Prior to the WUF meeting in Vancouver, UN-HABITAT organized a global internet discussion – Habitat Jam – on urban problems to bring ideas from the public to those preparing for WUF3. According to the organizers, slum dwellers in poor countries were most active in this online forum. Following the discussion organizers collated the ideas to produce a workbook (pdf) and a website. Below are some of the “70 actionable ideas” that emerged from the discussion (and links to more details):
Idea: 4.3 Building Community Resiliency
Community resilience can be built using participatory tools that enable community members to map their own hazards and risks and mobilize critical resources to respond to those risks.
Natural disasters are occurring with increased frequency and their financial, social and environmental impacts are rising exponentially. The increased risk of disaster poses challenges to local authorities and their citizens. Community members are the first respondents in emergencies and it is their capacity to cope with impacts of disasters that often determines the risk to life and property. Simple knowledge of “Dos” and “Don’ts” before and after disasters can help improve community response. Post-disaster rehabilitation by rebuilding and reconstruction is not enough to build resiliency.
Idea: 5.3 Cities as Ecosystems
Local governments are figuring out how to treat the natural and built environment, and the humans that interact with it, as one interconnected “city ecosystem”.
Cities are organisms, consuming resources and discharging wastes at ever higher rates as their populations explode.Treating the city as an ecosystem recognizes natural limits. BedZED in the UK, Durban,South Africa and Auroville,India are examples of an approach that treats a city as a part of, rather than apart from, the natural world.
The ‘city as ecosystem’ research was started by UNEP, codified in the Melbourne Principles and the Cities As Sustainable Ecosystems (CASE) approach. CASE is the multidisciplinary study of urban and economic systems and their linkages with natural systems. It focuses on multiple spatial and temporal scales; emphasizes the systems approach; and takes account of techniques such as the ecological footprint, human ecosystem framework, urban metabolism and ecosystem services focus.
Idea: 1.4 Urban Agriculture – A Poverty Reduction Strategy
In poor communities and informal settlements, city councils can promote urban agriculture as a means to fight malnutrition and hunger, enhance the environment and create jobs.
Although growing food in cities is an ancient practice,itskey role in reducing poverty is gaining recognition today. In Kampala, Uganda, the city council, NGOs, research groups,national and international agencies joined forces in a unique collaborative process to legitimize and safeguard growing food and keeping livestock in the city. Kampala’s set of supportive bylaws governing urban agriculture is a model for other cities grappling with this contentious issue. Now the Ugandan government is adopting a national urban agriculture policy.
Idea: 1.11 Ecological Sanitation: Public Toilets in Slums
Sanitation for people living in slums is a criticalproblem. Ecosan toilets, a system using source separation, not only provides sanitation services at low cost to poor inhabitants, it also recovers waste for reuse in agriculture.
The concept behind ecological sanitation (ecosan) is that sanitation problems could be solved more sustainably and efficiently if the resources contained in excretaand wastewater were recovered and used rather than discharged into water bodies and the surrounding environment. The sanitary systems that are used today are based on modern misconception that human excreta are simply wastes with no useful purpose and must be disposed of. Ideally, ecological sanitation systems enable a complete recovery of nutrients in household wastewater and their reuse in agriculture. In this way, they help preserve soil fertility and safeguard long-term food security, whilst minimizing the consumption and pollution of water resources.
Idea: 6.5 Attractive, Affordable Transit
The TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System in Bogotá, Colombia provides equitable, clean and efficient transportation and has transformed the city from a place designed for cars to one designed for people.
In Bogotá, people happily choose to take the bus knowing their trip will be cheaper, faster, safer and cleaner than taking the same trip by car. The TransMilenio bus rapid transit system is a low-cost network of high efficiency buses that makes public transport the choice of the people. Cutting car use reduces energy consumption and air pollution,and makes cities more livable.