Just Sustainabilities: Re-Imagining E/Quality, Living within Limits
Julian Agyeman outlines the concept of “just sustainabilities," arguing that integrating social needs and welfare offers us a more just, rounded, and equity-focused definition of sustainability, while not negating the very real environmental threats we face. He looks at real-world examples of just sustainabilities, focusing on ideas about "fair shares" resource distribution; planning for intercultural cities; achieving well-being and happiness; the potential in the new sharing economy, and, finally, the concept of “spatial justice.”Related Events: Just Sustainabilities: Re-Imagining E/Quality, Living within Limits
This presentation is brought to you by Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability and a generous investment by Julia Ann Wrigley. Wrigley lecture series. World renowned thinkers and problem solvers engage in dialogues to address sustainability challenges.
Greg Stanton: Welcome to tonight's Wrigley lecture on behalf of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Welcome to downtown Phoenix.
I am Greg Stanton and I get to have my dream job, Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona. It's a great town and I'm excited that the Global Institute of Sustainability is doing this lecture outdoors, in the heart of the city. This is going to be a lot of fun.
There's a couple people I want to give special recognition to. First off, everyone involved in the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability. I saw him earlier pushing that stroller. Where's my friend, Colin Tetreault? There he is.
Colin is a professional at the Global Institute of Sustainability and for two years he had tough duty. He had to work in the Mayor's Office at the city of Phoenix. And we got him for free on a loan executive program. And my vocabulary has changed as a result of Colin.
I'm not allowed to say garbage ever again. It's all about resources and resource opportunities. He's changed everything for me.
Now everything is Phoenix Renews. Instead of Urban Garden, we call it Phoenix Renews. Re-imagine Phoenix is the name of our program in which we're going to divert 40% of the landfill into recycling or other renewable opportunities.
Colin, you made a huge, huge difference to the city of Phoenix. I'm very grateful for your services and congratulations, papa.
And we have a incredible speaker tonight. Julian Agyeman. I hope I got the part. Did I get it, Julian?
Julian Agyeman: Close.
Greg Stanton: Close. OK, good. Thank you. Very polite. I want to welcome you to Phoenix from Boston. Yes, the weather is like this year round.
You can come back any time. You were in the right city at the right place at the right time to discuss your lecture here tonight.
Just Sustainability, a Discussion of Complete Streets. The democratization of our urban parks and streets. This guy's got a lot of incredible, exciting ideas. When I say we're the right city at the right place at the right time, believe it or not Julian, Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the United States of America. Boston would be a suburb of Phoenix. I mean, in terms of our size.
But we are still a young city. We have grown incredibly fast. And yes, we have made a few mistakes along the way as we have grown. But I think we have learned from those mistakes. I think I'm a huge optimist about where we're headed as a city.
Sustainability and smart planning, smart economic development, the built environment, all of the issues that you care about.
Building a more robust transportation system. Increasing light rail.
Increasing our bus system. Being multi-modal. Being more walkable. Being more bikeable.
All the stuff that you believe in we're going to learn about tonight. We're really in a renaissance here the city of Phoenix. But what I really love about our city more than anything else-- it's a wide open town. I mean, there is nothing holding anyone in this audience back from taking a leadership role that you want. I'm living proof. I grew up in West Phoenix. My dad sold shoes a JC
Penny at Park Central. He took that city bus every day. I grew up in a working class family.
And after going to college and law school, I came back to Phoenix. I didn't know anybody nobody in politics. I don't know anybody in business. Four years later, Reed Butler, I'm on the city council. And just a couple years after that, I'm the mayor. That's how Phoenix is. It's a wide open town. There is not an old boys' network here.
And so what's great about it is we can still figure out what we want to be when we grow up. Taking some of Julian's ideas and applying it to our city, we're going to be a great city and take our rightful place as one of the leading cities in the United States of America and the world. If we make the right choices.
All right, enough lecturing about city stuff. We came to hear a great speaker on the issue of sustainability and kind of thinking of sustainability in a different way. First though, we are lucky that ASU Global Institute of Sustainability is our sponsor for this event. We are so lucky to have the Global Institute of Sustainability as a full partner with the city of Phoenix. Dean Boone, unfortunately, got ill and couldn't be here tonight. But we got someone even better. That is Director of Programming, Jenny Carter, the Global Institute of Sustainability. She's the one who's going to introduce the man of the evening. Jenny.
Jenny Carter: Good evening, everyone. I'm Jenny Carter I'm a Manager of Sustainability Initiatives and Programs at the Global Institute of Sustainability. And I want to welcome you to this evening. One of the great programs I'm so fortunate to oversee is the Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and Housing. And the Stardust Center is one of the sponsoring agencies for this evening's event.
As Mayor Stanton mentioned, Dean Chris Boone fell ill today and so he asked that I read the following welcoming remarks.
Thank you Mayor Stanton for providing this wonderful civic space as a venue for this evening's Wrigley speaker series on sustainability. This gathering represents another in a long line of engagements between the city of Phoenix and ASU to discuss and act upon good ideas for sustainable solutions.
Just yesterday, I, Dean Chris Boone, had the privilege of watching School of Sustainability students present their ideas at the David Crockett Elementary School in the Gateway District of Phoenix about how to beautify and improve access to green space in that neighborhood. They worked closely with reinvent Phoenix, the Balsz School District, local community members and school children, St. Luke's Health Initiatives Maricopa County Public Health and others to design a new space for fruit and shade trees that could be open to the public on evenings and weekends.
This and other projects demonstrate that the city of Phoenix take sustainability seriously. Recognizing that sustainability is more than safeguarding the environment or wisely using natural resources. That sustainability must also improve human well-being and for present and future generations, guided by the principles of fairness and justice. A subject our speaker knows a great deal about.
On behalf of the Global Institute of Sustainability, I and Dr Dean Boone, want to welcome all of you to this very special presentation.
Introducing our speaker this evening is Dr. Aaron Golub, a professor in the School of Sustainability as well as a School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. Dr. Golub.
Aaron Golub: Welcome everyone. As you know the lectures tomorrow night and tonight is just a series of introductions. Thanks to GIOS for, of course, putting on this amazing event. Thanks to the Stardust Center for Affordable Housing in the Family for funding the event and Dr. Agyeman's visit. And especially the great events team, Lauren, Leslie, and Jenny, who you just heard, for making this all happen. And the great desert trucks.
Unfortunately, to our earn our dessert we've got to think about some tough things tonight. We've got to eat our meat, as they say in the UK. And tonight's meat will be a little bit tough. We've got to grapple with the issue, can there be sustainable development without fairness or without equity. And we are lucky to have a top practitioner in this area to discuss these things with us tonight. Dr Julian Agyeman.
Let me introduce him. Dr Agyeman comes to us from Boston, where he is Professor of Urban Environmental Policy and Planning at University. His innovations come from how he weaves together questions of race, class, culture, economics, policy, and cities in space to confront the standard notions of sustainability. Let me just highlight a few of his many accomplishments.
He was co-founder of the Black Environment Network in the UK, the first environmental justice organization of its kind in Britain. He was co-founder in 1996 and now Editor in Chief of the academic journal, Local Environment, the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. He has hundreds of project reports, academic publications, too many to name. His co-edited book, Just Sustainabilities, really propelled the field for the last decade. And I still use it in my course and I know others at ASU who do as well.
