urban ecology

urban ecology

re-posted article: What are the social justice implications of urban ecology, and how can we make sure that “green cities” are not synonymous with “gentrified” or “exclusive” cities?

Here is Australia there is a lot of talk amongst city planners and such that there is a need for green cities, sustainable cities and lots more simplistic terms. It is very hard indeed to find amongst the rhetoric any realistic commitment to urban ecology.

The need to base all urban developments against a measure based around preserving and enhancing the soil, the ecology and the green infrastructure remains an optimistic wish for those interested in the survival of the planet. Current approaches to urban design and planning are still very much ‘business as usual’ with market forces, meaning the quick dollar, as the drivers and measures applied.

A big part of that “business as usual’ is the outcomes. The cities are becoming divided between those who can afford to live there and enjoy the amenities, and those that are being moved out to make way for the planners’ and the urban designers’ ‘better cities’ programs.

It is refreshing to read online statements about how others are seeing the issues that confront us all. For instance to quote just one of the contributions to the link I am referring to:

Cities are seen to be grounds for quick capital turnover through real estate business, construction of buildings and infrastructure that are aggressively pursued in the name of development. They are increasingly expensive and exclusive, and being carried out at a cost to social development and larger public good, including large-scale human displacements. Gentrification, the emergence of gated communities and their barricaded colonies are in vogue. This trend is furthering the fragmentation of cities into exclusive privatized blocks, while reducing the left over spaces as mere transportation corridors: roads, highways and flyovers that support our increased dependency on motorized transport. Where are the streets where people meet, exchange politics and build social and community networks? As cities expand, public spaces are rapidly shrinking.

Erosion of public space in both its physical and democratic dimensions is leading to more people being excluded and marginalized from mainstream developments. It imposes enormous burden on people, particularly the poor and the marginalized, while leading to inequality and environmental injustice. These ‘development’ processes also further alienation and social tensions. Sustainable urban ecology is thus fractured and severed into disparate pieces.

Please read all the contributions here – click here.


Paul Costigan, 13th February 2014

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