A Collaborative Initiative by the C.E.U. and the CNU

The “Oslo-Den­ver-Initia­ti­ve” (ODI) is a joint initia­ti­ve of C.E.U. and CNU that is aimed at pro­mo­ting prac­ti­cal mea­su­res in urban and regio­nal deve­lo­p­ment to redu­ce the effects of cli­ma­te chan­ge.

On the occa­si­on of the Inter­na­tio­nal Con­gress of the C.E.U. “Urban Design and Cli­ma­te Chan­ge” to be held in Oslo in Sep­tem­ber, 2008, the Coun­cil for Euro­pean Urba­nism (C.E.U.) and the Con­gress of the New Urba­nism (CNU) are star­ting a joint initia­ti­ve in trans­at­lan­tic co-ope­ra­ti­on to pro­mo­te prac­ti­cal mea­su­res in urban and regio­nal deve­lo­p­ment to coun­ter­act cli­ma­te chan­ge. The foun­da­tio­nal pro­cess for this initia­ti­ve will be com­ple­ted at the CNU Con­gress to be held in Den­ver in June, 2009.

We belie­ve that Euro­peans and Ame­ri­cans have a spe­cial respon­si­bi­li­ty with regard to cli­ma­te chan­ge and should be the first to con­cen­tra­te their efforts on under­ta­king effec­ti­ve steps in the field of urban and regio­nal deve­lo­p­ment against cli­ma­te chan­ge. None­theless, this initia­ti­ve is open to all inte­res­ted par­ties and is not restric­ted to Euro­pean / United Sta­tes part­ners.

A dou­ble stra­te­gy is con­tem­pla­ted: the reduc­tion of exis­ting man-made cli­ma­tic effects in urban regi­ons, and the pre­ven­ti­on of fur­ther cli­ma­te chan­ge by urban regio­nal plan­ning and con­trol. The spon­sors are awa­re that Euro­pe and the United Sta­tes are important indus­tri­al regi­ons that con­tri­bu­te in signi­fi­cant ways to cli­ma­te chan­ge. On the other hand, both Euro­pe and the United Sta­tes  have alrea­dy initia­ted a long list of mea­su­res to com­bat cli­ma­te chan­ge. The con­se­quen­ces of cli­ma­te chan­ge also have a lar­ge impact on cities and regi­ons that are? only mini­mal­ly respon­si­ble for man-made cli­ma­te chan­ge. That is why the­se regi­ons are invi­ted to take part in this initia­ti­ve. Tru­ly effec­ti­ve steps can only be initia­ted in a world-wide dia­lo­gue. Around the world the­re are many initia­ti­ves dealing with cli­ma­te chan­ge, but only a few of them deal expli­ci­tly with this sub­ject from the point of view of urban and regio­nal deve­lo­p­ment.

Glo­bal cli­ma­te chan­ge, with its social, eco­no­mic, cul­tu­ral and eco­lo­gi­cal dimen­si­ons, is one of the princi­pal chal­len­ges facing huma­ni­ty in the 21 cen­tu­ry. As the majo­ri­ty of peop­le live in cities, urba­ni­zed and sub­ur­ba­ni­zed regi­ons, which tend to incre­a­se cli­ma­te chan­ge by genera­ting car­bon dioxi­de, and are thus loca­ted in cli­mac­tic „dan­ger zones,” it is cru­cial that cities and regi­ons be on the front line of cli­ma­te pro­tec­tion and the pre­ven­ti­on of fur­ther dama­ge. Many attempts have alrea­dy been made in this direc­tion.

Howe­ver, we are still at the begin­ning. The­re is still a gre­at defi­ci­en­cy in the are­as of urban design, urban and regio­nal plan­ning and the con­trol of urban and regio­nal deve­lo­p­ment. As for the ener­ge­tic reor­ga­niz­a­ti­on of city regi­ons, the crea­ti­on of com­pact, de-cen­tra­li­zed housing spaces, the com­plex eco­no­mi­c­al hand­ling of resour­ces or the mini­miz­a­ti­on of auto-depen­den­cy – all the­se approa­ches are prac­ti­cal requi­re­ments in future urban deve­lo­p­ment.