His most recent book, which is actually for sale on your right, is a synthesis of issues called Introducing Justice Inabilities, Policy, Planning, and Practice. And he's happy to sign those for you afterwards. He's got a bachelor's in geography and botany. He's got a postgraduate certificate in geographical education. A masters in conservation policy. And a PhD in environmental education, all in the UK.
He's been a high school teacher. He's worked with neighborhood cities and national governments on these kind of issues. So Dr Agyeman will talk for about 45 minutes and he'll take your questions. And we're really eager for a dialogue. We're going to have mics going around and because we're recording it, just wait to get a mic. And keep your comments quick so we can get more participation. With that, Dr Julian Agyeman.
Julian Agyeman: Thank you. Thank you, Phoenix. And it occurred to me, and I didn't realize this as I was agreeing to come here, that this is a special day. As you realize, in my new home city, in my New England. And so I'd just like to take a moment to acknowledge the terror that happened in public space. The public spaces that we want to feel safe in. And just take a moment to reflect on what happened in Boston a year ago, today.
What I want to talk to you about today is, as the mayor said, and the mayor used the word, wide open-- I want to use the word possibility. Too much of urban planning, too much of thinking in sustainability, is about what is probable. About what is probably going to happen.
As I talk, I want you to think about what is possible. This picture, that we have in front of us that there, is something that I would have never dreamt possible. That's Broadway at Times Square.
If any of you have been to Broadway recently, you'll know that it's basically now pedestrian and cycle friendly. Cars can get down parts of it. But it's a street for people now. In the hearts of one of the world's greatest cities. Who would have thought we could do that. And that it would work. And that the shopkeepers would support it. And the public and the cyclists and everybody else would support it.
It didn't happen by chance. Mayor Bloomberg appointed a visionary in Janette Sadik-Khan, the Commissioner of Transportation. Bjarke Ingels, the renowned Danish architect and the architect of the Copenhagen Miracle-- they teamed up with what you have in abundance here in Phoenix, social movement organizations who want change. And that's the results. That's what can happen.
And I just love the young woman standing there in the moment of transgression. She's in the street. She's doing something which she probably never thought she would have done. And then there's the lady in red there who is just doing her knitting and thinks it's just normal. It's something that we can only aspire to if we think about possibility.
So with that, let me just say a little bit about the title. Just Sustainability, Reimagining Equality, Living Within Limits. I'm going to challenge you to think differently about sustainability. If we were to go on the high street and ask 10 people who were walking by what sustainability means to them, eight out of the 10, maybe even 9 would, say it's the environment. And yes, it is the environment. That it's so much more than the environment.
I use the word just sustainability because I want to put it to you that social justice and equity are not strange bedfellows with environmental sustainability. But are actually integrally part of achieving just and sustainable futures.
And we can't have one without the other. We can't have a green future without social justice. It just wouldn't be sustainable to do that.
So I want us to re-imagine quality. Environmental quality and human equality. Not a separate goals, but as things that we can and should be looking at together. And I'm going to give you bundles of evidence. And I'm going to try not to be so academic about it. But I'm going to be a lot of evidence that social justice and sustainability aren't inextricably interlinked.
But again, the final part of the title is living within limits. And I don't want you to think that I'm talking here only about social justice. I want you to understand that our umbilical cord is the environment. We cannot trade that away.
Otherwise, we have nothing. So I'm going to put it to you, really, that social justice and sustainability are inextricably interlinked. But at present, we have what I call an equity deficit in terms of sustainability.
So the most important thing though is, tweet if you want-- and anybody over 50, I'll tell you what Twitter is the end. So it's Julian Agyeman and then hashtag, just sustainability. So if I say anything vaguely interesting, those of you who can tweet, tweet.
So let's start that with the problem. How do we balance this concept of environmental quality and human equality. Well, way back in 1988, when we were talking in Britain about forming this organization I called the Black Environment Network-- we were actually going to call it the multicultural environment network, but the acronym would have been MEN and so we decided against that. So BEN fitted better than MEN.
But way back in 1988, I had this idea that social justice had to be included in green campaign agendas. Because I felt that environmental well-being will only exist when this human well-being. I didn't have any data. I didn't have any evidence. But it just seemed to me a sort of normative goal in some ways.
And then in the early 90s, I was doing some interviews for the BBC looking at environmental organizations and if they were representative of multi-racial Britain in the 90s. Much as the environmental justice movement here in the early 90s who are looking at the big ten and saying hey you don't employ people of color, we're not on your boards, why should we even get involved with you.
So I talked to this woman a Greenpeace. And I said, do you feel your organization represents multicultural Britain today. And she said, and I quote, equity is not an issue for us. We're here to save the world. Now you can laugh or you can cry at that. But here's the point. I understand what she means. A lot of environmentalists think we're here to save the world. What is more equitable than that. We're not saving it for you or for you. We're saving it for everybody we are, therefor, being equitable.
So if equity in outcome is their measure, the process of delivering equity was very inequitable. Look at who was employed by Greenpeace. Look at who was on the boards of these organizations. So who was controlling the agenda. It was largely a white middle class agenda that was being driven by these organizations. And still to a certain extent, it is today.
Later in 2003 in the book that Aaron mentioned, Just Sustainabilities, Developments in an Unequal World, myself, Bob Bullard and Bob Evans, came up with this idea that really, there is an inextricable link between environmental quality and human equality. That wherever environmental degradation is happening in the world, human rights and social justice are always being infringed. Whether it's in the Amazon, in the Niger Delta with the Ogoni people being fled by the oil exploration, et cetera. So human rights and environmental degradation are linked.
Now let's think about this. Some data that I saw in the early 2000s said, look at countries like the Nordic countries, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland. These countries have the highest commitment to social justice measured on women's empowerment, women in parliament, access to medical care, kids in school, and school achievements, et cetera. On a whole raft of factors, the Nordic countries are way out on social justice.
That's not all. They're also the countries with the strongest commitments to environmental protection. Nordic environmental regulations are some of the strongest in the world. There's a link between how we treat each other and how we treat the planet. Now I'm not saying it's causal. But I'm saying there's some kind of correlation. And countries that are trashing their environment are often trashing that people as well.
We only have to look at places like Nigeria at the moment, where social justice issues are the fore. And also, Nigeria has a terrible record on environmental protection. So we can see that there are links. And again, don't get me wrong here, there's no causal link, but there is something going on when we treat environments and treat people very differently.
Even in the United States, look at the difference between the northern states and their record on social justice compared to the southern states. Similarly, the northern states have much stronger records with the Environmental Protection Agency and following EPA guidance than do the southern states, which are frequently infringing EPA guidelines. So even at the United States level, there is some tentative link between social justice and environmental protection.
But really, it wasn't until this book came out about two or three years ago that I think we really nailed the link. And I don't usually advertise other people's books. But I'm going to talk about four books tonight that I really, really, really want you to read. This is called The Spirit Level, Why Equality is Better for Everyone. And the headline in this report is something that we progressives have known all along.
It's not poverty as such that is corrosive. It's inequality. It's the gap between rich and poor. And the bigger the gap between rich and poor-- and the book has 40 years of data to back this up-- the bigger the gap between rich and poor, the higher the prison population. The more domestic violence. The more drug abuse. On every social aspect, countries that have got a bigger gap between rich and poor have more social deviance, social malfunctioning.
