Race against time for future cities

A version of this article first appeared in a Special Report on ‘Future Cities’, published in The Times, 26 March, 2013.

Make it on BroadwayAccording to data from the UN, in 2008, the proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas passed the 50% mark, heading for 70% by 2050. By 2030, the total for city dwellers globally is estimated to hit around five billion. These inhabitants already consume 75% of the planet’s natural resources and contribute to urban activities responsible for 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions. All this happens on a mere 2% of global land mass.

The numbers are daunting.
Read more

Urban Greening: Nature is back in town

A version of this article first appeared in a Special Report on ‘Future Cities’, published in The Times, 26 March, 2013.

2012-11-28 08.49.04 copyAccording to received wisdom, it is not possible to put a price on Nature, however, to much debate, that is exactly what has been happening increasingly of late, as policymakers and markets strive to develop robust metrics to determine the value of living-planet assets and liabilities.

The UN has estimated world ecosystems deliver essential services worth in excess of $70tn a year. In the UK alone, the National Ecosystem Assessment generated figures claiming responsible stewardship of green spaces could be worth at least £30bn a year to the economy, in health and welfare benefits. With a view of green space worth up to £300 per person, provision of good access to same for every household in England could knock £2.1bn off the country’s annual healthcare bill.
Read more