It is all about us isn’t it – The Sustainable solutions for Cities

Publication date:
May, 2010

The Baltic cities are changing with the world around them. Globalisation sets the scene for our cities with increased competition and global effects on local actions. Cities must cope with climate change, air pollution from increasing transportation, greater waste production and congested roads. New modes of production develop and people want a city suitable for working, housing and city life on the street or in the park.

A city’s ability to adapt to these issues is crucial for its ability to cope in the global competition for inhabitants, investment and business. In that global competition sustainability has become a key factor. However, sustainable cities do not only cope with physical and technological challenges. They also provide inspiring, beautiful and vibrant urban environments that make cities attractive places to live and work in.

Some cities experience fast growth, while others stagnate or even decline. The central question is how to make a living now and in the future and what kind of growth we are willing and able to live with in the long run. Therefore we need to stimulate smart and sustainable growth. This notion has largely been accepted as the point of departure. The question is HOW we enter the age of sustainable growth. Urban planning and environmental technology are two of the means we are looking towards in order to save energy and preserve resources in Denmark. To enter the age of sustainable growth we must also embrace new ways of thinking. Cradle to cradle for products, buildings and cities is one way to do so. Smart planning is another. In Denmark I have just agreed with a number of local mayors on new principles of sustainable planning which means that new housing and workplaces should be placed in cities with good railway transportation. The effect: Less driving in cars. Less admission of carbon.

However, all these efforts can be worthless if we don’t provide enough space in the city for human beings to have a good life. That means space enough to inhale clean air. Space enough to have a run in a nearby park. And space enough to find a place without disturbing noises from traffic, industrial buildings etc.

Karen Ellemann
Minister for the Environment and Minister for Nordic Cooperation, Denmark