And not only that, one of the chapters in the book was about climate change and sustainability. And what really caught my eye was this notion that inequality heightens competitive consumption. So basically, the bigger the gap between rich and poor, the poor starts trying to emulate the lower middle class. The lower middle class, the middle class. The middle class, the upper middle class. And we're on an escalator of consumption. It's called keeping up with the Joneses.
And strangely enough, they even show how advertising revenues are much bigger in countries with a big gap between rich and poor. The advertisers get in there and they manipulate people to consume to get to the next level.
Now what does this mean for us. Inequality heightens complexity of consumption. Competitive consumption drives the carbon footprint of the country. So the argument of Wilkinson and Pickett is that those countries with the greatest inequality are also those with the biggest carbon footprint.
So if we really want to understand sustainability, our focus should be on both human equality and environmental quality together. And seriously, I would read that book if you're interested in this kind of stuff. The authors were interviewed-- they're a couple of Brits-- on NPR recently. And I can't remember who the reporter was, but he said, so which states would you live in in the United States. Which has the lowest level of inequality. Does anybody know which state that is by any chance?
Vermont. So yeah, it was Vermont. it was the state with the lowest level. Interesting.
But let's look at environmental activism in the United States. There's two separate activist paradigms. One is the environmental sustainability paradigm. And one is the environmental justice paradigm. And these have grown up largely separately.
The environmental sustainability paradigms, very interesting. In 2002, a colleague of mine at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, looked at some of the largest cities in the US. And looked at their websites. And look for evidence of environmental justice on their sustainability websites. Only five cities even mentioned environmental justice. Albuquerque. San Francisco. Cleveland. Austin. And Seattle. Only five cities mentioned environmental justice. The rest, it wasn't an issue.
In 2010, this work was repeated by the two researchers, Pearsall and Pierce, in Philadelphia. And they said that while there's been a slight increase in environmental justice reporting in sustainability plans, the implementation and conceptualization of sustainability remains highly constrained.
What that means is that notions of sustainability are constrained around environmental sustainability. People are not letting sustainability move into these other areas. And finally, my colleague, Kent Portney at Tufts University, said that most cities that have sustainability indicators do not explicitly use social or environmental equity.
So there we have it. We have a sustainability movement that is largely dominated by environmentalists who are preciously guarding the keys to its definition. And are not allowing it to stray.
On the other hand, we have what some commentators have called the environmentalism of the poor. This is Ramachandran Guha in India. He calls it the environmentalism of the poor. Environmental justice. And environmental justice, as I mentioned in my caption there, is predominantly at the local and activist level. A vocabulary for political opportunity, mobilization, and action.
If you look at the literature, the popular literature on environmental justice, it's all about political mobilization. It's redolent of the civil rights movement to which he's directly linked and from which it draws its power. But at the same time, the notion of environmental justice is a policy principle. That no public action should disproportionately disadvantage any particular group.
Now we've got those two paradigms then. My students and I in the early 2000s were thinking, is there a middle way between environmental sustainability and environmental justice. Is there a just sustainability. And if there is, who's doing here in the United States. So what we did was we looked said about 40 large environmental organizations.
We scored 0 if, on the website, there was no mention of equity or justice in the mission statement or in any of the programs or texts that the organization put out. We scored three if the mission statement did mention intergenerational equity. If there was mention of equity and justice in the programs or in the texts of the organization put out.
So what this looked like was this. We gave a just sustainability index in a sense that between 0 and 3. And the organization-- many of you will know this organization called New American Dream. It helps Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice. So we said that that is an organization that is working in the just sustainability paradigm. It has just a state ability index of 3.
National Audubon had a 0. Audubon's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the Earth's biological diversity. Now before I go any further, somebody is going to say to me at the end, but Julian, National Audubon Society was specifically about birds and natural environments. How is social justice relevant. Well here's why social justice is relevant.
So I'm on the board of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. And what we've begun to realize is that we've been around for 100 years. And look at some of the members, you can tell that they were some of the original members there because they look like that. Is this being recorded?
If we want to be around for another 100 years, we're going to have to look at the New Massachusetts, the Brazilians, the Cape Verdeans, the Haitians, the Somalians. All of these different groups of people who are going to be the majority in 2042 in the changing America.
You know, the rule of thumb-- tweets opportunity number one coming up here-- if your organization doesn't look like the community it's serving. That's not a very healthy position to be in. Republican Party is a good example of that. Seriously, I mean it doesn't look like America. And increasingly, it won't look like America. If you want to be successful, your organization should look like the community you're serving.
And so, 25 years ago in the UK and now 15 years here in the US, my moral and ethical exhortations to these organizations to involve a wider group of people has now changed. It's about survival. These organizations will not be around in 100 years unless they find out what these different groups see as nature.
Because folks, nature isn't real. It's socially constructed. We all have a different construction of nature. We see nature differently. And unless we align these organizational mission statements with some of the visions of nature from some of these different groups-- now, what we're doing in Massachusetts Audubon Society is we're looking at the NPR idea of a storyboard. We're telling stories. And so on the website we're going to have different groups going out into Massachusetts talking about what nature means to the Brazilian, the Haitian, the Cape Verdeans, et cetera, et cetera.
That's a way, I think, of starting a conversation about nature and how it's going to be interpreted differently. And there's going to many different interpretations of nature.
Two other organizations. The Sierra Club had a 2. The Sierra Club have done a lot. They were very heavily hit in the early 90s by the environmental justice movement who accused them, as I mentioned, of not hiring minorities.
And there being no minorities on the board of directors. Sierra Club have come a long way. They've developed environmental justice programs. They've done some good stuff.
The Wilderness Society-- they were given a 1. Because the Wilderness Society have always been an organization who take people from minority in low income communities out into nature from interruption areas. But if you look at the average here, it's about 1.2, 1.3. Our conclusion therefore, is that the majority of environmental and sustainability organizations in the US do not routinely consider social justice and equity within their sustainability programs and plans. And that's, I think, a little depressing.
One organization that we felt was the poster child for just sustainability was an organization called Urban Ecology in San Francisco. Urban Ecology has not focused on the traditional environmental priorities of preserving the land, air, and water. Neither have we had a traditional community development focus aimed at, for example, generating affordable housing. Rather, our work has integrated elements of these disciplines and others with healthy human habitats as the common denominator. And I put it to you that healthy human habitats is exactly what I mean by just sustainability.
Now one way of thinking about the notion of just sustainability and to bring these activist paradigms, together these seemingly disparate interests, is through coalition building. I'm sure you have-- from the all I've heard about the great social movement organizations here in Phoenix-- built coalitions. And in Boston I want to tell you about one called Clean Buses for Boston.
This was a win-win. Who's going to say, no, I'm not joining a coalition on clean buses from Boston. The idea here is, basically, pick an issue that everybody agrees with. Don't deal with all the things you disagree on. Find something you agree on.
And these two kids there are members of an organization called REAP, the Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Program, which is a school program for young kids in the Roxbury Dudley square neighborhood of Boston, which is about 80% minority. Five times the asthma rates of the rest of Massachusetts. There were 11 diesel bus carriages in the neighborhood. Maybe some correlation between the high asthma rate. I don't know, wild stab in the dark.
