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Part I: Perspectives


1. Our cities, our future

Professor Dr Klaus Tipfer

Federal Minister for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development

Federal Republic of Germany

Chairman, United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development

The global urban challenge

The role of urban communities in global sustainable development and in the improvement of local health conditions has already been recognized by the Rio Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The conference underlined the key roles of human health and of human settlements for our common future. One of the main documents of this conference, Agenda 21, calls in Chapters 6 and 7 for international, national and local action in these fields. As many worldwide health problems arise from unhealthy living conditions in cities, this congress focuses on two interlinking cornerstones for sustainable development.

The challenges are indeed both urgent and impressive. Urban growth of large cities, metropolises and even "mega-cities" is about to continue. At the turn of the century, half of the world's population will live in cities. In the year 2025, the earth is expected to be home to almost 100 mega-cities with a population of more than 5 million. 80 of these agglomerations will be located in what we call today the developing countries.

Big cities often witness excessive and wasteful consumption of water, energy and other resources. With lack of appropriate infrastructure and technology, these cities suffer from wide-spread pollution of air and water, even contamination of soil and food. Health conditions in cities of developing countries are often far below decent standards. Even in prosperous countries, many health disorders are related to specific influences from an urban environment.

The Social Summit in Copenhagen once again highlighted the importance of social issues for sustainable development. In many cities of the world, the absence of well coordinated urban and regional planning contributes to economic and social deprivation, loss of community, social segregation and other negative urban trends, which in turn contribute to social diseases like crime, alcohol abuse and drug problems as well as to psychological disorders.

After many years of analysis and discussion, it is now time for action. For progress toward healthy and ecological cities, three areas of action are of prime importance:

First, we need a modern infrastructure for environmental and health protection. Drinking water supply, wastewater treatment, waste disposal and remediation technologies are essential for adequate urban living conditions. Millions of people in developing countries do not even have access to the most basic life support systems.

Secondly, urban production and consumption patterns, often linked with highly mobile and energy-intensive urban life-styles, need to be adjusted to the needs of resource protection. Let me quote a very impressive example. A European city with 1 million inhabitants requires on average more than 10 000 (metric) tons of fossil fuels, more than 300 000 tons of water and 2000 tons of food per day and at the same time it produces 1500 tons of harmful emissions, 300 000 tons of wastewater and 1600 tons of solid waste. It is quite obvious that we cannot count on modern technology alone if we want to solve these problems. More attention has to be given to strategies for product recycling and product responsibility of manufacturers; last, but not least, changes in behaviour patterns related to mobility, energy use and leisure activities need to be encouraged. For the necessary adjustments, environmental and health protection need to be integrated into mainstream economic, development and planning policies and to be supported by economic instruments using the market mechanism.

Thirdly, the internal structures of the cities and in particular those of the large agglomerations, need to be examined. When growing cities lack a focus on existing or new centres, when they "dissolve" into the county-side, creating vast suburbs where people have to use a car when they want to buy a loaf of bread, the result will be a very unsustainable physical structure. It has become evident in the context of climate protection policies that much of the energy consumption in transport is the result of the settlement structure and of ill-advised planning policies. Data from research on urban travel patterns show that very clearly: to satisfy the same set of daily needs, residents of a typical, purely residential suburb of a large German city travel three times as much by car as people living in a city sub-centre. In the search for a sustainable land use pattern, we may come to rediscover the wisdom of traditional urban design which has, to this day, contributed so much to urban vitality and the community spirit. At the same time, a concentration of settlements around well-equipped centres can help preserve the open space which is necessary for an environmentally sound and healthy region. In looking for what makes urban neighbourhoods vital, attractive and socially stable, a healthy mix of urban functions is seen to be a key element.

The agenda for sustainable urban development

Future generations may look back on the Rio Conference and on Agenda 21 as a turning point in the history of urban planning philosophy. For the first time in history, urban policies are not defined solely from the perspective of individual needs, but also from the requirements for the survival of this planet. "Think globally, act locally" - this slogan stands for a new comprehensive and integrative approach which is the essence of sustainable development.

The broad scope for local action is demonstrated by the Agenda 21 chapter dealing with sustainable human settlements development, which includes programmes for shelter development, sustainable land use planning and management, provision of environmental infrastructure as well as sustainable energy and transport systems and construction industry activities. With regard to the estimated financial needs, the section relating to human settlements stands out as the most capital-intensive section of Agenda 21.

The UN Commission on Sustainable Development, which was subsequently installed to monitor the implementation of the Rio decisions and to provide global leadership on the road towards sustainability, has from the beginning attached high priority to issues both of human health and of human settlements development. In the 1994 session of the Commission, which I had the privilege to chair, the Commission undertook an in-depth review of the state of global and national actions in these fields. The interlinkages between poverty, lack of basic urban infrastructure and environmental services and poor health conditions were foremost among the concerns of the Commission.

The message has come through that - on a global scale - the future of mankind will be shaped largely by urban conditions. Whether or not governments find ways of coping with accelerating urban growth, whether or not local authorities succeed in combating pollution, limiting automobile traffic, securing basic health and social needs - this will determine the quality of life for the generations to come and with it the chance to solve conflict within nations and between them.

Let us be clear that it is not the city as such which can be blamed for the conditions which we find wanting and often appalling. There will be no road back to a pre-industrial world with a majority living in the countryside in harmony with nature. The Commission has recognized the potential of cities for housing a growing population with minimal impact on landscape and other natural resources. The challenge is to organize large urban areas in such a way that allows for efficient provision and management of housing, job opportunities, commerce and trade, mobility and leisure.

Let me say a few words about the mandate of the Commission. The Commission's role is to draw together the various activities on all levels - global, national, regional, local - and to provide leadership on the road towards sustainability in development. It is not going to substitute for any existing international institutions, but it is also more than a coordinating body. It is the Commission's mandate to bring together governments and international institutions, in particular those of the UN system and to provide leadership, analysis and coordination on the path towards sustainability. It is in this spirit that the Commission on Sustainable Development invites governments and international organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the OECD, as well as non-governmental organizations and individuals, to share the task of designing and implementing global strategies for sustainability.

The role of OECD countries

What is the challenge for the OECD countries in a global strategy for sustainable human settlements?

First of all, the developed countries have to recognize that their urban life-styles, their patterns of production and consumption are an important part of the global environmental problem. It is one of the important messages of UNCED and its follow-up that the developed countries, even though their health standards are generally better, are in no way the environmental models of the world. They are, however, better at externalizing negative environmental effects to other regions, to the atmosphere, to the oceans.

Second, the developed countries are in a position to provide the blue-prints, the know-how and the technology for managing large conurbations in ways which provide minimal standards for health, safety and basic services. The vision of "ecological and sustainable cities" is gaining more and more ground with local government institutions, with planners, architects, with contractors and engineers and most importantly, with the citizens who in their daily lives will make the adjustments for a sustainable life-style. We need the power of this vision, the imagination and the talent of all these people for our own cities, but we also need to offer this innovative power to the local authorities in the developing countries which are often overwhelmed by the sheer size of their tasks. It would be a great symbol of global urban solidarity if more and more cities from OECD countries would form partnerships with cities from developing countries, or countries in transition, for the transfer of know-how and technology and for the exchange of experience. Let me say it again: developed countries cannot claim possession of higher wisdom in urban planning. Learning for sustainable urban development is not a one-way street. Many traditional local practices have proved their superiority over imported expertise. And yet, the institutional and technological capacities of developed countries can be an important boost to the struggling urban authorities in the southern hemisphere.

Looking towards the upcoming United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, HABITAT II, it is appropriate and urgent that the nations united in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development define their specific contribution to a global picture of human settlement policies. In my view, the work going on in the urban programme of the OECD and in particular in this "Ecological City Project", stands for the most innovative and the most enlightened elements which OECD countries have to offer to the urban communities of the world. Linking this work to the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development and to the preparatory process for HABITAT II would greatly help in creating the powerful partnerships needed for mastering the global urban challenge.


Networking for action on sustainability and health

Agis D. Tsouros, M.D., Ph.D.

Healthy Cities Project Coordinator

World Health Organization

Regional Office for Europe

Keeping up with the recent international conventions and plans in the environmental, social and health field can be an overwhelming and sometimes confusing experience for those who work at the local level. On the eve of the 21st century an abruptly awakened international community is rushing to lay the foundations for a world with new aspirations. These represent the legitimizing umbrellas for action in areas that have been neglected for too long and areas that have crucial significance for human development, wellbeing and the survival of the planet. The implications for change are breathtaking, including above all changing and reviewing the values and the principles (explicit and implicit) on which we build our institutions and against which we measure our achievements and progress.

No matter how distant (and far away) all these developments may seem from a community or town perspective (which is often the case) it is important to remember that they are grounded in a response to the accumulation of a set of concerns, pressures and expectations which have a high relevance to the urban context. They are city agendas as much as they are the national governments' agendas and the agendas of the international community.

During the social summit week in Copenhagen in March this year, moods and assessments constantly changed from disappointment and disillusionment to approval and optimism. The natural impatience and expectations for firm (legally binding) commitments to social development by developed and developing countries at times overshadowed the political significance of the summit and its implications for the future. Again the point that was repeatedly made is that these issues should be everybody's business. As the chairman of the summit said: ask what you can do, not what they can do for you. The issues addressed at the summit draw a lot on the experiences of urban communities and have enormous implications for local governments, as was the case at the Rio Summit on Environment and Development in 1992.

Values do not change from one day to the other, nor do decision-makers turn their institutions and policies upside down every time an international declaration calls for change. It took many governments more than 15 years to recognize officially the link between poverty and health and begin to develop policies to reduce health and environmental inequalities. Many countries, regions and cities could today boast examples of innovative programmes and initiatives that are based on or reflect the principles of the strategies for health for all, Agenda 21 and social development. Often these are isolated islands of good practice that have limited impact on the pursuit of large scale integrative actions.

The emphasis on integrative strategies and long term social, economic and environmental sustainability provide the link between the Healthy Cities project and the OECD's project on the Ecological City. The concept of the Healthy City, like that of the Ecological City, does not describe a city that has reached a particular environmental state or condition, but rather a city that is committed to putting the environment (and health) high on its political agenda and creating a structure and process to achieve it.

Health is not a party political issue. Sustaining our environment is not a party political issue either. The challenge for cities is not one of scientific or technical know-how but it is one of the social and political application of answers already known to us. City administrations are faced with major decisions in a highly complex and changing internal and external environment: ecological, public health and social demands, decentralization trends, economic development challenges and opportunities, metropolisation, consumerist and community pressures, technological developments, new democratic processes and reforms (in several countries), as well as the challenge to being open and living up to new ideals.

In the context of these challenges to our environmental, social and economic sustainability and the search for new integrative and cross-sectoral strategies, three points have great importance in the Healthy Cities work. The first point is that cities that wish to be in the forefront of development today and to have the ability to adapt continuously must possess the space, the time, the skills and expertise and the energy to explore and take advantage of new opportunities and ideas. In other words they need to pre-invest in enabling and empowering structures and processes that will help create the capacity for and a climate conducive to innovation, experimentation and alliance building. All modern social movements call for intersectoral action, community participation and empowerment. Governments should also adopt an enabling framework of policies and strategies targeted at supporting community initiatives and actions.

Researchers today are now paying much more attention to the process by which new ideas are adopted and successfully implemented in organizations. As Colin Hastings (6) said:

"There is a fund of ideas and actions available if only we're prepared to find the means to unlock them. The resourcefulness of people in their ideas and actions is directly related to the environment in which they operate. Creating the right climate is the biggest step needed to achieve innovation. Harvesting, analyzing and disseminating information about innovative actions from different countries and settings is an essential tool for catalyzing change".

The Healthy Cities network is a group of cities and towns around the world that have been investing in innovation for some years now. They represent a body of knowledge and experience that is of real value not just for themselves but for cities around the world.

This leads to the second point. The need to invest in creating cooperative networks that cut across traditional territorial boundaries. Networks are organizational forms that provide for collective learning processes and can thus reduce uncertainty in the implementation of innovation. By sharing the experience of innovators, networks can help cities avoid repeating mistakes or having to reinvent the wheel. Thus networks can increase the efficiency of cities and can also provide the basis for competence building, creating complementarity, socializing risks and influencing (and controlling) the evolution/innovation process. Collaboration permits networks to mobilize, coordinate and reconfigure the developmental processes, thus creating permanent innovation capabilities. There is a growing body of research in the field of innovation networks and notably the work of Roberto Camagni and the GREMI group. (5, 7)

Networks can mobilize the unique innovative capabilities of different partners within cities, while simultaneously connecting these diverse contributions into an interdependent global network of cities. Times of rapid social, economic and technological change highlight the need to use innovation networks as strategic instruments. These networks represent strategic alliances (within a closed set of selected and explicit linkages with preferential partners) which in essence allow control and influence over the development process.

The WHO project cities networks bring together partner cities that are committed to a comprehensive approach to the Healthy Cities idea. The network is guided and given purpose and direction by a strong set of organizational principles. It is characterized by diversity, cooperative strategies and a strong branding of the product. The project structures and processes help change the way cities understand and deal with health and the environment and produce both the strategic glue for inter-sectoral health plans as well as alliances for environmental and health development. A very wide range of mechanisms for communication and sharing of information have been put into place that serve to exchange learning, provide support and to hold the overall project together while simultaneously enabling a wide range of diverse activities (2, 3, 4, 1).

The project gives cities methodologies and structures that can be transferred from the health field into other fields where the 'integrated' approach is called for. In other words Healthy Cities project processes are now placed ideally in cities to play a key role in the development of strategies for sustainability, social integration and social development. Such processes can give cities a valuable competitive advantage, for example when bidding for European Commission programmes in the fields of the environment and telematics.

Undoubtedly the major strength of the WHO network is the political legitimacy it has provided to a wide range of innovative policy changes and practices. Large and smaller cities today through the internationalization process become the gateways of international relationships. The internationalization of linkages makes it also necessary to overcome the antagonism between local and national institutions and to elaborate integrated programmes with the collaboration of the public and private sectors. The WHO Healthy Cities project has established collaboration with the EU sustainable cities campaign and all project cities have endorsed the plan to develop Agenda 21 plans.

The final point follows from this second point. The Healthy Cities network - and other networks such as sustainable cities - represent a global resource. Already there are many examples of East-West and North-South exchanges in the WHO Europe network. The East-West linkages have received most attention, but there is also the example of Glasgow's work with Chittagong in Bangladesh, the work of the Francophone group (joined by the Quebec network) in West Africa, the links between the Spanish network and the Latin American cities and Toronto's work with Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The power of the Healthy Cities approach and its global importance is now being recognized by WHO at a global level. More than 900 cities and towns world wide are involved in the Healthy Cities Healthy Communities movement. Not only is there the symbolic importance of designating Healthy Cities as the theme for World Health Day in 1996 - the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the European project - but WHO Headquarters is now embarking on making Healthy Cities a major interregional programme. This means that there will soon be formal Healthy City networks in all of WHO's regions.

But while networks within regions are very important, there is also a need to expand linkages and exchange of experience and information between North and South and recognize that this is very much a two-way exchange - as noted in a recent pamphlet from the Local Government Management Board in the United Kingdom, discussing "North-South linking for sustainable development":

"North-South links provide a vehicle, both for extending mutual understanding of global problems and for joint action on sustainable development initiatives. Direct contact with other cultures and communities can vividly highlight issues of over-consumption, excessive use of resources and other problems in our own communities".

If the health, wellbeing, quality of life and human development of people in cities throughout the world is to be improved, not only must the cities of the North assist the cities of the South, they must learn from them how to reduce their adverse global impacts on health and sustainability. And within this global approach it is clear that the problems of distressed urban areas should get priority - both within the cities of the North and the cities of the South. Indeed, recent developments in the USA serve to underscore this perspective and the relevance of South-North exchange. In the inner cities, the experience gained in the Third World by the US Agency for International Development is now being applied to address the health, social, environmental and economic needs of inner city residents.

As we approach the dawn of the urban millennium, when for the first time the majority of the human species will live in towns and cities, we have a desperate global need for the innovation and the networking that is characteristic of the Healthy Cities network. It is clear that environmental, social and economic development go hand in hand; that there can be no health without socially and environmentally sustainable economic development and that human development is intimately linked to improved human health and wellbeing. Strategies that integrate health in development must be at the core of action to promote social cohesion and sustainable development. And while global thinking and global summits are valuable for the ethical framework they establish and while national governments are valuable for the statutory framework they establish, it is at the local level - in the cities, towns and villages - that the fate of the world will be decided.



1. TSOUROS, A., ED. WHO Healthy Cities Project: a project becomes a movement. Copenhagen/Milan, FADL/Sogess, 1990.

2. The WHO Healthy Cities Five Year Review. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1992.

3. Twenty steps for developing a Healthy Cities Project. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1992.

4. National Healthy Cities networks in Europe. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1994 (second edition).

5. CAMAGNI, R., ED. Innovation networks: spatial perspectives. London, Belhaven Press, 1991.

6. HASTINGS, C. The new organisation - growing the culture of organisational networking. London, The IBM McGraw-Hill Series, 1993.

7. CAMAGNI, R. From innovative circles to global networks. In: La Ville, Centre National de la Recherch‚ Scientifique, No. 81, Summer 1994, pp. 36-37.


Policies to improve the urban environment

Mr Ariel Alexandre

Head, Urban Affairs Division,

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)



The reasons why the urban environment must be improved are threefold:

1. The quality of life in cities is declining and urban pollution keeps increasing in terms of N0x and C02, waste, noise, ugliness, dirt, lack of greenery;

2. The demand for a good local environment is becoming increasingly loud and is therefore having a growing political impact;

3. Many modern activities seek to establish themselves in pleasant, non-degraded, non-polluted areas.

In addition, doing nothing about the urban environment would mean doing nothing about the environment in general; cities will therefore have a major role to play not only in improving their own environment, but especially in improving the environment at the international, global level.

So far most authorities - at every level - have tried to solve sectoral problems, such as air pollution and waste collection and treatment, or have tried to improve the built environment in certain districts by creating pedestrian zones, renovating housing, etc. Reducing urban pollution and improving the quality of life are still too seldom combined in a single policy. In addition, local coordination of the various sectoral policies for pollution control is still quite in-adequate. As for environmental requirements, they are very seldom incorporated in local non-environmental policies.

The objectives and resources for policies to improve the urban environment are still very limited. But despite these limitations, the efforts made by some cities are worth mentioning.


Lessons to be learnt from the experience of certain cities

Some cities have excelled in rehabilitating/revitalising old or run-down districts; others in the transport field and yet others in energy savings and the conversion of waste into heat and electricity.

Rehabilitation of run-down areas

Rehabilitation operations mainly concern the old town centres, but are increasingly being carried out in the neglected districts of recently-built suburbs or of former industrial zones which have become practically wastelands.

The experience acquired so far shows that the improvement of the built environment must be combined with a reduction in the most serious types of pollution (waste, water pollution, smoke) if the cities are to see a real economic revival. London, Manchester, Vancouver and Istanbul illustrate this point. In these cities new uses have been found for run-down buildings or sites, the areas near water have been improved and the pollution of this water reduced (the presence of water, whether a river or the sea, seems to facilitate environmental improvement, as if the water were in itself an environmental asset as well as an aesthetic asset and a recreational facility).

The success of urban rehabilitation policies depends upon preparing a long-term plan and making sure that it is actually implemented, obtaining diversified financial resources, creating a partnership with the private and not-for-profit sectors, inducing strong local and public initiative and setting aside sufficient land. In addition, the use of taxes and tax exemptions to encourage good local environmental practice needs to be encouraged, especially for the rehabilitation of former industrial sites.

In the future, growing and tourist cities will also have to be rehabilitated by simultaneously improving the built environment and reducing pollution. For the time being, rehabilitation policies concerning these cities tend to focus on improvements of the built environment and disregard the pollution and disamenity problem.

Urban transport

"Nomads have now invaded cities through the conversion of town dwellers to nomadic ways, partly as a result of the extent of urban areas and partly owing to the desire to be mobile. This invasion is similar to those by nomads in former times: streets are rendered unsafe by the passing hordes and the barbarians' horses occupy the Forum. The devastation caused by nomads is an ancient theme and has become a modern phenomenon. Movement overrides all values which hinder it." (Bertrand de Jouvenel, French Economist, extract from an address to OECD in 1971)

Road transport - both private cars and commercial vehicles - causes urban environmental problems in the form of air pollution, congestion, noise and danger. Many cities seem quite helpless in the face of the scale of the problems caused by road transport; either they do nothing, or their solutions come always too late, too slowly.

However, some cities have decided to adopt more drastic policies aimed at banning traffic, promoting public transport and reducing disturbance. In the study "Cities and Transport" the OECD has analysed those policies in Athens, Singapore, London, Los Angeles, Osaka, Munich and Paris.

More recently, some cities like Stockholm and Cambridge have even envisaged introducing road pricing. The principle proposed for Stockholm - making the vehicle driver pay for entering the city - is the same as the one which has already been used for 18 years in Singapore. The aim is to reduce private car traffic and therefore pollution and congestion, but also to improve public transport by using the funds generated in this way. Those who pollute most and use the most public space - i.e. private vehicle drivers - will pay for the pollution they cause, but they will also pay to make life easier for those who pollute least and use the least public space (i.e. public transport users). Levying higher taxes on the use of motor vehicles, particularly in congested urban areas, would be the most effective and fairest method of reducing urban transport pollution, noise and congestion. A growing number of cities (and perhaps even countries) will probably opt for it in the future by increasing taxes on petrol, levying taxes on carbon dioxide emissions, charging much more for parking, charging for the use of highways etc.

