alt logo
Languages

Blog posts

Typical travel planners provide a great service to users: they indicate what travel mode they should take if they indicate where they need to go. But they could go beyond that and provide a better service by providing access rather than transport. We have learned that...

This is the third and final part of the blog series "Drought and Urban Development. Click for Part I (on the U.S. Southwest) and Part II (North China Plain). Here we turn to Colombia, looking at the devastating drought that hit its Caribbean region last year.
Last week's post looked at the ongoing drought in the Southwestern United States. Residential sprawl there has led to tremendous water waste and the depletion of the Colorado River basin through damming and irrigation. Now we turn to more extreme feats of civil engineering in northern China. Part II: Northern China [caption id="attachment_2694" align="alignnone" width="300"]El río Hai en Tianjín. La cuenca del río también alberga Pekín. Las dos ciudades tienen una población combinada de 30 millones. The Hai River in Tianjin. The river basin also houses Beijing. The two cities have a combined population of over 30 million.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2626" align="alignnone" width="300"]Drought caused water shutoffs in Los Angeles (2009) Drought caused water shutoffs in Los Angeles (2009)[/caption] 2014 was the warmest year in recorded history and in some places, the driest. There are three major types of droughts—meteorological, hydrological, and agricultural—each with its own complex set of causes. Climate change plays a significant role in drought, through increased temperatures and disruptions to the hydrological cycle, but solely blaming climate change obscures the more tangible problem of water abuse and can become, according to activist Maude Barlow, “a catch-all for some governments to do nothing.” Unsustainable urban development and the productive processes that support it are contributing to and exacerbating the current droughts in the Southwestern United States, China’s Northern Plains, and Colombia’s Caribbean coast. "Drought and Urban Development" is a three-part series that analyzes these three regions as case studies, focusing on one causal factor in each: residential sprawl, agriculture, and coal mining, respectively. In each, short-term profit-driven practices have caused the depletion and contamination of surface and groundwater. Unfortunately, the proposed solutions in each case are similarly myopic. Part I: The U.S. Southwest

On December 4th, the Despacio team, along with our colleagues from ROL Bogota and City Parking, installed a vertical garden in the parking lot behind our office building. The idea for this project came from this picture of a garden made from recycled bottles in...

fotophilip1 Detroit residents and civic groups protesting water shutoffs  (text by Philip Verma) Sustainability is a buzzword in contemporary urban policy circles but the desire to remake cities can implicate authoritarian planning practices in which community needs are subjugated to desires of property developers. This confrontation of so-called sustainable development and community rights is currently playing out in Detroit, a city that is sometimes considered a “blank slate” for innovative urban sustainability projects. Since March of this year, more than 15,000 Detroit residents have had their water turned off by the city. The Detroit Water and Sewer Department (DWSD) claims these shutoffs are a necessary way to enforce collections on delinquent accounts. This is a charade, part of a larger pattern of privatization and gentrification in Detroit, as many community activists have pointed out. Furthermore, we should question what kind of sustainability demands mass displacement and the suspension of democratic rights as prerequisites. The shutoffs are not about financial or environmental sustainability; instead they are a way to get rid of long-time residents—predominantly poor and Black—so that the whiter, wealthier new wave can enjoy a greener, cleaner, smoother city.

Review by Santhosh Kodukula, ICLEI Many cities constantly face the perplexing conundrum “How do we increase our bicycle modal share?” Similarly, people sitting on a motor bike or in their car think cycling is a sport that poor take part in, getting tired cycling to their...

By Jonas Hagen (with input from Carlos Pardo), also appearing in http://slowcity.tumblr.com/ OK, this is a big topic, sure. Let me share a tale with you. I went on a trip recently from the United States of A to a cold Northern European country with fellow...

by Carlosfelipe Pardo (with inputs from Jonas Hagen) This question was asked once by Kerwin Datu, the editor of Global Urbanist. After thinking about it, I agreed that, now that I have created an entire organization revolving around the idea of doing things slowly (or rather,...