All over the world human-induced climate change, rapid population growth, housing and cost of living pressures, as well as systemic inequity and poor health outcomes threaten both living standards and economic growth, with knock on effects for political stability and social cohesion.
Cities have always learned from each other in seeking to meet current and future community needs. They are responsible for 80% of global economic output and act as focal points for culture, commerce and employment, as well as transit hubs for labour and the global elite alike. As the number and variety of urban environments have grown, so too have the challenges they face.
For cities to become more equitable and resilient, there is an increasing reliance on applying insights from elsewhere at speed to reduce project risks, invest limited public funds well and avoid delaying community benefits due to less predictable trial-and-error approaches.
In the United States, Washington D.C. and San Fransisco have both implemented ‘first right of refusal’ laws to allow tenants to purchase apartment buildings prior to them hitting the market to combat gentrification. Spanish capital Madrid is undertaking a climate resilience effort of planting an urban forest of native trees, that will ring the city in a bid to improve air quality and mitigate the ‘heat island’ effect. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires bus time journeys were halved when car lanes on Avenida 9 de Julio, sometimes known as ‘the widest avenue in the world’ were reduced from 20 to 10.
In April I will present a paper titled ‘Critical Factors in Urban Translation: How cities can better understand and more efficiently translate lessons from foreign experience and projects’ at the International Conference on Urban Affairs in New York City. The paper will feature the findings of quantitative and qualitative surveys undertaken with selected urban and transport planning professionals who have worked in and applied their experience across multiple jurisdictions.
This is part of a longer term project exploring common factors found to limit effective local application of lessons learned from other cities, and what they have done to meaningfully adapt their assumptions, skills, knowledge and experience to benefit new contexts. The insights will be presented as a toolkit of strategies that professionals and communities alike can use to more effectively translate lessons from foreign experience and projects.
As cities draw in money, people and resources they also face huge challenges which if not tackled with well-developed policy could overwhelm what have become the vital arteries of human society’s survival.
If you’d like to contribute your insights, you can participate in the survey which is open until February 19th, by clicking the link here.