The second measure which would help to solve the urban transport problem would be to set up, in every major city or metropolitan area, a single authority responsible for both private and public transport. Only such an authority could find the necessary balance between private vehicles and public transport. Only this body could promote better internalization of the environmental costs due to private motor vehicles and the use of the revenue generated (by having car drivers pay for these costs) to improve the environment and urban public transport.

Generally speaking, it is now being realized that transport demand will have to be contained, i.e. limited or even reduced. This is a radically new idea in today's social and policy context where it is taken for granted that supply must always respond to demand. But this cannot remain true of urban transport, since the lack of space for infrastructure, congestion and pollution will themselves impose limits on traffic growth. Supply management will therefore have to give way to demand management.

Energy savings

Cities are not involved in the supply of energy except in a few countries (Germany and the United States in particular). Most cities, however, could, if they wished, play a greater role in energy savings and in using the resources available to them in the most environmentally advantageous way. They could encourage the creation of industrial plants and premises requiring little energy; they could promote programmes for energy conservation in housing; they could also plan land use with the aim of keeping energy consumption to a minimum. So far the most positive action taken by municipal authorities in this area has been to build combined heat and power plants and waste incineration plants that also provide heat (and sometimes even electricity).

Many examples can be quoted. For instance, Helsinki with its combined heat and power plants and Luxembourg and Brussels with their waste incineration plants which also produce heat and electricity.

To sum up in a few words the success of the policies conducted by the cities which are the most active in improving the environment, it may be said at the end of this brief review that cities must:

• take the initiative, rather than rely on other authorities to do so;

• adopt radical measures which may at first prove unpopular (pollution charges, vehicle taxes, etc.); combine the improvement in the quality of life with a reduction in pollution and disamenities and generally speaking, take a comprehensive approach stressing coordination of programmes and effective implementation.


Policy instruments

On the basis of the experience acquired by some cities, the most useful policy instruments and mechanisms seem to be:

• economic instruments;

• the systematic inclusion of environmental concerns in urban policies;

• partnerships with the private sector and the public.

First and foremost, every possible means must be used to achieve better "internalization of the environmental costs" caused by urban activities, i.e. to make those responsible for urban pollution pay for it or encourage them to stop causing it. In this area pollution and user charges should be used as extensively as possible. These charges are still too few in number or, when they exist, are set too low to be a real incentive.

If the aim really is to reduce urban congestion and pollution, it will be necessary to charge much more than at present for the use of vehicles and electricity, for the proximity of services, etc. In the private transport field, for example, taxes on the use of vehicles would have to be much higher than on their ownership if town dwellers are to be persuaded to switch to public transport, walking and cycling.


Integration of environmental concerns in urban policy

The next step should be to include environmental concerns in urban planning and management. To the same end, those in charge of policies and programmes which are not directly concerned with the urban and environmental field, but which have an impact on the urban environment should be persuaded to allow systematically in the planning phase for the possible environmental repercussions of their activities.

All kinds of mechanisms exist for this purpose - such as interdepartmental committees, systematically providing environmental specialists for the various national and local agencies which lack the necessary expertise and the creation of public urban bodies to coordinate all the local activities intended to improve the urban environment.



No policy for improving the urban environment can succeed without the active participation of the citizens concerned, nor without strong cooperation between the public, the not for profit and the private sectors: partnerships are a major policy instrument for the revival of cities and degraded suburbs and a key to the success of policies to improve the urban environment. In every case the cities of London, Manchester, Istanbul, Vancouver, Yokohama, Berlin etc., have adopted a policy of working in partnership with the private sector and voluntary organizations for their environmental improvement programmes.


Future prospects

Close examination of the efforts now being made at national and local levels to improve the urban environment shows that, despite their number and range, they are seldom an answer to all the problems of a city and even less to future problems.

Policies to improve the urban environment are still limited, piecemeal and never comprehensive. Moreover, implementation of "the polluter-pays-principle" has not yet had all the desired effects and there is still a long way to go before better internalization of environmental costs on the production and consumption sides is achieved.

In conclusion, two proposals :

Cities - meaning the local authorities backed up by the inhabitants and firms - should make sure they adopt much more ambitious and dynamic policies to improve their environment than has been the case so far. This means that cities should take the initiative and adopt a policy of innovation. This also means that national authorities should encourage such initiatives by passing on to cities the most relevant kinds of data, including information on experiments and by providing incentives and aid of all kinds.

Since it is realized that environmental problems are increasingly world-wide in scope - particularly the risk of global warming - it is becoming obvious that cities themselves will have to make an important contribution to solving global environmental problems, for the simple reason that they contribute in no small measure to these global problems.

The present degradation of the urban environment could become our poisoned legacy to the young and to the future. It springs from a single cause, illustrated by the names given to two French perfumes, one for men, called "Egoeste" and one for women, called "Narcisse". I am not inventing them. They sum up our civilization: utter selfishness and instant gratification.

A new ethic - combining individual and community values, self-realization and generosity - a new ethic must therefore be put into practice. But this will remain impossible unless we stop thinking of our participation in the common good as a tax, as an obligation. Rather we should willingly agree to pay for clean air in our cities, open spaces for the children living in crowded areas and public health in developing countries as if they were our own property - because they are our own present and future property.

If we refuse, we shall one day find ourselves shut out in the same way that we presently shut out the poor and the young, the developing countries and future generations.


The wellbeing of cities and citizens in Europe

Dr Voula Mega

Research Manager

European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EFILWC)

Voula Mega is a surveying engineer (National Technical University of Athens), DEA in Geography (French ENSG), DEA in Planning (French Institute of Urban Planning) and PhD in Urban and Regional Planning (French Institute of Planning). Post PhD Research includes research in Regional Planning at Oxford Brooks University and training in Environmental Economics and Policy Analysis at Harvard University. She has worked as adviser to the Greek Minister for Transport and Communications in Athens and for the EC PETRA Programme. She is currently Research Manager at the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, which is an autonomous body of the European Union, with its seat in Dublin.


The European urban environment agenda: highlights

Europe is first and foremost urban. Aristoteles called the city "built politics". He wanted it to be bright and safe, while Vitruvius wanted the city to be solid, beautiful and useful. City planning objectives in Europe seem to stay much the same, since these principles still appear to be guiding urban values, though there is no single model or single reference. Each city is individual and unique and its future is impacted by the myriad of decisions taken by people and enterprises within it. They are all endowed by a unique culture. According to the Commission's Green Paper on the Urban Environment and the First Report on Sustainable Cities, as we move towards the 21st century cities will continue to be the main centres of economic activity, innovation and culture (CEC 1990, 1994). Cities emerge on the European scene stronger, they compete more, but they also collaborate more (Barrozzi & Tagliaventi 1992a; Eurocities 1989). They all want to win the battle of sustainable development and to become more attractive to people and capital (Burtenshaw et al. 1991). The optimists speak about a quiet revolution in cities while the pessimists speak about urban jungles; neither deny their important role in the future.

According to J. Attali (Attali 1994), the city is the only living organism which has the capacity of renewal. Former President Delors characterized the deterioration of the urban environment as the second most serious European problem, second only to drug addiction (Delors 1994). Dogan and Kasarda have described the development of urban pathology or "ataxia" where an urban place outgrows the boundaries of its niche (Dogan 1988). Urban stress has been identified by the recent report: "Europe's environment: The DobrŒs assessment" (EC 1994) as one of the twelve long-term pan-European problems which threaten health and the quality of life. Expressions like the "Martyr City", summing up urban distress, are significant.

Themes that constantly emerge in the European urban environment agenda and around which most European and international conferences in the 1990's are structured, include: the improvement of the overall urban environment (coming from an increasing environmental awareness); the strengthening of the entrepreneurial tissue of the cities; the creation of employment through healthy and environmentally sound economic activities; the role of telematics in shaping the future of the cities; the efforts in improving public transport and the emphasis put progressively on accessibility rather than mobility; the need to create liveable home environments and neighbourhoods especially for the anonymous peripheries of cities and last but not least the need to integrate all urban policies for these goals and to involve the most concerned citizens in this process. All these objectives are linked to the urgency to recreate a dynamic harmony between the hardware and the software of the cities, to reconcile the body (forms, colours, odours, sounds) and the soul (culture, history, energy, magnetism).

City care seems one of the axes to overcome European crises. The European Commission's White Paper on Growth and Employment recognized Europe's failure to match its wealth creation from 1970 to 1992 (73%) with employment creation (7%) for the same period and it highlighted the need to re-examine our social costs, to transfer tax burdens from human to natural resources through ECO-taxes and the inadequacy of the GNP as a measure of socioeconomic progress. According to the President of the Commission, it is time to adopt a new measure of progress, taking into account the idea of natural capital, also to balance the two factors of production, work and natural capital and to reorient R&D, in order that future productivity gains be achieved in the utilization of natural resources. A new form of solidarity between North and South, East and West has to be established in Europe. Reorganizing cities, prisoners of old models of city-planning, is being suggested as an extremely important challenge to meet.

The concept of sustainable development has achieved remarkable popularity from 1987 onwards. Environmental planning has been defined as the new type of planning, aiming at the achievement of sustainable development. It must be conceived as an integrated process operating within a strategic frame-work and resulting in a socially sustainable outcome. Sustainable environmental processes are trans-media. trans-sectoral and trans-boundary.

The question of the sustainable and resourceful city has been a challenging one after the universal debate on sustainable development. The concept of the sustainable city might be a contradiction in terms, as many scientists suggest that the only sustainable pattern for Earth is the equal distribution of its population on its surface (OECD 1993, UNECE 1992). Beyond these remarks there is a wide recognition that the sustainable city is the city with an improved, non-negotiable environment, social cohesion and economic efficiency (Mega 1992a, 1992b). The EU Commissioner for the Environment highlighted recently that sustainability is a challenge for social change (CEC 1993b). Enterprise plays an extremely important role for strengthening all dimensions of urban sustainability. The functioning of the city itself is often compared to the functioning of an enterprise, which has to be more environment friendly, participatory, efficient. It could not possibly be too arbitrary to compare the city with a semi-public enterprise, aiming at public usefulness, economic efficiency and optimal environmental performance.

When we speak about cities we speak first of all about humanity and public spaces. Public spaces, the sanctuaries of the classic Agora, are at the heart of many urban concerns. What Rem Koolhas describes as fortresses of freedom and what Oriol Bohigas defines as spaces for action in his theory of metastatic planning (La Ville 1994), have been defined as islands of humanity in the archipelago of the city. Metastatic planning is defined as the planning able to create a positive contribution through interventions to the public spaces, able to provoke an overall reconversion of the urban.

Public health and quality of the urban environment are closely interlinked and there is no single fact or policy concerning the urban environment that does not have a direct or indirect impact on public health. Often it is alarming findings about public health that generate policies for the improvement of the urban environment. The "Europe's Environment" report emphasises the fact that in 60 European cities short-term peak levels of ozone during summer photochemical smog episodes are exceeding WHO guidelines, while 65% of Europe's population is supplied from ground water the quality of which is seriously threatened. One could expect urban projects to come out of these findings, or others about the concentration of 25% of the world's CO2 and 16% of the world's methane man-made emissions in Europe.

Many words borrowed from medicine - such as metastatic or homeopathic planning - have been applied to cities and the idea of prevention applies in city matters as much as in health. Preventing urban diseases is a hard job. The urban space is a unity of time, in relation to a territory. Is this unity really threatened by eclipses and negative externalities? There are differing view-points on the degree the form of a city defines the life of the collective whole and on the degree of the overall changes brought from many of the innovative projects included in our overview.

Time management within cities also seems to be entering a new era. The achievement of a more diversified working time is a must and teleworking offers an important means towards an "ecology of time" in cities. Despite all the theories of the 1970s about the "vanishing city" due to the development of new technologies, it is those very technologies which now seem to be a source of richness and potentialities for the cities. Teleworking can lead to a dissociation between concentration in time and concentration in space. 5 Satellite offices for teleworkers seem a happy medium between working at home and working for an enterprise. But of course, teleactivities are just instruments, conducive either to integration or exclusion, depending on the overall policy articulation. Scenarios are always to be formulated about their impact on urban life and the flexicity (EC 1993 b,c).

Given the highlights of the European agenda this paper places in perspective some innovative projects we identified in Europe, conducive to (and necessary for) urban sustainability and improving the wellbeing of cities. Most of them come from a European overview of urban innovations undertaken recently by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (European Foundation (EF) 1993a). The overview focused on projects carrying a collective sense, a significance for a city, projects resisting time and favouring local democracy and participation at the conception, decision and executive phase, projects introducing new ecological materials, techniques, methods and conditions and last but not least, projects that produce culture and are cultural products (EF 1994a).

Many urban policies have failed, but failure is the birth of a new world. The projects are witnesses of the strategic visions that cities try to develop, in order to meet the increasing social, economic and environmental challenges and of the synergy with enterprises and citizens. The projects included in the over-view may differ in many respects, but they tend collectively to attempt to tackle the range of urban problems evident throughout Europe: environmental degradation, congestion, social exclusion and marginalization. There are hardly any innovative projects that are neither the products of partnerships across agencies and organizations nor of strategic holistic approaches. The vast majority of projects we introduced call for decentralization, empowerment and devolution. Many projects show the need to embrace a wide range of partners in the effective implementation of projects and the crucial role of local, empowered, communities. The longer term view and the investment in the emerging creative conflicts is a lesson emerging from many of those projects. Innovations may be the first step towards a new urban era.


The European urban Euroscape: state, trends and pressures

Even if each city is unique, they all crystallize a certain number of present-day worries and share a great number of common expectations. Recent documents and works of the European Communities (CEC 1991a, 1991b, 1992a, 1992b, 1993a) identify the following trends for European cities:

• There is a more balanced European urban system, in terms of growth; also an increasing potential for medium-sized and smaller cities (Vernon 1993, EF 1994b).

• There is increased competition and an alternative to this is the strengthening of complementarities (Guigou E. 1994) and the establishment of cooperation networks.

• Cities will be affected by the development of new physical linkages, mainly the high-speed rail network.

• A worrying urban trend is an increasing social exclusion and segregation of certain segments of the population and migration pressures might exacerbate these problems (EF 1992b).

• Cities have to meet important challenges concerning their environment in order to become sustainable (CEC 1993b).

• Many cities try to develop a strategic vision to meet the increasing social, economic and environmental challenges and the synergy amongst public and private sectors has been central in this process (OECD, 1994).

Behind these general trends, growth and decline seem to coexist more and more in European cities and there is a large literature on this (Alberti and others 1994, Burtenshaw 1991, Delft Institute of Technology 1992, Elkin and McLaren 1991, EF 1992c). Urbanization has facilitated economic growth through productivity gains in the use of labour and capital. The usual historical process of national growth is a range of positive growth rates for major metropolitan areas. There are now some declining metropolitan regions in older industrial and peripheral regions of the EU. Within metropolitan areas it is common-place for social and economic change to be associated with quite different trajectories for different neighbourhoods. Clearly localized growth accentuates the congestion, stress, noise and traffic externalities, while placing new demands on nature as areas expand. Decline, on the other hand, is associated with a drop in land values and emergence of derelict space. More negative attributes such as vandalism and crime in the declining neighbourhoods arise because the poorest households live in the worst urban conditions. Over the last decade the international economic situation has meant that whilst average national income grew, real wages or benefit levels of the poorest quarter have stagnated. Disrupted job careers have been paralleled by breakdowns in family cycles, poor education and access to information and training. The spatial effects of social polarization are in some cities so marked that they have given birth to the description of divided or dual cities. Social justice becomes of major importance for cities willing to preserve their integrity, to absorb social shockwaves and to assure their future attraction for people and capital (EF 1992b).

In a general way, there is an agreement that the decentralization of population and employment from cores to suburbs since 1950 and the de-industrialization since the 1970s, reinforced patterns of suburban growth and core decline with inner city decay. However, this view is too simplistic as reality provides much more diversified patterns and many inner city neighbourhoods attract residents because of their symbolic and cultural value, while expansion of service industries helped retain vitality in central areas. Another important consideration is that since the 1980s, unemployment has particularly impacted on social sector residents and declining residential areas may now lie in the central city, at the periphery of core cities or in past 1960s settlements well into the suburban fringe. The core decline-suburban growth mode is of questionable relevance in much of southern Europe, as core areas and suburbs continued to increase into the 1980s. In the suburban areas of towns in Greece, Portugal, southern Italy and in analogous fashion to run-down social housing in northern Europe, there are large areas of illegal settlements which house the poor and disadvantaged, with inadequate supportive infrastructure. Legal, illegal; market, non-market; core and suburban, the mosaic of European urban neighbourhoods presents a variety of growth/decline scenarios with different environmental consequences and land use possibilities (EF 1992c, 1994b).

An increasing globalization together with increasing localism and regionalism may be two (perhaps paradoxically) interlinked trends in the European future. Nowadays society is based on networks (networks of everything) and local actors constitute the diversified poles of the global networks. Technology, information, markets are global but people are local. Information technology provides the infrastructure for the integration of the global system. The space of flows (global) is in interaction with the space of places (local) and the cities gain an increasingly dual (global-local) function. Social movements can always be a source of social change, critical actors in collective consumption and in building up awareness and consciousness but they may disappear or be transformed into urban tribes if unable to connect with the political system. There may be an increasingly institutional diversity and parallel political institutional networks, not necessarily in an hierarchical system.


European cities commit and invest in sustainability

The conference on European Sustainable Cities and Towns (Aalborg, 24-27 May 1994) has marked an important step towards the achievement of urban sustainability. The Urban Environment Expert Group of the European Commission presented there the first Policy Report for the application of the concept of sustainability in urban areas (EC 1994a) together with a Good Practice Guide. The main objective of the conference was the discussion and final issue of the "Charter of European Cities and Towns: Towards Sustainability". Eighty municipal signatories and two hundred individual signatories were counted at the end of the conference and before the issue of the final text. The end of the conference was the starting point for the European campaign for sustainable cities and towns.

The Charter states the responsibility of European cities and towns for many environmental problems mankind is facing. Patterns of division of labour and functions, land-use, transport, industry, consumption, leisure and hence values and lifestyles are responsible for reduction of sustainability. Sustainable human life cannot be achieved without sustainable local communities and local governments and citizens rising to the great challenge of sustainability. Sustainability is described as a creative, local, balance-seeking process extending into all areas of local decision-making. Each city is unique and has to find its individual way towards sustainability. Integrating the principles of the Charter in their policies reinforces their strength and forms a common basis for progress.

According to the Charter, natural capital has become a limiting factor for economic development in cities and urban economies should give priority to investments in conserving the remaining capital and encouraging its growth by reducing the levels of current exploitation, relieving pressure on natural capital stocks and increasing the end-efficiency of the consumption goals. Social equity is finally agreed as being a precondition for the achievement of sustainability, as inequitable distribution of wealth both causes unsustainable behaviour and makes it harder to change.

Cities and towns that are signatories of the treaty recognize that they cannot export problems into the larger environment or the future and seek equitable regional interdependencies. Priority is also given to ecologically sound means of transport and decrease of enforced mobility. Emphasis is placed on the stabilization and decrease of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the prevention of ecosystem toxification. The local authorities that are signatories of the Charter feel strong and ready to reorganize cities and towns for sustainability and ask for sufficient powers and a solid financial base. When developing local Agenda 21 plans, cities commit themselves to work together with citizens.

The Charter embraces an ecosystem approach to urban management and advocates, for the development of urban systems, sustainability indicators on which to base policy-making and controlling efforts, in particular environmental monitoring, auditing, impact assessment, accounting, balancing and reporting systems. However, the Charter is based on the implicit perception that the value of the environment is infinite and no critical levels of sustainability are identified. In various chapters we have, however, the impression that some limits exist, i.e. the reduction of the unnecessary use of the private car implies the definition of accepted levels of necessity (EC 1992, Municipality of Amsterdam 1994).

The Charter, as any declaration of principles, doesn't include time scales for the achievements of the goals or simply for the design of new tools and instruments. Even if policy directions are given for the achievement of every goal, in general terms (i.e. reduction), there are no mentions of critical thresh-olds and concrete benchmark mentions against which to judge policy achievements. The uniqueness of each city contributes in giving the Charter a very general character, expressing a minimum and first agreement of principles.

The general character of the Charter extends to the lack of hierarchy between policy goals. One can easily assume that all policy fields are of equal importance and that an urban project contributes to urban sustainability when following one of the policy directions of the Charter and not having negative effects on the other policy themes. But the principles are of little help for a decision maker who has to choose between two urban projects in different policy fields of the Charter. One can assume that as cities committed themselves to prepare local Agenda 21 plans by 1996, they will deal with these issues and they will define targets and priorities in consultation with their citizens.

Urban sustainability connotes a stream of at least non-declining outputs and seems inextricably linked to a non-declining urban capital (natural, physical and human). Urban metabolism can be conceived as the economic or production process which leads from flows of inputs (materials, products, energy, labour) to flows of outputs (products, services). A steady flow of outputs requires steady flows of inputs and maintenance of the urban metabolism. The outputs constitute primarily the consumption basket for citizens, while a part of them are used for the maintenance of the production process (Hartwick 1994). Declining levels of per capital consumption seem quixotic; the Charter high-lights the importance of maintenance of consumption levels through changes in lifestyles and consumption patterns.

