Proactive cities of today strive to combine the social, economic, and ecological dimensions of sustainability to set a vision of how to provide liveable, healthy, and resilient lives to their citizens. What they appear to be missing from that equation is the fact that the cities of tomorrow will be very different from the cities of today, and that future citizen needs, and ambitions will evolve over time.
What we see as the greatest challenge of our time is tackling the impact of cities to the planetary boundaries. We believe that this will dominate the city agenda in the decades to come. In How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates compares our climate to a bathtub that is slowly filling up with water. Even if we slow the inflow to a trickle, the tub will eventually fill up and spill over. In essence, we need to not just slow the pace of filling the tub, but to start emptying it. Since cities have the greatest impacts on the balance of Earth's ecosystems, they are also positioned to create profound change. This calls for a new approach to urban leadership and governance, and a committed and collaborative involvement of all the many stakeholders that make a city.
Shifting our focus from sustaining to regenerating, with the goal being to consume resources at a slower rate than Earth’s ecosystems can recover them, is not an easy task. It forces us to rethink rather than improve, which is why we call it the moon-shot of our time. A focus on a reduction of CO₂ emissions by 2030 will not get us to regenerative cities by 2050, since the things we would do to achieve small reductions by 2030 often are radically different from the things we would need to do to get to net zero. It is important to have goals for 2030, but they must be milestones on the path toward the final goal and not destinations in themselves.
To reach this ambitious goal, future cities will need to combine the social, economic, and ecological dimensions of sustainability with a future vision of liveable spaces that contribute positively to ecosystems and (re)generate urban living quality. By developing a shared vision and understanding of the future, we can start a collaboration to develop the solutions and strategies that could take us there. We want to start a movement that will allow us to face future generations and say that we did everything in our power to move our cities toward regeneration. The Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies hereby invites you to join us in taking the first steps. The simple question we want to address is: ‘How can you contribute to a regenerative future?’
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