Breaking Silos: Exploring Synergies between Better Public Spaces and Regenerative Cities

During the 3rd Session of the Preparatory Committee towards Habitat III held between 25th and 27th of July 2016 in Surabaya (Indonesia), the World Future Council in partnership with UN Habitat and UCLG ASAPAC hosted a side event exploring the linkages between public spaces and the regenerative city. The event was a call to adopt an integrated approach to public space planning, one that is able to fully grasp the wide-range of co-benefits that emerge from regenerating public spaces.

The panel discussion brought together a diverse group of pannelists including Ms. Dato’ Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Mayor of Sebarang Perai in Malaysia, Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General at UCLG ASPAC, Mr. Xu Yunfei, urban planner from the Guangzhou Urban Planning & Design Survey Research Institute and Mr. Bruno Dercon, Senior Urban Settlements Officer at UN-Habitat. Together they discussed the synergies between regenerative cities and public spaces. They explored the challenges and policy solutions that can support local authorities create liveable, healthy and inclusive public spaces while also ameliorating the environmental sustainability and resilience of cities.

As emerged during the discussion, it can sometimes be very challenging for city governments to assess and fully value the wide range of benefits and co-benefits that public spaces bring (including social, environmental and economic ones). Therefore, it is essential to identify and comprehensively assess all the co-benefits of regenerating public spaces, as this will play a huge role in mobilizing city governments to take action.

Secondly, an integrated planning approach that allows different city departments and stakeholders to talk to each other and collaborate is needed. Mechanisms must be in place to promote cross-sectoral collaboration. This will enable different departments and stakeholders to understand the benefits that good public space can bring for each one of them. As priorities are aligned and cohesive cooperation across the different actors is prompted, smoother and faster implementation is also safeguarded.

Another key success factor of good public space design and implementation resides in the effective collaboration between public and private bodies in close partnership with the local community. People need to be involved from the planning and design phase down to the implementation and maintenance phase. This is not only fundamental to build quality public spaces but is also an essential prerequisite to effectively finance public spaces. In Guangzhou Province of China, a committee was established to gather comments from citizens and serve as a bridge between the government and local community. This was crucial to ensure public spaces not only would effectively suit the needs of people but also to allow people to feel that their public spaces belong to them. The challenge is often to make sure that a sense of ownership and connection with one´s own public spaces is created.

As highlighted by Bruno Dercon during the discussion, public space regeneration not only allows the creation of greener and more resilient cities (parks, green corridors, walkable, bicycle and transit friendly spaces are undoubtedly beneficial in terms of, for example, pollution reduction, urban ecosystem regeneration and CO2 reduction) but also a true regeneration of people and communities. Public spaces that are designed and planned by engaging local actors will inevitably lead to a revitalization of urban communities, inclusiveness and social equality.  Freely accessible and enjoyable public spaces are also key in facilitating greater social interaction, public engagement and the creation of more lively and people-centred cities.

In conclusion, public space regeneration is one of the most meaningful and effective tools for local governments to engage and affect the lives of people in cities and can be a very effective leveraging tool and starting point for many transformations that will need to happen to make cities more liveable, regenerative, inclusive and just.

Authors

Filippo Boselli, Policy Officer, Climate, Energy and Cities, World Future Council

Boping Chen, Director of China Program, Climate, Energy and Cities, World Future Council

Public Space for a Liveable Regenerative City: Learning from China and the Asia Pacific Region

The World Future Council in partnership with UN-Habitat and UCLG is hosting a Side Event at the Habitat III Prep Com III in Surabaya on Tuesday 26th of July. Experts from around the world will discuss the key role of public spaces within the regenerative city framework with a particular focus on China and the Asia Pacific Region.

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Driving Regional Cooperation for Renewables in the European Union

25 Apr – 26 Apr – Renewable energy sources (RES) will have to play a predominant role in EU’s future energy mix. However, the current policy and regulatory framework does not entirely facilitate this transition but rather reflects a business-as-usual approach. The current RE target on EU level in the Climate and Energy 2030 Framework lacks ambition with regards to the low goal setting of “at least 27%” but also due to its “EU-wide” level approach without member state contributions.

Given this weak policy framework, there is one mechanism, which may still help to increase the share of renewables to the scale and speed which is needed given today`s challenges: The idea of regional cooperation. Regional cooperation can effectively bridge the gap between national renewables policies and a Europeanised approach to renewables deployment. Additionally, regional action across borders allows for participation of non-state actors, possibly a higher political legitimacy and fitted solutions for local conditions. A common cross-border identity might be facilitated through these projects and the revenue generated by the decentralized energy plants is more likely to stay in the region.

