Twelve Principles for Healthy and Sustainable Places

In support of project underway of United Nations University’s Global Health Institute

UN Urban thinkers Campus

  1. COHABIT – Design with nature. Human and ecosystem health stand centre stage in good place design. If it is good for our small planet, we are well on the way to healthy and sustainable places, and sustainable lives. Sustainability and sharing is a defining context!  It changes everything.
  1. SENSES – Humans like all animals are intimately connected to place through our senses – hearing, touch, smell, taste and sight. And a sense of compassion. Beautiful, vibrant and culturally distinct places ignite the senses, bringing a feeling of wellbeing, security, creativity and generosity of spirit.
  1. COMPLEXITY – Natural, economic and cultural diversity make for complex but equally interesting and resilient places. So forget everything you think you know. Welcome chaos and complexity as a necessary first step in the solution process. Engage with diverse ideas, cultures and approaches.
  1. OPPORTUNITY – Given the level, dynamics and sheer overwhelming complexity of the challenges, we will not solve 21st century challenges with measures based on the old paradigms. So much has changed in terms of imagination, technologies and the way we use them. So prepare to be very different.
  1. PROXIMITY – Physical activity, social connection and healthy eating are fostered through proximity, and natural and built environments that are designed to connect, respect and protect. Retire distance, speed and indifference. Replace with proximity, safety and neighborliness.
  1. EQUITY – Justice and equity are vibrant beacons for health, democracy and development in human settlements. Burdens of climate change and unsustainable development must not be carried by the most vulnerable citizens, cities and countries.
  1. DEMOCRACY – Good governance holds the key to the future of human settlements. Citizens cannot be not passive spectators. There is more to democracy than occasional elections. Mobilise civil society in all its diversity and differences around big questions and strive for local answers.
  1. PARITY – Sustainability cannot be planned, decided and administered by a minority. Daily life needs and perceptions of women differ in many ways. The only path to planning and implementing sustainable, efficient and just communities is to ensure full gender parity in all decision fora.   
  1. RESISTANCE– Most human beings are change-averse and ready to challenge anything they perceive see as invasions in any part of their daily lives. So we must anticipate this from the beginning and have a multi-level strategy which takes this into account from the beginning. 
  1. TIMEMake time our ally. We need to be very clever in the many ways that we can put it to work for our good cause. We can knit together the strands of our solution, putting time on our side 
  1. COLLABORATION By creating and pushing to their limit flat, open, citizen peer knowledge networks we enter a new age of problem solving capabilities far beyond anything available to us in the past. (Which is to say, we have a chance!) 
  1. NEVER GIVE UP

[1] Revised working draft by Eric Britton submitted in response to a request from an on-going research project of the United Nations University’s  Global Health Institute (http://iigh.unu.edu/) that is setting out Principles of Healthy and Sustainable Places. In support of their Health and Wellbeing in the City We Need symposium to meet in Kuching, Malaysia from January 24-27, 2016  –  http://unhabitat.org/urbanthinkers/ for more.

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About the author:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is a sustainability activist, mediator, managing director of EcoPlan International, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development, and Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion in Paris. His latest work focuses on the subject of equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions and in the process find practical solutions to urging climate, mobility, life quality and job creation issues. Founding editor of World Streets and the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice, his forthcoming book, “Glad you asked, Madame Mayor: Toward a General Theory of Transport in Cities”, is being presented, discussed and critiqued in a series of international conferences, master classes, peer reviews and media events in Asia, Europe and Africa over 2016. - - > More: http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7

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Penang Road Safety Plan 2014 – 2020: 2015 results

Penang PROF. DR. AHMAD FARHAN SADULLAHThe following report on road safety in Penang was posted on 24 January 2016 on our joint WhatsApp Sustainable Penang  site by Prof. Dr. Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah, Professor in Transport Studies at the School of Civil Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia. He was Director-General of the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) between 2008 and 2011, and was critical behind many road safety strategies of the country

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Reprinted here because your city should have a Right of Way Law 

New York City. Monday, February 16, 2015

Pedestrians With Right of Way Should Always Have Protection of the Law

Jiahuan Xu New York City traffic accident StreetsblogThis article which appeared in edition of our favorite city blog, Streetsblog from New York City, is a gut-wrenching reminder that all cities, all civilized cities, should have a strict, no-exceptions, Right of Way Law. In Europe, this is known as the Street Code (as opposed to the Highway Code that governs traffic on high speed roads).