The European Commission's First Report on Sustainable Cities (EC 1994a) recognizes the need for sustainability indicators as tools for quantifying sustainability performance. If sustainability is a coherent policy goal, it must be possible to measure whether we are moving towards it. But indicators unavoidably simplify and select from complex realities and a deficient or unbalanced set of sustainability indicators may impoverish our understanding of what urban sustainable development is. The tensions between ease of measurement and policy significance is a second related problem. The indicators which are easiest to measure will not necessarily capture whatever is most important and of course, there is always the problem of defining what is the most important.

The World Bank defines indicators as performance measures that aggregate information into a useable form, highlighting, however, the unresolved issues of fluctuation, intertemporal variations and uncertainty. All organizations involved in indicators construction seem to agree that indicators provide a useful tool for policy making (prospective) and for assessing policy implementation (retrospective indictors), but they stress their limitations (Tunstall 1992).

Indicators can measure the success of one course of action and even stimulate action, but they do not indicate what kind of action. Decision-makers dispose of a large choice of instruments for urban intervention and good practice guides can inspire them. Moreover they should be able to define actions which lead with the greatest efficiency to a targeted goal. A thematic indicator can measure the result of an action by comparison to the ultimate aim. Targets for thematic indicators may be defined at the city level, according to the priorities of each city. The performance of a city at the national or European level can therefore be judged according to both its targets and the progress achieved towards this direction.

Urban indicators may generate action through the setting of targets and the indication of the distance between real performance and wished one. At their simplest form they can indicate commitment to a direction of change, especially in fields where targets cannot be defined with precision and the ultimately desirable level is difficult to be reflected. For purely environmental indicators, determined by the physical realities of global carrying capacity limits and human impact on them, there is still considerable uncertainty about these limits, even if at the local scale it is often possible to identity cases where a carrying limit is being broken and to estimate the change in human activity needed to bring pressure back within it.

The "Charter of European Cities and Towns: Towards Sustainability" can serve as a policy framework for the development of performance indicators based on the policy principles and orientations of the Charter. The European Foundation made a first attempt in developing a set of sustainability indicators in the framework of its project on medium-sized cities (EF 1994b). The set of indicators has been done based on a project elaborated in Harvard University (Mega 1994a). Fig.1 presents a conceptual framework for urban sustainability performance indicators based on the pressure-state-response model, while Fig. 2 gives the progress in constructing indicators from data to indexes.

The projects that follow all fall within the wishes and expectations of the Charter on European Sustainable Cities and Towns which was agreed upon in Aalborg on the occasion of the European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns. The place does matter.

The city of Aalborg prepared a development project for the integration of ecological principles and techniques in urban renewal. Citizens have been motivated to choose sustainable options in urban redevelopment.


Improving the urban metabolism

The awareness of environmental quality is being increasingly regarded as a civic value and different urban actions are undertaken for the change of environmental behaviour patterns. More and more cities recognize the need for pro-active policies leading to the conception of new systems of production and consumption. 'Green City' does not simply mean green spaces, grass roofs, timber frame constructions, improved energy systems and water cycles (Elkin and McLaren 1991). A whole cultural reform is needed to give meaning to all the technical achievements. A wide urban consensus is a necessary precondition. New environment-friendly lifestyles cannot be imposed, they are developed through innovative partnerships rooted in the local culture. Industry is becoming more cooperative. In a conference organized by the Foundation, (EF 1992a) the relevant working group was unanimous in suggesting the changing of the well-known 'Polluter pays pollution' principle, to 'Potential polluter pays the prevention of the pollution'. Prevention, awareness, pro-action and environmental culture seem essential for the art of building the sustainable city.

Implementing local Agenda 21 is a noble common objective and the sustainable communities project in the UK marks a step towards this direction. It has been initiated by the United Nations Association, following the Earth Summit in Rio and has as its objective the reduction of a community's unsustainable behaviour to a minimum. The project recognizes that in order to make sustainable communities radical change will have to take place within our cities and it is vital to provide vision to people so that they engage themselves. The emphasis of the project is on suggesting a process rather than prescribing a plan and has been running in 20 selected cities. At the heart of the project is the definition of a series of environmental indicators conceived to measure the environmental performance of a city against a wide range of criteria.

Cities compete among them to gain environmental credentials. It is a healthy battle. Leicester was the first British city to be given the status of Environment City and is trying to become a national and international model of excellence. Leicester Environment City is assisted by the 'Business Sector Network' to bring together ideas from the city's commercial sector and provide assistance to businesses, while 'Environ', a non-profit-making company, has been set up to provide local organizations with access to environmental audits and advice.

Environmental plans and charters are being undertaken by many European cities. In France environmental charters constitute contracts between the State and each city. The Charter of Mulhouse is a clear example of a strong will to improve environmental and public health. The general objectives of the Charter are the protection of natural resources, the improvement of life for inhabitants, the adoption of a perspective 'Health and Environment', the promotion of urban safety, the integration of socioeconomic objectives with the preservation of the environment and the participation in the protection of fauna and flora. All city structures have been mobilized to ensure the transparent and smooth implementation of the 52 actions of the Charter which includes the coordination of the Urban Plan, the Plan for Urban Transport, the Green Plan, the Charter of City Health, the Intelligent Waste Plan, the Energy Plan and respect for the environment and the policy for underprivileged districts.

Reconsideration of the urban metabolism puts lot of emphasis on waste. Waste is starting to be considered as a resource. Self-sufficiency seems more and more important for European cities and many innovative actions are being taken for the prevention of industrial waste and the avoidance, re-use and recycling of domestic waste. In Parma plastic waste is being transformed into building material and in Rimini organic waste from hotels into agricultural compost. Each citizen contributing to the latter highly environmental process is rewarded with a plant. The Municipality of Oeiras, in the metropolitan area of Lisbon, set up a backyard composting of organic waste programme. The project, very innovative in the Portuguese context, aims at reducing dramatically the amount of waste the municipal services collect, transport, treat and dispose of, giving inhabitants the possibility to produce by themselves a high quality fertiliser for their gardens and increasing people's awareness of urban environmental problems. In Aarhus, the Council that oversees recycling and minimally polluting technology processes and recycles 60-70% of domestic waste.

In Germany, environmental awareness has often been linked to socio-economic change, first and foremost in the cities which have been the scene of many socio-political transformation processes. With the challenges of unification in the city of Berlin, the ecological restructuring concept, introduced as early as 1984, came to prominence. It consisted of four elements, a set of guidelines, a model of field of action, the concept of ecological neighbourhood development and the concept of eco-stations. Citizen's participation is a must at all levels and stages. The concept advocates a new sustainable symbiosis between economy and ecology in the urban context and puts emphasis on environmental preventive policies to tackle anthropological origins of problems (Hahn 1992).

In one of the most active German cities during the transition period, Leipzig, ecology found a fertile ground. Non-governmental organizations, together with the city government and the citizens, started environmental projects to overcome the really degraded living conditions. Ecology has been used as a means for socioeconomic change. The ecological restructuring of the eastern part of Leipzig is a very good example of ecological restructuring of the whole, starting from several ecological projects and the establishment of sustainable links between city and country. Many of the projects are already implemented. Transport and traffic conditions have improved and attractive green passages link natural spaces inside and outside the city.

All over Europe, cities are becoming laboratories of ecological innovation. Schwabach, a small, self-standing German city of 37000 inhabitants, offers an example of the efforts to implement an urban ecology planning strategy. The city has been selected by the Federal Ministry because of its unified, dynamic local government and its ecological achievements to date, especially in waste management. Basic principles are that nothing is impossible and everybody has to participate. The pilot study aimed at introducing ecological concepts and actions to a normal city, under normal conditions and with normal funds. After the study, the city council issued guidelines for action and translated them into a concrete programme in its 1993-2003 Model Urban Development Strategy, leading to Schwabach Ecological City. Public polls were held and questionnaires completed by 1 out of every 17 households: nobody is against ecology, but they need quick successes and think that closing the city to cars is only possible with a revolution (even for an historic centre of a diameter of 700 m and 20 000 households). The detractors of the project want quick visible ecological results and the Ministry agreed to fund the creation of Ecological City Hall.

The neighbourhood level is often highlighted as the level of action in many European cities. In the Netherlands, local authorities are experimenting with new types of neighbourhood management with specific focus on the quality of the local everyday environment. The Romolenporder neighbourhood management in the community of Haarlem gives a good example of ecological neighbourhood management, with people participating in the planning and realization of the neighbourhood and the construction of the houses (timber frame constructions, grass roofs, energy systems).

At the scale of the block, Berlin, the 'recycled city', offers various examples. 'Block 103' is an interesting example, in combining social wellbeing and environmental upgrading. Former squatters in the block have been given the opportunity to own the space they occupied and, at the same time, they have been trained in converting the houses into ecological modern buildings. Special emphasis has been given to energy, water, green spaces and new material and techniques. Another complex, Block 6, has been the field for innovation in alternative water systems. The system is based on a combination of cleaning techniques for the water depending on its origin, previous use and destination use. The project emphasises the learning and communication process. Residents have been trained in 'feeling' the process. The system allows 50% savings in water, while the society of inhabitants participates in the technological monitoring (IFS 1990-1991).

Industrial, technological and business parks throughout Europe provide some examples of public-private partnerships for turning areas of blight into healthy spaces and areas of positive environmental and economic profit. Stockley Park, a former derelict rubbish tip within the Greenbelt to the west of London, provides an inspiring example. A partnership has been created between the developer, the local authority and the University in order to build an international business park and public parkland including recreational facilities. In exchange for the right to construct a business park over 36 hectares, the developer guaranteed the reclamation of the whole site (140 hectares), removal of groundwater pollution and environmental enhancement and landscaping. At all stages of the construction of Stockley, local residents were involved in the process through extensive community consultation.

In Germany, the IBA Emscher Park has been an important role model for urban development and ecological renewal within the northern Ruhr district. Experts from 10 European cities, together with the cities and industries of the Emscher region, work for the modernization of coal mining settlements and the creation of new housing; the development of fallow land and the valorization of attractive locations for industry and services; the preservation and reuse of industrial monuments; the landscaping of the Emscher area into a park; the ecological restructuring of the Emscher river and the protection of the water environment. New dwellings have been created on fallow land and with new environment-friendly material. High quality locations for industry and services have been given value. Contaminated areas are insulated and re-used. 'Working in the park' is possible owing to the enhancement of the quality and attractiveness of the area.


For a less sustainable urban mobility: facing addiction to the private car

The dependence of cities on the private car is being increasingly considered as a major urban addiction. Environmental problems in metropolitan areas do not mainly come from production; they come from consumption and mainly from traffic. The dialectic interaction and synergy between cities, enterprises and citizens are essential for favouring public transport and the bicycle over the private car and giving priority to the pedestrian (UITP 1991). The restriction of the private car is still creating conflict (Seville, Toledo), but in many cases conflict generates new forms of collaboration and partnership. Historic cities, most affected by the pressure of car traffic on their cultural heritage, have been pioneers in restricting private cars. In a referendum organized in 1984 by the city of Bologna, the population opted in favour of the pedestrianization of the historic centre and a global project has been carried out, comprising the rehabilitation of the historic fabric, improvements in the nearest suburbs, pedestrian and bicycle networks, public transport and parking spaces. Many Italian cities followed (Indovina 1993). Recent experiments include the closure of Rome to cars for one afternoon per week and of the Naples historic centre for two days per week.

Transport systems are being accused everywhere in the world as no longer able to deliver the expected levels of service and especially as contributing by 90% to air pollution. Many of the signs of failure are clearly visible (rapidly moving traffic, safety problems, declining amenities, noise, air pollution) and others harder to spot (social and economic damage on cities and businesses). The great irony is that this conclusion is virtually the direct result of urban system policies in the last decades. System saturation is certainly not an accident. The need for urgent limitations and system controls have to be the cornerstones of future urban policies. Traffic provisions are like arteries in the urban body, but they should be subordinate to and not dominate the body of the city. There is a delicate balance between the city and the car and the diseconomy of scale, starting at a certain point or limit. No matter what mobility at no matter what price cannot serve objectives of urban quality of life. Replacing the focus on accessibility is the only possible direction. Land use management is a main factor for establishing a new and harmonious relationship between the city and the car. The valorization of public spaces is an important element of this relationship.

Achieving the accessible city cannot be left to the market alone. Families cannot compete with enterprises when buying central places for residential or professional use. A city is not a marketable good; it is a political entity and it is a political action, based on a new urban culture and new forms of consensus, which should lead to the accessible city. The distinction between access and mobility is not a trivial one. Unlike sheer mobility, access means not only getting people where they need to go but also getting to them what they need and telecommunications play a major role in that. Progress in telecommunications impact greatly on the configuration of the city and on urban technical infrastructures - examples being the unification of cables and the disappearance of TV antennas with the generalization of optical fibres.

The 1993 Granada Declaration had already recognized five strategic pillars for achieving accessibility: greater reliance on coordinated land use policy for the attenuation of the unnecessary physical movements, reduction of the need for motorized displacements, broadening of the range of alternative telecommunications systems for the substitution of physical movements and articulation of the above for building up an effective, integrated, multi-model and multilevel access system. The Toledo conference on the Accessible City followed this direction.

International experiences at the cutting edge were also presented and discussed. Experience from Swiss cities (Zurich, Basle, Berne) and German cases (Aachen) were particularly interesting. Zurich is one of the few cities that has developed a coherent solution to a problems of traffic build-up at intersections. The particularity of the system is its ability to deal with each public transport vehicle individually, allowing it to cross intersections without stopping. Urbanism and Land use Planning favour public transport, channelling motor vehicle traffic and restricting traffic in residential areas. Efforts to restructure the settlement pattern are underway everywhere in Switzerland and several cantonal laws for physical planning request further developments of housing and workplace in the vicinity of public transport lines. There are also many private and public/private initiatives. Energy 2000 is a new federal effort to engage private enterprises and initiative in saving energy including training of drivers (eco-driving), promotion of the combining of logistics and transport to improve fuel-efficient freight transport.

There are many pessimists about the achievement of the accessible city. Many remarked that we are coming to the same conclusions over the last 20 years. The experience of Bologna is very significant. Despite the huge efforts to limit the private car in the last 10 years the use of motor cars went from 28.3% in 1981 to 39.8% in 1991 in the city and from 48.7% to 57.85% in the periphery.

Heidelberg and Freiburg have been pioneers in introducing low-noise vehicles in noise protection districts and Basle introduced the eco-ticket for public transport. Clean, silent and fast tramways gain acceptance in European cities. In La Rochelle, a new multi-optional concept (Autoplus) has been introduced through a partnership between municipalities, the semi-public company for public transport, taxi owners, two private bus owners, one ship owner, hotel owners and a bank. The limitation of the private car comes as a consequence of many information and consultation campaigns Nantes, Grenoble and Strasbourg introduced from 1985. In Toulouse, the city, the semi-public enterprise for public transport and the society which has created the smart-pass work together for the readjustment of the transport services to people's needs.

Social wellbeing considerations are linked to the provision of public transport (Conseil National des Transports 1990), pedestrian streets and bicycle paths are re-emerging in many European cities. Copenhagen has been a pioneer city in recognizing the social value of pedestrian streets. When the main street, Str›get, was pedestrianized in 1962 (as one of the very early such systems in Europe) there was a heated discussion. Many believed that the scheme was contrary to Nordic mentality and culture, however it became a great success almost right away. Pedestrianization continued over a period of 30 years and the down-town parking policy aimed to remove 2-3% of the parking space per year, as a very gradual process. With the improvement of the public system and the enlargement of the bicycle network, more and more space has been taken away from traffic and given to people (Rautsi 1993).

Many European experiments on pedestrian schemes have been introduced in the seventies. In the city of Perugia, the pedestrianization of the historic centre started in 1971. Mobile stairs have been constructed in the rock to connect the old city with the modern one and the parking spaces. The passage through the mobile stairs is a valorized space of urban archaeology. The city made innovative experiments by reorganizing the bus network, especially for peripheral zones. The telebus service, introduced in 1985, runs along a principal route, with additional collateral routes, which are served only by request. This is done by means of a magnetic card distributed to the user and a communication centre. The system has proved very efficient (22% savings) and it is particularly interesting in areas with sparse settlement. Increased flexibility in the organization of collective transport operators permits the better adaptation of supply to the changing pattern of user demand. Moreover this type of system provides access to transport for people with reduced mobility (European Foundation 1992c).

In Umbria, the Orvieto alternative mobility system also has many innovative elements. The system was created out of the need to improve an urban life deteriorating because of tourist buses on the historic town on top of the hill, the fragility of the rock morphology and the will to revitalize the old funicular. With the completion of the system, all cars will be parked in large parking spaces at the foot of the Orvieto hills, the funicular will take all passengers on top of the hill and a system of minibuses will take them around the city. The system will be completed with the creation of mobile infrastructure stairs through the rocky caves and management with mon‚tique.

A research study undertaken by the European Commission on 'The City without Car' is suggesting the reconception of a city in pedestrian terms. A city without cars could be composed of various small units, accessible on foot from one end to the other, separated by green spaces and united by high-speed public transport. A city without cars seems to be not only ecologically efficient, but even economically efficient, as it seems to be 2 to 5 times less co stly. In such a city, enterprise has new local challenges to meet, as job creation is essential for the self-efficiency and sustainability of each small urban unit (CEC 1992c).

Following the research, the city of Amsterdam which had also gone through a recent referendum on the restriction of the private care organized the conference "Car-Free Cities?". The interrogation point does matter, as it expressed reactions, reluctances and inhibitions. On that occasion, the Club of Car-Free Cities was launched by cities committed to promoting policies discouraging the use of private cars. Toledo became the fortieth city to join the club in October 1994.


Psychic wellbeing of cities

Harmony in cities depends greatly on the social wellbeing and the creative co-existence of many cultures. However, many cities seem social jungles even if they are showcases of financial power. Beyond environmental considerations, social justice is a main criterion to challenge the overall qualities of the city as a social system. However, there are as many competing theories of social justice as competing groups and it is important to look at the ways a particular urban society produces such variations in concepts. Egalitarian views may also be wrong, as 'there is nothing more unequal as the equal treatment of unequals' (Harvey 1983).

Achieving social justice and environmental improvement are not two unrelated objectives. Even in the most prosperous European cities there are urban islands where environmental degradation and social exclusion go hand in hand. They are more or less extended zones in run-down city centres or chaotic peripheral zones. They are places of functional impoverishment with poor housing and insufficient equipment and facilities. Is it a coincidence that the social features of these areas are: poverty, delinquency and crime, high unemployment, low mobility, little access to information, education and training? (Jacquier 1991).

Urban innovation should invest in generating employment though new economic, environment friendly activities improving the quality of life in cities. Offering access to this to disadvantaged groups heavily affected by poor urban conditions is giving them new opportunities for creating self-esteem and a better urban conditions. In all European cities, new environmental jobs (recycling business, water cleansing, etc.), totally unknown 10 years before, are being created. Orienting those people most affected by an unhealthy environment can have considerable results in the dual fight of exclusion and environmental deterioration (EF 1992b).

It is not a coincidence that the innovative actions on job creation we included in the overview of innovative projects come from the countries with the highest unemployment in the EU? The Dublin inner city partnership represents a local area-based response to long-term unemployment. The 'Argilan' employment, guidance and training project in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, has three specific objectives: regeneration of the economic web of the city through new professions; qualification and re-qualification of the labour force, adapting it to the requirements of demand and prevention of social exclusion. 'The Big Issue' in London gave new opportunities to the homeless and unemployed. Launched in 1991, with the support of 'The Body Shop', the Big Issue quickly became London's fastest growing publication with a circulation of 80 000 copies per issue and 1000 vendors. It is now self-financing and expanding in many British and European cities (EF 1993a).

The "Big Issue" project is exemplary in linking employment generation with the major problem of homelessness in European cities, which is still far from the 100 000 homeless of New York cities but figures are galloping. More than 2000 homeless seek shelter in the Paris metro stations every night. They are under a two-fold threat: they may drift into delinquency or may become tramps. It is the health of the whole of urban society which is put in question. And prevention is again highlighted as of prime importance, as cure is only coming after a failure.

Improving the social environment is being closely linked to the prevention of crime and delinquency (DIV 1990). Transport enterprises are the ones most concerned with crime prevention, as transportation spaces and mobile elements are main targets for juvenile delinquency. Graffiti attacks, not related to any form of artistic expression, seem to be the post-modern way of attacking public spaces and property. RATP in Paris set up a specific service for the prevention of graffiti attacks through research on the attackers and for the investigation of more efficient ways of repairing damage (RATP, UITP 1992). 8 Cities have set up innovative direct or indirect crime prevention plans. Danish cities are experimenting with a series of action plans, focusing lately on the strengthening of area consciousness through the inhabitants' involvement in the creation of a better physical residential environment.

An innovative integrated approach to fighting graffiti in public spaces has been developed in Maastricht. The project includes extra means to trace the offenders, education programmes to improve the skills of the graffiti 'artists' and an anti-graffiti bus with formerly unemployed people specialized in removing graffiti. The city made a wall available to the graffiti artists in training where they can express their feelings. Within two years the damage caused by graffiti pollution decreased considerably (80-90% at the railway station). The result of prevention is always hard to prove, but it is clear that graffiti has decreased considerably in Maastricht. Tracing and conditional or alternative punishment have a noticeable effect on preventing recidivism, while there are ex-offenders who, after their artistic training, have become famous artists.

The quality of housing environment is of great importance for the psychic health of a city. In many cases, deterioration of living environments, the cells of the city, leads to disconnection of the urban tissue and innovations in social housing proved to be an essential factor of social integration (CECODHAS 1990; Tsiomis 1991; Stewart and Carew-Wood 1991; Mega 1992c). Mass housing often created social tensions on the urban fringe. It has often been paternalistic, large, remote, uniform, collective, reactive, anonymous, devoid of management and it failed. In many European cities it is now beginning to be self-regulated, local, personal, individualized, pro-active, with corporate neighbourhood space and responsive local management. It has to make proof of vitality of work and enterprise and to allow personal identification. Vibrant local communities are replacing void neighbourhoods. The present energetic and environmental requirements create new needs for landscaping and energy efficiency.

