Cities of the Future: what should be their form?

There are many conversations about cities being undertaken at present, reflecting the recognition that cities are important for our social, environmental and economic future. However, the topics largely remain fragmented, often failing to address inter-related issues. This Issues Paper argues that the achievement of a good future for society necessitates a comprehensive perspective on desired outcomes, recognising that at times competing choices or trade-offs have to be made.

This Issues Paper reviews some of the challenges faced by cities and opens a discussion on some solutions that may offer pathways for achieving outcomes that meet environmental, social and economic imperatives, with a particular reference to transport. The paper looks at population and economic growth and how transport is being used by international agencies, such as the United Nations (UN) and banks, as a means of addressing poverty in industrialising countries through the promotion of economic growth. The paper proposes an alternative model–the 20 minute neighbourhood–which integrates land use and transport to meet social, environmental and sustainable economic outcomes. It outlines concerns about the on-going financing of non-sustainable transport modes and argues that now is a critical time to change direction and for financial support of the informal transport system.

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Janet Stanley

MSSI strives to inform and stimulate public conversation about key sustainability questions facing our society. Each MSSI Issues Paper aims to encapsulate the insights of a thinker or practitioner on a particular issue of importance to society. Although material is often closely informed by peer-reviewed academic research, the papers themselves are presented in a clear, discursive style intended for a broad readership.