Therefore, together with the Heinrich Böll Foundation EU Office, we are organising a stakeholder workshops on regional cooperation, exploring opportunities to scale up renewable energy in the European Union. The workshop is hosted by Representation of Lower Saxony to the EU (25 April afternoon) and the Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the EU (26 April morning).

The first day (25 April) will gather regional experts from across Europe to discuss practical for regional renewable energy cooperation. The aim is to bring people from bottom-up initiatives of cross-border subnational cooperation together, so that they can present their projects and facilitate the dialogue amongst them. These experts from the ground will include representatives from local and regional governments as well as project-managers, utilities, regulators and citizens groups. The second day (26 April) provides a platform for policy dialogue with EU institutions to explore how to foster RES deployment in the European Union by strengthening regions and regional cooperation. Representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament, energy regulators and other stakeholders from Brussels are invited to share their views and perspectives. The findings from the first debate – including the strengths and challenges of and for the local cooperation projects – will be presented. Finally, participants are invited to jointly develop ideas on how to build and strengthen a political process for regional cooperation on RE in the EU.

This workshop is part of a programme, which the Heinrich Böll Foundation EU office and the World Future Council are hosting over the upcoming months. It consists of a series of stakeholder workshops and a study tour to further develop, discuss and exchange solutions enhancing and strengthening regional cooperation aiming at a sustainable energy transition. The goal is to provide concrete examples and transferrable policy solutions by discussing crucial questions with and in frontrunner regions. Therefore it will be organised in the framework of HBF’s #Regions4GreenEconomy series which are organised together with the representatives of different German Länder in Brussels, and the Global 100% RE Campaign.

Please find here the detailed agenda for the two days. If you are interested in attending, please register here.

The City We Need is a Regenerative City

The City We Need is Regenerative and Resilient. This is one of the 10 principles of the The City We Need 2.0 as recently proposed by the World Urban Campaign partners. In order to further explore the relevance and importance of this concept towards Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda, the World Future Council, as lead partner of the WUC, will be hosting an official side event at the Habitat III Europe Regional Meeting in Prague. The side event will consist of a panel discussion presenting the fundamental paradigm shifts needed to achieve the Regenerative City vision and discuss the key policy recommendations that should be included in the New Urban Agenda to ensure this vital concept becomes a top policy priority of countries around the world.

What is the Regenerative City?

A new type of urban development powered by renewable energy, driven by a circular economy and defined by a restorative and mutually beneficial relationship between cities and their hinterland is urgently needed. Cities must go beyond sustainability to become truly regenerative: not only being resource-efficient and low carbon, but positively enhancing rather than undermining the ecosystems on which they depend. Regenerative cities mimic nature’s circular metabolism by operating in a closed-loop system that transforms waste outputs into inputs of value. This will mean creating cities that not only deplete resources and damage ecosystems but that actively contribute to the regeneration of the natural resources they consume and the ecosystem services they rely on.

Event details

Date and Time: 17th March 2016 17:30-19:00

Venue: European Habitat, South Hall, Prague Congress Centre, 5. května 1640/65, Prague

Speakers

  • Stefan Schurig, Director, Climate, Energy and Cities, World Future Council, Germany
  • Nicholas You, Director, Global Partners and Programs of the Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation
  • Craig Applegath, Principal Architect and Founder of Symbiotic Cities Network, DIALOG
  • Jeff Schnurr, Executive Director, Community Forest International


New Report: Regenerative Cities in China

A new type of urbanization is needed. One that reflects a different type of development, also known as the New Normal which is currently gaining widespread support throughout China.

 

Congress on Energy Transformation

As part of the congress “100% Erneuerbare Energie Regionen” in Kassel, Germany, the World Future Council, together with deenet, organised an international forum to present 100% Renewable Energy solutions from Germany, Europe and the world on November 11.

100 renewable energy pioneers from around the world came together to share their solutions and strengthen the Global 100% RE network!

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Future of Cities Forum 2015

 

Thank you to all speakers and participants that contributed to make the Future of Cities Forum 2015 a great success!

We are extremely confident that new thrilling opportunities will be coming up as a result of this year Future of Cities Forum and we look forward to engage further with everyone who took part in the Forum.

About this year Forum

This year, the 5th Future of Cities Forum was held on September 14th and 15th 2015 in Beijing and in Tianjin. On the first day, 14th of September, the Future of Cities Forum was held in Beijing as an official sub-forum of the11th Forum on Environment and Development. On the second day, 15th of September, the Forum moved to Tianjin and will be held as an official subforum of the 6th China International Eco-city Forum & Expo.

