The World Bank’s new Eco² Cities Program aims to balance economic growth and ecological impact in the developing world by changing the way that cities are developed in order to make good use of energy and resources, and to avoid problems with pollution, congestion and the rapid growth of slums.
The problem is a pressing one, as the growth of cities is expected to be dramatic over the coming decades:
“It took the world hundreds of years to build today’s urban space of 400,000 square kilometers of cities. It will take only about another 30 years to build that same amount of urban space in cities of developing countries.”
The first phase of this program recently culminated with the publication of a three-part book that outlines a comprehensive analytical and operational framework. The framework outlines the steps necessary for successful and equitable growth, and was built using the example cities of Curitiba, Brazil, Stockholm, Sweden, and Yokohama, Japan.
There are four guiding principles in the program:
‘A City Based Approach,’ which enables local governments to lead a development process that takes into account their specific circumstances, including their local ecology
‘An Expanded Platform for Collaborative Design and Decision Making’ that accomplishes sustained synergy by coordinating and aligning the actions of key stakeholders
‘A One System Approach’ that enables cities to realize the benefits of integration by planning, designing, and managing the whole urban system
‘An Investment Framework that Values Sustainability and Resiliency’ by incorporating and accounting for life cycle analysis, the value of all capital assets (manufactured, natural, human, and social), and a broader scope of risk assessments in decision making.
The guiding documents promote the use of spatial tools to visualize urban forms, in combination with flow diagrams that illustrate urban metabolism. The report promotes the integration of forms and flows for collaborative decision making with a visual approach that combines the expertise of a large number of stakeholders.
The next phase is to start applying the framework in several cities around the world. Representatives from Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia are meeting in Singapore this week to learn more about the program.