The renewal of the Holly Street Estate in the UK provides an interesting case. The estate was constructed during the 1960s and 1970s as a series of slab and tower blocks, as part of a national slum clearance and social housing programme. Replacing the traditional two-storey East London terraced houses, the estate, comprising 1187 dwellings, became notorious for its state of deprivation, crime and delinquency. The Borough Council recognized that the only means of dealing with the problems of Holly Street is through its demolition and reconstruction. The renewal project was initiated in response to the British Government's Comprehensive Estates Initiative, making funding available for the redevelopment of social housing estates whose physical and social decay is so severe that refurbishment is not viable. This is an effort to maximize every opportunity for community and economic development through the redevelopment process and to help break the cycle of welfare dependency and poverty.

An analogous project in Alicante, the renewal of the 'Quarter of 1000 housing units', is transforming a degraded social environment into a functional, friendly space. Unemployed inhabitants have been engaged in the renewal works, while all citizens gave their views for the design of the new quarter. The renewal of the Mascagni area in Reggio Emilia is also a good example. It created a multifunctional urban space out of a rigid series of anonymous buildings, a functional combination of old and new with integrated public services and links to the natural environment.

There is a need for intelligent buildings and home environments. The Social Housing Association in Greece created an innovative residential village for low income households, called the Solar Village. The design and planning of the area constitute an environmental experiment, as it exploits sunlight to the maximum and provides many environmental benefits. The Danish co-housing concept offers an innovative approach reconciling the need for new forms of housing with the demand for sustainable development. There are about 30 co-housing communities in Denmark, each comprising 20-50 households. They consist of individual and owner-occupied houses, each one of them designed by the owner himself. A communal house, in the middle, includes a communal dining room and various workshops and facilities, from a playground to an organic garden and a couple of wind turbines producing electricity.

Partnership and solidarity for urban economic regeneration and housing improvement are evident in the case of Glasgow, the city which refused to die. Social housing makes up 60% of the housing stock of the city and there are many rehabilitation projects, undertaken by housing associations. During the late 1980s, housing cooperatives have been set up in Glasgow's peripheral estates, where high-rise housing schemes were created in the 1960s and perceived then to offer better living conditions. Twenty years later, those housing estates were synonymous with marginalized people, poor housing, drug abuse and crime. Housing associations undertook the physical improvement of the estates: improvement of housing conditions is achieved by a mix of rehabilitation, selective demolition and newly-built houses, with residents taking responsibility for the development and management of their homes.


Strategies for integrated urban environmental policies: urban renaissance

Many urban schemes and concepts advocate the renaissance, the revitalization, the regeneration and the refounding of European cities like "Civitas". Making the city a multicultural place, with mix and diversity, reflecting its pluricultural past and offering choices and options for the future seems the main vision and challenge. The urban village, introduced by L‚on Krier, includes many of these concepts. Urban functions and services necessary for daily life and ensuring the art of living in cities should be found within every urban quarter, where every resident should also be able to find work. According to L‚on Krier, zoning led to an anti-urban labyrinth, which broke traditional structures, centrality and urbanity. Megalopoles should grow by multiplication and not by over-expansion and consist of a number of urban villages of optimum dimensions. Large cities should rediscover the small scale and short distance. The mix of urban functions and uses is at the very centre of many European dialogues (Etudes FonciŠres 1991).

No urban territory is isotrope and each part of the city is unique, but there are some common challenges most urban areas want to meet: a good environmental image, social efficiency, jobs generation and self-generated and reinvested wealth. Many urban areas in crisis try to discover a new culture of plan and they believe that plan should be perceived as a strong, transparent and legitimate reference and direction, well beyond any imposition of administrative obligation. The private sector with its dynamism, the local authorities and the state with their concern for the common good and the citizens, as producers and consumers, workers and inhabitants are the three main partners for the regeneration of the areas in crisis, especially for peripheral areas, where there is still open space to consume, urban land added-value to create and social and technical infrastructure to improve.

The urban periphery is at the very heart of these concerns. According to A. Touraine: "We are living, at this moment, the passage from a vertical society we used to call class society (with people above and below) to a horizontal society, where it is important to know who is at the centre and who at the periphery. The periphery is a zone of great uncertainty and tensions, where people do not know if they are in or out. To face this problem, the principal demand is the creation of a local democracy. This seems often impossible because good things are always supposed to come from the centre and bad things from the periphery. The centre often represents the reason, the Universe (school, the state ...) while the periphery (people, firms, interests, professions) expresses uniquely the interest ..."

City policy (Politique de la Ville) in France, the only EU county to have a ministry for the city, sheds light on all urban peripheries in critical conditions. Partnerships with enterprises for the redevelopment of whole areas aim at improving living and public spaces and bringing businesses and life to the area. In our overview, we included two projects of the French City Policy. Epernay's Protocol of Occupancy of its Social Heritage gives an example of recreating housing estates with an economic approach to complete district revival and a constant concern to prevent isolation and exclusion. The "Citizens House" project in Villeurbanne is an example of a centre to exercise citizenship. Entrusted by the city and the prefecture an advisory office created an expert group, all of them inhabitants of the district and representatives of the population. It took them only six months to define the project with the wishes of the inhabitants.

Urban peripheries suffered a lot from rigid zoning. Many satellite urban areas have been condemned to be dormitory towns as in general they were composed of homogenous and anonymous housing estates without - or with very few - local jobs and services. They have been condemned to be desert areas, not fulfilling the expectations from a city, as a place of socialization and choice. There is no doubt that all these planning experiments have failed and there are requirements for multifunctional alive urban peripheral areas where people can live, work and dream.

New towns created after the war can teach a lot. They were intended to be keystones of a new urban age, complete cities in every respect and many of them show a singular blend of public works and private enterprise, of centralized creation and decentralized management. The new cities have known both success and failure. The experience gained with their creation cannot be reduced to a universally applicable or an easy-to-follow model. Nevertheless a good understanding of the reasons of success and failure provides valuable insight for all these who face the challenges of modern cities. In a caricaturist way, one can say that the cities which failed were the ones which did not succeed in attracting businesses, providing services in jobs and meeting the challenge of mixity. The integration of policies has been in question for many of them. In our overview we identified various urban renewal and regeneration projects that start with corporate approaches to the economic and physical restructuring of vulnerable areas. In Dublin, the designation of under-used and derelict areas and the introduction of incentives for attracting private development into these areas has already produced some interesting results. Dublin Corporation also set up a 'Living Over the Shop' project team to encourage and assist property owners to convert their upper floors into residential areas. On a smaller 'site' scale, in Galway, residential developments above the main shopping centre and other shopping and office sites led to the creation of housing estates on the second or third floor.

Urban renaissance seems to be a rediscovered issue. The recreation of cities like "Civitas" highlights the importance of citizenship and the reconstruction of the "urbis" makes the city an area of universality, organized in a given territory, increasingly functional and varied. Medium-sized cities are among pioneers in this process. The regulatory plan of Siena (1990) is an example of creating modern life in an old city where cultural associations (Conrade) have a power parallel to the city. The special plan of Toledo 11 is based on the following axes: clarification of the dialogue between historic and modern city, enhancement of the historic legacy (consisting of movement spaces, vernacular architectural spaces and the tissue of the streets), an accessibility plan, (including an access plan for cars which absolutely have to go to the centre), optimization of the potentialities (coming out from the physical morphology, an island anchored on the valley of Catilla), optimization of the structural image of Toledo and the coexistence of the historic centre with the socioeconomic centre, promotion of the functional mixity and articulation of University/Cultural/Administrative and Touristic functions. The plan offers a good radiography of the city and its problems.

Public spaces, the noble connective tissue of the cities, are beginning to be given special attention (Council of Europe 1990, 1992). The Brussels Region launched a programme on the quality of their public spaces as for almost 40 years, huge investments in road building had led to the excessive standardization of Brussels' public spaces. Brussels-Capital region prepared the 'Manual of Brussels Public Spaces' aimed at setting up qualitative recommendations for the functional, environmental, cultural and aesthetic character of the spaces. Roads and pavements, roadside plantations and public lighting are being given considerable importance in achieving coherence and identity in the public spaces. The image of the urban district is an added-value to the image of an enterprise. And it is not simply a question of a visual picture. It has to do with the everyday quality of life and work.

Many cities have to manage the 'after event', the space they created for a 'once-in-a-lifetime' celebration. Barcelona provides an example and a model (Henri 1992). The city has lived for centuries with its back to the sea. The creation of a new seafront has been one of the challenges met with the celebration of the 1992 Olympic Games. The contact with the sea has been the common denominator of the three major interventions: the creation of the Olympic Village, the remodelling of the industrial port and the renovation of the Diagonal Mar area. The private sector has been very active in carrying out these three major interventions, bringing a radical change in the perception and use of the urban space by the citizens. The Olympic village is being converted into an attractive residential area with office spaces and green zones leading to the sea-front. The renovation of the old port is under way and the Diagonal Mar action will develop in a period of 7 to 10 years. The 1992 Olympic Games have been a starting and not a concluding point for future perspectives.

In Seville the island of Cartuja, seat of the Universal Exhibition of 1992, now welcomes new activities. EXPO '92 gave the city the opportunity to become an urban laboratory and a symbol for urban innovation. Seville, as the mirror of a multicultural past, a magnifying glass for the present and a telescope for the future, has itself been an exhibition during EXPO '92. A thematic park opened just eight months after the closure of EXPO and has already become third in the world, from its number of visitors. A technological and business park occupies the rest of the space of the EXPO. The Confederation of Andalusian Employers was the first to establish itself there, an example followed by many firms which bought remaining pavilions and plan new activities there. The recycling of the EXPO '92 in Seville is proving to be a model and a lesson for cities like Lisbon, preparing EXPO '98.


The European city: an ongoing referendum

Citizens' participation is a common denominator for most urban revitalization projects. The approximation between citizens and administration is already an irreversible trend in European cities. No more major decisions concerning the future of cities are taken without a well-defined civil consensus. In Barcelona more than 160 city associations participate in the preparation of the economic and social strategic plan, the basic instrument for urban change. In Brussels, the consultation procedures for planning introduce new concepts. In Reggio Emilia, citizens participate in the compiling of the city budget with the use of new technologies. In Valencia, citizens participate in the tracing of the new metro lines. Cities like Evora or Siena already count hundreds of citizen's associations.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall, the geography of Europe is changing dramatically (Masser et al. 1992, DATAR 1993). Europe is increasingly a dynamic pluricultural space of variable geometry. It tends to be a network of urban regions or regional cities, which articulates the economic and sociocultural system, such as the Dutch Randstad. New visions and challenges emerged with the birth of the European Union. However, there is awareness that the abolition of national frontiers does not automatically give birth to an integrated Europe. The 'united' Europe cannot be an isotropic territory; it may be a Europe of territories in competition - and cities are at the forefront of competing territories. They try to become more intelligent (CEC 1992a; DIV, OECD, URBA 2000 1990; Hall et al. 1991), more flexible (EF 1993b), more efficient, more urban (OECD 1994): they all want to be the cities of tomorrow (IFHP 1993). Most of them believe that creating a better and more equitable environment is an asset for their future. They all agree that the renaissance of European cities is essential for the renaissance of Europe.



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Urban environment, health and the economy: Cues for conceptual clarification and more effective policy implementation

Professor Roderick J. Lawrence

Centre for Human Ecology and Environmental Sciences

University of Geneva

This paper clarifies working definitions of ecology, economy, environment, health and sustainable development. Then it discusses mainstream interpretations of these terms and recent applications of urban planning. The paper presents a set of principles in order to show that sectoral definitions and professional approaches include misconceptions and erroneous assumptions about these concepts in the specific and unique context of cities. These short-comings need to corrected by a redefinition of current practice before inter-disciplinary and intersectoral collaboration can be implemented effectively.

Economic, health, social, environmental and urban policies share a goal of improving the living conditions of people. Nonetheless, not all cities, nor citizens within a specific city benefit equally. The impacts of economic and urban policies on the health and wellbeing of human populations and all the environmental constituents of cities are neither neutral nor symmetrical. Economic, urban and environmental policies have many effects but only a few are intentional, predictable and measurable. The diverse kinds of interrelations between environmental, health and economic policies in urban agglomerations should be identified and incorporated in decision-making. Today, a growing challenge for decision-makers involved with national development and urban planning is to integrate environmental, health and socioeconomic equity dimensions into mainstream policy formulation at international, national, regional and local levels.

This paper is meant to clarify working definitions of health, environment, ecology, economy and sustainable development. The lack of consensus about the meaning and use of these terms has meant that diverse operational approaches have been formulated and applied. This paper is not meant to be a comprehensive review. It summarizes what mainstream interpretations and approaches to urban environmental policies, health and the economy share in common, as well as those inconsistencies and conflicts that exist between them. The paper begins with a brief state of the art of common sectoral approaches to urban policy decision-making. Then it presents those principles and working definitions that underline a more integrated perspective. If cities are recognized as being the locus of decisive economic, environmental and health components of human societies and nations, then integrated concepts, methods and tools are necessary. However, these approaches can only be implemented effectively if current conceptual, institutional and professional shortcomings are replaced by innovative measures. These should address the politics and power of decision-making traditionally based on sectoral knowledge, professional expertise and rational approaches which are incomprehensive. Finally some directives for policy decision-making are also discussed.


Complexity of urban planning: State of the Art

Urban problems and policy objectives raise complex questions that do not have simple answers. Nonetheless, too frequently, urban administrators, academics and planners have isolated problems and considered them too narrowly. They ignore complexity, especially the interrelated nature of the components of cities. The "one problem-one solution" approach cannot achieve policy goals or resolve urban problems by identifying and applying "the best solution". The use of hypotheses, pilot projects and scenarios has rarely been adopted. This section of the paper characterizes a "state of the art" which is illustrated by a hypothetical case (see Inset 1). This case illustrates the limitations of fragmented approaches even those that have led to short-term incremental improvements. For example, from the 1950s, urban planners and traffic engineers developed programmes and projects for public transportation that often gave a higher priority to private vehicles than to diverse kinds of public traffic circulation. In many cities, extensive networks of tramways were removed. At the same time, vast urban development projects based largely on spatial and functional segregation by zoning land uses were planned. These included hectares of roads and parking allotments for commuters who were compelled to travel between neighbourhoods that accommodated specified and segregated urban activities. These programmes and projects not only changed the biological, ecological and human components of urban environments but they have also been self-defeating in some respects. For example, despite the large increase in the volume of roads, traffic congestion is a daily dilemma experienced by many commuters around the world. Moreover, high levels of air and noise pollution are unintended outcomes which have both short and long-term consequences on the health of citizens and the sustainability of urban ecosystems. Finally, zoning and monofunctional uses do not serve the capacity of a city to accommodate change easily. When these concepts are applied on a large scale they generate constraints for future generations.

This example illustrates that, in countries with either market or socialist economies, urban planning has increasingly become the province of design professions, public administrators, politicians, property owners and investors. Concurrently, technocratic, rationalistic and bureaucratic approaches tied to monetary values and econometric calculations have commonly become dominant or exclusive. Although advocacy planning and community action did receive a hearing during the 1960s and 1970s in a few countries, their innovative stance remains a beacon for change, rather than being more widely adopted. Hence, current approaches still create a social distance between professionals, politicians and the public. The goals, preferences, values and lifestyles of citizens are commonly ignored. Instead, decision-makers usually apply ad hoc piecemeal approaches to serve narrowly defined, short-term interests. Despite apparent progress, the limitations of these approaches are now visible in many contemporary cities: one of the unintended outcomes of the current economic recession is that the large volume of unoccupied speculative buildings (such as the London Docklands) has illustrated some of the consequences of urban development based largely on short-term sectoral approaches and on monetary returns.


Inset 1: Sectoral approaches to urban planning: a case study

The difficulties and complexities of integrating environmental, economic and health policies in urban planning can be illustrated by a hypothetical case. The construction of a new industrial estate on the outskirts of a city, for example, is usually related to numerous objectives, goals and decisions by politicians, civil servants and people in the private sector. These decisions concern the availability and the purchase price of alternative sites; the cost of transportation, site services and infrastructure; the availability and price of energy; financing including government loans and subsidies and local employment and housing markets. Local politicians and civil servants will do their best to attract company directors to construct new factories. Their negotiations may include fiscal incentives, such as lower levels of taxation, grants for infrastructure and services, or loans at favourable interest rates. Plots of land that were reserved for agricultural uses, including sites near residential neighbourhoods, may be reclassified for precise industrial uses.

In such cases, there may also be explicit requirements about emissions and waste disposal discharged by the new installations. These requirements are probably not negotiable because they are prescribed by national and/or regional legislation rather than municipal or civic ordinances. However, although these requirements, like most environmental standards, apply across the whole country, local politicians and civil servants know that they are usually policed at the local level. How that is achieved may be negotiable. Furthermore, extant site conditions and the micro-climate can contribute either positively or negatively to meeting environmental standards. These local conditions can be modelled in a systematic way with the inputs to and outputs from the new installations. Cost-benefit analyses can be calculated too. However these instruments do not predict human activities, choices, or their outcomes over the long term. This fact has not been widely recognised by many who rely only on quantitative models for environmental impact assessments.

Many politicians and civil servants will probably argue that the new industrial estate will create many benefits for the community including new jobs, more revenue for local shop-keepers, tradesmen, as well as local and regional enterprises. Nonetheless, some community representatives including doctors and environmental health officers are probably omitted from the initial (and perhaps latter) stages of policy formulation and negotiation. Once the decision to construct the new estate has been approved, those persons employed in the new factories will probably choose the location of their residence by trading off the monetary cost, the distance and the travelling time from home to work with access to community services, the attractiveness of different residential neighbourhoods and a number of other factors. What may seem rational for the workers, the local politicians and the company managers (in traditional economic terms) may not serve the best interests of the local community, especially its environmental conditions and human health and wellbeing. For example, each of the factory workers, like all motorised commuters who use private transport, will rely on non-renewable fossil fuels, contribute to ambient noise levels and enhance the likelihood of atmospheric pollution while travelling between places of work and residence. Many of these negative outcomes could be predicted by impact assessments and avoided if an electric public transportation service was available, affordable and efficient. Nonetheless, impact assessments are still not mandatory or they are not used effectively in many countries. Considerations of risk and risk assessment, as well as adaptability and resilience, are much less frequent.

The wide range of costs associated with the construction and operation of the new industrial estate may not be fully identified by policy makers or the private sector and not communicated to the local population. This stems from traditional sectoral divisions of responsibilities for policy formulation and the provision and maintenance of urban services and community facilities, such as commerce, schools, health care and transportation. However, it will also be due to the unforeseen outcomes of urban policies and programmes, because the interrelated nature of the economy, environment and human health has not been explicitly considered in the training programmes of most qualified urban decision-makers. Moreover, data and information that illustrate these interrelations are not readily available. Decision-makers still rely heavily on assumptions. For example, the new factories will enhance the local job market and increase production and consumption patterns. However, a range of nontoxic and toxic wastes that cannot be eliminated on site will probably be produced. They may pollute the air and/or the soil and subterranean waters. These negative impacts on local environmental conditions may lead to harmful effects - allergies, respiratory illnesses and poisoning, for example - on the health and well-being of the workers and other vulnerable groups in the local community. In essence, the politicians, the factory owners and the workers are neither fully aware of nor solely responsible for the wide range of unintended out-comes that may stem from a decision to develop the new estate.

This case shows that the identification and monitoring of urban policies and programmes is a fundamental, complex task that has frequently been undertaken by fragmented, sectoral approaches. It also shows that these traditional approaches are inadequate because although the economy, the environment and health are interrelated, those decisions that may serve the interests of the former do not necessarily serve the best interests of the latter. In essence, decision-makers rely on inapt tools and methods to represent alternative projects and forecast their outcomes. Reforms are urgently needed. This paper argues that such reforms cannot precede a redefinition of key concepts and the roles of professionals and the public.

Although urban administrators and planning professionals have been surprised by the unintended consequences of some recent urban policies and projects, one of the great anomalies of the conduct of these professions is that systematic evaluation of policies and projects is not considered to be their responsibility. Moreover, national governments and international organizations have largely neglected data collection on cities. Consequently, feedback between local and national levels has often been minimal. Today, too few public and private institutions are examining the range of costs and benefits of urban development for specific communities, regional and national populations, or global environmental conditions. This limitation could be overcome, at least partly, by the correction of misconceptions and misunderstandings, by the decentralization of control and expertise from precise sectors, by a democratization of decision-making and by a redefinition of current uses of data and other kinds of information in both the public and private sectors (see below).


A conceptual framework, definitions and principles

The complexity of urban questions is often not explicitly addressed because there are too few integrated conceptual frameworks that explicitly consider the reciprocal relations between different components. The common approaches used by administrators, professionals and politicians are represented on the bottom right of Fig. 1. The two diagrams at the top of that figure illustrate approaches that consider two (but not three) of the above-mentioned sectors, such as environmental health (which largely ignores the economy) and environmental economics (which rarely considers health). In contrast to these approaches, this paper argues that the three sets of components should be explicitly interrelated, as shown on the bottom left of Fig. 1 and not considered to be a closed system.

