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, Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion in Paris, and 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. 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 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, “Contradictions: 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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Bicycle Helmet discussions warm up in Sustainable Penang WhatsApp forum

4 Feb. 2016. https://web.whatsapp.com/-Sustainable Penang

11:31. Lim Thean-heng (LTH, Site initiator). Shares a picture of Mayor Enrique Peñalosa of Bogotá on a bike.

enrique penalosa on bike - 211:59. Britton (EB):

To draw your attention to one small detail in the photo of Mayor Enrique Peñalosa of Bogotá on a bike. He is an everyday city cyclist, and like the vast majority of such cyclists in cities with good bike policies, he is not wearing a helmet. That means he perceives cycling in his city as  safe enough not to have to wear a helmet.

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The Three Worlds of cycling (Working draft)

Not as simple as it may look

Not as simple as it may look

There are three “worlds” of cycling, and surprisingly they have very little to do with each other.  Two are quite easy to do, while one is close to impossible, but far more important than the rest. Let’s have a look.

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WOMEN, CYCLING, ETC. – A CONVERSATION AMONG FRIENDS

(An unstructured chat among fellow cyclists. Definitely  not a questionnaire) 

children with push balance bikesA. YOU AND CYCLING

1. You are a woman    YES________/No __________

2. You have a bicycle  YES________/No __________

3. You ride a bicycle fairly often in your day to day life as “normal transport:  YES______/No ____

4. You find that is not always that easy, safe or agreeable to use a bike in your city. YES____/No _____ (City name)_______________________________

5. You understand that in different places/cultures actually having and riding a bike for a woman is not all that easy, for many reasons. . . YES________/No ______________

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Vision Zero: Good enough for Sweden, soon for Britain, and tomorrow for you!

 “Road traffic crashes are predictable and therefore preventable … the time to act is now. Road users everywhere deserve better and safer road travel” *

USA NYC Vsiion zero photoIn the calendar year 2014 two elderly pedestrians were killed on the A49 road in the vicinity of the small town of Church Stretton, Shropshire (population 4,700).  These deaths had a large impact on this small town, affecting many people and extending well beyond the boundaries of close family and friends.  Both of those killed were well known and both were physically active and going about their normal everyday tasks.

The WHO conclusion quoted above is clear and accurate. It is glaringly obvious that local residents in this quiet corner of Shropshire require a much stronger and deeper approach to road safety than is currently on offer.  This would come under several names e.g. a total system approach or a fundamental redesign approach or what is known in Sweden as Vision Zero.

Whatever name is used the principles are clear:

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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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