Here’s a thought: Cities are laboratories where ground-breaking ideas for future survival can be tested.
I haven’t ever thought about my city as a lab but it makes sense—we can test ideas and try out innovations. Along with the usual experimentation, our labs can share a beaker of global inclusiveness. Fortunately, several creative bravehearts are doing just that, coming to our rescue.
Future innovations for urban survival
Siemens and C40 — the Cities Climate Leadership Group — recently delivered 2014 City Climate Leadership Awards to municipalities worldwide. The winning cities (and many other notables) demonstrated “excellence in urban sustainability and leadership in the fight against climate change,” the award criteria.
This year Portland won in the Sustainable Communities category (for its Healthy Connected City Network), Buenos Aires won Solid Waste Management (for its commitment to reducing waste sent to landfill by 2017) and London won Air Quality (for its new zero emission taxi project), to name a few.
To see more progress in action, watch C40’s video about cycling through five megacities, “Showing the Way Forward.”
Often I worry about cities closer to home. While pedalling my bike on a trail outside of Edmonton, I stopped under a QE2 Highway overpass and looked up. Semis rumbled north, a parade of trucks loaded with pipes and spools most likely headed to Fort McMurray.
Fort McMurray continues to be a highly contentious spot on the map for its oil sands development. But those bravehearts of sustainability are also there and they’re trying to make a difference, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Take Sustainival, described on its website as “The world’s first green carnival. We dream of a day when sustainable food, energy and waste solutions are an integrated part of everyday life.”
Last summer Sustainival returned to Fort Mac for a weekend of rides, music and performances. And true to its Green Carnival tag, the event ran on recycled vegetable oil and alternative energy, and their 20 rides were eco-powered. The weekend’s focus was on inspiring projects already happening in this northern community and “state-of-the-art clean-tech innovation around the world.”
Another pro-sustainability operation is Enterprise Edmonton, one that “works with organizations who want to do things differently.” Blogger Ken Chapman participated in Nexus Week last February and posted “Hopeful signs emerging that make an epic difference.” Chapman says the boom city of Fort McMurray is “showing signs of positive progress towards achieving the aspirational and transformational goal of becoming a global model for sustainable living in the North.”
While attending the event, Chapman viewed a Strategic Road Map developed collaboratively by community stakeholders, all motivated to create a responsive and sustainable community. Attendees were keen to discover what is happening and what could/should be happening for citizens and local businesses, and what approaches will add to the region’s quality of life and livability.
Hopeful signs indeed. Chapman ended his blog with, “The boom town is not yet enough of a home town …but it’s coming.”
Before I don my lab coat, I’ll end with this: Big steps or simply baby steps—just keep those experiments cooking in my test lab!
How is your city demonstrating excellence in urban sustainability?
Guest Author Bio
Visit Shannon’s Blog / Website: www.shannonkernaghan.com