But the point is, these kids, in their environmental studies class, were not told what environmental studies was. They were asked, what are the issues in your neighborhood. And the big issue was asthma. And cut a long story short, they pulled together social justice, environmental justice, housing, immigrants, and environmental organizations like the Sierra Club and the Conservation Law Foundation. Strange bedfellows. People who would not normally be talking to each other. They brought them together and the result is 350 compressed natural gas buses.
So whenever I see these buses-- and in the background of David there on the bus number 12-- that's one of what's called the dirty diesels. That's the buses that they got off the road. And the compressed natural gas buses are there.
I just use this because perhaps adjust sustainability requires coalition building. And even in the short term marriages of convenience type coalitions-- because this coalition still isn't together-- maybe we'll learn something from each other. Maybe we'll learn how to work together. Maybe we start to break down some of the other barriers. And maybe we then move towards what Colin Foster talked about as movement fusion. The idea of bringing together groups because they have more in common than not.
So again, there's an optimistic note, I think. And coalition building might be the way forward to get groups to work together. And just stop talking and to understand each other.
So the definition of a just sustainability then is the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, while living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.Quality of life for now and into the future. Inter- an intra- generational equity. Justice and equity distribution, living within limits. So it's a multifaceted concept. And it's not only about social justice. It recognizes our need to live within the limits.
OK, for the rest of his talk, what I'm going to do is really bring this to the ground. What might a just sustainability look like in practice. And book opportunity here. I've been told by the psychologists if I leave this on for 45 seconds, 10% of you will buy this book. But any longer than that and there's a function of decay and less and less of you will buy it. I just got to get this right.
So I'm going to concentrate on five themes. The need to distribute resources more equitably on a global basis. The imperative that policy and planning efforts look at this growing science of well-being and happiness. I'm going to talk about cities as intercultural cities. Not multicultural, but intercultural cities. And I'll explain that in a minute.
I'm going to talk a bit about urban agriculture and food justice. And then I'm going to introduce you to a concept some of you may not have known about-- but I think you'll like it-- called spatial justice.
So the first of these themes then is environmental space and fair shares. And what percentage of the world's population are Americans? Who can give me a percentage?
Yeah, about 4.5%. What percentage of the world's resources do we consume?22% 22%, 25%. OK. 4.5%, 25% is the most dangerous statistic on the planet. That's the most dangerous statistic on the planet. We are completely out of whack in terms of our consumption. If we had a fair share system, the US would consume 4.5% of the world's resources. That would be fair shares. That would be a per capita fair share.
Now this diagram, very simple, but shows, I think, a very important principle.
Between over-consumption and under-consumption is a theoretical consumption space called the environmental space. Apparently, there are about nine or 10 different resources which make up our resource consumption.
And make up about 90% of the products that we need. So if we can consume those sustainably, then we have a chance of reaching sustainable consumption on this planet.
We-- every one of us here-- is in the profligacy zone. The over-consumption zone. We are living beyond nature's capacity. We know this from the ecological footprints and other things. At the base though is what I call the dignity floor. $2 a day. The United Nations minimum. And if you fall below that, your quality of life is diminished. If you fall too far below that, death ensures. We live like we do because two or three billion people on the planet don't.
What happens when the members of the BRICS-- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa-- consume like we do, as they want to. We've got no moral right to say, stop, don't consume like us.
Now we're in for a clash here. This is one of the most, actually, the most depressing part of the just sustainabilities idea. That unless something really serious happens, we're in for a clash here. We're consuming 25% of the world's resources. And those other countries, the BRICS. The emerging economies. They want their fair share and they surely have a right to it. What are we going to do.
Well, here's the idea behind the environmental space. On January the 1st, 2050, the world's population will be, let's say, 10 billion. It actually won't. But let's say it is going to be 10 billion. On January the 1st, 2050, if we were to approach fair shares, every person on the planet would be able to or have a share in 1/10 billionth of the world's resources. We could then multiply the country's population by 1/10 billionth and give a fair share allocation for each country.
Now, you might say, Julian, this is not going to happen. It's just not going to happen. Probably not. But we, as the United States, cannot go to that big bargaining table 5, 10, or 15 years down the line when it's going to have to come. We can't go to that and say, look, well, we're in a bit of a bind here. We've been consuming 25% of the world's resources for a long time. We'd like to grandfather in 25% for the next 50 years. It's just not going to happen.
We have to get real. And some president along the line is going to have to help us wind back the American dream. And we're going to have to get into more of a consumption pattern that fits our level within the population. Because if you think about it, we're vacuuming the planet now. Think about when Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa come on full stream like we are. I can't bare thinking about it. So we're going to have to come to some sort of fair share.
Now, what might that look like. The US, strangely enough, hasn't worked out its environmental space targets. But the European Union has. And these are some figures from Friends of the Earth, Europe. If you look at that little target on 2010, which is the far right column, for all of the resources on the far left column, which make up most of our resource use, you can see we're in deep doo doos. We are not even in the ballpark. We haven't even got up to brush our teeth, to put our shoes on to go to the ballpark.
So we're not anywhere near the kind of targets that we need to make the changes we're going to need by 2050. Which is that middle column. Now the good news is the IPCC just said that we still do have a window to get to about 70% to 80% decrease in carbon production by 2050. But it's going to take huge, huge change. And this is one I'm not optimistic about. I think the word probable is more likely than possible in this particular case.
Now let me just bring this up step today because Oxfam-- I don't know whether any of you saw this-- came up with an ingenious idea called the Doughnut. This is the Oxfam Doughnut here. And it's based on some work that was done by the Stockholm Environment Institute, Rockstrom and his colleagues. They developed this system of planetary boundaries. Some of you might have seen it. Nine planetary boundaries. And three, we are outside safe operating space.
That's the climate system. Biodiversity. And nitrogen pollution. So we're outside the safe operating limits on those things. But what Oxfam did was said look, we can't just put an environmental ceiling, like I mentioned in terms of the environmental space. We also need a social foundation. And that social foundation is made up of all of those issues there. Food, water, health, gender equality, social equity, et cetera.
So the safe and just space for humanity is between that environmental ceiling and the social foundation.
So in a sense then, what Oxfam are arguing is that we can find the safe and just space for humanity. But we've got to do it quickly. So I think this is one of the most sobering things that we need to think about. Resource allocation, not just within nations. But between nations is going to have to be a key feature. And some of the early battles are starting around issues like water supply, et cetera.
The second of the issues that I mentioned was the notion of well-being and happiness. And the city of Somerville, close to Cambridge, Massachusetts where I live, the state of Maryland, the city of Seattle, the UK government, the French government under President Sarkozy are all looking at what we're being and happiness look like in a policy planning context. How do we look at well-being and happiness in terms of public policy. How do we measure well-being and happiness.
And one thing that is happening in the UK then is looking at the role of local government in promoting health and well being. How do we do that. And there's a coalition between the New Economics Foundation, the local government commission, and various national mental health charities to try and look at this. How do we develop social well-being, human well-being, and happiness. And how can they be made the goals of policy.
Now an eight point manifesto has been developed. And most of these things are self-evident. Measure what matters. Move away from GDP. That's not well-being. That measures the amount of money sloshing around the system. How do we measure what matters. Create a well-being economy. Reclaim our time. Create an education system that promotes flourishing. Refocus health services to look at health, complete health.