The Future of Cities Forum in Beijing was organized in partnership with UNEP China,the United Nations Theme Group on Climate Change and Environment (UNTGCCE), ACEF (All China Environment Federation), China Urban Research Center of Beijing Jiaotong University, CITYNET and the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy (PRCEE) of the China Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).

Day 1

The first day of the Forum focused on the UN Sustainable Development goals for cities and how these and other international initiatives can help and guide cities drive sustainable development forward. An open roundtable discussion between Chinese and international participants offered a unique opportunity to openly debate issues that are common across borders, in particular the lack of cooperation across city departments and lack of coordination across governance levels and across multiple stakeholders groups.

This first day of the Forum was held as an official sub-forum of the 11th Forum on Environment and Development organized in partnership with the United Nations Theme Group on Climate Change and Environment (UNTGCCE), with the All-China Environment Federation (ACEF) and with the China Urban Research Center of Beijing Jiaotong University. During the first day we had the chance to sign an official partnership with the China Urban Research Center of the Beijing Jiaotong University. This is an exciting opportunity for the WFC China to partner with a highly respected academic institution and moving forward with the critical task to bridge the gap between research and policy making. The MoU signing was witnessed, among others, by Mr. Yuqing Wang, former Vice Minister for Environmental Protection of China and Mr. Jong Soo Yonn, Head of the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development. Ole Scheeren, architect extremely known particularly in China for being the designer of the iconic CCTV tower in Beijing, was among our keynote speakers.

Day 2

During the second day, the forum moved to Tianjin where we offered a platform to share experiences on sustainable development of cities from China and from around the world. This second day was held as an official sub-forum of the 6th China International Tianjin Eco-city Forum & Expo, and supported by the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy (PRCEE) of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). The Tianjin Eco-City Forum is one of the largest (almost one thousand participants from all over China) and most prestigious government supported forum in China. We are extremely proud to hear that following the event our partners from Tianjin were extremely happy about working with us and confirmed their commitment to continue this partnership in the future. Among our highlight speakers during the second day were Mr. Zefeng Shan, Deputy Director of the Tianjin Binhai district and Mr. Hing Huang, well-known social entrepreneur and winner of the Right Livelihood Award. The very international set of speakers that we brought from Germany to Canada and from India to Thailand were extremely appreciated particularly given the widespread longing to learn more from international experiences and to improve cooperation for sustainable development among cities around the world.

Pictures

You can find some pictures of the event at the link below:
Pictures of the Forum 2015

Presentations

The presentations slides are available on the download page.

Report

A brief outcome report will be available to be downloaded in the coming weeks.

About last year Forum

During last year´s Future of Cities Forum in Munich, 90 participants including mayors, town councillors, local administrators, researchers, practitioners, communicators and urban planners from 18 countries came together to debate what leadership and participation really look like in cities, share their experiences of building bridges with other urban stakeholders, and explore the factors that create long-term visions for cities. More info on past events please click here.

Study Trip to El Hierro

Blown way by the success oh 100% Renewable Energy in El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain

The World Future Council in cooperation with the Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias (ITC) hosted a study tour to El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain for European Parliamentarians in order to provide hands-on capacity building on 100% Renewable Energy (RE). It provided an opportunity for Parliamentarians to meet practitioners and experts from the field to learn about potential policy outcomes and effects. The study tour did not only provide education and practical experiences but also an interactive and informal platform for knowledge exchange and discussions among policy makers.

Facts about El Hierro’s 100% RE strategy

How is the island supplied by 100% RE?

El Hierro’s 100% renewable energy strategy is anchored to its climate and geology. It benefits from stable and relatively strong winds throughout the year, and has appropriate island topography for the development of a pumped hydro storage system. As such, the majority of its 100% target is now being met by an 11.5MW wind farm, whose output is coupled with the functioning of a pumped hydro facility situated in a volcanic crater. When the winds are strong and the output from the farm exceeds the island’s demand (whose peak is approximately 7.5MW), the excess electricity is used to pump water into the upper reservoir constructed in empty crater for storage. When the winds are weak, or absent, the water stored in the upper reservoir is released and runs through hydro turbines (four units with a combined capacity of 11.3 MW) to produce electricity and storage in the lower reservoir. In this way, the pumped hydro system acts as a battery bank for the whole island. Another component of the system are the desalination plants that produce water for the islands’ residents – the plants are operated in an integrated manner with the wind farm, ensuring that the water supply for the island is also generated in a clean and sustainable way. Another component of the long term strategy is to replace the island’s 4,500 cars with electric vehicles, in order to further reduce reliance on imported fuels and promote sustainable development on the island. Finally, a focus has also emerged on encouraging the island’s agricultural industry to make greater use of bio-digesters in order to make use of local resources more efficiently.

