Tomorrow: Cities Can Save the World

1 & 2 October 2009, Westergasfabriek Amsterdam
Tommorrow, International Urban Planning Congress Amsterdam

Metropoles – world cities – are lead players in the global economy. Though they cover just 2 percent of the earth’s surface, cities consume 75 percent of the resources utilized by humankind.

In the early 20th century, when Alderman F.M. ‘Floor’ Wibaut (1859-1936), a pioneering steersman of Amsterdam’s urban development and social housing policy, was politically and professionally active, the growth of major cities around the world seemed to attain an absolute peak.

Endeavouring to steer the city’s ongoing development was therefore an exercise as urgent as it was logical. It was at this time that town and regional planning emerged in a fruitful interchange of knowledge and experience between administrators and specialists.
Half the world’s population now resides in cities. Metropolises are sprouting up in Asia, Africa and South America at an unprecedented rate. Within 20 to 30 years some three quarters of the world’s population will be living in cities, giving rise to new issues. Cities elsewhere will over that same time-span need to find a response to population growth that is levelling off or even shrinking populations. The fields of urban development and spatial planning, now a century old, are faced with new challenges.

‘The future governance of Amsterdam will be focused on the material prosperity and mental welfare of the great mass of workers. Tomorrow the meaning of the word “prosperity” will be something quite different to what this word meant to Amsterdam in bygone times as chronicled by our historians and eulogized by our poets …. The advancement of prosperity as a responsibility of governments will in future entail the implementation of governmental provision of collective amenities across an ever-broader range of that great multitude’s collective needs, in every domain where collective services prove to be more efficient than individual provision. …

‘We are seeing the emergence of the view that the promotion of welfare – as far as this can nowadays be a task assumed by government – must be based on the exertion of governmental powers to introduce collective amenities for acknowledged needs wherever social expediency requires it.’

Dr F.M. Wibaut in his ‘Tomorrow’ speech (1925)

With: Ken Livingstone, Maarten Hajer, Hermann Scheer, Tim Lang, Eric Corijn, Dieter Läpple, LaDonna Redmond, Michael Madison, Kees Christiaanse, Irina Ivashkina, P.K. Das, Edi Rama

more info can be found here and in this PDF

FWD: August