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One-Planet Cities

UPDATE: Watch Dr Wackernagel’s lecture

Mathis Wackernagel, Global Footprint Network Founder and CEO, will be speaking at the Oskar von Miller Forum in Munich at 6:30 pm on 18 January 2018.

For details in German, visit the Oskar von Miller Forum website.

Abstract: One-Planet Cities

If projections hold true, the world’s urban population will double by 2050, with 7-8 billion people living in cities. Yet, if we comply with the Paris Agreement, humanity will have ceded using fossil fuel well before 2050. This means cities that want to be resilient and successful need to find ways to operate and provide for thriving lives within the average budget of nature. Given the size of the planet, this budget boils down to 1 global hectares per person by 2050.

While our planet is finite, our ability to look ahead and innovate is not. Possibilities are indeed infinite, and will continue to be, if we embrace physical reality and make sure humanity’s resource dependence can be met by this planet. For instance, cities plan for transportation and utility infrastructure and guide housing development. All those pieces of infrastructure dictate the resource dependence of a city. Since infrastructure has long lifespans, foresight is crucial for adapting cities to future needs. Vice versa, delaying response and continuing to promote resource-inefficient infrastructure turns into large and lasting liabilities.

What are these opportunities to guide this vast and fast transformation of our cities? Indeed, the battle for sustainability will be won or lost in cities.