Does anybody know what the World Health Organization definition of health is? It is the complete social, mental, and physical well-being of the individual. Not merely the absence of infirmity or disease. What do our health services focus on. Infirmity and disease. Some are getting more progressive and looking at the whole individual. But most of our health service is still focusing on disease prevention and keeping us healthy in that sense.
I'm not going to go through all of these. But one thing I do want to make a point about is one of these. Number four, create an education system to promote flourishing. And I want to start by taking you back to 1982. I just started teaching geography in high school. And young guy, 16-year-old, comes up to me and he says, sir, what do dumb kids like me do now. We've finished our exams. Sir, what do dumb kids like me do now, we've finished our exams.
So David was one kid in the north of England. But there are billions of Davids. There are kids you know and kids all around the world who've had that. Nobody said, you're dumb. But somehow the school system gave him that hidden message. That he's dumb. He wasn't dumb. In fact, we were the dumb ones. Because we had found out what he was good at. But we were all too quick to tell him what he wasn't good at. So David had his start in life believing he was dumb.
30 years on I was traveling in West Africa and my cousin stops the car and a young woman comes up to us and she's selling peppers. Hot peppers. And she said, would you like to buy some of my hot peppers. But don't think of me as a pepper seller. I'm a student. I'm just looking to improve myself and to get an education.
And I suddenly realized then. Here's something. All of what these kids wanted was to develop their capacity, their capabilities to do things. To achieve something. That's all they wanted. It's a privilege to able to achieve your capability. I mean those of you who've done it-- I feel I have-- it's a privilege to do that.
I've got friends, greedy friends, who say, oh my god, if we cut down any more of the rain forest, we're going to lose the cure for cancer. Well maybe in that girl in West Africa or in David, there was a cure for cancer. Maybe we should be thinking in a just sustainability context about increasing human potential as well as increasing environmental potential.
This is nothing new. Amartya Sen, the capabilities approach. This is what this is about. But as environmentalists in the sustainability literature, we hear more about protecting environmental potential than nurturing human potential. So I want you to think about both of them.
And here in the US, we have the greatest squandering. What we do is we send more young black men to prison than to college. And it costs more to send them to prison than it does to Princeton. That is perverse and it's got to stop we need to change the way we think about that.
Another book opportunity here, and quite honestly again, this is a fabulous book. The Intercultural City, Planning for Diversity Advantage.
The idea of diversity advantage, I think, is something that in cities like this and cities around the world we need to think about. We often think of diversity as being something we need to manage. Something to be controlled. That diversity is a problem to be solved.
This book takes you on a completely different journey. That diversity is an advantage. A creative advantage.
And if you think about a lot of multinational businesses. What they did was they-- 40 years ago-- realized if you want to get into new markets, you need to look like those markets. And that if you want your research and development to be creative and want your workforce to be creative, a diverse workforce is the most creative. You can go to business journals from around the world, top business schools, and this is what you'll find.
Why haven't our cities understood that. I mean, do you know any cities in the world that truly celebrate diversity. That see diversity as an advantage to be leveraged. I don't know many.
Most cities still see diversity as a problem. Now what I mean, then, by the intercultural city-- what is these. Well, take a city like Boston. It's multicultural. It's diverse. Boston is now a majority minority city. 53% minorities in Boston. But the institutions haven't changed.
We had an election recently. Very diverse slates of people. And then we get down to the two Irish guys. Which Irish guy do you want as mayor. OK, it's democracy. But what's happened. Our institutions in Boston hasn't changed to reflect the diversity that is today's Boston. And they need to do that. And I don't know many cities that have really started looking at changing their institutions.
Pluralist transformations of public space, institutions, and civic culture. How do we do that. To make our cities responsive to the changing face of this nation.
Some of my students got thinking about this as urban planners. And we were very much sobered by looking at the concept of cultural competency. And if anybody, you would think urban planners-- these people have to work with communities on thinking about how do you want, your public spaces, do you want an urban a here. You'd think urban planners would be culturally competent.
We found that none of the 85 accredited planning schools in the United States-- none of them-- have a core curriculum class on cultural competency. Not even mine. I mean, I was ashamed to think of this.
Some of them had electives. Some of them had core curriculum classes that had one lecture on cultural competency. But what are the core competencies that an urban planner needs. Those of you who are active in the social movement sector-- I mean, cultural competency is something that is really important if we're going to broaden the appeal of our organizations.
The other issue that I mentioned was this idea of urban agriculture and food justice. Really important research area of mind mine at the moment. And you might be thinking, those are four interesting looking photographs. How is he going to link those four pictures. Right, let's start at the bottom two.
On the right is George Bolling and his wife in Maryland. They run a tobacco farm. And to their left is that sign saying African produce. That's not in Africa. That's at the gate of their farm in Maryland.George and his wife realized that there's 140,000 African immigrants in the Washington DC metro area. And they want to eat fresh food. So George and wife have started looking at what will grow in the farm in Maryland. And they're gradually cutting back on the tobacco farm and they're working with the African community to find out what will grow. And they've got a great business with people coming out in the cars to pick stuff and to take it home.
And I put this here for two main reasons. Number one, this is a new entrepreneurial opportunity. Selling culturally appropriate foods. But the second point and the point I really want to make here-- and it's a challenge to a lot of you-- what is local.
The Africans that eat the food that has grown in Maryland think that that's local food. But that's not necessarily what the local food movement, the Whole Foods movement, or the whole paycheck movement that's not what they see as local.
My point here is we're going to have to be a lot more careful about what we say is local. Because the Filipino people who live in San Diego-- they see their food as local. The Chinese Canadians who farm-- 15% of farmers in the greater Vancouver region are Chinese Canadians-- they see their food as local.
So there's this concept of trans-localism that I think is important. And if we are not to reject to become an exclusive movement for alternative foods, then we're going to have to stop being reflexive and saying, hey, maybe local is how people define local and that's not necessarily a geographic notion of locality.
So again, I think there are some challenges we need to make to the ways we've been thinking about some of the main issues like notions of local food. And it's going to be a tough one for a lot of people. But if we want to have a more inclusive movement, we're going to have to think more broadly about some of the ideas that we've put forward.
The two pictures at the top are related. The top right is New Roots, which is one of 50 immigrant farms across the nation. Tufts University in Boston, my university, we run one. And these a farms for new immigrants to learn about farming in different regions of the United States. And it's a great way for people from Eastern Europe, from Africa, just to begin to learn about and learn a new trade. Some of them are farmers already, some of them just want to learn about farming.
The top left is a very interesting. One of the issues I find not troubling, but yeah, a little bit troubling about some of the alternative food movements notions is that food is often seen as just about nutrition. Let's get the food right and then we can solve the problems of food deserts et cetera-- if only they ate properly they would be x, y and z.
It's about so much more than nutrition. Food is about celebration. Food is about performance. Food for those two women there is about what's called auto-typography. They are making a place like home in Seattle, which is where they are. They've created their garden. It's not that they only grow-- they grow their food. They grow the food that is culturally appropriate and that they want to grow. But what they've done is they've created a place. And for new immigrants, that's really important. To create a place that has meaning.
So this concept of auto-topography means inscribing oneself and one's culture onto the landscape. And you can see how important it is for new immigrants. Not only to eat your own food but to eat it in a landscape, a garden, that looks like the garden you left, whether you came from Oaxaca, or from Bolivia, or from wherever you came from.
