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Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the Environment


If you were planning a sustainable city, what would you include in it?

On Wednesday the 19th March 2014, over 240 people were asked this question as part a Science Festival evening event co-hosted by the Forum, the Centre for Science and Policy and the Energy@Cambridge Initiative.

Moira Faul chaired a discussion between panel of speakers drawn from the Forum and the expert witnesses who joined our meetings.

The panel included:

Doug Crawford-Brown, the Director of the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation and Research (4CMR) discussed how the Cambridge Retrofit programme is coping with uncertainty in choosing what to retrofit.

Larry Sherman, Wolfson Professor of Criminology and  the Director of the Institute for Criminology, focused on ways in which “evidence-based policing” has had some initial successes in improving the quality and sustainability of urban living

Britt Baillie, from the Department of Archaeology and the Conflict in Cities project, highlighted the environmental effects of urban conflict, lessons for the future from historic cities, and cultural sustainability

Mark Kleinman, from the Greater London Authority, used his experience in the city of London to discuss the role of city leaders in promoting more sustainable cities and smarter approach to urban growth.

During the presentations, the audience were asked to write their answers to two questions:

  1. If you were planning a sustainable city, what would you include in it?
  2. What do you think are the most important ingredients in a sustainable city?

A broad variety of ideas were put forward, ranging from more places for nature within cities to designing the streets and suburbs we live in to improve our health and wellbeing. The keyords that people identified are shown in the word cloud above. 

More generally, some of the most popular themes people highlighted were included:

  • Energy and carbon emissions
  • Waste and recycling
  • Green spaces
  • Community-based initiatives
  • Transport within the city and strengthening connections to surrounding towns and villages

britt bailey quote

"Speaking as an archaeologist, I think there are some really valuable lessons that we can learn from historic cities which apply to our ideas about urban sustainability today."

Britt Baillie, Division of Archaeology

larry sherman quote

"Evidence-based policing is simply the idea of using experiments to get better public safety and better justice. For example, a big data approach to mapping crime in time and space finds that over half of all the crime occurs in just less than 5% of the land space in a city."

Laurence Sherman, Institute of Criminology