The conceptual shift and political commitment required to recognize and apply this integrated perspective is considerable in relation to mainstream policy formulation and implementation. It should not be underestimated by the simplicity of this kind of graphic representation. This framework also acknowledges that the economy, environmental and health components of cities function at different geographical and temporal scales. Some of these scales overlap whereas others do not, as shown in Fig. 2. Their interrelated nature is The conceptual shift and political commitment required to recognize and apply this integrated perspective is considerable in relation to mainstream policy formulation and implementation. It should not be underestimated by the simplicity of this kind of graphic representation. This framework also acknowledges that the economy, environmental and health components of cities function at different geographical and temporal scales. Some of these scales overlap whereas others do not, as shown in Fig. 2. Their interrelated nature is of these dimensions. The sources of many environmental problems, the locus of a large share of economies and the domicile of the majority of the world's population are concentrated in cities. The interrelated impacts of the economy, the environment and human wellbeing are largely yet not only borne by cities. The geopolitical definition of cities delimits a territory which is between the "macro"-scale of global conditions of the biosphere and the "micro"-scale of human individuals and groups, as shown in Fig. 2. Therefore, environmental, economic and health policies should be concerned with units of analysis across this vast yet interrelated spectrum. Nonetheless, compatibility of and coordination between data and information are prerequisites. However, given entrenched customs of problem definition and decision-making by segmented sectors, collaborative information and data collection have rarely been applied.

Fig. 1: Diagrammatic presentation of recurrent sectoral approaches shown on the bottom right compared with integrated approaches shown on the bottom left. The top line illustrates two approaches - environmental economics and environmental health - that consider the relations between two sets of constituents but as closed systems unrelated to others.

Fig. 2: The spectrum of interrelated scales for health, economic and environmental policies that have been commonly defined according to sectoral approaches and perspectives that have overlooked the specific locus and the functions of cities.

Today there is a growing consensus that three basic types of data and information are required for a comprehensive analysis of the social, economic and environmental characteristics of cities. These are: a) quantitative and qualitative data at the scales of the region, city and neighbourhood; b) dynamic or longitudinal data intended to measure and monitor conditions at these scales over time and c) surveys of the local populations' living conditions, health, life-styles, priorities and expectations. Checklists and guidelines can help to establish a comprehensive list of these dimensions, which should reflect the specific contextual conditions of each city. Nonetheless, irrespective of these conditions, the tabulation of these dimensions will depend on working definitions and interpretations of the economy, the environment and health and other characteristics of cities. The next section of this paper briefly presents working definitions of health, environment and economy. A more extensive discussion of diverse definitions and interpretations of these terms, as well as sustainable development, are presented in the Appendix.


Working definitions

In this paper, health refers to the physiological, psychological and social condition of human individuals, groups and communities over the life-span. Health should not be interpreted only in terms of the absence or presence of infection, infirmity or morbidity. Rather it is a state or condition that is defined in relation to the constituents of all the environmental and human characteristics that make up the daily lives of people and the reciprocal relations between them. These reciprocal relations include the impacts of human activities on the health of individuals and groups, their economy and their environment.

The word environment refers to a complex multidimensional set of abiotic, biotic and human characteristics that are localized in place and time. The human environment refers to those characteristics which people have constructed, modified or perceived as components of their daily surroundings which impact on their social and economic circumstances and their health and wellbeing. In this paper, people and the environment are not considered to be mutually exclusive. They are interrelated components of ecosystems that can remain relatively constant, or change rapidly over time.

The term economy refers to the production, consumption, distribution and regulation of all human-made and other resources. These resources are only one of many components of human societies that are intimately related to the state and conditions of the biosphere. Other components that interact with the economy include human goals and values, technology, information and knowledge, as well as administrative, legal and political dimensions.

During the last decade sustainability and sustainable development have become catchwords which have been interpreted in diverse ways. The definition of sustainability is elusive. Some people interpret it to mean that traditional economic growth, qualified by some ecological principles, can continue. Others imply that it means a radical redirection of economic processes at both national and international levels. Another interpretation underlines what is considered to be a contradiction between material and economic growth and ecological sustenance in order to challenge it. In this paper sustainability is not limited to ecological and economic sustenance; it also encompasses socio-demographic and health dimensions. These dimensions are considered together with the capacity of the built environment to adapt to predictable and unforeseen events and gradual changes within and from outside cities.


Criticisms of recent contributions

In 1980, the World Conservation Strategy of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature presented the concept of sustainability and the challenge of acknowledging the relationship between environmental and development policies. It is noteworthy that economic policy was not integrated into this debate. Seven years later, however, the World Commission on Environment and Development addressed what it considered to be the crucial relations between the economy, the environment and development. According to the Commission, the concept of sustainable development was meant to provide the conceptual framework for an integrated approach. The concept of sustainable development was defined as:

"the ability to ensure the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

This definition raises problems, especially those related to policy definition and implementation, which were not adequately considered by the Commission. First, it asserts that development of the global economy can meet the needs of present generations without compromising the future. Second, it ignores long-standing discrepancies between economic, social and environmental interpretations of development processes. These viewpoints are grounded in conflicting conceptual frameworks in economics and ecology which overshadow their shared linguistic roots. Third, the concept of need is value-laden and it has burdened the short history of economic and social development policies. This hurdle is neither recognized nor overcome. Perhaps it is precisely for this reason that the report of the Commission includes so few statements about those means and measures that are needed to change current approaches. Much of the debate in recent years on sustainable development has sought to overcome this limitation. For example, sustainable development has been interpreted as:

" ... positive socioeconomic change that does not undermine the ecological and social systems upon which communities and societies are dependent. Its successful implementation requires integrated policy, planning and social learning processes; its political viability depends on the full support of the people it affects through their governments, their social institutions and their private activities."

Other recent interpretations of sustainability argue that current societies should leave the biosphere as rich in all kinds of resources and opportunities as they inherited. This implies that renewable resources are consumed at a slower rate than they are being renewed, that non-renewable resources are consumed no faster than renewable substitutes can be found and that emissions and wastes are not discharged at a greater rate than they can be transformed by either natural or human-made processes. In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) considered that sustainable development policies involve extending time frames commonly used by decision-makers from a few years to a few generations; promoting equity for both current and future generations and qualifying traditional development strategies based largely on material growth and economic indicators. Agenda 21 explicitly considers the interrelations between the environment, the economy and health. In this document, however, the discussion of urban health is incomprehensive, because hygiene, sanitation and communicable diseases are considered in detail whereas socio-psychological illnesses and social pathologies are under-valued.

Recent requests for the reorientation of practice in many circles raise complex questions which cannot be tabled and answered in this paper. Nonetheless, it is necessary to raise two crucial ones:

1. How does one anticipate the needs of future generations?

Given that human societies evolve and that cultural adaptations have been common throughout history, is it feasible to rely solely on reactive regulations, or should responses to diverse scenarios be formulated and implemented? If so, whose criteria and values should be borne in mind?

2. How does one deal with those uncertainties that characterize economic policies and human impacts on the constituents of the biosphere?

Given that there are few law-like relationships, is systematic monitoring a reasonable means for the identification of priorities?

If so, in a precise situation, which policies are likely to be the most appropriate in the face of uncertainty and incomplete knowledge?

The implications of responses to such questions will be discussed in relation to urban policy formulation and implementation after some fundamental concepts and principles are considered.


Clarifying concepts and principles

Many recent contributions on "sustainable cities" do not adequately analyse important conceptual questions about the interrelationships between human societies, urban development and the biosphere. 7 Therefore, it is appropriate to recall that there are certain conditions and limits overriding the sustenance of human groups and societies. First, the biosphere of the earth is finite. Both natural and human ecosystems at all scales of the planet and its atmosphere are circumscribed by certain immutable limits, such as the surface of land, its biomass and thermodynamic principles about the production and transformation of energy, including the accumulation of heat. Although these principles cannot be challenged, their relative importance has been interpreted in various, sometimes contradictory ways (even by scientists in the same discipline). These divergences reflect different ideals, meanings, methods and values. They highlight the limitations of current knowledge and the uncertainties of not respecting ecological limits.

Second, cities are not closed, finite systems - because they are open to external influences of an ecological kind (such as solar energy or earthquakes), of a biological kind and also of an anthropological kind (e.g. disease and warfare). This means that urban policies and programmes that deal with internal conditions and processes in cities should also consider those external factors that interact with people in cities. Unfortunately, recent contributions on this subject include misconceptions about the nature of urban development. For example, White and Whitney argue that, prior to the industrial revolution, urban settlements "were quasi-sustainable". 8 This claim is hard to justify given that the populations of many cities were highly dependent on all kinds of imported goods. Moreover, it is known that economic and political coercion were commonly used to ensure a regular supply and also to prohibit noncitizens from residing inside the geo-political boundaries of cities. Emigration and colonization largely occurred instead of reciprocal forms of exchange. Then, like today, cities were seats of power and control because they were dependent on the supply and control of all kinds of transported resources.

Third, humans must create and transform energy by using materials, energy and acquired knowledge to ensure their livelihood. The increasing disparity between ecological and biological processes and products on the one hand and the products and processes of urbanized societies, on the other hand, is largely attributed to the rapid growth of urban populations, plus increases in energy consumption based on the use of non-renewable resources and the harvesting of renewable resources at a greater rate than their replacement. At the global level, the negative consequences of these trends include the depletion of the ozone layer, a reduction in biodiversity, the accumulation of wastes, the "green house effect" and the incidence of environmental catastrophes including floods, landslides and famine. 9 At the urban level, the negative impacts of these trends include relatively high concentrations of air and noise pollution, solid waste disposal, poverty and illnesses.

Fourth, human beings can be distinguished from other biological organisms by the kinds of regulators they commonly use to define, modify and control their living conditions. Humans have several mechanisms that enable them to adjust to specific environmental conditions. These mechanisms include thermoregulation and circadian rhythms, which are used to ensure and maintain vital needs, such as nutrition. This fundamental need is not only guaranteed by biological and physiological mechanisms, because cultural rules and practices (that vary between races, across cultures and within societies) are also used. Cultural and social regulatory mechanisms are transmitted by the tacit know-how of populations, including social rules and customs that are shared and respected in order to ensure sustenance. For example, the construction of cities is meant to guarantee the long-term production of resources, provide secure living conditions and enable the reproduction of society. On the one hand, human groups may relocate or adapt their settlements in order to survive local environmental perturbations, as in the Netherlands. On the other hand, since the earliest foundations of cities, human groups and societies have primarily adapted to their environmental surroundings by modifying some constituents of their culture rather than by genetic adaptations. Hence adaptability and resilience are fundamental characteristics of human culture that could be related to the construction of cities. Therefore, these characteristics of human ecosystems should be explicitly incorporated into urban policies.

Last but not least, cities have been the locus of numerous inventions and the dissemination of knowledge. In addition they have also been the location of many environmental, economic and health problems. Nonetheless, cities should not be considered as the root causes of these problems. Such a "cause-effect interpretation" ignores the nonbounded nature of cities and inherent social processes and human relations that underlie these problems which also occur in some nonurban areas. In this sense, decision-makers can assume a crucial role in the use and distribution of all kinds of resources that define and are mutually defined by economic, environmental and human factors including demography, health and wellbeing. An understanding of cultural and social regulatory mechanisms is crucial for a comprehensive integrated approach to urban planning.

These principles provide useful cues for economic, health, urban and environmental policy makers. Collectively they mean that policy formulation and implementation should not be dissociated from the contextual conditions imposed by basic ecological processes and products, or the culture of the populations concerned. Today there is evidence that these contextual conditions have not been identified or understood by many policy makers. Hence, the unintended consequences of some urban policies and programmes (e.g. those related to mass-produced housing and traffic circulation) in many contemporary cities around the world have had negative impacts. Given that these impacts are the outcomes of intentional decisions based largely on professional knowledge, technical expertise and innovative technologies, it is appropriate to consider how and why some current dilemmas exist in many cities around the world: are inadequate responses to urban and environmental problems due to a lack of knowledge, or an inability to effectively use acquired knowledge, or to some other circumstances? In other terms, are we dealing with problems of substance, or procedure, or both ?

The remainder of this paper will consider these questions. Although the paper is not meant to provide a panacea for current problems, it is intended to present cues for a debate. Given that we now have more knowledge, hindsight and resources than ever before, it is appropriate to identify and discuss those means and measures that can improve the prospects of applying coordinated and integrated policies over both short and long-term periods.


Overcoming current conceptual barriers, sectoral incompatibility and practical obstacles

The preceding sections of this paper show that the formulation and implementation of traditional approaches in the field of urban policies do not lead to optimal results. Although there may be incremental improvements (in fields such as housing, health, employment or transport) these are often achieved in tandem with unintended consequences because what is considered good for one sector is not necessarily so for all others. Hence there may be negative impacts on the environment, the economy and the health and wellbeing of citizens. This paper argues that these outcomes are not only related to the number and complexity of all those factors that policy decision-makers need to consider, but also to conceptual and methodological shortcomings. These include misconceptions about the specificity of cities; the segmented knowledge and incomplete information applied by scientists and professionals; the lack of coordination between policy decision-makers; the lack of systematic monitoring and feedback between national and local levels and the non-account of societal goals, values and lifestyles which are essential ingredients for social change. These factors stem from:

1. The thematic variety and the technical complexity of specific problems related to the environment, the economy, health and wellbeing. Indicators can illustrate this complexity. They can also simplify it, but to such an extent that they enable the application of reductionist approaches - based only on quantification - that can create other unforeseen problems.

2. The lack of consensus between specialists. There are no shared conceptual frameworks, methodological approaches or precise instruments. For example, there is no consensus about indices or predictions of global warming, or the depletion of the ozone layer, or population growth. Moreover, there is no consensus about what instruments are most appropriate for defining, applying and monitoring urban policies. For example, urban indicators have rarely been applied in order to promote a more comprehensive understanding of the contextual conditions and problems in cities.

3. The lack of strategic visions and societal goals shared by politicians, professionals and the public about the definition and ordering of priorities. These visions and goals are not solely dependent on scientific knowledge but also on the point of view of citizens. Despite this, many professionals still share an unwillingness to democratize decision-making and facilitate collaboration with community groups.

Given the structural nature of these factors it is necessary to consider the appropriate means and measures for the redefinition and reorientation of current practices. This paper argues that conceptual and methodological shortcomings should be overcome before any kinds of interdisciplinary or intersectoral coordination and collaboration can be effectively implemented.


Dismantling institutional barriers: reforming uses of data

Professionals and policy-makers have had difficulty in measuring, describing and explaining constancy, change and disparities in housing, social and environmental conditions in cities. This may seem surprising given that they have commonly adopted rationalistic and quantifiable approaches. Part of their difficulty has been the lack of systematic data collection by urban administrations and institutions. In order to understand the complexity of cities, a dynamic data set is required covering a wide range of sectors across several administrative levels and geographical scales. The limitations of traditional approaches and systems for data collection should be recognized because they serve as an institutional barrier to the formulation, implementation and evaluation of integrated, cross-sectoral policies.

A recent OECD Project Group on Housing, Social Integration and Livable Environments in Cities found that a number of reforms for data collection were being applied in some OECD Member countries. 10 These reforms are designed to:

• Overcome the sectoral division of data;

• Develop compatibility between statistics referring to different geographical scales;

• Establish consistent time frames in order to account systematically for constancy and change across spatial scales and over time frames;

• Develop multidimensional accounts of components of cities;

• Promote "user friendly" systems that can be used in a range of fields.

In principle, there is a broad consensus that three basic types of information ought to be obtained. These include:

• Quantitative and qualitative data at the scales of the nation, region, city and neighbourhood;

• Dynamic data intended to diagnose and monitor conditions at these scales over an extended time period;

• Surveys of the local populations' expectations, lifestyle, values and living conditions.

Given this wide range of information, there is an urgent need to develop and apply Coordinated Information Systems. Coordinated information management for urban policy markers stems from the fact that the collection and updating of data is an important resource for civic administrations, especially for those monitoring projects and making decisions. No single-focus information system can equal the potential of a Coordinated Information System to support integrated policies and programmes.

Despite the advantages of formulating and applying systematic approaches in this field, a recent report of an OECD Working Group on Urban Affairs found that only a few countries have adopted a common strategy for the definition and the application of this type of system. 11 In sum, further institutional barriers need to be dismantled before more innovative approaches can be implemented.


Understanding the compound nature of urban environments, health and poverty

At first sight, the coordinated use of data and information shows that health and economic growth appear to be complementary. Comparisons of national data show that countries with the highest incomes have the highest levels of life expectancy and health. Eight of the first ten countries ranked in terms of per capita income are also in the first ten countries ranked according to life expectancy: Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America. 12 These countries also have extremely low infant mortality rates. National comparisons, however, are not sufficient for understanding the compound nature of urban problems, whereas specific information and statistics on urban neighbourhoods show that even within affluent countries social, economic and environmental inequalities exist both between and within cities. Furthermore, these inequalities have grown since 1980 in most member countries of the OECD.

Although it has often been claimed that urban environmental degradation affects all urban citizens irrespective of their professional status, or income, there is evidence to the contrary. Cities and urban neighbourhoods that lack natural resources and public services and are at high risk from floods, land-slides, or air pollution stemming from industries and traffic, are commonly occupied by the poorest residents. Poverty is a compound index of deprivation including lack of income, employment, housing education and especially the lack of choice between options. From this perspective, poverty is a significant indicator of social malaise, economic hardship, environmental deprivation and morbidity and mortality. These negative dimensions should be addressed by an integrated approach to urban planning.

Given recent trends in urban and broader environmental conditions it is apparent that traditional sanitary engineering approaches are necessary yet incomplete. Unfortunately, however, many recent publications about environmental health apply sectoral perspectives to examine the biological and abiotic constituents of urban environments - for example, air pollution, contaminants in water, indoor climate and toxic wastes - while not explicitly addressing the social relations between people, especially inequalities between their housing and working conditions and access to all kinds of resources and community services. Consequently, the main aspects of the health-environment relationship are restricted to "how environmental factors affect health" and "how current environmental trends are changing the patterns of health risks". Such vague formulations need to be redefined, in tandem with other approaches because socioeconomic inequalities militate against effective policy implementation. In essence, the poor not only face economic hardship but they bear the burden of negative environmental conditions, including poor access to affordable housing, health and community services.


Need for integrated health concepts and coordinated procedures

The measurement of health in many European countries has been dominated by two approaches. One focuses on the geographical clustering of measures of income, deprivation and poverty in relation to the lifestyle traits and health of individuals. The other approach focuses on the relationship between social status and health, not just in terms of the attributes of individuals but at a collective and sometimes a community level. Today there are numerous reports of the high correlation between poverty and ill health, life expectancy and mortality rates. These measures of illness, disease and death have highlighted health inequalities both within and between cities. However, they are not comprehensive indicators of health! A fundamental problem is that concepts of health can be formulated to promote wellbeing, but these concepts are difficult to operationalize without a clear understanding of the kinds of data required to achieve that task. For example, the health sector generally does not provide statistics, or other kinds of information, that relate housing or working conditions to health problems. To return to the case of urban transport, it is noteworthy that the health sector usually has no delegated responsibility to address the relationships between transportation and mortality, injury, illness or stress. It only has a defined role that addresses the consequences of transport, largely by providing medical services. Nonetheless, health should not only be equated with access to medical services.

Bearing in mind this qualification, in recent years health statistics such as life expectancy, infant mortality and general mortality rates indicate a general improvement in those European countries that are members of the OECD. Concurrently, however, in several countries of central and eastern Europe, plus the independent states of the former USSR, there have been improvements only in some aspects and deterioration in others. Given the heterogeneous and dynamic nature of urban populations and conditions, indicators could be used more effectively to highlight the specific, perhaps unique characteristics of urban neighbourhoods.


Overcoming partial economic concepts and methods

Cities have rarely been considered as a structural component of national economies with specific and unique spatial, economic and geo-political dimensions. Therefore, economic indicators have simply been transposed from national and regional statistics and applied at the urban level. Unfortunately, the specificity of urban economies has not been considered adequately. Economic analyses of housing, transport, employment and other characteristics of urbanism need to be reformulated and applied. They can be related to the benefits of healthy citizens, or the costs of ill health. There is now sufficient evidence to show that traditional sectoral issues such as housing affordability, transportation, or home-lessness, are commonly considered only in terms of prices, availability and financing, whereas they could also be considered from a health and welfare perspective as well as broader environmental policies.

The redefinition of economic concepts such as "the market" and "development" are prerequisites before any shared commitment is agreed in order to change values and lifestyles that serve "the common good". In order to formulate and apply an integrated approach it is necessary to reconsider economics and economic policies as one subsystem of a complex anthropologic, rather than as an autonomous system. This paper challenges the viewpoint that "the market" is autonomous and self-regulated as if it is totally independent of professional politics, national government and the broader ecological context in which it is circumscribed. Macro and micro-economic policies have commonly been evaluated in terms of their direct effects on consumption, production and the accumulation of capital. Nonetheless, as these policies have indirect secondary effects, these should also be identified and monitored. Some of these indirect effects may have negative impacts, such as the depletion of natural resources, the degradation of environmental conditions and health hazards. These externalities are the result of imperfections of diverse urban markets, but recognition of market failures is not widespread. Studies of the economies of cities show that markets are incomplete. Therefore, economists who only examine the formal sector do not incorporate important information about the informal sector. For example, welfare support and medical care in cities include unpaid self-help services offered by households, families and neighbours. The latter have been ignored by mainstream economics. When urban planning adopts the same partial approach and decision-making is based only on formalized services and quantifiable modes of exchange, it is not surprising that many assumptions and predictions are misguided. There is an urgent need for urban research that identifies and integrates the components of the informal sector in cities into policy decision-making.