So I just put that out there. In urban agriculture, we have the beginnings of a just sustainability. But we have to think differently about agriculture. We have to think differently about the local. We have to think about food as not just being a nutritional thing, it's about it's about celebration. It's about performance.
And the final consideration I want to give you is this concept of spatial justice. And interestingly, British member of Parliament, David Lammy, said, social justice requires that life chances are not distributed along class lines, spatial justice requires they are not distributed geographically.
How many of you grew up in towns where one side of the railway tracks things were very different from the other side of the railway tracks. Or cities where the north side or the south side or the east side or the West side-- that literally, one side of a road, one side of a wall was different.
Now, I'm showing you here through the slides some cities around the world are actually divided cities. Some cities are totally divided by a wall. But others are divided, not by a wall, but by some sort of feature. Like a railway line. A zone boundary or something like that.
So special justice is I think something that you need to take seriously when you are planning and doing your work in sustainability and social justice. And one of the most powerful tools for looking at spatial justice is, of course, GIS. GIS has given us the power to see how social mobility, social opportunity, happens in spatial contexts.
And I want to give you two examples of spatial justice in terms of urban spaces. And the first is urban parks. And we're in a wonderful park here. But as Low, Taplin, and Scheld said, that in this new century, we're facing a different kind of threat public space. Not one of disuse but of patterns of design and management that excludes some people, thereby reducing social and cultural diversity.
So their point is that the way we design public space and the way we manage public space can affect who is in that space. Two examples, both of them from the United Kingdom.The picture of the park there is very much like a park that I was asked 20 years ago to look at by Hartfordshire County Council, which, for those of you who know, it's in the greenbelt just north of London. And the county council was asking me to look at this park in terms of equity. They were saying, is there something we can do in this park, given that the people that are in this park are very different from those 150 years when the park was designed.
And you know, the first thing I noticed walking around was that most parks were designed around-- and most parks still are, whether it's urban parks or-- not so much urban parks. But certainly, what's called a country park, which is the one I was looking at, or national parks are designed around this sort of transcendentalist ideal of wandering.
You know, two people and a dog. Or kids, a family. But what I saw was extended family groups. Large social groups of Asian, African, Turkish, Greek Cypriot people. Parks were not designed-- European, North American parks were not designed around this. Witness the seating arrangements. Most seats were for two to four people. There weren't seats in a forum for large groups of people. Where do people sit.
And I reported this to the parks authority. That this park was designed around this notion, this transcendentalist ideal of wandering lonely. And solitude. Whereas a lot of cultural and ethnic groups these days they don't see nature and parks as being places of solitude and reflection. These are social spaces. Places to have parties and have fun. That's a big difference, culturally.
And so a design issue then is how do you design for large groups of people to be able to sit and converse. I don't see much in the way of evidence of that. The second issue was a management issue. Now, you'll notice most of this grass out here is what's called ryegrass. It's a very hard wearing. It's used for sports. It's used for people to sit on. It's just a general grass around the world that he's used in recreational settings.
In one city in the southwest of Britain, Bristol, the local wildlife trust asked the park to embark on an experiment. The experiment was, let's create a wildflower meadow. Let's make that section of park a wildflower meadow. And so over about two years, they employed a management regimen to make the grass grow up. And all these native wild flowers came in. And all the bugs. And it was a sort of a naturalist's dream. Everybody loved it.
And then somebody noticed. Where the Asian and African Caribbean people that used to come in this park. Why aren't they coming in this park anymore. Clue, long grass, snakes. There's a residual fear of snakes amongst people from, certainly from the Caribbean, from Africa, and from India.
So an ecological management regimen was having a negative cultural effect. A negative effect on the cultural diversity of the park. Now, I'm not saying that it was wrong to do this. We have to have ecologically sensitive areas.
But what if one of the Wildlife Trust had been a member of a minority group. Or what if one of the park's staff that said, hold on, are we going to create long grass here. That's going to be a no no with certain cultural groups. Just as dogs in parks are not very popular with Muslims, et cetera.
The point is, there may not be answers for some of these questions. But we need to start asking the questions. If a wildflower meadow was the solution, what was the question that was asked. But we need to start asking some questions about our society. We know very well about the different recreational habits of different cultural groups.
And so we need to start thinking about what I call culturally inclusive spaces. How do we create spaces that reflect the cultures now and into the future in cities. How do we do that. Because the theory behind this is that point in the middle paragraph there. Contact theory. The theory is, the more contact we have with different groups, the more we will become tolerant and understanding of those groups. And that goes back to Allport's contact theory from 1954.
But more recent research published in the National Academy of Sciences has shown that people who live in diverse areas are more tolerant. And they actually controlled for those people who moved to diverse areas because that's where they wanted to live. They found that basically, those people who were brought into contact with difference and diversity were more tolerant.
And if we want to move towards those intercultural cities that I mentioned, and if we want this is bigger sort of civic democracy, then we're going to have to think about creating spaces of encounter. How do we create spaces where people encounter each other. Different groups meet.
We can't go along just having different cultural groups in isolation. How do we bring them together. And it may be that we can think of ways of designing. Now again, I'm not saying I have the answers here. But what we have to have is an urban design and a parks design profession that looks more like Phoenix today. Or looks more like Boston today. That's my point about cultural competency and being more representative of the communities which we're serving.
And my final set of thoughts is about another public space. The one we use every single day, which is the street.
Not a lot of people think about streets as public spaces. You talk to traffic engineers, they think about streets as places for vehicles to get from A to B as quickly as possible. Well streets are for people. And I want to tell you a little bit about my thinking on this.
So two streets here. Two streets and two coffee shops in Sodra Vagen in Gothenburg. To the right of that cycle sign is Frank's Coffee Shop. And I've sat there and watched Sodra Vagen. And where the FedEx man is on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, looking down towards Harvard, in fact, where that crane is-- that's the new law school at Harvard.
I sit just to the right of the FedEx in Simon's coffee shop. Sodra Vagen and Mass Ave are exactly the same width, but they look very different. They're streets that have been imagined very differently.
As you can see on Massachusetts Avenue, the rights to public space-- and here's where the special justice element comes in-- on an American street, your right to space is predicated on one thing. The size of your vehicle.
The bigger your vehicle, the more rights you know. Sad, but true.
If you look on Sodra Vagen, what the Swedes have done-- Swedish planers, Swedish society generally-- they have allocated rights in a very different way. Mass Ave Is about 80% given over to vehicular traffic. Whereas if you at Sodra Vagen, to the left of that street car is about 15% of the streetscape that is given over to private vehicles. So the Swedes have constrained vehicles. And people are moving by bike, by foot, or by street car.
The Swedes have imposed democracy on the street. They've democratized their streets. And I want to think about this in several different ways. One is that we know about public health issues related to say, lead pollution. We know about issues of public space in terms of the number of acquaintances you have.
Let me just show you something. This issue of public streets and acquaintances is very simple. Work was done in 1975 by Doug Appleyard in San Francisco. And he looked at three streets. One street had 2000 vehicles a day.
One street had 8,000. And one had 16,000. On the lightly-trafficked street, people had three friends per person, roughly, and 6.3 acquaintances. On the heavy traffic street, 0.9 friends per person and 3.1 acquaintances.
The more vehicular traffic volume and speed, the less people stood and talked on the streets and got to know each other. So we know that. But what we don't know is, what about the kid growing up on each of these streets.