What policy and governance framework enabled the success?

The Canary Islands’ policy framework integrated four political goals in a coherent and integrated vision, including 1) strengthening and diversifying the local economy, 2) energy security, 3) water security and finally 4) climate and environmental protection. El Hierro`s 100% RE strategy was enabled by the strong political will and commitment by the island`s government. Whereas the Regional Energy Plan for the Canary Islands foresaw a RE target of 36 % by 2020 for the region, El Hierro`s government officials achieved the implementation of 100% RE for their island. On the
regulatory side, Orden IET 1711, which sets the specific regulatory regime for the Wind-Pumped Hydro Power System of El Hierro, was key to realize the vision.

By proving its success, El Hierro inspired policy change for the Canary Islands as well. The regional parliament strongly supports the 100% RE target and has started to develop a robust policy framework to replicate the success on other islands. For example it just recently adopted the “decreto eólico 6” that simplifies the procedure for the authorisation of wind farms in the Canary Islands. Until now, wind farms were authorised through a tender process, which has delayed the installation of many of them. Now, the projects are authorised by the Regional Government, if all permissions are provided by the promoter (i.e. the promoter is not obliged to “wait” for the resolution of a tender process).

The initiative on El Hierro is a product of the close cooperation between the island government of the Canaries (which owns a 60% stake in the project), the Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias (which owns 10%), and a private Spanish energy and utility group (which owns the remaining 30%). Finally, there are several interconnected factors that have helped turn El Hierro into a leading example of a 100% renewable energy island. These include:

  • a long tradition of environmental leadership,
  • a sustained political vision among the local and regional governmental leaders
  • a high level of environmental awareness among the population, including the potential
    consequences of climate change
  • a desire for greater self-sufficiency

What does 100% RE in El Hierro cost and how does it impact the economy?

The current electricity generation cost on El Hierro provides significant opportunity for lower cost alternatives and to displace the diesel generation on the island. The island’s oil use is currently approximately 40,000 barrels per year totalling approximately USD $4 Million in annual fuel import costs. Estimates suggest that the project will save the island approximately $2.5 Million in diesel costs every year. The remainder is currently used in the island’s transportation system. However, once the vehicle fleet is transitioned to rely on domestically produced electricity, this will effectively eliminate the island’s reliance on diesel power. This will not only save the island millions of dollars per year in imported fuels: it will also reduce its exposure to fossil fuel price volatility, making it more resilient to external shocks and strengthening the local economy by keeping more of its income in the region.

The Canary Islands are relatively isolated, approximately 300 kilometers from the coast of West Africa. This remoteness makes it more costly to import power system components such as generators, turbine towers, and distribution system infrastructure; it also makes it more expensive to fly in technical experts, such as engineers and project developers. This was partly overcome by partnering with, and building on the existing capacities of a local institute based in the main island Gran Canaría (ITC) that provided significant technical and strategic support over the course of the project. Drawing on the capacity of the ITC made it possible to develop a cluster of expertise in the Canary Islands. Hereby, the island has become a hub for knowledge sharing and for providing advisory services to other island governments as well as to stakeholders in countries with off-grid regions. This has had direct positive impact on the local economy and created jobs as well as new business models. Finally, the support of both local, national and international institutes, of business partners, as well as funding bodies such as the European Union played an important, if not invaluable role.

Lessons learnt from El Hierro’s 100% RE approach

As an island, El Hierro provides valuable lessons for other constituencies implementing 100% RE. This is particularly true for other islands as well as for countries with off-grid regions. Here, technology transfer and advice can facilitate the replication of El Hierro`s success model – particularly the provision of clean water through renewable energy powered desalination plants – which can stimulate rural development and improve the quality of life of the poor. Similarly, jurisdictions with an interconnected system and national grids can draw on the experiences of the island with a small population of about 10.000 inhabitants. Whereas the technological approach is probably not directly transferable to industrialized, grid-connected countries, the policy framework provides valuable lessons and experiences. 10 elements of a 100% RE policy framework, which the EL Hierro example proofs right:

