Essays Archive

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
December, 2018

12 December 2018

Regaining Paradise Lost: Global Investments, Mega-Projects, and Seeds of Local Resistance to Polluted Floods in Belém
José Alexandre de Jesus Costa, Belém Vitor Martins Dias, Bloomington Pedro Paulo de Miranda Araújo Soares, Belém

People have lived in and around the Una Hydrographic Basin for as long as the city of Belém itself. Belém is the largest urban center in the Amazon River Delta, with a population that exceeds 2 million people in its metropolitan region. Beginning at Guajará Bay, the Una Basin comprises...

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7 December 2018

Renaturing Malta through Collaborations for Nature-based Solutions
Mario Balzan, Valletta

With an area of just 316 Km2and a population of more than 475,000, Malta is the smallest member country of the European Union (EU). This island state has been moulded through human action since the first recorded human settlement more than 7000 years ago. Today, more than 30 percent of...

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1 December 2018

Signs of Depressed Urban Economies
Jennifer Baljko, Barcelona

It has been raining all afternoon in Megali Sterna, a village in the north of Greece, and, from the empty and closed café we have been sitting in for  hours, it looks like the rain will continue into the evening. We scan the neighborhood for a dry place to pitch...

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November, 2018

26 November 2018

(R)Evolution and Cities
Paul Downton, Melbourne

(This is a recasting of an essay of the same title recently published in the limited circulation Ecocity World newsletter) “You say you want a revolution Well, you know We all want to change the world You tell me that it’s evolution Well, you know We all want to change...

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22 November 2018

Tracking Biodiversity Around Us: You Can’t Care about What You Don’t Know
Leah Thorpe, Singapore Peta Thorpe, Singapore Olivia Tay, Singapore Lena Chan, Singapore

From early on as a family, we considered ourselves to be fairly knowledgeable about environmental issues, such as plastic pollution, deforestation, and global warming from all we’d learnt through the media. We recycled. We bought fair-trade items like chocolate and bananas. We also participated in environmental initiatives like a national...

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18 November 2018

Legacy as Visioning Tool: Urban Greening in Zagreb
Neven Tandaric, Nottingham Chris Ives, Nottingham

When we consider planning for green infrastructure, we typically think forward to what kind of city we might imagine for the future. Far less frequently do we consider the history of the city and how past generations have shaped the green spaces and the activities and meanings related to them....

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14 November 2018

Connecting Cities and Resources: UBHub Offers Map and Database of Hundreds of Urban Biodiversity Activities
Melissa Barton, Portland Jennifer Rae Pierce, Vancouver Mika Mei Jia Tan, Los Baños Juan de Dios Morales, Guayaquil

Cities that plan for biodiversity recognize the potential of healthy ecosystems to mitigate urban problems and enhance quality of life but, due to limited capacity, can struggle with developing and managing their biodiversity strategies. Our team at the Urban Biodiversity Hub (UBHub) has compiled thousands of examples of biodiversity work...

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12 November 2018

To Tree or Not to Tree? Or, Why Urban Trees Today?
Stephanie Pincetl, Los Angeles

Urban trees and tree planting is like a contemporary urban planner’s holy grail—more trees means a better city, and better city assumedly means a better quality of life for city residents. But why is this the case? I’ve set out here to reflect on this.  Why the focus on urban...

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8 November 2018

Sewage Eating Floating Islands: Operationalizing “Urban Ecosystem Justice”
Scott Kellogg, Albany

While the urban sustainability movement has had many successes over the past decades, the benefits have been disproportionately befitted affluent residents. This is partly on account of the fact that sustainability discourse over recent years has placed a stronger emphasis on the “environmental” and “economic” aspects of sustainability, largely ignoring...

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5 November 2018

Walls that Talk: Green Fences in Kampala City
Buyana Kareem, Kampala

Walls that talk are not found in haunted houses or buildings but rather symbolic to the phenomenon of greening residential fences using organic plant species, in ways that non-verbally speak to the broader goal of re-naturing cities. This is happening in Kampala city, where vertical structures with walls that have...

