Water Journal : Water Journal March 2011
feature article feature articles 64 MARCH 2011 water 12 Principles of a Water-Sensitive City The IWA Cities of the Future Program has created an international drive to integrate spatial and urban planning in order to create more sustainable cities to cope with our future challenges. This discussion has been informed by the Australian water sector via the Ozwater and Enviro workshops, and culminated in the 2010 IWA World Water Congress in Montreal. The process in Australia was carried out in partnership with the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA). The Montreal workshop concluded that the following 12 Principles describe the characteristics of a city of the future that is water sensitive. They describe a city that is liveable, sustainable and prosperous. Theme 1: Liveable and Sustainable Cities Principle 1: Cities will continue to grow in population but will be increasingly liveable. A feature of cities will be more interconnected communities. Cities are complex, dynamic systems that are likely to become more complex over time. Cities will continue to offer lifestyles -- jobs, cultural attractions, recreation and sporting attractions -- that will attract people in abundance. Principle 1 recognises that people value a liveable city that provides the amenities and space to maintain local connections and healthy communities. Principle 2: Cities of the future will provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation for all. The United Nations Development Program estimates that currently almost 1 billion people lack clean drinking water, while 2.4 billion people have no access to hygienic sanitation facilities and 1.2 billion lack any sanitation facilities at all. Although people in developing nations account for most of these statistics, there are also sections of the population in developed nations that lack these basic services. While the technologies exist for providing low-cost water and wastewater services, effective water governance is the missing link to achieving more equitable water resource management and service delivery. Principle 3: Sustainable cities will combine a compact footprint with sustainability and liveability. Sustainable cities of the future will become more resilient and liveable by matching higher-density living with 'green urban design', and by linking spaces to provide the ability to easily connect with other parts of the city. Lower-density living will also be available within the city to provide a range of living options. More water-sensitive cities will be greener and, therefore, cooler. With lower 'urban heat island' effects (the tendency of urban areas to be hotter than their more vegetated surroundings), these cities will be healthier places in which to live. Principle 4: Cities will be resource-neutral or generative, combining infrastructure and building design that will harmonise with the broader environment. The urban form will generate water, energy and nutrient by- products that can meet the city's resource demands in a way that is carbon neutral. Some cities may generate resources in excess of their needs and be able to supply demands in surrounding regions. Cities will also be designed to operate in harmony with the broader environment. For example, cities will release water to the environment consistent with natural environmental flow patterns. Principle 5: Sustainable cities will be part of prosperous, diverse and sustainable regions. Cities will not function as isolated entities. Instead, they will function in harmony with their regional partners, respecting 'local identity' and valuing the flow of resources, people and information between the two. Cities themselves will enjoy prosperous economies built on sustainable communities, and its citizens will act to bring out the best in themselves and their surrounding regions. Suggested actions to progress Theme 1: 1. Clarify the vision, definitions and measures of a sustainable city. 2. Develop a city-wide urban planning framework and provide planning that clearly establishes minimum liveability objectives and standards. PHOTO: CHRISTIAN PEARSON, MISHEYE PHOTOGRAPHY Urban planning can create more resilient cities by utilising 'City of the Future' principles.
Water Journal April 2011