The unintended consequences of rapid urbanisation in combination with the lack of integrated system design thinking in urban development during the 20th century created complex challenges around the world. Now, collectively we are starting to pay the price. In accordance to the latest cities and building report (UNEP, 2015) urban systems consume 80 percent of the global energy. Together they produce 75 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions and consume 75 percent of the natural resources. The evidence on hand is clear, compelling and creates an argument for crisis or in other words a call for collective realisation that business as usual is over. This realisation will be supported by a paradigm shift of seismic proportion, which can lead us to a sustained level of health and well-being. In order to follow this path, we all must embrace the genuine spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration, system thinking approach and focus on action.
A positive case study is the Urban Thinkers Campus “Shaping Spaces for Generation Z”. The genuine collaborative spirit between UN-Habitats World Urban Campaign, University of Canberra- Health Research Institute, Urban Synergies Group and the vital support of the Australian Capital Territory Government led us to the discovery of practical ways to improve children’s’ health and well-being. The fact, that children in high and middle income countries walk less than ever before in human history creates a strong argument for change.
Tangible actions that every city can put into action were agreed. Participants from 39 local and international organisations concluded that we must empower the most vulnerable members in our communities and co-design local mobility solutions with children and young people. Urban mobility plays a key role in determining the development direction of communities and can deliver practical solutions for a world that is in dire need for progressive, bold and transformative change for better health and well-being. If we can get it right for children, we can get it right for all.
While new opportunities for international leadership are on the horizon the EcoMobility World Festival and Congress 2017 in Kaohsiung represent an outstanding opportunity and bold leadership to experience a development of a positive future in the here and now.
- Mews G., Cochrane T., Davey R. (2017). Shaping Spaces for Gen Z – International Forum Report: Urban Thinkers Campus. UN Habitat – World Urban Campaign. Canberra. Australia. Accessible under http://www.worldurbancampaign.org/
- UNEP. (2015). Cities and buildings report. Retrieved from http://www.unep.org/
- Urban Synergies Group. (2016). Perspective statement: Right to the City. Canberra. Australia. Retrieved from http://www.urbansynergiesgroup.org/publications
Gregor Mews, Director, Urban Synergies Group; Speaker at the EcoMobility World Congress 2017