Sustainability in Urban Areas: Opportunities and Possibilities

This is an April 2009 presentation by Wendell Cox, visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris in a conference at the Palais du Luxembourg (Senat) in Paris.

The presentation notes that there is a need to consider sustainability in more than one dimension. Failure to do so is likely to result in a failure to achieve sustainability (especially with respect to reducing greenhouse gas emissions ). It is proposed that there are four dimensions of sustainability:

(1) Environmental – This is the dimension nearly exclusively discussed.

(2) Financial: Financial sustainability relates to the use of strategies for reducing GHG emissions that are cost effective and within reasonable limits (generally, the IPCC indicates a cost per ton of GHG reduced of $20-$50US as being sufficient to achieve necessary objectives.

(3) Economic: Economic sustainability involves the use of strategies for reducing GHG emissions that do not interfere unnecessarily with economic growth and the reduction of poverty.

(4) Political: Political sustainability involves strategies that are acceptable to the public.

It is argued that without the last three dimensions of sustainability, environmental sustainability is not likely to be achieved. It is further suggested that technological strategies can produce sufficiently robust results in urban areas, without resorting to social engineering.


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