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Catalyzing change in places

In our final meeting of term, we explored the role that policy, industry and communities could play in shaping cities in ways that benefit people and the environment.

Our first expert witness was Craig Bennett, the CEO of Friends of the Earth. Having spent most of his career as an environmental campaigner, Craig believes there is an urgent need for the “environmental movement” to evolve rapidly over the next decade if it is going to play a leadership role in helping steer humanity to a more sustainable future. He argues that re-framing sustainability so that it is seen as one of the next steps in the progress of humanity, rather than – as some still see it – a “barrier to progress”, demands substantial changes in how organisations like Friends of the Earth perceive, communicate and interact with the challenges and opportunities that will emerge in the coming years.

He joined Tom Armour, the Global Landscape Architecture Leader at Arup. He sees landscape design as a key profession to address 21st Century issues: creating more liveable cities, addressing climate change, designing for health and well being, and promoting the economic, environmental and social value of good landscape and public realm design.

Our final witness was Ellie Robinson who has been Assistant Director of External Affairs at the National Trust for 13 years, influencing public policy and political decisions on a wide range of environment and sustainability issues ranging from agriculture and food to water and climate change. Currently, Ellie is leading the Trust's national work on urban greenspace, as part of a new strategic innovation programme focused on the places where people live. This includes testing and developing new ways to help local authorities and communities fund and manage their public parks and greenspaces to secure them for future generations. 

To find out more about this theme or the meeting, please e-mail Dr Rosamunde Almond ().

 

Published by Arup in 2014, Cities Alive – Rethinking green infrastructure – shows how the creation of a linked ‘city ecosystem’ that encompasses parks and open spaces; urban trees, streets, squares; woodland and waterways can help create healthier, safer and more prosperous cities.

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