Harbour) in which the government encouraged
innovation from architects and planners to enable 100% renewable energy
from the sun, wind, hydropower, and biofuels generated from organic
- A mandate for increased green space, resulting in one of
the largest developments of botanical roof gardens in the world with
which citizens can insulate their homes, plant their own herbs and
vegetables, and reduce the city’s carbon dioxide emissions
transportation system dominated by cyclers and mass transit. The city
worked to make the cycling paths and bus network aesthetically pleasing
to encourage shifts in citizen behavior.
Collaboration and Engagement are potent platforms for the co-creation of value, whether commercial or social. In both the commercial and social arenas, companies and institutions are only just beginning to truly understand the power of WE. Appropriately harnessing it and leveraging its power is still a few horizons away.
The old way of doing business is dead for business and marketing executives. It is dying fast for those who run countries and communities as well.