Some time ago, before the pandemic I have written an article* on the same subject, my thoughts have not changed, however, it becomes evident that the power to change cities into a green code comes from an especial emphasis on a new paradigm based on individual action. Citizens have become influencers on consumption habits, not so on institutional reforms, especially for the political sector. We get used to macro projects leading by Governments, instead of micro- projects leading by the community adapted to their cultures, timing, traditions and particularl needs. Taking Global Goals as the golden framework adapted to each community. SDG´s are not only an agreement among Nations but patrimony of people and communities, an invitation to make their own deal of management. Current conditions force the latest into an exclusively political agenda that leads to confront local-global instead of taking stock from citizens and build synergies.
Is it so, that I believe that leadership is the key aspect of failure on a successful achievement of the SDG´s. In general, urban planning, sustainable architecture, water management, green energy, eco transport, etc. are all associated with work from Governments. Meanwhile, consumption habits: food, fashion recycling, cycling, save energy, or water at home are better related to citizen´s responsibility.
COVID19 shows the possibility of a new path of joint action and balanced relations because the powerful work from Governments and goodwill from citizens is not working. A multidimensional SDG´s approach demands sharing leadership, a process that is truly sustainable and marks the difference. Once we achieve balance in leadership is it also important to get balance in practices. A sustainable city demands a complex combination of green elements, however, to get the category of “sustainable” seems to be enough to hold just one. Madrid, for instance, is considered a green city mainly for their trees. Is estimated that they are 1 tree per 20 inhabitants*, paradoxically Barajas airport has received more than 61,7million passengers in 2019 and 15 million this year, until October. One of the most polluted elements of a city is air traffic and only because of COVID19 there was a dramatic drop in CO2 emissions that also represents a drop in profits for the sector and individual freedom. So, what are the lessons learned from this pandemic? Maybe, we need to restrict individual freedom and rights to get into green? To accept irreversible financial losses? Making people individually responsible? Leading macro projects by Governments and leave the rest to free consumption options? Any of these aspects, isolated, would not lead us into green cities, instead, micro-projects coming from the particular needs and habits of communities, leading by their own citizens, empowered and within a direct impact on Governments may truly shape a global commitment towards SDG 11 from a more personal approach.
That is one of the pillars to move forward into a green landscape of mutual influence: joint action on leadership: citizens-Governments, making of Global Goals a holistically focus that enables an environment of opportunities to innovate and create new codes that allow different partnerships and political attitudes. Addressing crises from bottom-up and top-down initiatives on equal power and level of influencing.
Because to get into a green city the password is YOU!
*SDG´s: a multidimensional approach after COVID19, Mar Introini
* Resilient cities system: password green
*Picture Vincent Callebaut