Governments ‘value’ personal and environmental health but debate the level and priority of their provision. ‘The Market’ cannot make these decisions as our economies built on trading cannot deal with these often intangible elements unless they can be a priced. The risks of non-provision remain unassessed. In this paper a landscape architect reflects on this thought against a back-drop of personal experience in the context of the last 20 years of planning, design and construction of new urban areas between Geelong and Melbourne, some of the most rapidly developed areas in Australia.
This period of valuing liveability began with the ‘Rio Earth Summit’ and the Australian Government’s ‘Building Better Cities’ initiative: it closes with the UN ‘Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ and the Australian Government’s ‘Urban Design Protocol’. Lessons learned and opportunities lost are extrapolated into the future promised by the conference themes of ‘health’, ‘working together’ and ‘liveable cities’, a future in which hitherto abstract environmental and cultural values will be translated into dollar values on our national balance sheets.
There has indeed been a reawakening to the truth that the health of our communities remains firmly tethered to the networked environmental and cultural qualities that support them. The UN calculates that an annual outlay of $45bn on environmental conservation will yield $4tr to $5tr annual benefits. Multi-disciplinary collaborations have provided city building solutions of unquestioned and measurable value.
However, our governance systems are ill-equipped to promote, measure and integrate the simultaneously realised values of mental and physical health, water quality, habitat, carbon, climate change adaptation and others. Pioneer governments are turning to the concept of Green Infrastructure thinking – to what extent does it provide the 21 st Century with the framework of thinking to redress problems and confront the complexity of measuring and managing these often obscure yet essential values?
You can download the full paper presented by Robert P Cooper Senior Principal, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at CPG Australia Pty Ltd… here
Paper presented at the Australian Liveable Cities Conference
- Cities as Self-Organizing Systems (urbantimes.co)