A reorientation of policy decision-making can be achieved if there is a shared commitment to defining and promoting integrated economic, health and environmental values and goals. This commitment ought to be complemented by a range of academic/scientific, public/community and professional/political competences. This goal cannot be achieved until there is a consensus about conceptual definitions and a shared commitment to redefining the data and information required.


Challenging myths of quantification and normalization

One reason why human perceptions, goals and values have not been adequately addressed by urban policy decision-makers is that they are often considered too difficult to measure. This claim can be challenged. Although time frames for change and developments in new social values, relationships, services and products appear to emerge unforeseen, research shows that they often evolve over a number of years. This can be illustrated by ongoing changes in house-hold structure and size during this century. These changes are related to numerous factors including higher divorce rates, more mothers working in the labour market, adolescents leaving home, postponed childbearing and lower birth rates. Today, households with male-female couples and two or three children form a minority of all households in member countries of the OECD. These changes show that relationships between people are increasingly akin to a serial. Households are becoming more multidimensional owing to an increasing blend of ages and genetic relationships. This trend has placed an unforeseen demand on cities, especially the housing stock which is required to be more flexible to provide appropriate accommodation for a growing variety of house-holds. Unfortunately, most post-war housing and urban policies have produced residential neighbourhoods that are incompatible with current demands because they were meant for nuclear families. These families were considered to be the norm with a lifestyle based on average income, expenditure and mobility. This example shows that there is an urgent need for indicators of social change related to the components of cities that will enable policy makers to predict and plan for social change.


Promoting community action for change

Individual and community awareness, education and consciousness are prerequisites for a societal commitment to the redefinition of goals and values that ensure a more balanced use and a more equitable distribution of resources than hitherto. Without this commitment, based on a sound knowledge base and shared goals and values, recent requests for more public participation and enablement cannot reorientate policy formulation and implementation in meaningful ways. Public participation and empowerment alone are not panaceas for current urban and broader environmental problems, but they can serve as vehicles for identifying social change and reorienting current practices. However, before individuals and community groups can effectively participate with scientists, professionals and politicians in policy formulation and implementation there are long-standing institutional and social barriers that need to be dismantled. There are reasons to be optimistic that a coordinated approach to environmental education, communication and information transfer can associate "top down" and "bottom-up" approaches in complementary ways. Partnerships between national authorities, civic administrations, local business and community associations can lead to the application of more integrated approaches, as a growing number of cities have shown by their collaboration in the Healthy Cities Project, which has been coordinated by the World Health Organization since its inception in 1987.


Delimiting technological solutions to ecological problems

Production and consumption processes are concentrated in and around cities. They lead to a number of intense pollutions which are related to the type and quantity of production processes, the kind and quality of fuel, the technology used and the degree of maintenance of installations. Today insufficient attention is being given to those ways and means of changing production processes as one alternative to the "end-of-line" treatment of emissions and solid wastes, especially those that have negative impacts on health and environmental conditions. Alone, taxes and fiscal incentives are inadequate remedial measures that highlight the potential for choice by individuals and institutions with financial resources in contrast to those without monetary capital. Moreover, the enactment of standards and regulations are incomplete approaches, especially when they are not complemented by public education, communication and policing.

Innovative technology may help reduce the use of natural resources but it will not resolve the treatment of all toxic wastes and pollution. The explicit link between energy consumption, technology and negative health and environmental outcomes should be acknowledged by urban policy makers. Then a strategy for energy production and consumption can be based on options that reduce dependency on the importation of energy and also minimize negative health and environmental impacts. In addition it can stabilize or reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources. New clean technologies should be promoted by economic incentives instead of treating negative environmental and health impacts only at the end of production and consumption processes. The replacement of current remedial practices by preventive measures can also reduce the monetary cost of the "treatment" of emissions and solid wastes which have increased in recent decades. Although these innovations are important they should not obscure other kinds of human consequences that can have negative impacts on wellbeing; for example, social differentiation, spatial segmentation and economic exclusion between those that have access to and those that cannot afford the use of modern technologies (e.g. for education, employment, medical treatment and transportation). The accessibility to modern technologies can also be considered in terms of their use to define and control urban policy formulation without any involvement of the vast majority of citizens and community groups. In this respect they rarely promote social integration.



The main rationale for promoting integrated health, economic and environmental policies stems from the fact that their outcomes transcend all traditional geographical, temporal and political boundaries. Moreover, by the year 2000 about 80% of all Europeans and more than half of the world's population will live in cities and urban agglomerations. Hence intra and transnational collaboration is essential. This paper argues that this collaboration will only be effective if misconceptions about the environment, economy, health and other components of cities are recognized and corrected. Once these corrections have been disseminated, then it is necessary to define integrative concepts and methods, establish objectives and order priorities. Then policies can be defined, implemented and monitored in systematic ways. In order to achieve this goal, political commitment and long-term investments across international, national, regional and city levels are necessary to overcome uncoordinated sectoral approaches that can be counter-productive. Without coordination even so-called "scientific knowledge" is frequently qualified by statements such as "there are no clear-cut answers", or that "the different perspectives disagree publicly", or that "the problem is too complex". Hence, there are good reasons to advocate a new research agenda and directives for practice.

Today, there is an urgent need for comprehensive urban research that will identify and publish the specific characteristics of cities. This research will help overcome the transposition of concepts and methods from specific sectors to the urban level without accounting for the context dependent definition of urban conditions. Academics, professionals and community groups can help to clarify conceptual differences, develop complementary approaches and support systematic monitoring over diverse eco-geo-political scales and time periods. Nonetheless, this collaboration is not sufficient. Given that the issues at stake involve conflicts of values and goals (which are expressed by socioeconomic inequity, professional power and political control) ethical and political dimensions are also crucial. In principle, many contemporary environmental and economic problems in cities, including pollution, poverty and inequality, cannot be resolved simply by legislation, technical measures, economic growth, or intersectoral collaboration, until the conceptual misunderstandings and methodological shortcomings outlined in this paper have been corrected. Only then will it be more realistic to promote cities and urban lifestyles that are more ecologically sustainable, more socially equitable and less costly in social, health, monetary and environmental terms.


Appendix: Definitions and Interpretations

The relations between individuals, groups and societies have been a subject common to the history of art, literature, philosophy, religion and the sciences throughout the ages. Humans have been persistently concerned by their historical and ongoing relationship to the world, or to particular components of it. Therefore, it is surprising that so little attention has been given to this longitudinal perspective by mainstream debate on environmental policies. This paper is not meant to elaborate on this history which has already been documented elsewhere. 21 These contributions show that interpretations of the relations between people and the environment stem from scientific, professional, religious and other perspectives that are used implicitly or explicitly to formulate and apply economic, political, technological approaches to daily affairs. Bearing in mind the relativity of contributions in this field, this section of the paper will present definitions and recurrent interpretations of the terms health, environment, economy, ecology and sustainable development.


Health and its Interpretation

Although health has been interpreted in several ways there is widespread agreement on what it means and how it can be achieved. According to the World Health Organization "health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". 22 This interpretation is idealistic and it does not define what is meant by complete physical, social and mental wellbeing. Therefore, it does not provide directives for policy formulation. This interpretation could be enlarged by seeking positive goals for human health that are independent of disease.

From the mid-19th century common interpretations of health were largely based on approaches that regulated illness and controlled behaviour. Concern about the relationship between environment and health stems from interpretations of how microbes and chemical contaminants impact on human groups and individuals. For example, in the 19th century, the presence and frequency of cholera was linked to polluted supplies of drinking water. This interpretation of health underlines sanitary engineering approaches that have been applied since then. They are still common today in urban planning and public health strategies. Although illness stemming from poor sanitation is a cause for concern in many cities, this approach is too restrictive if it is not complemented by others that address specific urban pathologies, such as occupational accidents and mental illnesses.

Today, environmental health has two distinct meanings. The more common one used in government and public health refers to the relationship between people and all the factors in their physical and social environment. The second connotation of environmental health considers the condition of the natural constituents of the environment, such as air, water, soil and vegetation. The first interpretation explicitly concerns those factors that may affect health positively or negatively, whereas in the second this concern is either absent or implicit. The first interpretation was adopted by the European Charter on Environment and Health. This Charter was signed by 29 European countries and the Commission of the European Communities in 1989:

"Environmental health ... includes both the direct pathological effects of chemicals, radiation and some biological agents and the effects (often indirect) on health and wellbeing of the broad physical, psychological, social and aesthetic environment, which includes housing, urban development, land use and transport."

Today it is accepted that there is a relationship between the conditions of urban and rural environments and the health of the inhabitants. Nonetheless, it is not a simple matter to identify the nature of that relationship in precise cities without a long-term commitment to the systematic collection of data and other kinds of information. There are important conceptual and methodological questions concerning the pertinence of multicausal interpretations of illness and disease including the definition of economic and environmental factors.


What is environment?

The term environment is commonly interpreted as the aggregation of all the abiotic and biological components that surround an organism. This term has been studied by numerous scientists and professionals from very different perspectives and approaches. In general, it has been common for physical and biological scientists to examine inorganic and non-human organic organisms according to specific disciplinary and sectoral approaches - air, water, soil, flora and fauna - either at one point in time, or over an extended period. Those authors who adopt a general ecology perspective can be classed into this broad category. Nonetheless, the systemic and integrative framework inherent in this perspective is not common to all approaches. Furthermore, until recently, there were very few studies in this category that examined the impacts of human products and processes on the inorganic and biological constituents of the environment.

In comparison to the natural scientists, human or social scientists have commonly considered the interrelationships between spatial, cultural, societal and individual human factors and human activities, products and processes, either by studies in laboratory conditions, or in the settings in which they occur. In urban sociology for example, an in situ ecological approach was used by Park, McKenzie, Burgess and Wirth from the 1920s. 24 This group of sociologists, followed by many others, examined spatial, social and economic patterns and processes related to human activities of individuals and groups in cities and towns. Likewise both ecological anthropology and ecological geography show that human activities can be studied systematically in precise localities using approaches and methods specific to each of the parent disciplines. From these perspectives, the term environment has usually been interpreted and applied according to academic traditions that only examine (and sometimes emphasize) the human constituents of settings in which activities occur, whereas both the inorganic and biological constituents (and sometimes the human-made components) of the environment are often considered as a neutral background, or ignored. Consequently, many studies do not identify the impacts - both the positive and the negative consequences - of human activities on these constituents or on human individuals and groups. Hence social relations, human health and wellbeing are not commonly studied. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to suggest that these kinds of contributions are not strictly speaking ecological anthropology, geography, psychology or sociology (as their nomenclature implies) but sets of restrictive interpretations that do not account for the complexity of their context.


Ecology and ecological interpretations

Ecology is a word ... la mode. Although it has been used increasingly by natural and social scientists during this century, it has also acquired a political connotation in recent decades. Government officials and political activists in many member countries of the OECD have gradually adopted "the green movement" in the wake of numerous publications about environmental nuisances. This interpretation of ecology commonly advocates conservation and preservation policies of flora and fauna in specific localities, even though studies are rarely commissioned to establish whether such policies serve both short and long-term interests. Such policies can be misleading if they are not related to the cultural and political context of the environmental, economic and health dimensions of human societies.

The term ecology derives from the ancient Greek words oikos and logos, as shown in Fig. 3 and it means the science of the habitat. This term was used by Haeckel in 1873, then other biological scientists during the late 19th century, to refer to studies of the relationships between organisms - animals and plants - and their immediate environment. General ecology specifically refers to the interrelations between animals and plants and their immediate surroundings, whereas human ecology focuses on people (see below). Ecosystem, a term first used by Tansley in 1935, refers to a circumscribed environment, all of the organisms and inorganic constituents contained therein and the interrelations between them. From this perspective, the environment of any living species (such as communities of insects, or plants) is multidimensional and complex, quite the opposite connotation to that used by many social scientists who refer to "human environments" as if they were a neutral background. In order to comprehend this complexity, it is instructive to recall a distinction frequently made in the biological sciences between autecology and synecology. Whereas autecology examines one biological species, synecology analyses communities of biological species - animals and plants - in terms of the interrelations between them and the biotic and abiotic constituents of their environment. The relationships between organisms and their environment are examined with respect to at least three subsystems:

1. The organism or community of organisms;

2. The abiotic and biotic environment;

3. The sets of relationships between the organism(s) and the constituents of the environment, including the impact of the organism on these constituents.

Although biological analogies like those frequently used to interpret the activities of human individuals and groups are not acceptable without precise qualifications, reference to the natural sciences is made here to underline the fact that these approaches implicitly support a perspective that does not address the social relations between individuals and groups in the same locality, nor the relations between their health, socioeconomic and environmental status.


What is human ecology?

Human ecology is an holistic, integrated interpretation of those laws, processes, products and mediating factors that define and are mutually defined by natural and human ecosystems at all scales of the earth's surface and the biosphere. 25 It implies a systemic framework for the analysis and comprehension of three complex systems and the interrelations between their constituents using a temporal perspective. These three systems are:

1. A bio-logic, or the orders of biological organisms;

2. An eco-logic, or the orders of inorganic constituents (e.g. water, air, soil and sun);

3. An anthropo-logic, or the ordering of cultural, societal and individual human factors.

Given the systemic nature of these components, it is inappropriate to emphasize one set of constituents to the detriment of others. Moreover, it is erroneous to distinguish between the "physical" and the "social" constituents of environments. This definition implies that an integrated approach would examine specific situations in terms of the reciprocal relations between the three systems, both at one point in time and over an extended period. 26

The preceding definition of human ecology can be applied to examine precise subjects, such as environmental conditions in cities, the demographic and socioeconomic profiles of urban populations and their health and wellbeing, bearing in mind the following principles.

First, the interrelations between humans and the constituents of their surroundings are manifested through a wide range of physiological, psychological, societal and cultural processes. These processes include sensations and perceptions (which animals also share) but also beliefs, doctrines, ideas and representations, which are uniquely human and non-observable. The interrelations between people and their environment are not just spatial, nor observable, but also (and indeed significantly) cultural and metaphysical. Moreover, these interrelations are not absolute, nor static, but dialectical and they are subject to change during relatively short and longer periods of time. To return to the subject of urban transport, when the motor car is considered in relation to its economic functions, its facility for movement and its symbolism of liberty, prestige, power and personal wealth, then it is not difficult to understand why it has been promoted as a means of urban transport, irrespective of its negative impacts.

Second, unlike other biological organisms, the sets of interrelations between human beings and their surroundings are characterized by both discursive and reflexive knowledge, including a recourse to symbols, particularly but not exclusively linguistic symbols. This characteristic is a distinguishing feature between anthropoid behaviour and human behaviour. It has important implications with respect to the human interpretation of landscapes and the biosphere.

Third, the "human environment" can be distinguished from the "environment" of other biological organisms by its instrumental nature. Human products and processes transform the constituents of the environment in order to respond to prescribed aspirations, needs and goals that are defined both by individuals and human groups. Furthermore, it is necessary to distinguish between the environment that is perceived and used by people and both the micro and macroenvironments which human senses do not interpret without the aid of technological instruments. Although boundaries do not separate the environments at these different scales they do have different kinds of impacts on human activities, health and wellbeing.


Economy and economic interpretations

In ancient Greece, the primary meaning of economy was the management of a household or the habitat, as shown in Fig. 3. In western civilizations, since the 17th century, this term has been increasingly used in a wider sense to refer to the administration of the concerns and the resources of any human group with the aim of productiveness and optimal efficiency. Since the 18th century, the term economics has commonly referred to a discipline and profession that is concerned with the development, distribution and consumption and the regulation of the material resources of a community or a nation. A shortcoming of economics is that it commonly assumes that other constituents of societies (e.g. environmental, political and legal components) are constant. Hence they do not modify the economy over time. This reductionist stance has oversimplified the interrelations between economics and environmental resources. It underlies the interpretation of finite resources in order to make precise monetary calculations. Simultaneously, this interpretation also assumes that the earth can infinitely supply these resources, some of which are used as free, exploitable goods.

Nonetheless, economics explicitly involves environmental issues. Diverse habitats define ecological limits that circumscribe the resident populations: whether these limits are interpreted in relation to food production, water consumption, the use of resources (and so on) is intimately related to the cultural predispositions of these populations. In principle, the relationship between available means and human societies is mediated by information, knowledge and values (including religious doctrine and myths) that are used implicitly or explicitly to invent and use resources, create tools, harness energy and develop skills. Whatever theoretical perspective is used to explore human economies, one must acknowledge that decisions involve choices, customs, conflicts, negotiations and compromises. The cultivation of land, or the construction of a city, for example, explicitly involves the allocation of available means (including the use, modification and reuse of material goods) and the investment of human labour and time.

Fig. 3. The shared linguistic roots of ecology and economy have been largely ignored until recently and this has inhibited the formulation and application of integrated approaches.

Economics is as old as human civilizations. The economy of specific societies has undergone significant changes over the course of history. This is not a simple, linear developmental process. 27 Two main approaches are commonly used to change the level of economic productivity of human groups. The first is by the intensification of production which aims at high yields even if they are costly in terms of the use of natural resources, labour input and capital outlay. For example, uses of fertilisers and insecticides are meant to increase the yield of crops in the short-term, even when negative impacts on the local ecosystem over the long-term are increasingly known and documented. The second is by mechanization which aims at increasing productivity irrespective of the amount of energy required to replace human input by the toil of animals and the power of machines. This has been common in agriculture and urban development. In essence, the history of economic productivity in all member countries of the OECD has been strongly influenced by these trends and the specialization of many activities and tasks without full consideration of their consequences on the environment, health and urban planning.

The interrelations between economics and the environment have a long yet chequered history that can be traced back to the Physiocrats in the 18th century. Following the doctrine of Quesnay, the Physiocrats held that the inherent order governing human economies was based on land and its natural products. During the 18th and 19th centuries other economists including Malthus, J.S. Mill, Smith and Ricardo were concerned, in one way or another, by the limits to economic growth that were imposed by the environment. This concern was reformulated by neo-classical economists during the last two centuries in terms of the capacity of the environment to supply exploitable resources and accumulate waste products in order to sustain economic growth.

In 1965, the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Modern Economics defined sustainable growth as a rise in per capita real income, or per capita real gross national product, that is capable of continuing for a long time. A corollary condition of sustainable economic growth is that economic stagnation will not occur, but there is no account of the environment or health.

Until 1973, an increase in the consumption of energy was commonly regarded as an essential requirement for the growth of national economies. Consequently, the production of goods and services within and beyond cities was (and still is) heavily dependent on the availability of energy. As energy is usually produced outside the geopolitical boundary of cities, urban processes and products are largely dependent rather than being self-sufficient. The stabilization of, or the slow-down in energy consumption in some member countries of the OECD since the 1970s is partly due to a growing recognition that energy intensive economic productivity is vulnerable. In addition, however, this trend has been one consequence of the expansion of technology intensive industries, especially in the tertiary sector at the expense of agricultural production and secondary industries. Given the growing diffusion and globalization of markets, agricultural and industrial products are transported longer distances around the world to an extent hitherto unknown.

Some economic interpretations of sustainable development maintain that the depletion of environmental resources in the pursuit of economic growth is akin to living off capital rather than income. The management of two types of capital - natural resources and manufactured goods - is a common subject in the economic debate on sustainable development. 28 However, this interpretation ignores possible distinctions between other categories of natural and manufactured things which are dependent on human culture. Hence they may vary between cultures and within societies as well as over time. There may be distinctions between renewable and non-renewable, recyclable and non-recyclable, finite and infinite as well as material and non-material resources. The latter include constituents of culture such as information and knowledge which can be used implicitly and explicitly to regulate the allocation of all kinds of resources and human products.

It is important to underline that when such conceptual distinctions are not made (as, for example, by neo-classical economists) a high degree of substitution between different types of capital goods and resources is envisaged, or taken for granted. This interpretation is crucial in understanding why many contemporary economists maintain that manufactured goods, technology and expertise are substitutes for depleting natural resources, or degraded environmental conditions. Consequently, the capacity of the environment to sustain economic growth is a non-issue. In other terms, continued economic growth depends on the degree of substitution between resource inputs from which economic output results. Apparently, there is unlimited potential for substitution!

According to the conceptual framework and principles presented earlier in this paper, this recurrent economic interpretation should be refuted. Nonetheless, it underlines policy decision-making in many spheres, including those which calculate externalities solely in terms of monetary value, including taxes to compensate for the degradation of specific localities. The externality principle has been proposed to account for the indirect pricing of natural resources, the transformation of materials and flows of energy. Externalities can account for both the direct and indirect effects of production and consumption processes not included in the market price of goods and services provided that they are quantifiable. This economic interpretation enables traditional accounts of production and consumption to encompass ecological costs and benefits that are borne either internally or externally. Nonetheless, the application of the principle of externality to serve as an explicit regulator of economic activity (for example, the polluter-pays-principle) is limited in as much as it is explicitly tied to economic affordability rather than market efficiency, social consensus or ecological sustenance. Moreover, it is noteworthy that these approaches commonly do not identify or measure other kinds of negative outcomes, especially those that effect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Last, but not least, the principle of externality does not include human knowledge, communication and information, because these constituents of human culture cannot be measured by flows of energy and matter.


Sustainable development

The well known definition of sustainable development in the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development has been included earlier in this paper. The Report also states that the main characteristics of sustainable development are the maintenance of access to natural resources, the avoidance of permanent environmental damage and the maintenance of the overall quality of life. In other terms, the status quo should be ensured without further environmental degradation.

