International
Federation for
Housing and
Planning

Cities of the Future: Sustainable Urban Planning and Water Management

Date(s): 
Sunday 22.05.2011 to Wednesday 25.05.2011
Location: 
Stockholm, Sweden

22-25th May 2011

This four-day conference attracted more than 250 researchers and professionals from a staggering 55 countries. Absolutely inspirational was the motivation of all present to break down the traditional disciplinary silos of planning and water management – and try to put them back together again in an integrated manner, recognizing that we can get much better outcomes as a result. As one example of the value of this approach, we were treated to a study trip to Hammarby Sjöstad, where they’ve managed to reduce individual water usage by more than 25% from the Stockholm city average - while also building in an integrated system to recycle and reduce the consumption of water, energy, sewage and waste. Maybe not the sexiest topic, but who knew that you could use the heat from treated wastewater to heat buildings? Although after a few days in Stockholm, even in May, we can see why the Swedes are at the cutting edge of finding innovative ways to provide more warmth for their residents. Either way, the benefit was clear: the City of Stockholm, through this type of integrated planning, has managed to increase their economic growth while simultaneously decreasing their CO2 emissions.

Other topics covered ranged from the value of a participatory approach towards planning to evaluating different development alternatives based on micro-climate modeling. At the core of almost all of the presentations was the underlying challenge for planning in an increasingly (and rapidly) urbanizing world. Excellent for IFHP representation were an opening speech by our President, Flemming Borreskov, and an inspirational keynote by Board Member Arun Jain. Flemming highlighted four main planning challenges we face today: changing demographics; sustainability; putting a human perspective on planning; and focusing on the life between buildings, while Arun provided a rousing presentation on the need to integrate planning with other disciplines if we are to be able to effectively address the ‘wicked problems’ so prevalent today. He also stressed the importance of the human element of planning: we can provide the advanced technologies to help meet our goals for sustainability, but they’re only useful to the extent that people choose to use them!

More information on the papers and presentations will be made available on the Cities of the Future website. It was a pleasure to work together with the International Water Association and the other co-organisers and sponsors who worked diligently to make the conference a success. We look forward to intensifying this collaboration and thereby keeping integrated water management and urban planning on the IFHP agenda! 

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