A planet and its people under pressure: why cities matter


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A planet and its people under pressure: why cities matter, a presentation by Paul Toyne, Global Head of Sustainability at WSP - presentation given at Be2camp workshop at Green Build Expo in Manchester on 8 May 2013

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A planet and its people under pressure: why cities matter

  1. 1. Why we must not losesight of biodiversitymaintenance andmanaging consumption!- the role of built environmentand future city8th May 2013GreenBuild, ManchesterDr Paul ToyneGroup Sustainability Director WSP1
  2. 2. Outline What the problem is Trends in population and consumption Impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems Why does it matter? Future Cities – the solution?2
  3. 3. The number of people on earth…….3..has been growing rapidly,more are expected………as a species wedominate the planet...
  4. 4. Why is this a concern?4People are increasingly living in dense, overcrowding Overcrowding:• Mental health problems• Poor health and diseases(e.g. tuberculosis)• In urban areas, almost 137million people have noaccess to safe drinkingwater, and more than 600million do not have adequatesanitationInfant mortality rateMDG is not on target
  5. 5. Why is this a concern?5We are reaching environmental limits…………….
  6. 6. The increasing rates of change in human activity since thebeginning of the Industrial Revolution6Steffen W et al. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2011;369:842-867
  7. 7. An inequal world – Consumption and population growth ratesvary greatly across countries according to income groups7
  8. 8. Pressures on the Earth must increase………………… People already dominate the Earth and manage it for immediate needs,especially food, energy and water. Population numbers are still increasing. Consumption is growing faster than population numbers, especially indeveloping countries where poor living standards must improve. Land use change continues and climate change impacts are yet to come.We are going to need more environmental resources, for more people,distributed more equitably, in a changing environment.8
  9. 9. IMPACTS ON BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEMS -Population declines9Marine fish AmphibiansFreshwater fishReptilesBirdsMammals
  10. 10. Why does it matter? Three roles of biodiversity Intrinsic / inherent values.The value of something independent of its value toanyone or anything else. The genetic library of life.The source of all evolutionary innovation necessary forfuture adaptive potential and diversification. Instrumental and extrinsic values.For example as natural capital and for ecosystemservices.10
  11. 11. Extrinsic values derived from ecosystems (ecosystemservices)Food, Medicine,Industrial Products,Building Materials
  12. 12. Biodiversity loss is continuing, with damagingconsequences Biodiversity loss is continuing, often at increasing rates. It matters for many reasons: intrinsic and instrumental. Biodiversity plays a critical, if poorly understood role inecosystem services and functions.Biodiversity may be more important in future than now,because of increasing pressures, multiple demands onecosystems and a changing environment.12What can be done?
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  16. 16. Reduce population growth or reduce consumption? In a developing country(India) and a developedcountry (USA).. using real populationdemography.. assuming each person has aconsumption of 1 unit peryear.. What is the effect of reducingfertility by 1% per year for 50years compared to reducingconsumption by 1% per yearfor 50 years?16
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  18. 18. Are we designing our cities to best reduce consumptionand conserve biodiversity? In the UK, building design is improving – responsiblesourcing and life cycle assessments of products,construction waste reducing, energy and waterefficiencies. Is biodiversity being considered – is it just about birdboxes, newt re-location, a green roof and wall?
  19. 19. So are we making the right decisions?Local biodiversity v’s global biodiversity?• Do we know how to influence behaviour and consumptionpatterns in the home and office to protect and restorebiodiversity and ecosystems?Is it just about waterless loos, fair-trade coffee andFSC office furniture?And we are okay with the progress we are making?Do we know the full impact of our consumption in buildingsand cities
  20. 20. The role of a future city: buildings, infrastructure and itscitizensMust haves?We need our future cities to be Self-sufficient in energy (no GHG emissions) and water use, and generateno waste Provide affordable housing and transportation Provide shelter and security from weather and changing climate Access to food and materials Provide a quality of life for its citizens (health & well-being, employment)Achievable? And have no negative impact on global biodiversity and ecosystems?More questions than answers – sorry!!