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2 November 2018

Earthworms Can Awaken Us to Ecological Change
Toby Query, Portland

The soil is alive and there is a whole ecosystem waiting to be explored, right below our feet. Anywhere in the city, where there are leaves and some cracks in the sidewalk, there is life underneath us! The soil is a living complex of roots, bacteria, fungi, substrate (rocks, sand...

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October, 2018

29 October 2018

How Do City Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation Plans Compare?
Sara Meerow, Tempe

Record-breaking disaster losses, unprecedented storms and heat waves, and stark warnings in the most recent IPCC report all point to an urgent need for local governments around the world to prepare for climate change impacts. Consequently, many cities have developed climate change adaptation plans that outline projected climate change impacts...

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25 October 2018

The Green Soul of the Concrete Jungle
Rob McDonald, Washington, DC

As readers of the Nature of Cities are no doubt aware, we are living in what could rightly be called the urban century, with 2.4 billion more people forecast to live in cities by 2050. In a recent essay in Sustainable Earth, my coauthors, Tim Beatley, Thomas Elmqvist and I...

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21 October 2018

New Zealand’s Ecological Identity: Should We All Kill Exotic Species to Protect our Natural Heritage?
Yolanda van Heezik, Dunedin

The image of a child triumphantly brandishing a dead rat on national TV news in New Zealand, trapped in her backyard as part of a community’s bid to try to bring native birds and lizards back into her neighbourhood, reminded me of the extent to which local people in New...

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18 October 2018

Jerusalem of Gold and Green
Naomi Tsur, Jerusalem

 Jerusalem has been described as “golden” by many poets and writers, inspired not only by the golden domes of holy buildings in the city, but also by the special quality of illumination created when the evening sun is reflected from the famous Jerusalem stone which characterizes most buildings in the...

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15 October 2018

Participation in the Achievement of a Sustainable Ecology: The case of Irla nullah Re-invigoration Movement in Mumbai
PK Das, Mumbai

As I am writing this piece, the entire state of Kerala in India stands devastated due to floods. It is estimated that more than 300 people have died, 10,000km of roads damaged and property worth millions of rupees lost (yet to be estimated). As per the Times of India report,...

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2 October 2018

A Picture We Wished was Worth 1000 Words, But in Fact Only a Few
Hita Unnikrishnan, Sheffield Harini Nagendra, Bangalore

Sustainable cities can be viewed from multiple perspectives. Each perspective can highlight or mute certain aspects, leading us to take different positions on complex issues. Take for example the recent floods in Kerala, the southernmost state of India. Unprecedented rainfall led to intense floods across the state. Over 400 people...

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September, 2018

23 September 2018

How Greening Strategies Are Displacing Minorities in Post-Harvey Houston
Isabelle Michele Sophie Anguelovski, Barcelona

On 14 June 2018, Isabelle Anguelovski participated in the panel Designing, Planning and Paying for Resilience at Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research, where she and other leading experts discussed flood mitigation strategies such as low impact design, green infrastructure and urban-scale greenspace preservation, and how they interact with a community’s broader planning efforts....

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15 September 2018

Connect Urban Planners and Urban Ecologists to Create Sustainable Canadian Cities
Carly Ziter, Montreal Matthew Mitchell, Vancouver Adrina Bardekjian, Montreal Tenley Conway, Toronto Angela Danyluk, Vancouver Michelle Molnar, Toronto Marcin Pachcinski, Vancouver Justin Podur, York Valentin Schaefer, Victoria Josephine Clark, Vancouver Sinead Murphy, Vancouver

The Challenge of Managing Urban Ecosystems Cities are increasingly understood as mosaics of grey, green, and blue infrastructure that interact in complex ways to affect the wellbeing of urban residents (Ahern 2007, Svendsen and Northridge 2012). In particular, green and blue infrastructure provides important benefits to urban residents (Lovell and...

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12 September 2018

A City Designed by Trees
Patrick M. Lydon, Osaka

Awake a few hours earlier than necessary, we are on bicycles heading through urban infill, in a part of town that used to be Osaka Bay. Moving inland, we pass through a few old shopping arcades, and several dozen close-knit neighborhood blocks where century-old homes with wood frames and soil...

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