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Lightning Talk by Peter Head CBE FREng FRSA at the RSA Scaling for impact event 1 February 2016.
My journey to provide and scale support to city regions to meet Global Goals by 2030
In 2008 I was working in Arup, heading up their global planning business with a world class team of transport, environmental, urban and policy and economics experts. Before that I had worked in infrastructure design and delivery, particularly Public Private Partnerships, around the World and I was also an adviser to the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone on his Sustainable Development Commission and so I was very aware of the challenges of achieving improved city resilience.
My team at Arup was working at the cutting edge of low carbon sustainable city planning worldwide, particularly in China. It was there I got very inspired by their vision of an ecological civilisation, living in harmony with nature, as the next phase of development after the industrial model. However getting the plans built everywhere we worked was very difficult because success still revolved around GDP growth and that was the metric decision making. We knew that this was damaging the health of land and ocean ecology, and human well-being was not necessarily improving as a result, but everyone thought that this was the “price of progress”. Development was becoming less inclusive in many more developed countries as well.
I was given the opportunity to develop and articulate a roadmap towards a more resilient Ecological Age in the 2008-9 Brunel Lecture sponsored by Institution of Civil Engineers in London.
I gave this presentation all over the world in 45 cities in 2008-9, and the feedback was very positive, but many were skeptical that a more resilient Ecological Age could be delivered. The financial crash did not help the mood. It was very clear that the disconnect between investment decision making and the community social/ecological system impact at global and local scales was a huge problem. We did not have the tools and understanding of how human and ecology systems and resource flows interact and how this affects investment and health-productivity risks. It was clear to most people that city regions would be critical in determining a successful outcome for humanity by 2050, because of the projected urbanisation and the resulting investment drawn into those locations. The analysis showed that we had to embrace a factor 4 reduction in pollution and resource consumption, including greenhouse gas emissions, by 2050 both in retrofitting existing city regions and in the model for new urbanisation, if a successful outcome was to be achieved...