According to a recent publication of the Commission of European Communities, the word sustainable "is intended to reflect a policy and strategy for continued economic and social development without detriment to the environment and the natural resources on the quality of which continued human activity and further development depend". 29 This document also states three practical measures that help achieve sustainable development. These are optimum reuse and recycling thereby avoiding wastage and preventing depletion of the natural resource stock; the rationalization of the production and consumption of energy and changes to the consumption and behaviour patterns of society. This interpretation is a dual sectoral one that considers environmental and economic components of human ecosystems at the expense of others. Therefore, it is not surprising that this document states that "transport, energy, industry and in some cases tourism are the key sectoral activities which impact on the quality of the urban environment and which also stand to gain significantly from more rational planning and sustainable development of urban areas" (p. 51) It is noteworthy that there is no mention of the number, type or condition of the building stock, services and infrastructure; or of the availability and affordability of housing that is not harmful to health; or the provision of and access to health, medical and community welfare services; or of the incidence of urban pathologies, such as social and spatial deprivation and exclusion which can lead to delinquency, vandalism, fear of crime, riots and warfare.

There is not much point in continuing this overview of definitions and interpretations of sustainable development. It is sufficient to note, despite counterclaims, that too many recent interpretations are founded on sectoral concepts and approaches that hinder the definition and the application of integrated perspectives for urban planning. Often these sectoral concepts and methods are simply applied at the urban level without sufficient consideration of the specificity of cities. Therefore, this paper requests and suggests a redefinition of current practice.


Planning and creating healthy and sustainable cities: The challenge for the 21st century

Dr Trevor Hancock

Public Health Consultant, Canada



The overwhelming challenge we face in the 21st century - the dawn of the urban millennium - will be how to maintain and improve the health, wellbeing and quality of life of the earth's increasingly urban population - and especially for its most disadvantaged members - while ensuring indefinite sustainability and ecosystem health. We must ensure that future generations have at least an equal opportunity to have as high a quality of life and to achieve their maximum potential as do we.

This paper begins with a discussion of the meaning of sustainability, expanding the concept to include social sustainability and shifting the focus from economic development to human development. A model is presented linking together the themes of community, environment and economy to address the challenge of creating equitable, sustainable and livable cities. The policy implications of this holistic approach are explored, including a brief discussion of potential conflicts. The paper concludes with examples from Canada of ways in which communities - and particularly planners - are working to address the challenge of creating healthy and sustainable cities and communities and some of the implications for the structure and function of government.

The term "sustainable development" was first coined in 1980 in a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature on the need for a world conservation strategy (IUCN, 1980), which called for a strategy for "the sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems". But of course, what brought the concept of sustainable development to the forefront of the public agenda was the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, "Our Common Future", more commonly known as the Brundtland Report (WCED,1897). In that report, sustainable development was defined as: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"

The whole premise of the Brundtland Report was that in order for the human needs of the global population to be met - and especially those four-fifths of the world living in relative or absolute poverty - we require economic development. However, in order not to impair the health of the ecosystems of which we are a part and on which we depend for our own health and to ensure the continued availability of resources, the required economic development must be environmentally sustainable.

Although the report was greatly concerned with matters of human development and wellbeing, there was not much explicit reference to health. However, in her presentation to the World Health Assembly in 1988, Gro Harlem Brundtland observed that "ultimately, the whole report is about health". Others have been more explicit in recognizing that it is not simply the natural environment and natural resources that have to be sustained, but that social resources and the social environment likewise have to be sustained - what we might call social sustainability (Osberg, 1990).

With this in mind, the Canadian Public Health Association, in its report on the Health Implications of the Ecological Crisis (CPHA, 1991) suggested a new definition of sustainability based on a human and ecosystem perspective:

"human development and the achievement of human potential require a form of economic activity that is socially and environmentally sustainable in this and future generations".

A key point here is to recognize that the focus has shifted from economic development to human development, that economic activity is merely a means to that end (and not the end in itself) and that if economic activity is to assist in the achievement of human development, it must be indefinitely environmentally and socially sustainable. In other words, not only must economic activity not deplete non-renewable resources, harvest renewable resources at an unsustainable rate, pollute the environment beyond the capacity of the environment to cope with that pollution or irreparably disrupt ecosystem health and stability (the ecological web of life); the economic activity must also not deplete "social capital", irreparably harm individuals and communities through exploitation and disempowerment, or so disrupt the social web of life that holds communities together that they disintegrate.

As we approach the dawn of the urban millenium - the point at which we become truly an urban species, with more than half of all humans living in urban environments - it is vital that our cities and towns come to reflect this concern with human development that is environmentally and socially sustainable in their design and operation. In the sections that follow, a model that embodies these values will be presented, together with examples from the recent Canadian experience that suggests that we are slowly beginning to move in the right direction.


A conceptual model and planning tool

The relationship between health/social wellbeing, environmental quality/ecosystem health and economic activity has been assuming growing importance in recent years. 1 In my own work, based on a 1989 conference organized at York University in Toronto, I have been developing a conceptual model that links community, environment and economy in the context of health/wellbeing/quality of life/human development (Hancock, 1993). This model (Fig. 1) has the potential to be a useful tool both for policy and assessment purposes.

At the centre of the model we find "health", although these days I prefer to think of this as human development. The model suggests that we need to balance and integrate community conviviality, environmental viability and economic prosperity.

• Community conviviality is concerned with the web of social relations (the social equivalent of the ecological concept of the web of life) and embraces such concepts as social cohesion, or what Putnam (1993), in his book Making Democracy Work refers to as "the civic community" and "social solidarity".

• Environmental quality refers to the quality of local ecosystems, including air, water, soil and the food chain.

• Economic adequacy refers to having a sufficient level of economic activity to ensure that basic needs for all are met; it is based in part on the recognition that above five thousand dollars per capita of gross domestic product, there is little relationship between life expectancy (as a proxy measure of overall health status) and economic development (Wilkinson, 1994).


Fig. 1. A Conceptual Model and Planning Tool

The model also indicates that, in order to ensure social cohesion and a civic community, the benefits of economic activity must be distributed in a way that is socially equitable: if it is not then, as Raymond Aron has remarked, "when inequality becomes too great, the idea of community becomes impossible". In addition to being socially equitable, economic activity must also be indefinitely ecologically sustainable; the community must not so deplete natural resources or so pollute the environment and otherwise impair ecosystem health as to irreparably harm future generations or distant populations. Finally, the community requires a livable built environment; this refers to the quality and nature of the built environment, including housing, roads and other transportation systems, other urban infrastructure and urban design and land use.

In the following sections, I will explore some of the implications of this model for policy, including monitoring and evaluation. However, for the moment, suffice it to say that a healthy community would be one that strove to be livable, sustainable, equitable, cohesive, have high environmental quality and be adequately prosperous - and would seek to balance these sometimes competing values. There is, however, one important caveat, somewhat implicit in the concept of sustainability but worth elaborating upon.

In our original background paper for the WHO Healthy Cities Project (Hancock and Duhl, 1986) we proposed a set of elements that would constitute a healthy city. One of those elements was a strong but non-exploitative community. This wording expressed our concern that strong communities, although often beneficial from the point of view of the individuals living within that community, can be quite harmful to those living outside the community. Thus we suggested that a healthy community, while being strong, would not exploit the weaker and more disadvantaged members within the community, would not exploit other communities to its advantage and their disadvantage, would not exploit the ecosystem beyond its capacity to absorb that exploitation without permanent harm and would not exploit future generations by destroying their options, as the WCED definition of sustainability suggests. Thus a healthy and sustainable community, while striving to meet the six qualities described in Fig. 1 and thus to maximize the human development of its members, will not do so through the undue exploitation of others. There is, in other words, a strong moral component to being a healthy and sustainable community.


Sustainable development, health and poverty in cities

The links between sustainable development, poverty and health are complex, but real. In this section, I will explore some of those links.

At the outset, it is important to recognize that those living in relative or absolute poverty will likely have less impact on the environment than those whose wealth allows them to consume the greater share of the earth's resources: rich countries are less ecologically sustainable, in these terms, than poor countries, while rich individuals are less ecologically sustainable than poor individuals. 2 Moreover, there is the very real danger that rich countries - and rich individuals - will 'buy' themselves out of trouble by importing resources needed for subsistence in the poorer countries and communities, while exporting pollution to them; indeed, there is already clear evidence that this is already happening.

At the same time, while consuming fewer of the earth's resources, those living in poverty are more likely to be receiving more than their fair share of environmental harm. Not only do they often live downhill, downwind, or downstream of pollution, or in situations that are fundamentally unsafe (i.e. in flood zones, on dangerous hillsides, on or near waste dumps etc.), they often work in the more dangerous occupations, where they are more likely to be exposed to toxic chemicals and other hazards and they often have to pay more than middle class families for worse quality and more highly processed food.

On the other hand, people living at the very margins of survival are often forced, through necessity, to destroy the environment upon which they depend - witness desertification in the Sahel or deforestation in Haiti. A similar situation exists among low income communities in cities in the industrialized world: people living in poverty often drive old and poorly maintained cars that consume a lot of gasoline and pollute the environment and they also may live in poorly built and poorly insulated housing which they may have little opportunity or incentive to improve, resulting in high heating bills and more pollution.

One vivid illustration of the health and social effects of environmentally unsustainable development can be seen in the health effects of global climate change, which were the topic of a WHO report in 1990. Changes in global climate patterns will have some direct effects due to higher temperatures, particularly in large cities in hot countries. But much more devastating will be the indirect effects such as the spread into more temperate regions of a wide range of insects that are vectors for a number of serious diseases; changes to food production capacity in many parts of the world and the flooding of low-lying areas such as Bangladesh, the Nile Delta, Florida and the Netherlands. Cities that are not directly affected by these changes will be impacted by the resultant mass migrations and the creation of large numbers of 'eco-refugees'. As always, it will be the poorest members of society who will suffer most.

The relationship between poverty and health is not only a matter of ecological sustainability, it relates to the theme of social sustainability as well. While there is no evidence of a relationship at the national level between per capita GDP and life expectancy above five thousand dollars GDP per capita, there are two key pieces of evidence that relate health to equity. The first is that nations with greater degrees of equity have longer life expectancy and better health (Rogers, 1986; Cereseto and Waitzkin, 1986; Wilkinson, 1994). The second is that there is clear evidence within populations of a gradient of health status from poor to rich. Moreover, that gradient is not simply due to income and material wealth, since it applies at even the highest levels within a society, where material needs are more than adequately met. It seems that the gradient in health status within populations is more associated with issues of social status than income per se (Marmot, 1994).

It has already been suggested that "when inequality becomes too great, the idea of community becomes impossible". This seems to me to be precisely the situation in many American communities today; not only does the inequity within the United States reflect itself in lower overall population health status and life expectancy in comparison with most of the rest of the OECD nations, the inequity within cities in the United States has reached such a point that there is no sense of community. The horizontal linkages and the sense of social solidarity that make for Putnam's "civic community" no longer exist. The social web breaks down, social cohesion is lost and those who are socially excluded react with violence and despair. Here is a situation where economic activity is not only ecologically unsustainable, it is clearly socially unsustainable. The impacts on population health status and particularly the health status of the poorest, are only too obvious. Inner city ghettos in the United States have infant mortality rates worse than that of many third world countries and levels of violence that are beyond belief. Violence has become a major public health problem and a major cause of death, particularly among young black males.

While things have not yet reached that pitch in European and Canadian cities, the seeds of that potential are there too; we need to play close attention to the lessons to be learned from the American experience, one of which is that - as the famed American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes put it over a hundred years ago - taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.


Some implications of the model

An important aspect of the model that I have advanced here is that the various aspects that make up what I would describe as a healthy and sustainable community that promotes human development are sometimes in conflict with each other - although for the most part they are mutually reinforcing. Conflict is particularly likely around the aspects of economic adequacy, sustainability and equity. Much of that conflict arises at present because economic activity is too often seen as paramount, rather than merely a means to an end. Thus in the interests of economic growth, equity, sustainability, social cohesiveness, livability and environmental quality have too often been sacrificed. Perhaps the adoption of a model such as the one proposed here will enable us, in time, to see economic activity for what it is: merely one of a number of policy objectives and not necessarily the most important one.

However, many of the other policy criteria - for that is what they are 3 - are mutually supporting.

Greater equity contributes to community conviviality and social cohesiveness, while environmental quality and ecological sustainability are obviously closely related. Moreover, the quality and livability of the environment have important implications for the sense of social solidarity and the creation of a civic community. As our experience with slum clearance and the creation of highrise apartments (vertical slums) in many cities in Europe and North America has proven, bad urban design, poor environmental quality and a generally unlivable environment contribute to the breakdown of community. Conversely, we have also learned how to design and build communities that promote social networking and create a sense of community - even if we have too seldom applied that knowledge. (The "Community Architecture" movement in Britain is based on notions of community livability and social solidarity - Wates and Knevitt, 1987)

But perhaps the most fundamental implication of the model I propose is that we can no longer afford the luxury of planning in isolation. Environmental, social, economic, health and land use planning have to be integrated; we have to develop an holistic approach to planning "whole communities". Yet as Alexander, et al., have noted:

"This quality of wholeness does not exist in towns being built today - and indeed this quality could not exist at present because there isn't any discipline which actively sets out to create it." (Alexander et al., 1987)

And they go on to suggest that the task of creating wholeness in a city can only be dealt with as a process and not by design alone. This of course has profound implications both for the training of planners and for the governance of cities. The issue with respect to the training of planners is quite straight forward: we need to train planners and others who can think and work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, specialists in holistic thinking and working. The implications for the government and governance of our cities will be described at the end of this paper.

While it would be premature to suggest that we have yet developed an holistic approach to planning, in the following section I will describe some of the emerging examples in the planning field in Canada that are taking us in the directions outlined above.


From concept to practice

The need to integrate the concepts of healthy and sustainable cities/communities has been apparent for some time. In this section, I will describe some examples of the ways in which Canadians have been moving from concept to practice. There are three main areas I will describe: linking directly the concepts of health and sustainability, involving the planning profession and changing planning practice.

a. Linking "healthy" and "sustainable"

A number of efforts are underway to link the concepts of healthy community and sustainable community in practical terms. One of these is the University of British Columbia Task Force on Healthy and Sustainable Communities (University of British Columbia Task Force, 1994). This task force, which brings together members of a number of different faculties and departments (Community and Regional Planning, Family Practice, Health Promotion, Health Care and Epidemiology, Nursing, Social Work) has been working to develop two tools for sustainability and to apply these tools in collaboration with the City of Richmond, "an island community of approximately 130 thousand people in the Fraser River Delta which is part of the conurbation around Vancouver, B.C.". (They are working with management and staff of the planning, health, engineering and community and government relations departments.)

The two tools they have been developing are an index of 'ecological carrying capacity' and an index of 'social caring capacity'. The index of ecological carrying capacity measures the "appropriated carrying capacity" or "ecological footprint" of communities (or, for that matter, individuals). In simple terms, the ECC measures the surface area needed to meet needs such as housing, food, transportation, consumer goods and other resources and to dispose of wastes. (The average Canadian requires 4.8 hectares per capita simply in terms of energy, forest, agricultural land and built environment, to sustain them each year. As their report notes "this is far more than the per capita land available in the world if every human would consume at this rate - and wealthier families consume even more, see Footnote 2)

In addition to developing this tool, the task force has also been developing a tool called the social caring capacity, the purpose of which is to test the readiness and willingness of the community to address and deal with the problems revealed by the appropriated carrying capacity. While still at a preliminary stage, the criteria that appear to be important for assessing the social caring capacity include social equity, diversity, interconnection, safety, access to recreational and open space, minimization of household and familial stressors and inclusion in the decision-making process. The combination of appropriated carrying capacity and social caring capacity, it is believed, will allow the community to see both the collective impact of its actions and therefore the collective imperative to change and "to ensure that such developments are seen to be equitable and desirable".

What makes this of more than academic interest is that the City of Richmond is now attempting to take these concepts and apply them in the development of planning guidelines and in the process of decision-making on planning applications.

Another example of the way in which the concepts of healthy and sustainable communities are being linked was a conference organized in Ontario in the spring of 1994. The conference brought together several different "movements" operating at the community level - healthy communities, green communities, community economic development, social development and planning, local roundtables on environment and economy - to explore areas of common interest and concern and to identify potential areas of collaborative action. The conference, which was called "Building Healthy and Sustainable Communities Together", served to underline the common areas of interest and the shared sense of purpose among these different networks and to highlight both the importance and the potential of working together at the local level. The conference also identified some significant barriers to achieving that, including in particular the jurisdictional boundaries established by provincial and municipal governments and the difficulties raised at the community level when funding programs are so narrowly defined and communities have to go to multiple sources for what is in essence a common purpose.

One final example of the linking of the concepts that we are discussing is the work of the Healthy City Office in Toronto. Established in 1989, the Healthy City Office occupies an unique niche in the civic structure. Directed by a steering committee with representatives from a number of different departments as well as community members, the Office exists outside any of the existing departments; it reports as a corporate office to the committee of heads of City Departments. This gives it a city-wide mandate to pursue its three principal themes, namely equity, economy and environment. Thus it sees its task as one of working across City Departments and with the community to link these three themes in the quest for a healthier city.

One example of the way in which it does this is to present an annual series of awards (called "The Neighbourlies"), to community organizations that have shown leadership and initiative in the three areas that are the Office's mandate, namely environment, equity and economy. Thus the Office promotes both intersectoral action and action that integrates the themes which are central to our concern here today.

b. Involving the planning profession

From the outset, the Canadian Healthy Communities Project was founded on the assumption that the planning profession was a key player. Historically, there are close ties between the planning profession and public health; in fact in Canada the planning profession grew out of a concern for public health and conservation of the environment in the early part of the 20th century (Oberlander, 1985). Therefore, the Canadian Institute of Planners was approached and became not only one of three sponsoring organizations (the other two were the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Public Health Association), but became the base for the Canadian Healthy Communities Project; in addition, the steering committee was - and still is - chaired by the president or past president of the Institute. This resulted in the project being well known to planners and resulted in, at the very least, a lively debate in the planning literature (Plan Canada, 1989).

At the same time, the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Canadian planning profession became involved in the concept of sustainable development and sustainable planning. Not surprisingly, the two concepts were brought together. A 1990 report, "Reflections on Sustainable Planning", (CIP, 1990) concluded that "the concept of sustainability is essential to our survival and should be viewed as the intent and central operating principle of planning." The report also noted that "implementation should demonstrate full regard for issues of social equity" and that:

"sustainable development, as a set of principles driving policy, is usefully complemented by the Healthy Community concept, in which local issues are defined and acted upon by the community itself".

The CIP report recognized that sustainable development has social and cultural dimensions, has implications that go well beyond local impact, that we have to learn to live better together and that the Healthy Community Project had already generated important lessons for sustainable planning, including the importance of local support, action and ownership, the key role played by municipal government and municipal planners and the potential for planners to play a proactive role. The relationship between healthy communities and sustainable development was summed up in the accompanying figure (Fig. 2).

This recognition of the complementarity between healthy communities and sustainable development on the part of the planning profession in Canada is important not only because it legitimates the link between the two concepts but because it sees this as of fundamental importance to planners and legitimates their role in addressing these issues in their communities. As one planner put it recently, the healthy community approach provides four important functions for a planner: it provides a sense of purpose that puts the person back into the picture, an intellectual tool and a package in which to fit diverse elements, an organizational tool that can structure teams of planners and the centrality of grass roots participation, which enlivens the planning process (Bain, 1994).

A more recent evolution of the link between healthy and sustainable communities can be found in a report reviewing alternative planning approaches in Canada (Hygeia Consulting Services and REIC Ltd, 1994). The report, which was commissioned by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (a Federal government agency concerned with housing and urban development) reviewed four recent alternative planning approaches - pedestrian pockets, neotraditional design, eco-villages and co-housing. In examining the alternative approaches and in evaluating a set of eight case studies, the report's authors used a framework based on the healthy and sustainable community model outlined earlier (fig. 1). The report develops and proposes an evaluative framework for judging urban plans that includes resource conservation, environmental impact, economic viability, social equity, livability, community and health and safety. Thus the groundwork has been laid for planners to apply a much more comprehensive planning framework in the years to come. Indeed, as described in the next section, this is already beginning to happen.

Fig. 2. Healthy Communities and Sustainable Development: two paths to one goal

c. Changing planning practice

Slowly but surely, planning practice in Canada is shifting to reflect this new awareness. I will briefly describe here several examples of ways in which planning practice is changing, beginning with plans for several new towns, 4 and moving on to discuss ways in which a number of different communities have incorporated these ideas in their official plans.

New towns


Bamberton represents:

• a way of living which seeks to serve the needs of our own generation and generations to come.

• a new possibility for the way people coexist with nature, upholding the ideal of responsible stewardship and seeking to be ecologically sustainable in the use of natural resources such as water, soil, habitat, energy and raw materials.

• a rediscovery of traditional virtues of community, being conducive to social interaction, care and mutual support, encouraging of responsibility in the pursuit of shared goals and supportive of cultural and artistic richness.

• a new possibility for the building of a self reliant, local community economy, emphasizing enterprise and initiative; the contribution of labour; mutual economic support; innovation, research and development; personal, social and global responsibility and long term ecological sustainability.

• a positive opportunity for all to call Bamberton home, being encouraging of creativity, learning and growth and nurturing of a deep appreciation of the gift of life.