The kid growing up nought to 10 to 15 years old on Massachusetts Avenue.
How is he or she different. How is their social world and their world view different growing up in a disorderly place like Mass Ave compared to say, Sodra Vagen.
Now, here in the US, we are moving towards some urban streets that look more like Sodra Vagen. I showed you at the beginning Broadway. Lots of cities in Portland-- they're doing it. In Boston we're doing it. In London, they've now got shared streets where there's no road markings. So cars have to go along at the speed of anybody. People can walk in the street. They've got this in Copenhagen as well. So people have to keep eye contact.
We're looking at sharing space. And I suppose this is the message of this idea of special justice. We're moving towards notions of sharing urban space. Sharing isn't just about bike shares and cars. It's about sharing the very physical spaces that we inhabit.
So I want to leave you with two thoughts. Two closing thoughts. I wish I'd said the top one but I didn't. This is somebody else's but I don't know who said it. Sustainability means using our unlimited mental resources, not our limited natural resources. And the second, and the more I think about this, we know the science of sustainability. We know exactly what we need to do. We've known it for a long time.
But we're not doing it. And that's a social science problem. We don't have the leadership capacity amongst many of our leaders. Nor do we have the necessary public attitudes and values needed to take some of the deep changes that we're going to have to make if we are going to have a future of possibility, rather than stumble along with what is probably going to happen. Thank you.
AUDIENCE:In a just sustainability-- can everyone hear?
In a just sustainability society, who has the priority-- the environment that was there before the humans, the humans and the businesses that are there now but maybe externalizing their negative elements, or the people that deserve to have the clean, healthy environment?
Julian Agyeman: All of the above. That's a difficult question.
In some ways, I am quite anthropocentric. In some ways, I like to think that we, as humans-- especially those people who've never had some of the things that we've had-- some of those humans deserve to be treated differently, in a sense.
Because equity doesn't necessarily mean that everybody has to be treated the same. There are some groups that we have to make special provision for on the basis of some historical or other issues. Or they have abilities or disabilities that we need to make allowances for.
I don't think it's a question of who should have priority. I think just sustainabilities just gives us a framework to think about a space, place, in different ways. And in ways that make quality of life as good as it can be for as many as is possible. I think that's the way to think about it. I don't think there's any groups that should just be prioritized or not.
But I also think-- I mean you mention businesses in there-- I think the more I look at. It the more I realize that there are a lot of businesses now-- and certainly since the Rio 1992 Conference, the original Earth Summit-- who've really begun to realize that they are co-inhabitants of spaces and cities. They're not necessarily footloose. They have a constituency. And they're beginning to-- through ideas of corporate social responsibility-- see that they have a place rather than just as resource extractors.
And so it's a good question. But it's, I think also, this would be one of those questions that is context specific. But in different contexts one might come up with different answers.
Moderator: Any other questions?
AUDIENCE: In the Bolivia area where they're starting to put in dam into the-- they had funds-- they were trying to put it into something to hold the flood all throughout the reaches where there's the growth. The swamp that keeps it, the sunlight from burning the earth.
There's parts of the world that had burn. It should be shown that it gets so hot out without the wildlife there. And other parts that have the same types of swamp. And contact from the computer because it gets so dang hot it burns the cow.
Julian Agyeman:Thank you. Is there a question there?
AUDIENCE:There used to be somebody that knows how to do that. To contact the government or they're trying to-- build the-- money to do so.
Julian Agyeman: One thing that was interesting, when you started talking-- you said they. You know, I'm thinking, who's they. It should be we. In the just sustainabilities context, I would see we as being the operative word, rather than they. They is kind of representative democracies, isn't it. We've charged them with doing stuff. So they ought to do it. I want to see this move towards a more true democracy. A participatory democracy.
I can't hear you if you haven't got the microphone. I can't hear.
AUDIENCE: I'm saying then that a person then knows how to use a computer well would contact their government and speak to them on the ideas of the other countries. The world. Where there swamp land has burned. The sunlight above.
You always zones out. And keeps it so they're hot. They, the government there, trying to support their property by funding dams with no. It's not economically possible to do that without chasing away the people who they want to come in view the pristine land they're going to make out.
Julian Agyeman: One just quick thought about participatory democracy. One city, Pouso Alegre in Brazil, has this really interesting experiment called participatory budgeting. Some of you might have heard of it. And it's moved around the world. Various cities around the world now looking at it. Once a year, citizen groups around the city all help to set the priorities for the budget. And I think that's what I was meaning when I was saying, they.
If you participate in a participatory democracy and then participatory budgeting, you've got to then say, we. Because you were part of setting that budget. And so I think that's one of the things that I would like to see more of.
How do you get people, the local level, help set local priorities more than just say electing somebody to act on your behalf.
AUDIENCE:Thank you. So I'm from Ghana. And I was very interested in your topic. And as I was listening, I was just wondering, what advice do you have for developing countries? How is just sustainabilities apply for developing countries. How do we apply it. Up and coming young Africans.
Julian Agyeman: OK. Well so, yeah you'll recognize my surname as Ghanaian. I'm pretty sure you did. When I was there in 2007, and I was in Akron and Kumasi, I didn't see any solar power or wind power. I didn't see Siemens or any of the big companies there.
Every night at my hotel, about 6 o'clock, a diesel generator would switch on because the Akosombo Dam-- the power was shut off and redistributed somewhere else. And so the air was thick with diesel. And the smell of diesel.
And the noise of the diesel generators. And I'm thinking, I'm sitting here on the bloody equator and I'm listening to diesel when there should be solar-- all kinds of renewables.
So where all the Brits, the Germans, the Americans, the Japanese, all these countries that are supposed to be developing these forms of power. So I was shocked at how little renewables there were. Second, I think we, as in the developed nations, have a huge responsibility, in addition to the ecological debt that we owe a lot of third world, less developed countries. There is now what's called the climate debt.
And so there's a whole load of negotiations around, how do we repay that. And I think somebody calculated Juan Martinez Alier in Barcelona, calculated the current climate debts owed by the West or the North to Southern or less developed countries is about equal to the supposed debts that they owe us. So let's just write off the debts. So that will be another way, I think, of freeing countries from the shackles that they're in.
So two things there. I mean, there are great investment opportunities, I think, in renewables. And there's also the freeing up of your nations through some of the climate negotiations. Now this is not going to happen, again. But it's something that I know is being discussed. And it's definitely something that is a bargaining chip, I think.
And that the other one is, I also noted that not only had Ghana had its natural resources stripped by Western nations. Now it's the human resources. You know there are more Ghanaian doctors in Maryland than there are in Ghana.
So a lot of the intellectual potential of these nations is now being taken. So again, if public sector and private sector organizations can re-attract back some of the talent that has gone overseas, that would be another way of developing the new Africa.
AUDIENCE: I mainly have a question because this has come up in the past with me. I've been talking about sustainability with people I know. But what are some good responses, people that hear the word, fair share, and things like that, and think of socialism. I think that's the right one. Socialism.
Julian Agyeman: It's one of the isms, isn't it. You've got two. Communism and socialism. Yeah.
OK, well let me give you an example. The city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil has abolished hunger. The city has set up a price support mechanism for food so that people on low incomes, the equivalent of an EBT card, they can get food at low prices from private sector retailers. These private sector retailers can sell at full price to people who are on full wages and things like that.