  • 100% RE is technically and economically feasible and is a matter of political will to achieve it.
  • A stable, reliable and robust regulatory framework is the determining factor for the long-term success. The perceived risk of RE resulting from political uncertainty is hence the biggest barrier.
  • Energy in many parts of the world is closely related to freshwater: 100% RE can be achieved by adopting an integrated policy approach for the energy and water sector (incl. desalination and wastewater treatment).
  • 100% RE is a tool for energy and water security: It reduces the jurisdiction`s exposure to fossil fuel price volatility and energy imports, making it more resilient to external shocks and strengthening the local economy by keeping more of its income in the region.
  • 100% Renewable Energy can generate new economic activity, create jobs and is a tool to create socio-economic value in a society as well as diversify the local economy.
  • A 100% renewable energy strategy must be anchored in the existing climate, socio-economic context and geology. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy and local feasibility studies should inform the implementation plan.
  • 100% RE can generate significant cost savings.
  • El Hierro suggests that a significant expansion of RE in the transport as well as in other sectors (water, heating/ cooling etc.) will need to become a strategic priority for governments to achieve 100% RE.
  • By developing more efficient energy infrastructure, it becomes easier to develop, finance, and integrate the remaining infrastructure required to meet a jurisdiction’s energy needs with locally
    available renewable resources.
  • By providing market access to a wide range of stakeholders (incl. public and private ones), policy makers can help build positive synergies across the region and leverage investments.

Policy recommendations deriving from El Hierro’s 100% RE approach

For National Legislators

  • Set a political 100% RE target to provide leadership and streamline actions and hence resources.
  • Provide a robust, reliable and coherent policy framework that reflects long-term investment security.
  • Develop an evidence-based and comprehensive narrative to communicate benefits and opportunities of RE to the public.
  • Simplify administrative procedures to reduce costs and enable investments.
  • Electrify the heating/cooling and transport sector
  • Adopt an integrated approach to fiscal, education, infrastructure, economic and energy policy.
  • Develop efficient energy infrastructure which include the reduction of energy demand as well as the establishment of integrated systems to enhance energy efficiency.
  • Implement inclusive policy frameworks that allow a broad range of public and private stakeholders to participate and new business models to emerge.
  • Foster sustained citizen engagement to ensure acceptance and maximize the benefits for the people.
  • Strengthen and empower regional governments to develop regulatory frameworks based on local and regional conditions (e.g. distinguish between islands and main land)

For European Legislators

  • Phase-out all direct and indirect subsidies for a fossil fuel-based energy system.
  • Develop a fiscal policy framework for RE.
  • Develop binding RE targets and a robust frameworks beyond 2020 for RE with ambition and leadership.
  • Provide funding for RE related infrastructure development as RE leads to profound changes in the way energy system.
  • Establish an Energy Union that builds on 100% RE to achieve energy security, sustainability and economic competitiveness.
  • Strengthen local and regional governments to adopt and develop adequate energy solutions for the respected area.
  • Ensure full and active participation of regions, communities/cities, and local authorities in the Energy Union.
  • Include the narrative of a feasible and viable 100% RE target in the Paris process by referring to examples.

Next steps

  • MEPs host a Lunch Debate in the European Parliament to enhance the debate on 100% RE with other MEPs and members of the commission.
  • MEPs explore opportunities to highlight the need for a national binding RE targets in the EU and putting RE at the heart of the Energy Union.
  • The group contributes to fostering the positive communication around RE as a solution to Climate Change and a tool to spur economic and social development.
  • Peter Liese reaches out to EU Commissioner Arias Cañete.
  • Eva Kaili and Marijana Petir present the El Hierro as a case study for the feasibility of 100% RE in the STOA Panel.
  • Boleslaw Piecha explores opportunities to engage Polish communities and policy makers in the debate on 100% RE.
  • Marijana Petir explores opportunities to present El Hierro as a case study for the feasibility of 100% RE in Croatia.
  • Eva Kaili and Marijana Petir explore opportunities for follow-up study tours to Croatia and Greece.

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UNFCCC Side Event: Energy [R]evolution

 

Bonn: An energy revolution is needed to phase out coal and nukes in a just transition to 100% renewable energy by mid-century. At the UNFCCC conference in Bonn, we presented policy solutions that have proven successful across the world in enabling this transition. Other speakers included Kyle Ash, Greenpeace US as well as representatives from WWF.

AREA Conference

 

Cairo: The World Future Council partnered the AREA Conference “Towards 100% Renewables and Sustainable Communities for Africa”. WFC Policy Officer Anna Leidreiter was part of the International Organizing Committee and presented the Global 100% Renewable Energy Campaign.>>