The Oslo-Den­ver-Initia­ti­ve will iden­ti­fy New Urba­nist tools, tech­ni­ques, and models as a respon­se to the dual chal­len­ges of Cli­ma­te Chan­ge and Fuel Sup­ply It is for­med in the spi­rit of the initia­ti­ve for a “Sus­tainab­le Deve­lo­p­ment” that was star­ted 20 years ago in Oslo with the “Brundt­land Report”.

Much effort is being spent on fin­ding alter­na­ti­ve tech­ni­cal solu­ti­ons to the­se chal­len­ges, but our focus will be on urba­nism. Our goal is to find ways of crea­ting beau­ti­ful, sus­tainab­le neigh­bour­hoods,  cities, and regi­ons, that not only redu­ce ener­gy use and cli­ma­te impact, but also enhan­ce the qua­li­ty of life.

Each side of the Atlan­tic brings dif­fe­rent expe­ri­en­ces, tra­di­ti­ons, and pro­blems. Through a crea­ti­ve exchan­ge of ana­ly­ses, tech­ni­ques, con­cepts, tools, and models, we hope to deve­lop new solu­ti­ons.

We sug­gest the fol­lowing Actions:

  1. To Pro­vi­de a vehi­cle for the exchan­ge of new prac­ti­cal expe­ri­en­ces, methods and know­ledge,
  2. To Initia­te part­ners­hips of various insti­tu­ti­ons, orga­ni­sa­ti­ons and par­ti­ci­pants,
  3. To Report the prac­ti­cal results of con­cre­te mea­su­res so that they can be dis­cus­sed,
  4. To Inclu­de poli­ti­ci­ans and lob­by repre­sen­ta­ti­ves and to sen­si­ti­se them for the neces­si­ty of urba­nistic approa­ches,
  5. To Initia­te and Sup­port con­cre­te pro­jects and mea­su­res with model cha­rac­ter.

We Sug­gest the fol­lowing Topics as a (first) focus of this effort:
1. Sus­tainab­le Regi­ons and Tran­sit: The tra­di­tio­nal forms of regi­ons with a collec­tion of com­pact sett­le­ments, mixed use deve­lo­p­ment pat­terns, lin­ked by tran­sit, con­nec­ted to other regi­ons by long distance rail, and set in an agri­cul­tu­ral hin­ter­land for local food pro­duc­tions pro­vi­de a use­ful model to be tes­ted. In some are­as, the essen­ti­al ele­ments have been unde­r­u­sed or even aban­do­ned. In  others, they do not exist or are just being crea­ted. The goal would be to iden­ti­fy the essen­ti­al attri­bu­tes, iden­ti­fy obsta­cles to their full use, and pro­vi­ding examp­les of suc­cess­ful models. Examp­les would inclu­de tra­di­tio­nal ones that are suc­cess­ful, exis­ting ones with pro­blems, and new ones.

2. Com­pact Deve­lo­p­ment Pat­terns: Housing and neigh­bor­hood pat­terns in the US are less den­se than in Euro­pe. Even the recent return to urban living has only slight­ly dimi­nis­hed the empha­sis on sub­ur­ban sprawl. Liveab­le com­pact deve­lo­p­ment models need to be deve­lo­ped for fami­ly living as well as the types cur­r­ent­ly found in city cen­ters. Inter­na­tio­nal col­la­bo­ra­ti­ons among New Urba­nists has pro­vi­ded new ide­as and models. The goal would be to iden­ti­fy models, defi­ne their attri­bu­tes, and their con­tri­bu­ti­on to reduc­tion car­bon pro­duc­tion and cli­ma­te impact.

NEXT STEPS: In the peri­od bet­ween Sep­tem­ber 2008 and June 2009 all inte­res­ted par­ties are invi­ted to par­ti­ci­pa­te in the for­ma­ti­on and orga­niz­a­ti­on of this initia­ti­ve. We recom­mend estab­li­shing a small working task for­ce on both sides of the Atlan­tic. During this time, C.E.U. and CNU will estab­lish the pre­con­di­ti­ons for working effec­tively and faci­li­ta­ting the effec­ti­ve­ness of “ODI”. Plea­se address sug­ges­ti­ons for par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on and con­cre­te orga­niz­a­tio­nal pro­po­sals to: Harald Keg­ler, Chair C.E.U. Ray Gindroz, Chair CNU

Sug­ges­ti­on, 2008-08-28: Harald Keg­ler, amen­ded 2008-09-08, star­ted: 2008-09-16 in Oslo, Nor­way

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