There's things called the basket popular, which is sort of a whole raft of essential foodstuffs that the city controls the price of. They have popular restaurants, people's restaurants, where you can get for about $1 or $2, you can get a really good meal.
The whole system is based on social justice, explicitly, up front, and food with dignity. And this is in a capitalist country that is about to become one of the world's superpowers. So Brazil has Porto Alegre, participatory budgeting, Belo Horizonte, the city that abolished hunger. It has Curitiba, with its transit system. So within a capitalist nation, there are projects which look very much to me like trying to build in equity and fairness.
So I'm not saying that the just sustainabilities model that I would like to see is necessarily-- that it couldn't achieve its fullest within capitalism. I think a much more equitable way of distributing resources is clearly necessary. It could happen within a sort of more social democratic form of capitalism.
And certainly, as I say, in Brazilian cities there is something going on. And in cities like Medellin in Colombia. And so, in Latin American cities, there seems to be something in the water. And I know you had some years ago, I think you had Enrique Penelosa here from Bogota. I mean there's something that these mayors are doing that is not focusing on sustainability because they're focusing on equity. But in being more equitable, I think they're being more sustainable as well.
So I mean the s-word, let's give sustainability the new-- let's call it the new S-word. Because it is, in a lot of ways, as I talk about just sustainabilities, it is about redistribution. But then this is not such a big issue, I don't think, in terms of where we are politically. There is a whole generation of people now thinking about inequality. And the notion of-- the Occupy Movement.
Your generation, the millennials, by many standards not as materialistic, necessarily as your parents' generation. You're certainly much more into sharing. I think, and I haven't even talked much about the sharing economy, I think there's a lot of potential in the sharing economy to start to make people think, hang on, I can have the utility of something without necessarily having the ownership. What's wrong with that, you know.
But if you're a socialist, stand up and be proud about it. Don't worry about it.
I think there's a woman down here.
AUDIENCE: So you're talking and continue to talk about human potential in intercultural cities. So I'm just curious, as we focus on historical and cultural preservation, and as communities blend, thoughts blend, as problem solving and connections to our ancestry and quality of life, how do urban cities preserve these cultures as they rapidly develop? And how do we meet the needs of so many different cultures? Do you think they're going to lose their sense of culture and history over time? And we're going to create new cultures. How do you keep all of that intact?
Julian Agyeman: That's a great question. I mean we can't freeze cultures in aspic. We can't preserve cultures as such. I mean, there's this concept of hybridity. Things change. Cultures come together and they change.
What we need to do or what we need to think about is cities as engines, in a sense, of this hybridity of mixing.
I told you about designing public spaces around encounter. How do we get people to talk to each other. How do we get people to begin to understand each other. And to respect differences in cultures but to realize that cultures are not fixed. They never have been fixed. They're always becoming. They're not fixed in space and time and place.
So I think we have to see cultures as dynamic. And we have to preserve and celebrate cultural difference. But we mustn't try and stop cultures changing. I mean, I look at London 20, 30 years ago when I first moved to London.
And I look at it now. It's a very different place. And it has benefited from all of these different groups that have come to it.
I mean the problem now for places like London is the super rich buying up homes, as it is for New York and Vancouver. Super rich buying places. Enough money and living there. And so we're going to get cities changing because some of the people that have lived there for generations cannot afford to live there anymore.
So that's of one problems that we're going to face. And how does a city deal with that. I heard that Vancouver was going to be requiring a residency requirement. That if you buy, you have to live there. You have to show that you are living in a place so you can't just buy speculatively.
But think of culture as dynamic. And that it is constantly changing. And cultures benefit from that change.
AUDIENCE: First, thank you so much for even being here. That was fantastic. Living Future Institute-- I'm not sure if you are familiar-- released a social equity label this past fall called Just, right? They also have one for building products called Declared that's just to increase transparency in building products. So this social equity, I'm just wondering, what you think, as far as how far away are away are we from people, especially in our consumer driven society, from being at a point-- the fire in Bangladesh, some of that brought some of those issues to light.
And I've been following it kind of closely but, how close or far do you think we are, just as a society, especially in the United States, from actually caring about socially equality. Which does mean sustainability on a very real scale in places that are in our face like that.
I mean, because for me personally, I would like to think that people care. But then when it comes to buying the $20 jeans instead of knowing where things were made and how they were made. What do you think? As far as where we are as a society.
Julian Agyeman: Well surveys that have been done recently of public attitudes, certainly regarding clothing and would you be prepared to buy this for a little bit more. And people, I think it's about 80% of people in the UK, certainly said they would. And they were given certain price points. And they were prepared to spend quite a bit more.
But those surveys are always done just after a disaster, when everybody's sort of, heightened awareness. You know, I wonder what would happen if you did one right now. Because people's attitudes change, according to media cycles and things.
How far are we or how close are we to social equity. I think, I mean, it depends on where you are. I think it really does depend where you are. I think here in this group we're pretty much convinced that social equity is a very important issue. I don't think we're very close in a lot of parts of America. Certainly some of the ones that I've read about and have not dared to go to.
But that's partly why I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Because I think that we take equity seriously. And I want to be in a place where we do take equity seriously. I think, given the opportunity-- I mean, think about sustainability. A lot of people think, oh my god, Europeans, you know, they're just so much more equitable and sustainable. As if there's some sort of gene for sustainability and equity. But there isn't. It's just that in Europe that the opportunities of that to be more sustainable.
Here, there are not the opportunities to be as sustainable as they are in Europe. I mean for instance, if you live in the average German city-- an average German city, not a Fribourg or a Heidelberg-- you've got high speed intercity rail. Cheap, fast, clean, efficient. On time. It's in Germany.
You've got the autobahn if you want to get out into the mountains and into the forests. That's great. You've got to not cycle lanes, but you've got cycle tracks. Protected cycle tracks. So you've got more opportunities to do this. I think if we had, in America, more opportunities to be more equitable and to be more sustainable, we'd do it.
The incentives are all wrong though. I mean, I like to travel by Amtrak, by the [INAUDIBLE] from Boston when I go down to New York. But you know, it's more expensive than the plane.
And then people moan about that. But we don't subsidize Amtrak in the way that we subsidize the airlines and motor industry. So let's level the playing field. Let's level the playing field. Let's get away from all these subsidies that are being given and let's then let people pay the true cost.
Now, the problem with paying true costs, obviously, is that this disproportionately disadvantages those on lower incomes. We would have to think of some subsidy. But I think one thing that I haven't talked about and one thing that I think is necessary, is for us to move towards some form of eco tax. And this is how it would work.
Imagine we were to tax people at the same rates as they tax now. We just move the burden-- sorry, I mustn't say burden of taxation-- we move taxation from not what we do-- the good things we do like work-- but move it towards consumption and pollution. OK? So let's start taxing people for something that is bad rather than something that is good-- work.
And that, again, would change, I think, the way that we behave. So I think this there's lots of ways that we could change the structures and the incentives that would make people think differently about what they do. At the moment, we actually train people to think about themselves. We don't train people or we don't incentivize collective thinking. We have incentivize individualism.
So that would be my thought.
Jenny Carter: So we're actually about out of time. But Dr. Agyeman will be around for a little bit longer and be doing a book signing. Let's thank him for visiting Phoenix and thank you all for coming.
Julian Agyeman: Thank you.
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