Jiahuan Xu, 15, had the walk signal when she started across Grand Street in Williamsburg Friday morning. Before she reached the far side of the street, she was struck by a bus driver turning from Union Avenue and “pinned under the left front wheel,” according to the Daily News. After emergency responders rescued Xu, she was taken to Bellevue Hospital and may lose her left leg.

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Vision Zero: From Sweden to New York City, with Love

Sarah Goodyear, Atlantic Citylab: What were the main barriers that had to be overcome in initially adopting Sweden’s Vision Zero strategy?

Matts-Åke Belin, Swedish traffic safety strategist:  I would say that the main problems that we had in the beginning were not really political, they were more on the expert side. The largest resistance we got to the idea about Vision Zero was from those political economists that have built their whole career on cost-benefit analysis. For them it is very difficult to buy into “zero.” Because in their economic models, you have costs and benefits, and although they might not say it explicitly, the idea is that there is an optimum number of fatalities. A price that you have to pay for transport.

The problem is the whole transport sector is quite influenced by the whole utilitarianist mindset. Now we’re bringing in the idea that it’s not acceptable to be killed or seriously injured when you’re transporting. It’s more a civil-rights thing that you bring into the policy.

The other group that had trouble with Vision Zero was our friends, our expert friends. Because most of the people in the safety community had invested in the idea that safety work is about changing human behavior. Vision Zero says instead that people make mistakes, they have a certain tolerance for external violence, let’s create a system for the humans instead of trying to adjust the humans to the system.

vision zero accident scene sweden

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Anybody who says that Berlin is great for cycling doesn’t know what they’re talking about

uk alternative dept of transport

Cycling in Berlin *

There’s so much to cover here in Berlin;  I have to tell you about the excellent public transport system, the suffocating dominance of car parking, the superb driving conditions, the less-than-superb cycling conditions, the at times downright hostile footways, the culture and attitudes, the VC-and-helmet-loving local cycle campaign, and so much more.

So this first post is a general overview of conditions for cycling in Berlin as I’ve experienced them these past five months, and I’ll begin with this statement:

Anybody who says that Berlin is great for cycling doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

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Toward a new paradigm for transport in cities: Let’s see what Carlos Pardo has to say

The construction of a well-defined, broadly accepted agenda for New Mobility  until the present time has been sadly lacking. But what we and a numb er of our international colleagues have managed to develop over the last two decades is a certain number of agreed basic principles spanning many different areas and kinds of operational situations, but somehow until now we have failed to put them all together into a well-defined, convincing operational and policy package. We think of this as the move toward a new paradigm for transport in cities – and it all starts with . . . slowing down.

Today I would like to extract and comment on some of the graphics and thoughts developed by our colleague Carlosfelipe Pardo in a presentation which he entitled “The psychology of urban mobility”. I have extracted from his presentation three sets of images which I would now like to present you and comment briefly. (For the full original presentation please click here.)

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Paris to limit speeds to 30 km/hr over entire city

france paris 30 kph signThe just-elected new Mayor of Paris, Madame Anne Hidalgo, has prepared a revolutionary sustainable mobility project whereby virtually all of the streets of the city will be subject to a maximum speed limit of 30 km/hr.

The only exceptions in the plan are a relatively small number of major axes into the city and along the two banks of the Seine, where the speed limit will be 50 km/hr, and the city’s hard pressed ring road (périphérique) where the top permissible speed has recently been reduced from 80 to 70 km/hr. At the other end of the slowth spectrum are a certain number of “meeting zones” (zones de rencontre) spotted around the city in which pedestrians and cyclists have priority but mix with cars which are limited to a top speed of 20 km/hr. A veritable révolution à la française.

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