Making cities regenerative is a massive undertaking that will not be achieved overnight. Yet even the biggest under- takings can be broken down into steps; in this case, the first necessary step is developing a thorough understanding, both practical and theoretical, of how regeneration can be achieved, in which areas it is most feasible, and in which other areas it might present more of a challenge. Reaching a goal means knowing where to aim in the first place.
The density of cities is a large factor in reducing resource use. For this reason, regenerative cities could be designed to increase population density, for example by building tall rather than wide and by favouring shared spaces and facilities over personal spaces and facilities. When combined with the idea of cellular cities, the regenerative city of the future could take the shape of thin and tall ‘walls’ between green spaces, with little or no suburban sprawl as we know it today and rapid communal transport always within easy walking distance.
It would not only take the application of new technologies to aid us in this quest toward regenerative cities, but also a tremendous shift in mindset and culture to act more responsibly as citizen-consumers. Ultimately, a lot will depend on international institutions and cross-city collaborations to get it right. As Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, has said: 'It’s difficult to see if the current GDP-based model of economic growth can go hand-in-hand with rapid cutting of emissions.'24
It is often argued that GDP is a poor measure of wealth and growth because it does not properly compensate for environmental costs. While this argument has merit, if consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable pro- ducts and services, we may be able to achieve sustainable growth even by traditional measures like GDP. And this could be a big step in our road toward the Regenerative City.
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