Two year seminar series to start in May 2011 to define eco-city policy and research agenda

The University of Westminster is to spearhead an international consortium of research and policy organisations to define and advise on the current and future eco-cities research and policy agenda.

The initiative will comprise a two-year long seminar series starting on 20 May 2011 in London, to provide a forum for researchers, experts and policy-makers to explore the governance of eco-city developments and to advance this emerging field of research. To register visit our ESRC seminar page.

The term 'eco-city' refers to diverse types of urban developments aimed at achieving various environmental, social and economic sustainability goals, such as encouraging use of renewable energy and public transport, reducing waste, improving water quality, and generally making cities more liveable for their residents.

The seminar project is led by researchers and experts from seven organisations: Arup, Cardiff University, Imperial College, Queen’s University Belfast, United Nations Habitat Program, University of Westminster, University of West of England, and Vaxjo City Council.

The seminar series will draw on the findings of the first-ever systematic global survey of eco-cities co-ordinated by scholars at the University of Westminster, the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) and the Lemelson Centre for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution (Washington DC). 

The focus of their study was to try and gain a better understanding of the innovation and governance processes driving and shaping eco-city developments:

  • What distinguishes eco-cities from ‘normal’ cities?
  • Why do eco-cities seem to have become globally mainstream in such a short period of time?
  • How are eco-cities located, designed and implemented? Can eco-cities be socially and democratically sustainable?

Seventy nine eco-cities, including Vancouver (Canada), Tianjin Binhai (China) and Masdar (UAE) were analysed as part of the programme.

Professor Simon Joss of the University of Westminster, the lead coordinator for the initiative, said: “To ensure our cities remain inhabitable, we need to develop ways to respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change. This is one of the greatest challenges for the 21st century and as home to over half the world’s population, our people, towns and cities must be prepared to adapt and we must build for an environmentally sustainable future. The seminar programme will explore the governance of eco-city developments to advance this emerging field of research.”

Find out more about the International Eco-Cities Initiative here:
westminster.ac.uk/ecocities

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