Urban Design Innovation; Air Quality and Urban Heat Island Effect

aligning resilience co-benefits in improving air quality and combating urban heat island effect

Janice moderated a panel discussion during the Archtober / Access Cities Open Innovation Challenge celebration at the AIANY Center for Architecture on Thursday 3 October 2019. The panel discussed climate-change related health impacts and innovative approaches to adaptation and mitigation around the world.

“If you are just doing the bidding of the developers then you aren’t helping us achieve our goals…”

– participant

The panelists’ messages were consistent: A “business-as-usual” approach to development and design isn’t helping. Globally, in disadvantaged development areas, only three percent (3%) of land area is typically dedicated to public open space. With 50% of proposed developments in these areas to be completed by 2050, this pattern needs to rapidly shift. This is a stark reminder that current development trends and space for natural adaptive systems in the public realm are often in tension. The panel discussed challenges and strategies to more closely align development with adaptation needs.

Challenges for ongoing discussion…

  1. Political Will & Short election cycles: Understanding that adaptation and resilience efforts have a much longer time horizon than traditional election cycles, how might we create efforts with broad acceptance that can bridge political cycles?
  2. Behavioral Change & Shift to a stewardship culture: How might we transition to a collective stewardship of our resource life cycles and our natural systems?
  3. Innovative Financing & managing risk: Given that traditional approaches are often agnostic with respect to climate risk, how might we develop new approaches that promote adaptive, equitable, and resilient investment and eschew maladaptive approaches?
  4. Co-created community participation to build resilient futures: How might we best collectively approach resilience-building in our communities?
  5. Connecting Science to design: Given the consensus on climate science, how might we bring climate scientists more fully into planning and design dialogues?
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