Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Rise (and Demise) of Earth’s Eco-Cities

by William Pentland
In 2008, the Ecocity World Summit convened in San Francisco to prescribe the “eco-city” concept as the anti-dote to the escalating threats of resource scarcity, climate change and the massive urbanization predicted to occur over the next Century. The Summit organizers made the following declaration: ”Into the deep future, the cities in which we live must enable people to thrive in harmony with nature and achieve sustainable development . . . Cities, towns and villages should be designed to enhance the health and quality of life of their inhabitants and maintain the ecosystems on which they depend.”

The “eco-city” was supposed to combine the principles of green building and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to reduce – and potentially eliminate – the adverse impact cities have historically had on the natural environment. In “Sustainable Cities: Oxymoron or The Shape of the Future?,” Annissa Alusi, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, reviews the origins and outcomes (thus far) of the first generation of “eco-city” projects being pursued around the world. The findings are mixed and include the following snapshots. Read More