Bamberton is a proposed new community of roughly 12 thousand people north of the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The community's design is based on ecologically sustainable development but includes an important emphasis on a sense of community, face to face interaction and services within walking distance. Guiding the development is a set of principles, the "Bamberton Code" (see box) which establishes the values that underlie the whole project. Based on this code and an extensive community consultation, the developers have created over three hundred design principles which are organized into ninety issues in eleven categories. The categories include community planning, character and culture, social planning, the economy, the environment, transportation and travel, town site, housing, utilities and amenities, visual impact and leisure and tourism. Taken together, these values and principles provide a detailed blueprint covering everything from governance to pest control. Some of the characteristics of the proposed development include:

• leaving 50% of the site as green space while requiring that 25% of each private lot be planted with native species;

• a land and soil management plan which will prohibit the stripping or contamination of topsoil and will limit turf grass lawns;

• use of local surface water sources, water conservation measures to reduce water consumption by 50% compared to a comparable development and the use of treated waste water to irrigate golf courses and other public spaces;

• a serious attempt to reduce the environmental impact of construction materials, recycling materials from existing buildings and reducing solid waste;

• energy efficient building designs;

• an independent Bamberton business network has already been established, consisting of potential and future residence and business people who have expressed an interest in relocating to and/or starting new businesses in Bamberton;

• fibre-optic wiring to facilitate tele-working and satellite operations;

• flexible zoning for home-based businesses;

• a 28.3 hectare environmental technologies park;

• a wide mix of housing options including co-housing (innovative in the Canadian context);

• "smaller lots, smaller houses and smaller profits to help make integrated housing available to all";

• recognition that an affordable community is "one which allows reduced car ownership, offers well paying local jobs, strong social services and good public infrastructure such as transit";

• creating one job for every household and making it possible for people to live, work, play and have range of amenities and services within walking distance;

• the creation of neighbourhoods with their own village centres and greens containing neighbourhood meeting places;

• active street life and "eyes on the street" to reduce crime opportunities;

• formation of neighbourhood associations, promotion of a degree of neighbourhood self-management, encouragement to participate in local government, the possible establishment of a non-profit community development corporation.

All these factors will result in a great deal of public participation in the design and ongoing management of the community.

However, despite all these positives, public opposition and a cumbersome and politically charged development approval process have been serious challenges to the project. Opposition is grounded in a wide-spread fear that Bamberton will be a continuation of the kind of development which has been prevalent in southern Vancouver Island. Complicating the issue is the fact that Bamberton is being developed by four union pension funds; British Columbia's social democratic government does not wish to be seen to be favouring a unionbacked project and thus the special consideration which might be due to Bamberton because of its innovative approaches may be interpreted as mere political favouritism. As a result, the project is being required to go through a full environmental impact assessment which might well delay or indeed prevent the project from taking place.

Another example of an innovative development that was in fact killed by rigid development and investment guidelines was the "Heart of Spingdale". The intention was to develop a "healthy village"/neo-traditional design pilot project, with mixed use (including home occupations and work shops, a range of prices and affordability and reduced auto dependence) in the midst of a large traditional suburban sprawl development north-west of Toronto. The "Heart of Springdale" would have had a population of approximately five thousand people and would have been "an urban village" based on the model of older, downtown sections of Ontario towns. The strengths of the plan were its concern for conservation and its compact form, designed to provide both economical land use and a congenial, urban built environment with a mixture of uses and a diversity of housing. The plan integrated the "New Urbanism" style 5 with the principles of conservation and environmental protection, raising densities to a level at which the additional cost of this New Urban infrastructure was overcome, yet the product remained highly marketable.

However, while similar to a traditional, much older urban form that might have fitted well into the downtown of existing cities, the "Heart of Springdale" was something of an anomaly, sitting as it would have been in the midst of low rise suburban sprawl. The plan was called into question by the local municipality with respect to issues such as the proposed higher densities, narrower road widths and grid-like road configuration. A more automobile-oriented street system without laneways or on-street parking was requested by the city, while substantial concessions were made on many other neo-traditional design parameters to accommodate conventional suburban standards. After two years of developing and modifying plans and dozens of meetings with municipal officials, rate payers groups and the public and growing signs that the investors were getting cold feet about the innovativeness of the project and the resultant delays and uncertainties, the developer withdrew the application.

A more successful effort to introduce neo-traditional concerns can be seen in Cornell, a community of approximately 27000 residents currently being developed to the north-east of Toronto. The objective is to create a model community based on the principles of New Urbanism including diversity of land uses, a well defined public realm, integration of new development with existing adjacent development, preservation and enhancement of the natural environment and built heritage, transit supportive and pedestrian oriented, a full range of commercial, cultural and community facilities and a range of housing types. As with Bamberton and the "Heart of Springdale", the obstacles faced by Cornell have included the challenging of standard development guidelines and practices in areas affecting issues such as rights-of-way and road allowances, as well as the tendency of reviewing agencies to seek improvements in their own particular area of concern without considering the implication for other areas which affect the overall quality and performance of the project. Nonetheless, in this case, the combination of the management team's good planning practice in maintaining the overall vision for the community and encouraging other players and stake holders to look at the urban fabric as a whole, combined with the support of the local municipality and - perhaps most importantly - the fact that 80% of the lands are owned by the Province of Ontario, which is the principal developer, has meant that Cornell is proceeding.

The Province of Ontario is also the key player - in fact, the only player - in the final example of planned new communities. Seaton is a 7000 acre site northeast of Toronto acquired by the Province in the early 1970s as the site for a new town to support a planned new federal airport. The new airport was never built and the town was never developed. Now the Province is contemplating the development of a community of up to 90 000 people on the site and has recently held an international design competition. The competition called for the design of a model community which would demonstrate a real alternative to conventional suburban planning and development, providing an attractive urban environment in which car dependence would be reduced, respect would be shown for natural features and systems and for heritage, the community would be socially healthy and diverse and economically healthy and the plan would be practical and economically viable. One of the three finalists was a consortium of which I was a member.

Our plan (CEED, 1994) was based on the water carrying capacity of the land, envisaging no connection to the main trunk water and sanitary sewer systems of the region; instead, the community would use only the water and snow that fell on the land, treating and reusing some of that water using innovative ecological treatment processes. (In our opinion, the water-carrying capacity of the land was for 45-55000 people, not the 90000 suggested by the government.) Among the other innovative features of our design was the intent to design the community from the household level up. Thus we began to ask what were the environmental, social and economic needs of the individual household, then the block, then the neighbourhood, then the "village", then the town as a whole; we then began to explore how those needs could be met in that same sequence from household to town.

For example, we asked how such basic needs as food and safety could be met and services such as education and healthcare could be provided at the household or block level in the 21st century. Food needs might be met partially through individual or community gardens and food buying clubs, community kitchens or communal dining spaces as in co-housing; safety might include hard-wiring alarms to a central alarm system for smoke, fire, burglary or for summoning assistance, while urban design to promote "eyes on the street", the development of neighbourhood watch programmes and so on will improve safety. Education will be enhanced by the rapidly growing "information highway", with access to educational TV and information sources via the home TV screen, while at the block level there might be recreational rooms for crafts and hobbies and access to information and library services on-line. Increasingly, healthcare can be provided in the home and again the information highway will permit access to "guided self-care" computer programs and on-line and voice - and even video - connections to local health services for advice and consultation, while at the block level one or more supportive care units and "service rooms" might be available to enable people to stay in their local community and receive services from visiting staff.

All of these developments pose challenges to our conventional planning systems and regulations: the creation of healthy and sustainable communities will require significant changes to our planning processes and a significant integration of environmental, social, health and economic planning in the 21st century.


New official plans

Not only are communities and developers beginning to create plans for developments that are more environmentally and socially sustainable and healthy, but a number of communities are beginning to incorporate these concepts in their official (land use) plans. For example, the city of Parksville on British Columbia's Vancouver Island is a rapidly growing community of 10000 people. In the face of this rapid growth, the residents of Parksville and the City Council, under the banner of Healthy Communities, developed a multi-stakeholder process to define a set of community values and write a new official community plan based on those values. Input was received from more than 1000 people who completed surveys, registered for workshops, visited the Community Visions Office and participated in focus groups. The statement of community values that guides the new official plan emphasizes environmental integrity, maintenance of a small town atmosphere, economic vitality, social equity and a range of human services and amenities accessible to all, transportation emphasizing economically viable and safe alternatives to travel by car and a continuation of the public input process. These values have been integrated into a decision-making check list which is applied to new development in the community (see appendix 1).

But it has not stopped there. The Healthy Community process has now been used to undertake the development of an overall strategic plan for the city. This resulted in the creation of a "Healthy Community Advisory Commission" and a new organizational design for city government with an Advisory Planning Commission and a Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission linking with the Healthy Community Advisory Commission to focus on the relationship between Commission decisions and the city's strategic goals. Five committees or task groups have been formed that involve over 100 volunteers working in areas such as cycling, economic development, environment, housing and mobility and accessibility for people with disabilities. As a recent report on the project notes:

"The overall process has broadened the framework for local government decision making with residents, city council and municipal staff identifying options, using tools and developing partnerships which traditionally have not been part of this municipality's frame of reference."

After three years, the city has "a set of community values ... which has formed the basis for a new community plan and which has broadened the framework for decision making at the municipal level ... a set of innovative municipal policies introducing specific guidelines for inclusion of affordable housing and environmental monitoring, transportation alternatives and a mixture of residential housing operations ... a mechanism for resolving differences of opinion ... (and) a committed partnership between city and residents along with the political will and regulations to support maintenance of the commitment over the long term" (Healthy Communities Parksville, 1993; 1994)

Similar efforts are underway in other communities in Canada. For example, the Regional Municipality of Halton to the west of Toronto, is one of the fastest growing areas in Canada with a population of 320 000 people. In revising its official plan in the early 1990s, the Regional Planning Department based it on two principles: land stewardship, which proposed that ownership and use of land should take into consideration long-term effects. The second principle is that of "healthy communities" which is interpreted as looking at all measures of quality of life. This has led to the development of integrated land use and social planning policies intended to address a set of human and social development goals. The following areas were targeted:

• adequate basic material needs satisfaction;

• economic security and opportunity;

• security;

• knowledge and skills to effectively communicate and make decisions and choices;

• social and emotional functioning;

• opportunity to influence decision making in the community;

• environmental sustainability;

• other health-specific matters (Katsof, 1992).

Similarly, York Region, another large suburban region north of Toronto, has recently incorporated healthy communities in its official plan.

Thus it can be seen that there is a growing commitment to the integration of healthy and sustainable community concepts in planning practice in Canada. The implication of this for the sort of communities we design and build are profound. If we are successful, we will have a significant impact on the environmental, social and economic health of our communities and the environmental and social sustainability of those communities for future generations.

But as the example of Parksville illustrates, changing our planning practice will have significant implications for the structures and functioning of our government and for the broader issues of governance of our cities. These aspects are addressed in the next and concluding section of this paper.


Implications for government and governance

The implications for government and governance are more profound. 6 We need a shift in our values as a society such that economic growth and development is no longer the overriding social and political objective, but merely one objective that has to be balanced with other objectives such as sustainability, equity, livability, social cohesion and environmental quality. And we need processes and structures that will enable us to do this.

We need ways to bring together all the competing sectors of a community to develop a shared vision and a shared understanding of what we need to achieve - this is what is meant by governance. (Of course, without social cohesion and a civic community, this important first step cannot be achieved.) We will need to create new government structures that will provide the forum for such an holistic approach and the mechanism for accountability. We need policy tools that enable us to evaluate policies in terms of their impacts on human development and the elements that comprise a healthy and sustainable community that supports human development (i.e. social solidarity, community livability, environmental quality, ecological sustainability, economic adequacy and social equity). And we will need to develop indicators that will enable us to measure our progress in these terms.

The Healthy Cities approach has a number of implications for the structure and functioning of local government. In this section, I will briefly discuss the following aspects: 7

• the purpose of government;

• the approach to government;

• the level at which government occurs;

• the style of government;

• the structure of government;

• the democratic process of government.


The purpose of government

It is necessary at this point in our history, faced as we are with major challenges to the ecological and social sustainability of our way of life, to raise explicitly the question 'what is the central purpose of government and governance?'

In addressing this topic, I want to refer back to the CPHA definition of sustainable development and suggest that the central purpose of governance - and of governments - is, or should be, enhancing the human development of the population. While this may be implicit in the structures of governments, with their functions relating to health, education, social welfare, environmental protection and so on, it is rarely explicit and it certainly does not appear to be at the heart of business. In fact, too often it seems that the central purpose of government is very much aligned with that of business, i.e. economic development. But as I argued earlier, economic activity must be understood as a means, not as the end. If the means - economic activity as it is currently practiced - threatens the end - human development - then we must change the means, not the end.


The approach to government

Health does not result mainly from the actions of the healthcare sector but from the combination of the actions of society as a whole. Therefore it should be abundantly clear that if we are going to create healthy cities by working intersectorally to develop healthy public policies, we have to develop an holistic approach to government and governance. We can no longer afford the "luxury" - actually the stupidity - of dealing with issues as if they were discrete and independent, unconnected to each other. An holistic approach begins with the recognition that everything is connected to everything else. We cannot sit contentedly in our disciplinary and departmental silos any longer, because individual sectors can no longer respond to and meet peoples' needs. Instead we have to begin to work intersectorally and collaboratively to achieve our common purpose.

For example, we know now that safety in the community is no longer simply the responsibility of the police - indeed, it never was. Rather, safety depends among other things on how our children are educated, what values they learn at home, in school, in church or through the media, how social and economic needs are met, the way our streets and buildings are designed (whether there are what Jane Jacobs calls 'eyes on the street', for example), how we light our parks and streets, how well neighbours know each other and look out for each other and, of course, how well our police and justice systems work. So creating a safe community is everyone's business.

But if we are to take this notion of wholeness seriously, we have a problem: not only are our governments not structured for an holistic approach - an issue I will come to shortly - but we lack the concept of wholeness and we lack people skilled in taking an holistic approach (see earlier discussion). If we are going to take an holistic approach to governance, we will need new skills (and perhaps new holistic disciplines), new processes, new styles and new structures.


The level at which government occurs

Several years ago at a WHO workshop on the future of health in Europe, the Swedish political scientist Jan Eric Gibland argued that the nation state is being pulled apart by two opposing forces. The first of those forces is "supranationalism"; as a result of GATT, the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement and similar multinational agreements (and, one might add, the emergence of the powerful multinational corporations), decision-making is increasingly being drawn up to the supranational level. At the same time and perhaps in reaction to that, we are seeing the growth of what he termed "parochialism" or localism, in which people want to establish their local identity and exert more local control. In part this is to be seen in the growth of regionalism and nationalism (most horribly, of course, in the former Yugoslavia, but also in northern Italy - the Lombard League - Scotland and in Canada - Quebec, to name but a few).

But localism is also to be seen in the re-emergence of the concept of the city-state. Jane Jacobs, for example, has pointed out that it is cities that create wealth, not nations and as a consequence has suggested that local currencies might well re-emerge (Jacobs, 1984). And of course, the Healthy Cities movement can be seen as another testament to the need that people feel to exert more local control, in this case over what makes their city or community healthy. This is entirely consistent with the concept of health promotion which is, after all, about people increasing control over their health.

The same forces that are pulling apart the nation state may be being replicated at the city level. First, if we take the notion of ecological sustainability seriously, we cannot consider simply the city but the bioregion of which it is a part. For example, a recent Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront (1992) took the position that it is not possible to consider the waterfront in isolation, but in the context of the entire bioregion, defined as the watershed of the rivers that drain into Lake Ontario along the entire length of the waterfront. Another example: Adelaide in South Australia has a watershed management plan that covers the entire coastal plain in which the city sits. And of course the work of the University of British Columbia Task Force on Healthy and Sustainable Communities on the concept of the "ecological footprint" of cities is also in essence a bioregional concept. So the city is being pulled in the direction of decision-making at the bioregional level.

Second, at the same time - and as is the case for the nation state - the city is being pulled apart by decentralist forces. For example, a number of European cities that are part of the WHO Europe Healthy Cities project are in the process of decentralizing their governments. This is not necessarily in response to the Healthy Cities approach, but it is certainly consistent with that approach and it reflects the need that people feel at the neighbourhood and community level to have more influence over the decisions that affect their health, wellbeing and quality of life. And it reflects the reality that it is no longer possible to govern large cities from the centre. So the level at which city government occurs is moving both upwards to the bioregional level and downwards to the neighbourhood level in response, at least in part, to the concepts associated with healthy and sustainable cities.


The style of government

A section of the mid-term report on the WHO Europe Healthy Cities Project (Tsouros, 1990), discussed the need to move from the old management style to a new management style more consistent with the approach of health promotion. It is a style that emphasizes 'power with' rather than 'power over', negotiation rather than directives, process rather than structure, collegiality rather than hierarchy, collaboration rather than competition, an holistic rather than a sectoral approach, 'both/and' rather than 'either/or' and 'win-win' rather than 'win-lose' strategies.

This new style is emerging in many organizations and is not so much a product of the Healthy Cities approach as consistent with the approach; without such a change in style, it will be very difficult to attain the objectives of the Healthy Cities approach in any city or community.


The structure of government

On the principle that form follows function, changes in the process of government such as those described here will require changes in the structures of both government and governance. (For a fuller discussion of possible changes in the structure of government, see Hancock, 1994b.)

The problem is that we have got a system of government that is essentially based in the 19th century, both literally and metaphorically. The origins of departments of public health, of public works, of parks, of planning and other municipal departments are found in the 19th century. They are organized on the 19th century models of disciplinarity, of separate sectors. The problem is that most if not all of the issues we face in the 21st century cut clear across these 19th century structures (Fig. 3). So we have a set of 21st century issues that do not fit in to our 19th Century structures. Since the current structure is no longer capable of responding adequately to the challenges we will face in the 21st century, we will have to create new structures.

Fig. 3. "Cross-cutting" issues for 21st century cities

One example is the growing interest in "roundtables" as a means of addressing the problems we face. In Canada, for example, there are national and provincial Roundtables on Environment and Economy that were set up in the late 1980s in response to the visit to Canada in 1986 of the Brundtland Commission. The Roundtables bring together business, government and environmentalists to address the issue of sustainability. There are also growing numbers of local Roundtables in a number of municipalities. More recently, the City of Sudbury, a city of 70 000 people in northeastern Ontario, has established the first Roundtable on Health, Economy and Environment, which brings together local government, local business (it is housed at the Chamber of Commerce), local unions, community groups, the University, environmentalists, the health care sector and others, to address the task of improving Sudbury's health, environment and economy. The 'Commissions' established in Parksville, British Columbia and described earlier are another example of the emergence of new structures in response to the changing needs of cities.


The democratic process of governance

Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government - except for all the others! But that is not to say that democracy can't be improved upon; indeed it should be improved upon.

One of the important things to understand about Healthy Cities - rooted as it is in the concept of health promotion and thus of enabling people to increase control over the events and conditions that affect their health - is that it is fundamentally about democracy in the city. As Draper and Harrison (1990) noted with respect to one of the key strategies of health promotion and the Healthy Cities approach, "healthy public policy is impossible without healthy democracy", a view that is consistent with the WHO understanding of healthy public policy as requiring accountability (WHO, 1988). Thus it is perhaps not surprising that a week-long WHO training session on healthy cities held in Horsens, Denmark in October 1993 for cities from eastern and central Europe was supported by the Danish Democracy Fund; presumably the Fund recognized that learning how to create a healthy city is about learning how to develop and use democracy.

Some of the dimensions of democracy that are important in the creation of healthy and sustainable communities include:

• We need to have much more co-design of our cities, based on partnerships between professionals such as architects and planners and the community (see for example King et al, 1988 and Wates and Knevitt, 1987);

• We need to move to much greater co-ownership, co-control and co-management in cities, neighbourhoods and housing developments, as well as in workplaces and many other settings;

• We have to address the issue of the length of term of office. Creating healthier and more sustainable cities calls for a long-term perspective and commitment. Yet we have rather short terms of office - at best five years, but at the municipal level more often two or three years - when we should be making decisions (as the Lakota Sioux are said to do) taking into account the needs seven generations into the future. We have terms of office that are incompatible with the needs we have to address today;

• We also need to move to fairer systems of democracy such as proportional representation in countries such as Canada, the USA and Britain where there is not at present proportional representation and thus where we can have majority governments being elected by a minority vote;

• Finally, we need to move much more towards participatory democracy. (This might include some aspects of the notion of 'electronic democracy', although this does not equate with full participatory democracy, which means a much richer involvement of citizens in the governing of their cities and neighbourhoods).

For as the Executive Director of the (Canadian) National Roundtable on Environment and Economy noted in an editorial recently:

"Sustainability planning must be community-led and consensus-based because the central issue is will, not expertise.... We can't protect eco-systems, let alone restore them, unless ways and means can be found to integrate the work of all the communities within the region.... We must.... experiment with ways that involve citizens more directly and deliberately into policy making at all levels".

He concluded by saying :

"The problems identified above all relate to barriers to citizen participation in decision-making because, being consensus-based, the central issue for sustainability is democracy." (Doering, 1994)

So in conclusion, when we begin to talk about what is a healthy and sustainable city, we come inescapably to question our systems of governance and our structures of government and to begin to talk about how we can have a more truly democratic way of creating healthy and sustainable cities and communities. That is the challenge we face as we try to promote health and preserve the environment, as we seek to ensure just and sustainable human development in the cities, towns and villages of the 21st century.

But ultimately, what this all comes down to is social and political will. Do we have the social and political will to reorder the priorities of our societies and communities, to shift our values, to aspire to higher objectives than economic growth and consumer happiness? If we do not, then I fear we are doomed. But if we do, I believe we can indeed create healthy and sustainable communities that maximize human development.



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