According to Concordia’s Ursula Eicker, cities of the future should be less about expansion and prosperity, but more about resilience and socio-economic sharings.
Want to live smart? Slow down. That’s what Ursula Eicker, professor of Buildings Civil and Environmental Engineering said at Le Monde Festival 2019. Le Monde is a climate festival held on Oct. 25 and 26, co-organized by French newspapers Le Monde and Le Devoir. Different talks and debates were held, arguing how we can shape the most sustainable and hopeful future possible.
We have never been as busy as now when it comes to revolutionizing our use of natural remedies. But instead of rushing towards new methods and technologies, maybe we should just go back in time and get inspired by how things were before the industrial revolution. Eicker is Concordia’s new Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities, and this year she was giving the keynote address for the French climate festival. According to Eicker, climate justice will not just take a few single actions, but several repeating ones that might conflict with our incorporated and safe habitual life as we know it. Her take on this matter is that we need to change the infrastructures in cities, not necessarily by looking forward, but by looking backward.
“We live in a world where short term actions dominate,” Eicker said. She doesn’t see a bright future for sterile cities with a focus on expansion and financial growth. Instead, Eicker argues that we need a frame that can help us reduce our carbon footprint in the most efficient way possible.
A large and open space for pedestrians, bikers and green areas are key elements of these so-called “next-generation cities,” that Eicker gave us a virtual tour of. Besides these back-to-basics renovations of the cityscape, she also shared the importance of rethinking how we as consumers maintain ownership of, for example, our way of commuting. Why not drive together with your colleague to work, or go grocery shopping with your neighbour, in one vehicle?
Being smart is not just about being fast, evolving and building. Big changes have to be incorporated into city infrastructure, but you can also help a lot through individual actions. Maybe this simplified approach to sharing both transport and resources would be worth a try.
Feature photo by Johanne Nedergaard