Ethics and the Built Environment (Professional Ethics)

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Waste management can be more efficiently organised in densely inhabited areas. And urban agriculture, too, if well developed, could make a significant contribution to feeding cities and providing people with livelihoods. Bamako, Mali, is self-sufficient in vegetables and produces half or more of the chickens it consumes.

There are 80, community gardeners on municipal land in Berlin with a waiting list of 16, Cities also need park landscapes and spaces for wildlife. In fact, suburban gardens in the UK have been found to contain a greater variety of wildlife than surrounding farmland. This aspect of cities is crucial for nature conservation and every effort should be made to support urban wildlife conservation.

Policies for sustainability Today we have a great opportunity to develop a whole new range of environmentally friendly technologies for use in our cities. Efficient energy systems are now available for urban buildings, including combined heat-and-power generators, with fuel cells and photovoltaic modules waiting in the wings. New concepts of architectural design allow us to greatly improve the energy performance and to reduce the environmental impact of materials use in buildings. Transport technologies, too, are due for a major overhaul. Fuel-efficient low-emission vehicles are at a very advanced stage of development.

In US cities, rapid urban transit systems are starting to reappear even where people had come to depend almost exclusively on private transport. This means, above all else, self-financing investment in end-use efficiency — reducing resource use whilst simultaneously generating urban jobs and business opportunities. Using Agenda 21 and the Habitat Agenda as the basis, we have the opportunity to refocus investment from resource extraction to resource conservation and recycling, with a great many employment and business opportunities. Whilst a policy based on high resource productivity would reduce employment in mining, much of it abroad, it would enhance job creation in end-use efficiency — in the building trade, in environmental technology industries and in the electronics sector — in places where they are most needed: in our cities.

Policies proposed here aim to create synergies between various business sectors: the waste outputs of cities can be a basis for new business ventures. Energy efficiency, so far tackled half-heartedly, should be given top priority. Government can do a great deal to facilitate sustainable urban development by using legislation, regulations and budgetary signals to initiate change.

Speakers – Ethics and the Built Environment November 15–16,

Smart cities Cities are centres of communication and new electronic systems have dramatically enhanced that role. Information technologies have given cities a global reach as never before, and particularly in further extending the financial power of urban institutions. If this is the global network society, who controls its ever-growing power? The global economic and environmental reach of cities today needs to be matched with communication systems that monitor new impacts.

Much more needs to be done to ensure processes by which cities monitor and ameliorate their impact on the biosphere. I would like to postulate that modern cities could develop cultural feedback systems, responding to the challenge of achieving sustainability by limiting urban resource consumption and waste output through technological and organisational measures.

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The impact of city people on ever remoter areas needs to be matched with appropriate monitoring. As it is, environmental awareness is often very well developed in cities and most environmental organisations are based there. It is vital that the awareness of the impact of cities themselves on the global environment is better understood and that policies are developed and implemented accordingly.

It is of critical importance to recognise the great inherent creativity of city people in solving problems. But people need a good knowledge base. For this purpose, the most important thing is the collection and dissemination of best practices to assure that people in cities worldwide actually are informed about existing projects. That would be an indication that cities were becoming smart in the best sense of the word. The legacy of Habitat II The Habitat II Conference in Istanbul in , organised by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, made a great deal of the fact that cities, more often than not, are considered places where problems are concentrated.

However, in reality, people wherever they are seek to improve their situation wherever possible. This information is now available via the World Wide Web18 and through direct contacts with urban groups all over the world. Exchange programmes for disseminating this information are now reaching even some of the poorest urban communities. There are five lessons that emerged out of Habitat II 1.

The power of the good examples. Habitat and its partners have helped groups from around the world to prepare reports and to make films about their own activities. It is also undertaking the dissemination of best practices.

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Ethics and the Built Environment

This process will deepen our understanding of urban challenges and opportunities so that realistic steps can be taken at local, national and international levels to develop new partnerships for solving problems and enriching the life of cities. Complexity of issues. The contributions Habitat received also illustrated just how complex modern cities are. In this context, obstacles to successful implementation must be analysed and effective processes for implementing projects identified.

In situations of rapid urban growth it is particularly important for the development of urban infrastructure problems to be overcome. Local level action has large-scale repercussions. Implementation must be tailored very closely to local situations. We then have to ask: how applicable are best practices outside their own regions? For urban best practice to be transferable from one city to another, implementation must be closely tailored to local situations.

It is particularly important to establish under what circumstances and with what types of partners successful projects have materialised. Exchanges take place between peer groups in different cities. The sharing of best practice between cities is an essential tool for sustainable urban development. Once outside interest in a project has been established, site visits are of critical importance.

By learning from example, local transformation can lead to global change. Changing the way urban institutions work. The power of allowing people direct access to best practice examples through a dynamic process of decentralised co-operation has become very apparent.

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We could also see ever greater impacts by cities on the global environment. We need a new global partnership between national governments and local communities, between the public and private sectors. The sustainable development of cities is becoming a priority challenge for the international community.


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Cultural development With the majority of the world now copying Western development patterns, we need to formulate new cultural priorities. Cities are centres of knowledge and today this also means knowledge of the world and our impact on it. Reducing urban impacts is as much an issue of education and of information dissemination as of the better uses of technology. Ultimately, that cannot be done without changing the value systems underpinning our urban lifestyles. Initiatives to that effect are now in evidence all over the world.

In many cities there is growing awareness that the urban superorganism can become a sustainable, self-regulating system through appropriate cultural processes. In the end, it is only a profound change of attitudes that can bring the deeper transformations that will make cities truly sustainable.

We need to revive the vision of the city as a place of culture and creativity, of conviviality and above all else of sedentary living. As I have suggested, currently cities are not centres of civilisation but mobilisation of people and goods. A calmer, serener vision of cities is needed to help them fulfil their true potential as places not just of the body but of the spirit.

Great cities of the past were above all else places of beauty, with their great public spaces, their magnificent bridges and the rising spires of their religious buildings. Eco-friendly urban development could well become the greatest challenge of the twenty-first century, not only for human self-interest, but also for the sake of a sustainable relationship between cities and the biosphere on which humanity crucially depends.


  1. A Matter of Marriage;
  2. See a Problem?.
  3. Ethics for the Built Environment Professional Engineer (Dual), 2.0 PDHs (AIA);
  4. Given our ever-growing numbers it is critically important to utilise the potential of urban density as a basis for sustainability. Cities for a new millennium will be energy and resource efficient, people friendly and culturally rich, with active democracies assuring the best uses of human energies. In northern mega-cities prudent inward investment will contribute significantly to achieving higher levels of employment.

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    In cities in the south, significant investment in infrastructure will make a vast difference to health and living conditions. Thought has created the unstable world in which we now live — manifested in mega-technology, mega-cities, global power structures and vast environmental impacts. Practical visions and working examples of innovative, alternative systems urgently need to be implemented in cities all over the world. City people the world over have a crucial responsibility for implementing such a process. It is clear that IUCN can play a key role in this process.

    This will be one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century. Girardet Appendix 2: the metabolism of Greater London, population 7,, Tonnes per year 1. Girardet and ; sources available. Environmental Investigation Agency, London. Mark Campanale, personal communication. Paul Brunner, TU, Vienna, personal communication. Scott, R.

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