SANTIAGO – Latin America may have weathered the global economic slowdown, but for many, the potential impact of global warming, and the measures required to avoid its worst effects, may undermine the region’s fragile political, economic, and social balance – and roll back years of progress.
Bogotá recently held a round of lively debates on sustainable cities in the context of the Rio+20 conference. Experts from many countries and citizens from the Colombian capital attended the debates. One conclusion that I draw from this event is the urgent need to put sustainable development in our urban agendas. We must identify and increase collaboration between “city champions” in public office, business and civil society who are committed to integrating sustainability and resilience in urban development.
A new report released yesterday finds that, thanks to new investments in infrastructure and rapid technological innovation, it is possible to tackle climate change while at the same time improving economic performance. Challenging conventional wisdom, the report refutes the notion that countries must choose between fighting climate change and growing their economies.
Reinventing development will need imagination – a bigger and freer imagination - to transform our aspirations, to reinvent our countries and especially our urban future. Development as usual–growth at any cost, polluted cities and over-exploitation of key resources—hurts people and compromises our ability to prosper in the long term. And shouldn’t development be the means to a better life for the great majority of people?
We are entering the urban and more southern century - by 2050 most people around the world will live in cities. And most of these people will live in developing countries. The mix of pressing demographics and development as usual do not add up to a promising future. There is no such thing as a collective prosperity in countries running on dirty energy, polluted water and toxic air. An alternative course is possible –through cleaner and safer pathways-- if we abandon obsolete notions that accept unsustainable development as if it were inescapable. We can afford bigger aspirations, especially as our southern confidence expands almost as fast as the growth of our middle class and business opportunities.